Marqué : New Brunswick

The Unfounding of Rapes

When I look at sexual assault numbers – cases reported and the proportion that lead to charges – I am always reminded of a favourite Seinfeld episode about a car rental reservation that did not produce a car. Seinfeld says to the clerk, “You know how to take a reservation. You just don’t know how to hold the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anyone can just take them.”

In 2010, queried about the fact Saint John had the second highest rate of sexual assaults reported to police, a Saint John police Inspector said he was “absolutely proud of that number being high.” He was probably even prouder the next year when Saint John had the highest rate of reported sexual assaults of the 100 municipalities considered across Canada.

So the police know how to take a complaint. Do they know what to do with that complaint?

Saint John has had a high rate of sexual assaults for decades. Don’t go crediting new victim support programs or improved police training or recent attitude shifts. The reported rates have been high for longer than that. Saint John has also historically had a low rate of charges being laid following those reports of sexual assaults.

From the late 1980s to 2012, New Brunswick’s rate of reported sexual assaults was higher than the Canadian average *

Now, thanks to some good journalism by the Globe and Mail, we find out that while  nationally 19% of reports of sexual assault were determined to be “unfounded” (2010-2014) – dramatically more than for other types of crime, New Brunswick’s rate is 32%**. That’s partly due to Saint John which had a 51% rate of “unfounded” reports. Fredericton police have a 16% rate. Codiac RCMP, 33%. Go figure.

Unfounded means the investigating officer does not believe a crime occurred.

Might some of those officers’ beliefs be unfounded?

Are New Brunswickers who report sexual assault less credible than other Canadians?

Why would people who walk into the Saint John police station to report a sexual assault be more likely to be making up the story, given all that we know that discourages people from reporting sexual assaults?

Why do police not clear the charges using the other checkboxes: “not enough evidence” “complainant doesn’t want to proceed with charges”? Is there some bureaucratic benefit to clearing it as “unfounded”? Once they are “unfounded”, no one counts them as unsolved. The Globe states: “Inflated unfounded rates create the impression that police receive fewer complaints of sexual assault than they actually do. In turn, that gives the appearance that more complaints lead to an arrest.”

So I ask the proud police inspector, why are Saint John sexual assault victims so keen to report if little happens after they lay complaints? Or are you just proud police know how to take a complaint? Anyone can just take them.

 

 

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* Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics; CANSIM table 252-0051.  These statistics were publicized and denounced by the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women in the Status Report it published from early 1990s to 2011 when the Council was abolished by the provincial government. The government then pledged it would continue to publish the Status Report. It has not been published since 2014

** http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/compare-unfounded-sex-assault-rates-across-canada/article33855643/#saint-john-nb

What I loved about 2016

The following text was written following my participation in the CBC NB year-end political panel on Shift radio program, December 30, 2016.

I don’t submit well to all exercises. Year-end reviews for example. Year-end reviews are influenced by news headlines which necessarily focus on recent political or legal events and often, also necessarily, negative events like terrorism attacks and natural disasters. It doesn’t seem the right moment to raise long-term trends for how things are going, but that’s what I’m wanting to do.  What made the year tolerable was the knowledge that the bigger picture shows a somewhat different reality than recent events.

The trials and madness of the daily news – especially the tragedy that is becoming the United States – are easier to take knowing that some things have been going in the right direction. There are fewer wars in the world than most other times in history. More than 90% of children in the world are learning to read and write. One out of two humans in the world lives in a democracy. Women have more power, education and rights than ever. World population growth has slowed to a fraction of 1% annually. Extreme poverty in the world has now fallen below 10%. Those are firsts. For as long as such progress continues, and there is no guarantee it will, we improve chances of dealing with the difficulties, such as wars, looting leaders, climate change, fanatic religions. It’s what I loved about 2016.

Having said that, here are some of the trials and madness of 2016 in New Brunswick:

The issue that was there every time I looked up, especially if I was walking around Fredericton, was bilingualism, most often the anti-bilingualism forces. The world is blaming Mr. Trump for his use of fake news, online funny stuff, made-up statistics, but I think New Brunswick haters should get some credit for doing it first. The made-up stories were everywhere about who did or said what, about the percentage of civil service jobs that require bilingualism, about the dollars potentially saved from combining school buses or doing away with duality, or was that doing away with Acadians.  The federal minister for Official Languages just did a cross-Canada consultation on official languages and she said that it was the consultation in Moncton that attracted the most anti-bilingualism forces. Through most of the year the provincial government avoided playing its role on the issue – not defending its policies, not calming the rhetoric and the hate, attacking the Official Languages Commissioner, openly disrespecting her report before and after it was released, telling her that her role is to be a cheerleader not an auditor. Then in September, there was Brian Gallant’s coming out, his saying he is an Acadian, and that New Brunswick’s experience with French-English cohabitation is reasonable. That week, the government spoke and acted responsibly. We shall see if they are consistent on this issue.

The court decision last April that it is unconstitutional to forbid bringing in liquor from other provinces was an important one that will make news again next year. The court decision was the result of the happy circumstance of a determined client, a bright lawyer and a lower court judge who delivered a thesis of a decision – it takes three hours to read. Next year hopefully the Supreme Court will speak on the case, but expect repercussions on similar cases and on other interprovincial trade.

Blaine Higgs’s election to lead the “Progressive” Conservative Party was a surprise of the “all that for that?” sort. Blast from the past. The party doesn’t look like a 21st century party. It actually doesn’t feel like a provincial party.

No, Mr. Gallant, your problem is not that your government has not communicated well about your effort to change the Judicature Act. The problem is that you have not communicated. What is the problem that this is a solution to? Of all the issues in the province that need attention, why is this one getting attention?  If we were handing out stupidity awards, this would get it along with the provincial government’s seemingly natural revulsion for all its independent agencies like the Auditor General, Ombudsman, Official Languages Commissioner etc. You do know, I hope, that these agencies and their commissioners (and judges, by the way) are held in higher esteem by New Brunswickers than are politicians. Oh and give one of those awards to Liquor NB for wanting to sue the Right to Information Commissioner because she wanted information.

If you want to know what will happen in 2017, I will tell you.

Opposition leaders will not like one idea in any Speech from the throne anywhere, and that will still make headlines.

Around the world, people will do terrible things out of love for their god, not caring that that love is not reciprocated.

Women will break some glass ceilings, climb through and someone will raise the ladder behind them.

Many will worry and bemoan NB’s weak performance in various things but no one will worry about the historic hold and ongoing influence of large corporations and fortunes on our economy, politics, and public debates.

Our apathy will prove to be our enemy, once again.

The winners in 2017 will be the ones among us who can find a way to handle news from the United States without giving up on humanity, democracy, or worse, giving up our responsibilities as citizens to keep informed and think critically.

Santé.

Excu-u-use me si vous n’êtes pas bilingue

J’ai probablement mal compris ou je ne devrais pas les prendre au mot, mais je crois entendre une note nouvelle dans le ronron des revendications de ceux qui sont contre le bilinguisme au Nouveau-Brunswick.

Je crois comprendre que certains de ces gens dénoncent la politique de bilinguisme parce que peu d’anglophones sont bilingues. Le dernier à présenter cet argument est le nouveau chef du parti conservateur, Blaine Higgs, qui a dit à l’Acadie Nouvelle la semaine dernière, « Quand 70% de tes enfants (anglophones) dans le système scolaire obtiennent leur diplôme sans parler les deux langues officielles, ils sortent de l’école avec une main attachée dans le dos. Ça ne peut pas être ça la vision de départ (du bilinguisme officiel). Et c’est ça qui provoque des émotions. »

Ces derniers mois, plusieurs autres anglophones unilingues ont avancé cette objection. Certains disent ensuite que c’est là la preuve que le bilinguisme ne marche pas et qu’il faut soit l’abolir, ou leur donner des emplois dans la fonction publique parce que tout Néo-brunswickois a droit à un poste de fonctionnaire, ou au moins les laisser embarquer pour une ride dans les autobus scolaires des petits francophones. Pardon, j’ai de la misère à suivre leurs arguments mais c’est quelque chose comme ça.

Well, excuse me si vous n’êtes pas bilingue. Ç’aurait peut-être affaire au fait que vous ne l’avez pas revendiqué ? Peut-être ça affaire au fait que le discours ambiant des anglophones de la province était depuis toujours que « French is being rammed down our throat » ? On doit présumer que ça ce n’était pas vrai ? Peut-être si la motivation pour l’inscription de ses enfants à l’immersion était plus saine et forte, et si l’engagement à une province bilingue était plus réel, vous auriez une panoplie d’options pour devenir bilingue. Je suis d’accord que vos services d’immersion sont peu glorieux – j’ai rarement vu un jeune qui en sort avec qui je peux avoir une petite conversation en français qui n’est pas pénible à mourir.

En tout cas, vous n’aviez qu’à vous organiser pour revendiquer des services. Bravo si vous le faites maintenant. Ce n’est point la faute des Acadiens ou notre responsabilité de le faire pour vous. Ça s’appelle la dualité…

Ah, pis en passant le but de la politique de bilinguisme n’était pas de vous rendre bilingue. You can look it up. C’était que le gouvernement traite de manière respectueuse avec tous les citoyens, pardon, contribuables.

Si je n’ai pas tout mal compris et ils veulent devenir bilingue par amour pour le français, pour le Nouveau-Brunswick, le Québec, la France et les Acadiens, je leur souhaite bonne chance et bon apprentissage. Ce que je ne leur souhaite pas, c’est de découvrir la meilleure façon que j’aie trouvé pour apprendre une autre langue : n’avoir pas de service dans ta langue.

Getting it Right – Women’s Day

If you were to compile a list of the gains New Brunswick women have made in recent decades, it would be long and impressive. We have more rights, and greater autonomy and standing.

However, if you were also to list the issues that should be addressed in New Brunswick to bring about equality between the sexes, that list, too, would be long, and somewhat similar to the first list. That’s because the job isn’t finished, often because it is being done badly. For instance:

Quality child care remains unaffordable for many and unaffordable child care is about as useful as a washed-out bridge when trying to get to work.

We know how to take a sexual assault complaint. We just don’t seem to know what to do with it.

We have shown we care for female victims of male violence, but we don’t do much to prevent the violence before it starts (which, if you think about it, is kind of creepy).

We wanted jobs, but we weren’t told so many jobs earn you poverty.

What is it about “I’m the boss of my own body” that we don’t understand?

With every election, we get the same results: little diversity, even though every election the main parties say they really, really, yes, really want more female candidates. How can that be? Don’t incantations work?

We remember the first time we are threatened with equality. Here’s a recent example from that « You want equality, you’ll get it with a vengeance! » school of thuggery: when some traditionally female jobs – such as child care administration and transition house work – were evaluated via a « made-in-New Brunswick » pay equity analysis, they were found to pay too much (even though they paid less than similar jobs in other provinces with similar costs of living). The government – both stripes – said they had « adapted » the generally accepted methods for evaluating pay equity, but this had the result of reducing the chance of a salary adjustment to female workers. Some call it an adaptation, I call it rigging the game.

Another recent entry in the « ok, we’ll do it, but you won’t like it » file:

Five years ago this month, David Alward’s Conservatives shocked the province by abolishing the Council, months after being elected on a platform to « work with the Advisory Council on the Status of Women » (I still smile at my naive relief on hearing that). Then, having failed to quell the reaction, they tried to smooth things over before facing another election, by creating an internal committee (Voices) to advise on women’s issues, calling it independent. However, no legislation, no Order-in-Council, no authority to back it up. The old political attempt at « You asked for something, this is something ». Governments know how to create an independent agency, and they knew this was not it.

I was the executive director during the Council’s last ten years, and had worked for it for some 20 years before that. I remember showdowns with government representatives at various levels who were upset by a position or project of the Council because it was politically problematic, inconvenient, or just feminist. We were able to persist and prevail, and continue on our road when we said, « Golly, we’re just trying to fulfill our legislated mandate because if we don’t do our job, you and women will be all over us for taking public funding but not doing the job. »

Try doing that when you don’t have that piece of paper. It’d be like finding yourself in a strange country without identification.

Then came Brian Gallant and the Liberal government which promised to fix this and restore independent status to Voices. Given what appears to be the Gallant government’s attitude towards independent watch-dog agencies, it might actually not be helpful to bring this up. To be ignored is maybe to be let off easy. Still, it’s been two years since the new committee, Voices, was created, and we haven’t heard anything. The likely reasons are the lack of structure and legal status. I raise this because there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed; I can give you a list. It’s long.

One final word: the provincial government recently announced it has begun doing gender-based analysis as part of its policy planning. Each option government is studying will be analyzed for its impact on gender equality. However, the analysis documents will not be made public because they are « advice to Cabinet ». That’s one way of doing it. Not the transparent or trustworthy way. The government should have chosen to have it done by an independent body, but even if it is done in-house, the research, at least, could be made public, and not the advice to Cabinet based on the research. Otherwise, and especially in the absence of any visible effect on policy of these analyses, I assume that it’s still business as usual. We have no reason to believe that anything more than a checkbox was added to ministers’ briefing notes: GBA done? Check. The government hasn’t said whether it is going ahead with policies that have a positive, negative, or neutral impact on gender equality, so what do we know? I don’t doubt that analysis is being done, but we should insist on seeing the analyses and knowing the process. That’s not cynicism; it’s experience.

We’ve got it covered, girly

The New Brunswick government is finally doing analysis of the potential impact of its decisions on gender equality. Now there’s good news. Each option under study for a new program, or changes or cuts to programs, will be analyzed for its impact on gender (as well as potential fiscal and economic impacts).

Some applause has come from women’s groups, though it was muted: they want to “see the documents”.

But overall, that’s good news, right? How hard can it be? How can anything go wrong?

Well, let me count the ways.

 

What we know:

The government says its employees did a gender-based analysis.

 

Which suggests:

The government is only going ahead with policies that have a positive or neutral impact on equality, that pass the “gender” test.

Their gender-based analysis includes all genders, all women, all men, and the relative situation of all New Brunswickers in all their diversity.

 

What we fear:

“Mr. Minister, here’s the impact analysis for gender on that proposed policy. We found that it would set back equality between women and men. We recommend against that policy. In fact the committee says “Under no circumstances should …””

“Excuse me. You did a gender-based analysis? I can say that?

“Yes, but…”

“Thank you.”

“Mr. Minister, I’m happy to inform you that we did a gender-based analysis on your platform policies. However, we did not have any statistics by race, income group, location, and, actually, sex was a problem too. But we have a feeling this will play well.”

“Good job once again, thank you.”

 

There is no reason to mistrust this government over any other. But giving any party-cum-government the power to self-police is never a good idea. Think of what recent NB governments have done to pay equity analysis*.

Finally, remember Sheila Fraser, Canada’s super Auditor General? She “found out” the federal government on this issue in 2009. A House of Commons Standing Committee requested that her office examine how well the federal government was implementing gender-based analysis. Fraser asked Treasury Board and other departments to provide their gender-analysis documents. “We-l-ll, actually there are no records, but…”, came the response. “But…”

No documentation, no analysis, she concluded.

 

* https://rosellam.wordpress.com/?s=paid+too+much

Things New Brunswick cannot afford

New Brunswick cannot afford working under the presumption that everybody will benefit no matter how we get New Brunswick’s economy going. We know that places with similar levels of growth can have very different levels of inequality and poverty. You can have a growing economy with small wage earners who are not benefitting. Economists have words for it – “weakening relationship between wages and growth”, “jobs-poor recovery”, “the concentration of wealth’s effect on economies”, “big money’s influence on democratic politics” – words that I am not fully qualified to handle, but I know that, if they don’t take care, even governments that earnestly try to restart an economy may produce results only for certain segments of the population. (And then there might be even fewer citizens able to afford the $300 ticket to hear the “State of the Province” speech by our Premier!) If we want broadly shared economic growth, we must ensure that is what happens, because, in these times, it is unlikely to be created by chance.

New Brunswick cannot afford governments conducting mindless consultations. The way that the process for the program review now underway has started – a four-page note from the minister and two-hour meetings around the province over one month – is not enough to launch a thinking process or a change of course. A coalition of citizen groups has called for a more thoughtful process, suggesting that the government take a few extra months, produce a real discussion paper giving a picture of the situation, the challenges, and some options. When we are simply asked to “name three things that you think government could stop doing to save money” and “three things government could do to raise money”, you will get many knee-jerk reactions, anecdotes, things people have been repeating all their lives – whether they apply to New Brunswick, would save money in the long term, or would hurt more than help. You will get some useful suggestions, but nothing like what would come out of a real process of citizen participation. You can look it up. In times such as these, where we have been told that a race to the bottom is the only way to go, asking for ideas may produce more than one “Kill my neighbour’s cow because I don’t have one” suggestion. Lire la suite

Calling Out Bruce Fitch

Opposition Leader Bruch Fitch needs to be called out, not only for the contempt of women shown in his reaction to the removal of political hurdles to abortion services, but for his lack of leadership – nay his deliberate feeding of the propaganda machine – on this divisive issue.

On the day the provincial government announced the coming changes in access to abortion, Mr. Fitch said “Does that mean you’ll have the ability of having an abortion in the eighth month of pregnancy?”

He could have said he did not agree with the change in policy and with abortion. He could have argued for the status quo. He could have recognized the consensus for change evident in the provincial election result. He could have chosen to set a tone of respectful disagreement and reasoned argument.

Instead he chose to feed misinformation and prejudice. What he is alluding to? Where are such abortions in the eighth month performed?

Can he justify playing to that gallery instead of acting like a community leader?
Will he next raise the other outlandish lies that come from the same propaganda factory, such as that “real” rape victims don’t become pregnant, that abortion endangers women’s health or fertility?

When New Brunswick deals with other divisive issues, is this going to be the level of his contribution? On bilingualism, will he take up the Bilingual today, French tomorrow rant of the haters? On sexual assault, will he remind us that women are known to lie about these things? Lire la suite

Women become adults in New Brunswick

A slightly different version of this text was published by the CBC NB website on November 28, 2014.

New Brunswick women would have had better access to abortion a long time ago if:

  • Canada still had standards that provinces had to respect in order to receive funding for health services;
  • Then-premier Frank McKenna had had the ovaries to protect women’s rights;
  • McKenna had not set the tone for the next 25 years with his, ‘I’m the sheriff here’ response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision on abortion in 1988 and Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s clinic services;
  • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms had a mechanism to put into place access to its theoretical rights;
  • The anti-choice people did not scare the bejesus out of you, me, civil servants, politicians, health professionals and media;
  • New Brunswick politicians had acted as if they knew their role is to ensure respect of citizens’ rights — even those rights and those citizens they do not like;
  • The world was not so obsessed with women’s sexuality and morals;
  • A New Brunswick woman with means had ever not had access to an abortion and gone to court to challenge the political criteria for that medical procedure.

None of those things transpired, so Premier Brian Gallant was the one who will go down as having changed things up – the one to end New Brunswick’s guardianship system over pregnant women and to grant them full adult status in decisions regarding their body.

Yesterday’s announcement by Premier Brian Gallant was welcome, abolishing the McKenna regulations that had recreated the obstacles that had been banned by the Supreme Court.

Brian Gallant should get much credit, but save some of it for those feminist groups, some who worked clandestinely, over several decades.

The closing of the Morgentaler clinic also contributed to creating the necessary conditions, but the times were generally ripe.

In fact, part of the credit for creating the favourable conditions for this announcement should go to the religious opponents who did not evolve with the times, and the Conservatives who hardened into fundamentalists on this issue – both seemed increasingly unreasonable to normal people.
(This reminds me of author Elspeth Tulloch’s comment, in her book on the history of New Brunswick women, about how long it took for our right to vote to be recognized, “The anti-suffragists in New Brunswick were indeed beginning to look ridiculous by the spring of 1917.”) Lire la suite

The Premier of Women’s Equality

This commentary was first published by the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on November 15, 2014.

Premier Brian Gallant is Minister responsible for Women’s Equality. This is a return to the original New Brunswick practice of having the Premier responsible for that portfolio.

When this was announced, someone tweeted, “A man!?”. To which I replied that I prefer the Minister responsible for this issue to be the Premier, and I’d also love for the Premier to be a woman. Women’s Equality gains in importance from it being the Premier’s responsibility, but the main reason is that bringing about equality requires an overarching approach due to the number of policy areas implicated.

To explain his decision, Premier Gallant said, « I believe that taking on women’s equality in the premier’s office shows it is something that will be at the forefront of our government.”

The first issue that he is expected to deliver on, because he said he would do so ‘swiftly’ upon election, is to identify and remove all the barriers to access to abortion services. The window for “swiftly” may be starting to close. Fortunately, the remedy can be quick. Abolish the political criteria for this medical procedure and ensure abortions are available, like all medical procedures, under the most appropriate care in the most appropriate setting.

What will take longer are the larger related issues: All the other reproductive health matters that New Brunswick has been neglecting, and paying for, including high teenage birth rates, midwifery services and sexual health services. If reproductive health includes being able to have the number of children you want, I say affordability of quality child care is also a reproductive health issue, but I know that the more persuasive argument for such child care is the economic stimulus effect it has. Lire la suite

Will you still need me when I’m 36?

A slightly different version of this commentary was published by the Telegraph Journal on October 18, 2014.

What will four years bring for that nice young man we just elected?

Brian Gallant can succeed, but only to the extent that he breaks with recent traditions of New Brunswick governments. If he does that, he’ll likely increase his chances of being re-elected, thereby breaking the electorate’s new tradition of one-term governments.

He will have to pay as much attention to process as to content. He will have to resist micro-managing and instead respect and use the civil service properly. He will have to retool the civil service so they can once again give evidence-based policy advice, so that there is once again a difference between them and executive assistants – in their advice and in their hiring process.

He will have to resist those who have much wanting more.
He will have to stop demonizing taxes and use them smartly.
He will have to resist wanting to do a grand gesture solely to leave his stamp.
He will have to communicate with us. We have to have the sense that he has heard us, that he is being straight. He will have to tell us stuff, including about errors by him and his, before they become mistakes, and including when public opinion is wrong. We can think these things through. We’re not stupid. We’re just treated that way.

And for sake, he should deliver the State of the Province address to people, not the Chamber of Commerce.

He will have to reinvent “public consultations” – to make us forget the egregious use made of that term by previous governments, which have mainly consisted of anonymous, internet, choreographed or by-invitation-only consultations and ‘summits’. Lire la suite

Do you like your politics same-sex or opposite-sex?

This commentary was first published in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal October 6, 2014.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party to fix the problem that the party is mostly men. Good men but hey, there’s stuff you haven’t lived, and this is not a same-sex democracy. And frankly, some of you are there because you are men.

Now is the time to change things, early in a new government term. The tradition is to wait until just a couple of months before a provincial election, and reporters ask you whether there will be more women running for your party, and you say, we really, really want more women. Then, it’s too late. And you can’t say that anymore. You’ve been saying that since 1935, when New Brunswick women were first allowed to run as candidates. It’s old. Psychiatrists have a word for people who do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

This is not a same-sex democracy, so your party needs women. Fortunately, there are a lot of good women. Many of them are looking at you, not impressed. And fortunately, it is possible for parties to become more diversified – all the other provinces are doing better than New Brunswick, as are most countries.
Political parties are gatekeepers to the Legislature, plus they receive significant public funding, so they have a responsibility to act, and we have a responsibility to demand it.
However, it’s not just a party problem. The government has the main responsibility to act, especially since the New Brunswick legislature is spectacularly lacking in diversity. Before last month’s election, about 90% of the seats were occupied by men. Now it’s 84%. In the past, it’s been as low as 82% male. It goes up and down like that, from tragic to marginally less pathetic.

The government has a responsibility to enhance democracy. I mean, who deserves 84 percent of the seats when they are 49 percent of the population? If you think our Legislature has so many males because candidates are chosen on merit and women don’t make the grade, then let me doubt that your female ancestors are proud of you, and that you really value democracy. And I’ll bet you’ve never sat in on the goings on at the Legislature. Lire la suite

Women’s jobs are paid too much?

* This commentary was pubished in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal on September 17, 2014.

Home support workers in New Brunswick were happy to hear that they will be getting an increase thanks to the pay equity evaluation that the provincial government launched in 2006 and finished recently. That evaluation concluded that home support workers were getting $2.15 less per hour than they should have been. They will soon be getting what pay equity determines the job should be paid.

Or will they?

The New Brunswick pay equity evaluation was undertaken after much lobbying, over decades, by workers, women’s groups and unions.

But usually, in other jurisdictions, there is public debate, legislation, and an independent body directing how to do pay equity properly. How did we ensure that government did pay equity evaluation properly?

In New Brunswick, it seems governments just got ‘something’ done any old way.
Workers in home support, child care, transition houses and community residences had their job descriptions examined under the recent pay equity evaluation.
The results were astounding.

In this in-house government process, which went on under two governments, from 2006 to 2014, only four out of the dozen or so job categories studied were found to deserve significant pay adjustments. Three of those four were being paid close to minimum wage levels. (Thank you for minimum wage levels.)

Home support workers were lucky to be among those few who deserved something, eventually bringing their hourly pay to $13.15. Workers in child care centres responsible for special needs children were also found to be underpaid – by $2.52 per hour: their hourly wage will eventually be $12.52. Caregivers in adult community residences were found to be underpaid by $2.85 per hour, eventually bringing their wage to $14.80 per hour. Supervisors of adult caregivers, underpaid by $0.83 per hour, will eventually have an hourly wage just over $16.

But the astounding part was that the government concluded that the pay of most female-dominated jobs it examined was excessive. Administrators in the child care sector are paid $2.16 per hour too much. Support workers in transition houses are being paid $2.21 per hour too much, and outreach workers in transition houses, $5.39 per hour more than they are worth.
These jobs are paid less than similar jobs in other provinces, yet they are being paid too much? But New Brunswick’s cost of living is not significantly lower than the average across Canada.
The governments’ “made in New Brunswick” pay equity results seemed odd to me. They seemed odd to the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, too, so they asked distinguished economist and pay equity expert, Ruth Rose, of Montreal, to look at how our provincial government had done the pay equity evaluations.
A few months later, Ruth Rose reported back:

Lire la suite