Finding quality childcare for children is a challenge for many Canadian families. The cost of childcare is a burden that is crippling and the availability of spots limited, particularly for infants under 18 months. The extension of paid maternity leave, at a reduced rate, to 18 months is a cynical attempt to solve this particular challenge on the backs of Canadian families, and a 'benefit' not available to all families equally. Maternity leave benefits for many women are insufficient for such an extended period of time. Meaningful help would be continuation at the same rate for the full 18 months and maternity benefits for women entrepreneurs.
FMWC is disappointed that issues such as childcare continue to fall under 'women's issues' when men are fathers and also responsible for childcare. Quality childcare for children benefits both parents equally. Continuing to consider childcare as predominantly a 'woman's issue' entrenches the expectation that childcare is women's work.
Likewise, the assumption that caregiving is predominantly a 'woman's issue' in regard to veterans and care for the elderly supports the gendered expectation that women fill this role. Veterans as a group are at risk for greater health challenges, especially post-traumatic stress syndrome. Women veterans are at risk for the same conditions, upon return home, that challenge their male counterparts.
Initiatives for families and caregiving should offer flexibility to anyone, regardless of gender.
FMWC echoes the comments of the Canadian Medical Association in highlighting the lack of support in this budget for seniors. This impacts women especially hard. Women live longer and experience greater rates of morbidity than their male counterparts. Senior care will hit the Canadian health care system as a 'silver tsunami' in the coming years, affecting both caregivers and those they care for. A national senior's strategy that is sensitive to the needs of aging women is sadly lacking and must become a priority.
Gender-based violence is a problem for women across Canada. And the
FMWC welcomes the government's commitment to create a national strategy for gender-based violence. Funding for training for the judiciary and law enforcement will help ensure that offenders are caught and their crimes understood as crimes. A gendered budget would also consider the resources and programs available to perpetrators of abuse, who are mostly men, in order to address the underlying issues that lead to violence against women and how to stop then from abusing again. Understanding why men abuse, and how to help them stop, is the key to ending gender-based violence.
The FMWC looks forward to learning more details about how this budget will affect Canadian women in the days ahead.