To the editor:
The United Nations is calling out Canada for its human-rights record, in a report on Canada’s compliance with the international treaty on women’s rights and equality.
The concerns are not new.
They reflect well-known barriers that women face on a daily basis.
The UN report reviewed Canada’s progress under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The UN committee expressed concerns in a number of areas with recommendations for provincial and federal governments to meet our international obligations for women’s equality.
Of note, there was a clear concern about the erosion of legal-aid funding and the resulting denial of access to justice, particularly for women.
It is well known, that British Columbia has a legal-aid crisis after 15 years of underfunding and erosion of services by the provincial Liberals that have serious consequences for human rights of women.
This reflects deliberate indifference and ideology of the B.C. Liberals who have consistently ignored calls for adequate legal aid funding from the legal profession and justice advocates.
Failure to fund legal aid has many social, health and financial costs that are hidden and that far exceed what it costs to properly fund legal aid.
The UN also expressed clear concerns about a lack of affordable child-care facilities and women’s concentration in part-time and low-paid jobs resulting from their role as caregivers.
The UN committee recommended Canada support women’s employment and address women’s poverty by ensuring that women have access to adequate and affordable child care.
The provincial election in May 2017 offers an opportunity to address these concerns.
The B.C. New Democrats have a solution to address the UN’s concerns in a $10 a Day Childcare Plan.
Restoring adequate legal aid funding goes to the heart of a democratic commitment to justice, which can only be meaningful if it is accessible.
As things stand, far too many of our citizens, particularly women, are denied their human rights.