Report of the Regional Women’s Committees Rep to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the January 2017 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.
Prairie Region Council January 2017
While it has been a short time since our last council meeting our sisters have been busy. We have viable RWCs in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge.
Child care is our main focus at the moment as we are engaged in two significant activities.
As many of you know and have been supportive of our sisters in Calgary and Lethbridge launched an on-line campaign to pressure our political leaders across the region to come to their senses and get behind a proper child care system for all families. Based on the theme of fairytales, the campaign is innovative, easy to engage in and it gets right to those in your constituency who can make a difference.
This campaign is a fine lead in to the national PSAC campaign we are engaged in with the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada and others, in pushing the federal government to take leadership and use its spending power to build a proper child care system for all parents who need services.
The federal, provincial and territorial governments are now negotiating a Framework Agreement on Early Learning and Care, which was promised by the Liberals in the lead-up to the 2015 federal election. Child care advocates, including the PSAC, have said in their own Shared Framework proposal that the agreement must pave the way to major reforms in how governments fund and organize child care.
We are RWCs have been tasked to contact our MPs by the end of this month and ask that they review and take note of the child care advocacy movement’s call on the federal government to support the principals spelled out in the Shared Framework document and that they push the federal minister of finance to include in the 2017 budget a multi-year funding allocation for child care.
We know for a host of studies that proper and adequate investment in publicly managed child care programs pay for themselves through increased labor participation b]of parents – women in particular ad grater tax revenues as a result.
As we all know child care is actually a provincial responsibility so we must never let our provincial politicians and decision makers off the hook. Making headway in Manitoba and Saskatchewan will continue to be a challenge given the governments in place in those two provinces. Manitoba has recently signaled to the Federation of Labor that additional support for childcare is not a priority. It is interesting to note that the minister who is responsible, when his family needed child care, elected to go with a private home daycare.
In Edmonton the RWC held a successful event on early December focusing on domestic violence. The workshop brought together union and community members for a day of positive speakers and interactions. Domestic violence and its impact on the workplace is another major priority for the women’s directorate of PSAC.
In Winnipeg our RWC was asked if we could find a good home for about $2100 in social justice fund money that needed to be allocated. I am pleased to tell council that those funds are going to the West Central Women’s Resource Centre in an inner-city neighborhood to help equip their new kitchen and allow the center to expand its programs and anti-poverty support to the local community. Of note- one of the programs that these funds will help support is one in which staff help participants make the absolute most of the food hamper they receive from Winnipeg Harvest.
By the time this report is distributed the Winnipeg RWC will have a new executive and other committees will be holding their annual general meetings in the weeks to come. The strength of our various committees rests on the engagement of our members. In Winnipeg we have learned that if we share the wealth, ask people to give a bit of time and effort here and there we are likely to get significant buy-in. That’s a direction we will continue to move into as we move forward.
In the coming months we will have significant numbers of our members attending the PSAC National Equity Conference in Toronto at the end of March. The resolutions coming to the women’s caucus are wide range from minimum wage increase to a comprehensive housing strategy to the temporary foreign worker’s program. There will be a lot of work to do.
As I believe most of you know this will be my last council meeting. I will not be reoffering for anything at convention as I plan to retire later this year. My years with PSAC can only be described as interesting and challenging. I have been an activist most of my life and would encourage all our members, no matter their gender, to engage and get involved. You can make change happen even if there are days when it feels like one step forward and two steps back.
I want to say a massive thanks to all our members and staff who I have worked with over these many years. You have inspired me to keep moving forward and I will continue to that- just in another forum.
PSAC Women’s Rep, Prairie Regional Council