Nfld. & Labrador

NDP promise pay equity, more money for women's centres

Equal pay for equal work and legislation to back it up are among the new promises from the NDP.
Gerry Rogers leads the NDP in announcing the party's platform on women's issues Wednesday. (CBC)

Equal pay for equal work, and legislation to back it up, is one of the promises from the NDP as the party campaigned Wednesday, on the international day to end violence against women.

"Today in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have the largest gender pay gap in this country," said Alison Coffin, the NDP candidate in Waterford Valley. 

"Women make only 66 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The impact permeates through the lives of women, from employment to housing, to raising a family," said Coffin, who teaches economics at Memorial University.

"This inequity restrains women, and it restricts our growth and our prosperity for the entire province."

The NDP candidate in Waterford Valley says the pay gap for women is bad for the provincial economy. (CBC)

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy promised to introduce pay equity legislation to ensure that female workers are paid equally for equal work.

McCurdy said Wednesday it is no coincidence that the party's announcement comes at the start of a 16-day campaign to an end to violence against women, which he called a "scourge of society."

He said it's time "to redouble the efforts of the people and agencies in our province to arrest that terrible situation.  It's just not acceptable the level of domestic violence that's still going on."

'Pandemic of global proportion'

The NDP candidate in St. John's Centre, Gerry Rogers, cited a United Nations group which says one in three women experience sexual violence.

Women's centres need guaranteed funding, says Rogers, so they can speak out without fear of being cut off. (CBC)

"That's many of us here in this room," she said. "If not us personally, our mothers, our sisters, our aunts, our daughters," she said, calling it "a pandemic of global proportions." 

To reduce violence against women, the party has made several commitments:

  • $500,000 to replace the Corner Brook transition house
  • $200,000 in additional funding for other women's centres, an amount that would increase by five percent a year
  • Guaranteed funding for three-year cycles to allow more planning
  • Support for domestic violence courts in three locations, with treatment and counselling resources
  • Identify and plan for more school-based violence prevention programs

The NDP's platform, released earlier in the campaign, also includes a $1 raise in the minimum wage to $11.50,  a $1,000 a month parental leave benefit, and support for midwifery services.

Jenny Wright, the executive director of the St. John's status of women council, said she is thrilled by the promise of pay equity, and the reinstatement of multi-year funding for women's centres.

She encouraged other parties to release their women's platforms and asked women to compare them.

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