Monday, June 1, 2009

PC platform and poverty reduction strategy: Where are women and girls?

Today I finally got a chance to look at the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative policy platform, available here:

As with the other party platforms, I did not have the time to do a thorough feminist analysis of the entire document. Rather, I looked at what the party was promising to do to address certain issues: poverty, affordable housing, income assistance, minimum wage and, of course, women's services.

The 56-page document is organized into five sections: "The Economy," "Rural Development," "Fighting Crime," "Defending Nova Scotia" and "Roads and Infrastructure."

On the issue of poverty, the party has announced a poverty reduction strategy that commits $155 million toward training, affordable housing and improving supports for low-income persons. (The entire 45-page strategy is available here:

From what I've gathered, anti-poverty activists see the strategy as a step in the right direction, but recognize that it will take much more than this modest plan to eradicate poverty in Nova Scotia.

For instance, the government plans to increase minimum wage to $9.65 by 2011. Unless the cost of living goes down dramatically, people earning this wage are still going to be living in poverty - right?

Back to the platform proper. The party promises to invest $128 million into creating or renovating affordable housing, including 8,600 new units. This would certainly be great, although if the CMHC statistics are right, this would still only address a fraction of the province's housing crisis.

The party also promises to increase the employment support and income assistance (ESIA) rates by $21 million. Now, I'm no expert on this issue, so I'm not sure how far this money will go to alleviate poverty. Anyone have insights on this point?

Now, there is nothing in the platform - or the poverty reduction strategy - about women's services. While the party's poverty strategy certainly has implications for women, there is no mention of women's centres or transition hosues.

Rodney MacDonald told us his party will continue to support women's centres in Nova Scotia. With 101 pages of policy and no mention of women's services, however, I wonder what this support will look like. Will women's services receive the funding they need to provide fair and competitive salaries?

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