Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

September 20, 2007 10:48 ET

CLC: Women's Equality Moves to the Back of the Shop

Closure of NAWL leads to renewed call from labour for government to restore Status of Women mandate and funding

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 20, 2007) - The Canadian Labour Congress renewed its call today for the federal government to reverse budget cuts that have devastated progressive women's groups across the country and immediately reinstate the equality mandate for Status of Women Canada.

The call followed the announcement that the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) was shutting down its offices and laying off its staff in the wake of government funding cuts.

"The National Association of Women and the Law has a proven track record of getting results for women through careful research and principled calls for change when that research pointed toward a better deal for women in Canadian society," said Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Byers says the closure of NAWL's offices and its relegation to a back room with volunteer resources is a sad development that diminishes an important voice in Canadian society.

Women's organizations, like NAWL, have played an important role in demonstrating why federal and provincial government should consider changing laws, policies and practices that discriminate against women. Through their dedicated work, reforms such as the inclusion of maternity benefits under Employment Insurance, amendments to human rights laws to prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination based on pregnancy and sexual orientation, the criminalization of wife assault and many others became a reality.

"Governments who placed a high priority on women's equality and the elimination of discrimination recognized the value of what organizations like NAWL had to offer. Constructive criticism is a fundamental part of parliamentary democracy, which is why groups like NAWL found financial support through Status of Women Canada. The removal of that support, abruptly and without consultation by the new government has sent a chill through civil society, and silenced another voice for equality," said Byers.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca

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