Saskatchewan's Status of Women Office sits empty following director's retirement

Saskatchewan’s Opposition worries a delay in hiring a new executive director for the Status of Women Office means women’s issues will fall by the wayside.

NDP worries government is leaving office vacant as cost-saving measure

Tina Beaudry-Mellor is the minister responsible for the Status of Women Office. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's Opposition is wondering whether women's issues are getting the attention they deserve, as the province's Status of Women Office is currently empty.

The office's executive director retired as of April 30. The Status of Women Office is comprised of the full-time executive director and a 0.5 support position.

According to a government spokesperson, the retirement gives the ministry "an opportunity to look at the office and the work that flows from it to see what the best options were in terms of staffing."

The government says the job will be posted in the "coming days/weeks."

"It would be great if [the minister] did that immediately," said Nicole Sarauer, NDP MLA for Regina Douglas Park. 

She said the executive director position is a full-time job that involves important work on several different committees throughout the province, working on a variety of different issues.

Nicole Sarauer, NDP MLA for Regina Douglas Park, says it seems unclear what the plans are for the Status of Women Office. (CBC)

"We have the highest rates of domestic violence among provinces of Canada, we have the highest rates of sexual assault among provinces. If any province should have a well-staffed [status of women office], it should be Saskatchewan.

"The minister was well aware that this employee was retiring. The minister could have started the process immediately to hire. When you see government cutbacks and layoffs and salary reductions that are happening, there's a justifiable worry that this office won't be properly staffed, or staffed at all."

Work handled by other government branch

Tina Beaudry-Mellor, the minister responsible for the Status of Women Office, said the departing executive director will be a difficult woman to replace but her deputy minister is working on re-staffing the position.

She said the work done by the office is important, including providing research and support to other ministries and networking with community organizations.

She added that issues affecting women are also addressed across all the ministries.

"I would suggest that it's not just one person's job," she said.

"Looking out for women in our community is something that we're all responsible for. I have colleagues who regularly spend time with Girl Guides; I have colleagues who regularly spend time with immigrant women's groups and I think that's all very important work and it's not just one person's responsibility."

The government says the day-to-day work of the office will be handled by the Strategic Management Branch until a new executive director is in place.

With files from Stefani Langenegger