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Federal update: Carrying the voices of community leaders

Submitted by Catherine McKenna, MP Ottawa Centre  –

In the summer of 2015, while running to be the Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, I asked to meet with representatives of community organizations working to address violence against women and to provide housing and other services to vulnerable women and their children, as well as homeless youth.

At the time, I didn’t know if I’d have the opportunity to represent their voices as an M.P., let alone as a member of the government and cabinet minister. 

However, I did understand that part of being an effective Member of Parliament is listening and learning from experts on the frontlines of social services delivery.

In the event that I won, I wanted the knowledge these experts shared to help me be an effective advocate for some of our most vulnerable citizens, and the organizations that serve them.

In subsequent months and years, I was indeed able to carry the voices of these community leaders with me to meetings and decision-making tables in the federal government. 

Most recently, collective hard work came to fruition on May 30th with the announcement of more than $4 million in federal funding for local Ottawa women’s groups, as well as national organizations based in Ottawa.

The grants will give these organizations the ability to help more clients, more often, and more effectively. This funding also supports achieving broader policy goals such as raising children out of poverty, strengthening families, and fostering more prosperous communities.

Grants like these and the elevation of the former Status of Women Canada agency to the full department of Women and Gender Equality are just two examples of our government’s commitment to advancing gender equality.

In 2018, our government introduced historic proactive pay equity legislation for federally regulated workplaces to ensure that more women are fairly compensated for their hard work.

By the end of 2018, 49 per cent of federal government appointments had gone to women, up markedly from 35 per cent in 2015. 

In addition, Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy prioritizes the promotion of the human rights of women’s and girls, especially for access to education and health services. This policy is saving lives. 

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