Cuts to government jobs and public services will harm women and exacerbate their social and economic inequality.
The Conservative government is pursuing billions of dollars of cuts to public services, which have already resulted in thousands of “affected notices” and layoffs. Treasury Board won’t tell us exactly how many women have been affected by these cuts, but members in the workplace are telling PSAC that women are being harshly affected.
Older women and women with disabilities are being pushed to retire early or leave the workforce. And women on maternity leave are being asked to make hard choices about their future jobs, making their leave unnecessarily stressful. And many of the job cuts are affecting administrative positions, where women make up the majority.
When the government slashes public services, women suffer:
- They lose good paying jobs. Federal public sector jobs pay an average of 10 per cent more than private sector jobs, thanks PSAC's persistence in fighting for pay equity.
- They lose decent pensions and benefits. In the public sector, two thirds of women have pensions, as opposed to only one third in the private sector. Extended health and maternity benefits are also more prevalent in the public sector.
- They are left vulnerable to harassment. Job insecurity makes women more vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment.
- They lose the union advantage. There are much lower rates of unionization in the private sector. When women lose public sector jobs, they often lose union protection.
- Job cuts hurt equity. Job cuts and privatization hit women of colour, those with disabilities as well as women from immigrant and Aboriginal communities the hardest. These women are often the last hired and the first to be let go. They are also more likely to be term workers, with no job security.
In the past, Canada has agreed with the United Nations that governments must “increase the investment in gender equality and the empowerment of women.” This means that federal budgets must respond to the needs of women and take the impact of economic policies on women into account. Eliminating public sector jobs and cutting public services is not the way to respect and promote women's equality.