West Coast LEAF fights for women’s economic security by actively supporting anti-poverty policy solutions, delivering rights-based education to young people entering the workforce, and developing new legislative models that will help women break the cycle of poverty.

Yesterday, West Coast LEAF proposed innovative solutions to the federal government addressing women’s economic inequality. Testifying before the parliamentary Standing Committee on the Status of Women with respect to the Committee’s study of the Economic Security of Women in Canada, we described the paths to improve women’s access to justice, child care services, and equal pay.

We made the following recommendations:

Legal aid
  • That the federal government earmark specific funds for civil legal aid in order to promote women’s access to justice and safety, and ensure that women are not further economically disadvantaged after relationship breakdown by having to represent themselves in court proceedings.
  • That the federal government engage in consultation to determine how best to realize the right to child support, including streamlining the process for child support orders. We believe that women, who are often the primary caregivers of children, should not be forced to spend whatever resources they have to engage in protracted litigation to obtain an order for child support, and that this will improve access to justice and reduce the demands on our court system.
Child care

That federal funding to provinces be made subject to conditions as to how that money is to be spent, to address and prioritize the following specific concerns:

  • Prioritized access to free child care for women fleeing violence, women who need support to parent, and children awaiting kinship care placements;
  • Flexible child care services that provide a range of child care programs that accommodate work schedules outside of the usual Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workweek;
  • Availability of child care services and supports to all, regardless of immigration status, particularly for women fleeing violence;
  • Child care services and supports that are separate from the child protection system to ensure that women do not fear asking for help;
  • Availability of culturally appropriate child care for Indigenous children; and
  • Fully accessible child care services for children with disabilities.
Pay equity
  • To enact stand-alone, proactive pay equity legislation that applies to all federally regulated employers in both the public and private sectors and to as many employees and as many types of employment relationship as possible,  including those working full or part-time, temporary or casual. Such legislation would place the onus on employers to ensure pay equity, rather than on individuals or unions to bring forward a complaint and spend their limited resources to pursue lengthy litigation.

The testimonies will be available by mid-November on the Committee’s website.