PEI

Women's Network PEI receives federal funding for project to improve access to childcare

The federal government made a call for proposals last year for programs and projects that help alleviate barriers to gender equality.

The organization received $352,000

Women's Network PEI received federal government funding to help eliminate barriers to childcare for Islanders. (CBC)

A not-for-profit group that advocates to improve the status of Prince Edward Island women has received a significant grant from the federal government towards its work.

The federal government made a call for proposals last year for programs and projects that help alleviate barriers to gender equality.

"Our ultimate goal of this project is to remind all Islanders that all of us have a vested interest in our children" - Jillian Kilfoil, executive director, Women's Network PEI

Women's Network PEI submitted an application for the funding by the December 2016 deadline with a plan to improve women's access to childcare on the Island.

The non-profit organization found out they were among those that would receive funding in the spring.

"We were kind of on edge for a few months after we submitted the proposal," said Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women's Network PEI.

'Invest in our children'

The funding, in the amount of $352,000, will go towards local and national initiatives, with roughly two-thirds of the money being directed to action on the Island, though Kilfoil said that could change as work progresses.

Kilfoil said the group's work on the Island has already begun and is in the first phase of a three year plan to help address issues women face when it comes to childcare.

One aim of the project being undertaken by Women's Network PEI is to help women join the workforce and achieve greater success in their careers.

"Our ultimate goal of this project is to remind all Islanders that all of us have a vested interest in our children and their futures and childcare is an important way that we invest in our children but also that we grow our economy," she said.

"Given our context in P.E.I. how can we improve childcare so that more women are able to enter the workforce and more women that are in the workforce are able to take on more leadership... demanding positions within their work and childcare is no longer an issue."

Community consultation

Kilfoil said the top priority for the group is hearing from Islanders about the problems they face when it comes to childcare so that women can find jobs or return to their careers after having children. 

"What we're trying to do is to really get a sense of... what are the persistent gaps that remain in P.E.I. and what are the specific barriers that exist for women who are experiencing poverty or aren't able to access the workforce," she said.

It's really at the core and is a barrier to all of the other aspects of our work.- Jillian   Kilfoil


The group is developing an advisory committee and "finalizing a methodology" for reaching out to the community in a thorough fashion.

Kilfoil said the group has no core funding and does most of its work on a project-to-project basis.

"We need to secure funding to be able to move the work forward," she said.

Need to secure funding

She said the organization's budget fluctuates yearly making it difficult to offer consistent service, and the federal funds are a big help.

"There's been times where we've been very reduced capacity, a reduced number of staff and we always haven't been able to maintain the same level of capacity that we would have liked," she said.

"So to be able to have project funding to work specifically and to go very deep into the [childcare] issue is something we're very grateful for because it's really at the core and is a barrier to all of the other aspects of our work."

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