Nfld. & Labrador

#NLwomenrising: Women's centres stage day of awareness against Budget 2016

Women's organizations across the province are getting the word out Tuesday on how Budget 2016 affects women and children.

Protesting many aspects of the budget, from justice to health care

Janice Kennedy of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council said only now are the full repercussions of Budget 2016 being realized. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

Women's centres and organizations across Newfoundland and Labrador are staging a day of awareness Tuesday, to talk about how Budget 2016 will affect women.

"We are inviting women to come in, share their stories, how they're going to be impacted, find out about the services we have to offer, and just to listen to what's happening," said Janice Kennedy, Executive Director of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council, one of the centres taking part.

People are also encouraged to send out their thoughts via social media, using #NLwomenrising.

Kennedy said many people are only now realizing the full extent of the numerous cuts contained in the Apr. 14 budget.

"I think it takes a while, because you see what's there, but it's kind of broad and it takes a while to get down through the budget," she told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show.

Seeking justice

Kennedy said one of the cuts with major repercussions for women is the closing of two provincial courts and two supreme courts.

"When women go to courts, it's because of domestic violence, it's because of child custody issues. And not having courts in their communities is going to make it that much more difficult to access those services," she said.

"These are the courts where we go to seek justice, and removing those institutions from our communities, particularly when people fought so hard to have them in their communities… is going to put another barrier there."

Kennedy said similarly, closures of Advanced Education and Skills branches and cuts to Child, Youth and Family Services offices show a worrying trend towards regionalization.

"I think the issue around regionalization is the assumption that everybody is going to have access to be able to travel to these services — that's not the case," she said.

"A lot of people don't have cars, and are living in rural areas, and there isn't public transportation. So how are they going to get there?"

The provincial court in Harbour Grace is one of four courts slated to close by August. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

'Struggle' to heat homes, eat healthy

Kennedy said the loss of the home heating rebate, paid out to families below a certain earnings threshold, stands out.

"I think that is probably one of the worst cuts possible," she said, adding women used that money to pay bills or buy food.

"There's so many women when that comes out, that come to our centre, fill out their forms and fax it off the day it comes out. Because they depend on that."

Kennedy said the budget's new income supplement, touted by Liberals as a way to bridge the rebate's gap, doesn't cut it.

"It's not going to make up for the loss," she said.

Kennedy said other cuts to the adult dental plan, over the counter drugs and the upping of the gas tax all spell a possible future of poorer health for many women, who will put their children first when it comes to proper medication and nutrition.

"It's already a struggle to eat healthy. We're already getting calls about people not able to afford to have food in their fridge."

With files from The Corner Brook Morning Show