The Standing Committee on the Status of Women was struck for the first time in the fall of 2004. To establish its work plan, the Committee undertook an extensive consultation with national and regional women’s organizations. These organizations were invited to identify key issues of concern to women during a series of roundtable discussions throughout November and December 2004.
Based on the testimony of the thirty-eight groups which appeared before the Committee, four major themes were identified:
- the impact of federal government funding to women’s organizations and equality-seeking organizations on their ability to provide services and to advocate for equality;
- the importance of developing and strengthening the capacity of the federal government to take into consideration the gendered reality of women’s lives;
- the continued, disproportionate incidence of poverty among women; and
- the persistent level of violence experienced by women.
These priority issues helped the Committee identify the subjects it would study over the winter of 2005:
- gender-based analysis;
- funding through the Women’s Program at Status of Women Canada;
- pay equity; and
- access to maternity and parental benefits for self-employed workers.
During the 34th Parliament, the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Seniors and the Status of Women struck several subcommittees, including a Subcommittee on the Status of Women. That subcommittee produced two important reports: one on violence against women, and the other on breast cancer.
The Subcommittee’s report on violence against women, The
War Against Women, was tabled in 1991. Included among the 24 recommendations in the Subcommittee’s report were: a national violence prevention campaign; mandatory gender sensitivity training for criminal justice system professionals; secure funding for agencies providing services to victims; a legal policy to allow judges to order men charged with spousal assault to be removed from the family home; and a royal commission on violence against women. In response to the Subcommittee’s recommendations, the federal government established the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women in 1991. This Panel released its report, Changing
the Landscape: Ending Violence-Achieving Equality in 1993 after traveling across the country and receiving over 800 submissions on the subject of violence against women.
The Subcommittee’s report on breast cancer, Breast Cancer:
Unanswered Questions was tabled in 1992. In this report, the Subcommittee made 49 recommendations including the establishment of a fund for breast cancer research, the convening of a national conference on breast cancer, and the establishment of various Centres of Excellence on breast cancer. In the government response to the report, the federal government committed $20 million over five years to the establishment of a Breast Cancer Research Challenge Fund. In addition, they agreed to finance the development of five Breast Cancer Information Exchange Projects within existing cancer centres or other health care institutions across Canada and to support a national conference on breast cancer.
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