on New Brunswick's decision to abolish the NB Advisory Council on the
Status of Women
[For more information, see http://advisoryactionconseil.wordpress.com/about/]
Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is dismayed and deeply concerned over
the New Brunswick's government ill-informed decision to abolish the New
Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women (ACSW).
The ACSW's mandate is
to promote equity for women in all sectors of New Brunswick society. It
was brought into existence in 1975, after New Brunswick women organized a
provincial conference that resulted in a law being that created the
Advisory Council in 1975, with its first members appointed in December
1977. On women's issues, the ACSW is the only government
body that sets its own
agenda, priorities, and
positions. The NB government plans to "absorb" the ACSW into the Women's Issues Branch to "eliminate
overlap," ostensibly to save money. But there is no overlap
between the two agencies, and the ACSW’s most important defining
feature is that it is an arms-length agency with the freedom to
criticize the government. Obviously, a government department
cannot act as an independent voice for the New Brunswick women.
Further, the ACSW has a budget of only $418,000 and two staff
positions will be shifted from the ACSW to the Women’s Issues Branch,
so the savings from abolishing the ACSW won’t even be the full $418
000. The small amount of money being saved means that the government's
decision is being made for ideological reasons, not financial ones.
The real reasons that the ACSW is being
abolition is because it lobbies effectively for pay equity, releases
accurate reports on how much free labour NB women provide in child and
elder care, and strongly advocates for progressive change in the
province. But the NB government wants women and families to bear the
financial costs associated with inequality, and by abolishing the ACSW,
the government is actually ensuring that no-one will have the ability
to publicize women's inequality
or fight against it.
set up with a mandate from NB's women, who still have a great need for
this agency. Even though it's over
30 years later, the importance of this agency has not changed,
because New Brunswick remains one of the most retrograde places
for women in the country. For example, New Brunswick is the only
remaining province in Canada that still forces women to obtain prior
permission from two doctors before they can get a funded abortion;
otherwise, they must pay out-of-pocket for abortion services at the
Frederiction Morgentaler Clinic. This stance is harmful and
discriminatory against women, especially disadvantaged women, and it is
a blatant violation of federal law (Canada Health Act) and
Supreme Court precedent (R. v. Morgentaler, 1988).
sad to see a provincial government in Canada that is still so openly
hostile to the equality and human rights of half its population.
Abolishing the Advisory Council on the Status of Women is a disgraceful
and callous move that reveals not just the government's hostility to
disregard of women, but their palpable
women. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada urges the government of
New Brunswick to show respect and concern for NB women by immediately
reversing its decision to abolish the ACSW.
Arthur, Executive Director, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada