Provincial Budget 2022: YWCA Submits Recommendations to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
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YWCA's Submission to the 2022 Provincial Budget Calls for Meaningful Action

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Every year, the provincial government holds a public consultation for communities and individuals to share their thoughts, ideas and priorities for the next provincial budget. All submissions will be reviewed by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, and recommendations will be made to the Legislative Assembly. 

To better advocate for the communities and clients that we serve at the YWCA, we consulted staff, program participants, partner organizations and others in our community to put forth recommendations that addresses areas of greatest need. 

The following is an excerpt from YWCA Metro Vancouver's submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

 


 

SUMMARY OF ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS 

This submission outlines key issues impacting YWCA clients, with an enhanced focus on the social and economic disruptions resulting from COVID-19. Our recommendations are based on front-line experience, research and the advice of partner organizations regarding: 

  • Fostering women’s economic wellbeing 
  • Addressing gender-based violence 
  • Advancing truth and reconciliation 
  • Stabilizing the charitable and non-profit sector 

We highlight four recommendations for your consideration:  

  • Provide targeted opportunities for women to retrain, retool and find new jobs by investing in education and training, occupational skills training and short duration training, particularly for women displaced from the workforce due to COVID-19. 
  • Act on your commitment to develop an action plan to end gender-based violence, including minimum standards for sexual assault response, more training for police, crown council and justices and core funding for sexual assault centres. 
  • Uphold the social and economic rights of Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people by ensuring that Indigenous peoples have services and infrastructure that meet their social and economic needs. 
  • Provide a targeted stabilization fund of at least $500 million to support the long-term stability of the non-profit sector. This fund should be developed in partnership with the sector and apply a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) lens.  

 

FOSTERING WOMEN’S ECONOMIC WELLBEING 

Women, especially Indigenous and racialized women, have been disproportionately impacted by job loss throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those employed in low-wage and/or part-time work across hospitality, personal services and retail sectors. Women concurrently face increased demands in unpaid care work. According to RBC Economics, 12 times as many mothers compared to fathers are leaving their careers to care for their children, especially women with young children, and women ages 20-24 and 35-39. These age ranges are critical for gaining experience, making career advancements and stabilizing a woman’s economic standing.   

Women are concentrated in employment in industries that were the first to be impacted by the pandemic, including health care, retail, education and hospitality. These losses have been felt to a greater extent and for longer, leading to women in BC losing 60% more jobs in March 2020 than men, increasing the effective unemployment rate. Currently the gender wage gap in BC is 22.6% - the 3rd largest in Canada. BC is also one of only four provinces without pay equity legislation.  

To build a more equitable and sustainable future economy, we must close the gender wage gap and create opportunities to attract and retain women and other underrepresented groups, especially in BC’s fastest growing sectors. These measures will result in a guaranteed high return on investment and align with your government’s commitment to help people from underrepresented groups get their first job in the tech sector. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 
  • Close the gender, race and other wage gaps by implementing diversity pay equity strategies, including pay equity legislation and pay transparency legislation.  
  • Provide targeted opportunities for women to retrain, retool and find new jobs by investing in education and training, occupational skills training and short duration training, particularly for women displaced from the workforce due to COVID-19.     
  • Attract and retain more women in male-dominated sectors, such as the trades, tech and clean energy by:   
  • Enhancing BC Benefits agreements to include flexible child care, transportation and paid sick leave.    
  • Expanding opportunities for women to access paid internships, paid training and grants (including funds for transportation and child care) in growing sectors, such as clean energy.  
  • Working with industries and businesses to attract and retain women and other underrepresented groups, such as Indigenous and racialized people.  
  • Investing in and committing to foreign credentialing programs that fast-track skilled immigrants.  
  • Immediately increase income assistance rates to the poverty line as measured by the Market Basket Measure (MBM) and increase the shelter maximum for income and disability assistance to reflect the real cost of housing across the province. 

 

ADDRESSING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE 

Gender-based violence – dubbed the shadow pandemic by the United Nations - is putting the safety and well-being of women, girls, trans and non-binary people at risk.  

Approximately every six days, a woman is murdered in Canada as the result of gender-based violence. During the first six weeks of lockdown during COVID-19 in 2020, that number rose to one every three days. While empirical data is currently limited in BC, front-line support workers report seeing dramatic increases in incidences and severity of gender-based violence.  

Addressing gender-based violence requires investments in multiple areas of protection and low-barrier supports, including in access to justice, trauma-informed support and recovery, employment support to leave and stay away from violence, and opportunities for safe, affordable and supportive housing. West Coast Leaf calls for policy that gives survivors of violence at minimum 10 days paid leave that should be as low-barrier as possible to access.  

Support is needed for the Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity to develop an action plan to end gender-based violence, including minimum standards for sexual assault response, more training for police, crown council and justices, and core funding for sexual assault centres. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 
  • Take immediate action on your commitment to develop an action plan to end gender-based violence, including minimum standards for sexual assault response, more training for police, crown council and justices and core funding for sexual assault centres. 
  • Restore funding to Legal Aid to pre-2002 levels and expand qualification criteria.  
  • Expand trauma-informed, non-crisis counselling for survivors of violence.  
  • Implement 10 days of low-barrier paid leave for people experiencing intimate partner violence. 

 

ADVANCING TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION 

We are pleased to see the provincial government’s commitments to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, fund Aboriginal Friendship Centres and create a dedicated Secretariat to coordinate reconciliation efforts. 

However, we remain disappointed to see no real action on the 231 Calls For Justice. Frustrated by government inaction, The Native Women’s Association of Canada is calling upon the federal and provincial governments to take meaningful and urgent action to end genocide against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people with a concrete and costed action plan, containing more than 65 Calls to Action. “There is a role for all to play as this country takes a stand to end the genocide that is taking lives and ripping families and communities apart.” 

Their recommendations, which we support, focus on eliminating historical, multicultural and intergenerational trauma; eliminating social and economic marginalization; transforming the status quo and institutional lack of will; and to stop ignoring the agency and expertise of Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 
  • Take meaningful action on the provincially-focused Calls for Justice outlined in the final report from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. We emphasize the following six Calls for Justice: 
  • “Create specific, long-term funding, available to Indigenous communities and organizations to create, deliver and disseminate violence prevention programs, education and awareness campaigns.” (1.8) 
  • “Establish culturally competent and responsive crisis response teams to meet the immediate needs of Indigenous people, families and communities after a traumatic event, alongside ongoing support.” (3.5) 
  • “Uphold the social and economic rights of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people by ensuring that Indigenous Peoples have services and infrastructure that meet their social and economic needs.” (4.1) 
  • “Support the establishment and long-term sustainable funding of Indigenous-led low-barrier shelters, safe spaces, transition homes, second-stage housing and services for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” (4.7) 
  • “Ensure that protection orders are available, accessible, promptly issued and effectively serviced and resourced to protect the safety of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” (5.9) 
  • “Expand and adequately resource legal aid programs in order to ensure that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people have access to justice and meaningful participation in the justice system.” (5.13) 
  • Follow the 65+ recommendations from the Native Women’s Association of Canada. 

 

STABILIZING THE CHARITABLE AND NON-PROFIT SECTOR 

Charitable organizations like YWCA Metro Vancouver and our non-profit partners are experiencing an increase in demand for services while our long-term financial stability remains fragile. BC’s non-profit sector provides more than 86,000 jobs and delivers programs and services that improve the social determinants of health for women and families who face intersecting barriers. This includes responding to increases in gender-based violence, supporting women and children with safe, affordable housing, improving food security for low-income families, providing emergency child care and maintaining a flexible response to community needs. 

According to a new report about the impacts of COVID-19 on BC’s non-profit sector, 40% of non-profits anticipate service disruption and 74% anticipate reduced revenue from fundraising. One in five non-profits have closed or anticipate closing due to financial shortfalls brought on by the pandemic. 

BC relies on the non-profit and charitable sector to support people and community in areas the government is unable to address. Our economic recovery depends on a robust and responsive charitable sector and our governments can and should invest in a long-term stabilization framework. We commend the provincial government for appointing Parliamentary Secretary Niki Sharma as the representative for charities and non-profits and look forward to continue working with her to advance our sector’s needs. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 
  • Provide a targeted stabilization fund of at least $500 million to ensure the long-term stability of the sector. This fund should be developed in partnership with the sector and apply a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) lens.  
  • Invest in organizations that advance gender equity, intersectional feminism and women’s rights through core, multi-year funding.  

 

At YWCA Metro Vancouver, we believe that investing in an inclusive economy is far more critical than balancing the budget within the next decade. Investing in women and families now will pay dividends long into the future. Thank you for considering our recommendations and we look forward to reviewing Budget 2022. 


 

ABOUT YWCA METRO VANCOUVER 

Established in 1897, YWCA Metro Vancouver's mission is to touch lives and help women and their families build bright futures through advocacy and integrated services. One of the largest and most diversified non-profit organizations in the province, the YWCA focuses on supporting a person’s path to economic independence, wellness and safety.  

The YWCA's vision is to achieve women's equality. In order to make strides toward that goal, the organization focuses on housing, early learning and child care, youth education and development, mentorship, employment, food programs, single mothers’ support, violence prevention and advocacy. The YWCA operates several social enterprises to financially support programs, including a hotel and a health and fitness centre, and has also established a strong network of donor and government funding. 

Much of our services are offered to women living on low incomes, Indigenous women, newcomer and refugee women, senior women and single mothers and their children. In 2021, the YWCA offers 72 programs in 66 locations across Metro Vancouver, serving thousands of women, children and families.