The need for accessible and safe housing and accommodation for the disabled, and women with special needs are major concerns facing women ahead of the provincial election, said the executive director of a Scarborough women’s advocacy organization.
“Housing is huge, and it is a serious problem for many women,” said Lynda Kosowan, the executive director of Scarborough Women’s Centre, a resource centre that provides information and support services to assist women transitioning to economic and emotional independence.
Heading into the June 2 provincial election, women’s votes can have a huge impact on the results. According to a recent poll by Mainstreet Research, 31 per cent of women support the PCs, 27.6 per cent of women support the NDP, 27.4 per cent support the Liberals, and 8 per cent support the Greens.
The Progressive Conservative party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Liberal party and the Green party are the four of the major parties running in this election and are working hard to get votes and support.
What’s on women’s minds lately? Safety
Recent events have put a spotlight on women’s rights and gender rights in Canada and globally.
In early May, a leaked document revealed the U.S. Supreme Court had voted in an initial draft to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that protects abortion rights, sparking stateside and Canadian protests in support of — and against — upholding a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.
On May 13, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that defendants in assault cases may use extreme intoxication as a defence under section 33.1 of the Criminal Code. Extreme intoxication can be used in cases where persons who voluntarily consume substances assault others.
“This means that defence has been used to excuse violent acts against women and creates a further obstacle for survivors in the court system,” said Ruba Ali, a postdoctoral research associate at Lancaster University’s department of politics, philosophy, and religion and a legal sociologist.
Women’s safety has always been one of the biggest concerns for women, according to Kosowan. And minimum wage is another issue on women’s minds.
“If women are not economically secure, they are much more at risk or vulnerable to gender-based or ongoing violence or in a kind of a hopelessness about being able to change anything,” Kosowan said.
She proposed long-term, multi-year funding for programs that support women who are working toward economic security.
“Women’s rights are being protected by providing programs and services to support women in difficult situations,” Kosowan said.
What do the parties propose?
If elected, here’s how the four parties aim to address the issues that affect women:
Liberal Party of Ontario
According to the Liberal party’s press releases, these are the proposals that will benefit women:
- Establish a childcare service of $10 per day before and after school
- Reintroduce a Pay Transparency Act.
- Provide free menstrual products in public spaces.
- Cover one cycle of egg freezing for all patients between 34 and 40 years of age.
- Give people who feel at risk of domestic violence the right to ask the police for their partners’ criminal records.
- Create at least 3,800 more safety shelters to support women fleeing domestic violence.
Veronica Javier, NDP candidate for Scarborough-Guildwood, shared with the Toronto Observer the proposals from the NDP’s platform that will impact women:
- Increase minimum wage by $1 each year until 2026 (to get to $20/hr).
- Increase funding by 30 per cent to Ontario’s sexual assault and rape crisis centres in their first budget (in the first year).
- At least a $5/hour wage increase above pre-pandemic levels for personal support workers (PSW) in their first budget.
- Roll out 100,000 affordable housing units for women and families escaping violence – in year 2 of the term
- Fully cover contraception under OHIP including birth control pill, IUDs, implants, shots, patches, rings, and emergency birth control such as Plan B.
- Fund 10 days of paid leave for those escaping violence and ensure they can access additional leave without fear of repercussions at work (within party’s first budget).
“NDP are devoted to pushing for Pay Equity Act and have more transparency in industries, to promote equality in that area because it impacts so many women and families with that disparity,” Javier said.
The Ontario Green Party shared these platforms that are aiming to prioritize gender equity and address gender-based gaps in pay and opportunity for women:
- Work with the federal government to ensure continued funding for universal access to high-quality, $10-a-day childcare in all communities so women have more opportunities to re-enter the workforce.
- Provide Early Childcare Educators, more than 95 per cent of whom are women, with a fair wage of at least $25 per hour.
- Immediately revoke Bill 124 to allow healthcare workers, including nurses (91 per cent of whom are women), to negotiate fairly for the wage increases they deserve.
- Implement the Pay Transparency Act.
- Require that public corporations’ boards and executive-level positions have an adequate proportion of women represented, with a goal to achieve gender parity.
- Apply a gender-based analysis to all government legislation and programming to advise on how gender equity can be better achieved.
- Support survivors of gender-based violence by increasing funding for Sexual Assault Centres, emergency shelters, transitional housing, and legal supports.
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
According to the PC party’s news release, here are the plans that could potentially benefit women. The PC party has not identified any platform points targeting women specifically. We reached out to PC candidates representing the Scarborough area, and will update if we receive a response.
- Increase the minimum to $15.50, starting October 1, 2022.
- $300 in additional tax relief in 2022, on average, for 1.1 million lower-income workers through the proposed Low-income Individuals and Families Tax Credit enhancement.
- To provide nurses with up to $5,000 retention over the next two years.
- For the next three years, investing another $1 billion in in-home care.
- Invest $425 million to increase Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates by five per cent.
Read more from the Observer:
“Toronto Police launch 911 mental health call diversion pilot with the Gerstein Crisis Centre”
“Food waste spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is hope”