Women’s Advisory Council Meets in Canoe Cove
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI (May 8, 2014) – Sexual and reproductive health services and social assistance rates were two main topics of discussion when the members of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women met in beautiful Canoe Cove on Wednesday, May 7.
“Every two years, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women publishes an Equality Report Card,” says Chairperson Diane Kays. “We released the last report a year ago and will be publishing one again a year from now, so it was a good time to reflect on government progress towards women’s equality goals in the past year.”
Some of the positive developments Council members noted were inclusion of gender identity in the human rights code; a promise to move towards gender parity on provincial agencies, boards and commissions; funding for the “Triple P” parenting support program; and new reporting requirements in the Adult Protection Act to protect vulnerable adults from abuse.
“Council members are also seeing some positive impacts from investments in home care,” says Kays, “and we are eager to examine what changes are making the most difference for caregivers.”
On the more negative side, says Kays, “The biggest gaps continue to be in women’s economic status.” She continues, “It has been a hard winter, with many Islanders struggling. We are particularly concerned about social assistance rates that do not allow people to meet their needs for food and shelter, as well as eligibility criteria for social assistance that exclude people in need. We can do better than this.”
Advisory Council members will be keeping a close watch on income issues as well as access to legal aid for family law, steps towards a family violence court option, and access to women’s health options for both reproductive rights and for birth.
“The Council is especially eager to participate in planning to meet the challenges in mental health and addictions,” Kays adds. “As one Council member said at our meeting, even one life lost to addictions is too many.”
Says Kays, “We were delighted to spend a day in Canoe Cove discussing issues that affect the equality of Prince Edward Island women.” Members of the Canoe Cove Women’s Institute made a lovely lunch for the Advisory Council members and offered a warm welcome to the community.
“We were especially pleased to meet in Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Valerie Docherty’s riding,” says Kays. “We will share the results of our Council’s discussion with her shortly and hope to influence more positive actions in the coming year. We continue to do our best to be collaborative and to support government to achieve high grades on the priorities we assess on the Equality Report Card.” The next Equality Report Card will be published in June 2015.