March 29, 2011
The Honourable David Alward
Premier of New Brunswick
Dear Mr. Alward,
Re. New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women
In keeping with our mission of coordinating and promoting social development in greater Saint John, we are writing to urge you to reverse your government’s decision to abolish the Advisory Council on the Status of Women (the “Council”). Since its creation in 1977, the Council has provided important “arms-length” information and advice to governments on matters relating to the status of women in New Brunswick. They have a track record of providing solid, reliable research and essential advocacy. The Council has been an important independent voice for women.
The Council’s list of accomplishments is impressive given the modest public investment made to sustain it. As your government addresses the province’s fiscal and demographic challenges it is important that all the interests in our communities – including gender – are heard and that researched positions replace rhetoric. The Council is an important part of civil society in New Brunswick and its abolition would weaken an already fragile network of organizations. Moreover, it is likely that disbanding the Council would have a chilling effect on the advocacy efforts of other groups receiving government support.
We support the work of the Women’s Issues Branch and acknowledge the importance of its mandate to coordinate the implementation of the government’s action plans on violence against women and the wage gap. At the same time, we believe that a vital service provided by the Council – to bring matters of concern to women before the public (as set out in section 3 of its Act) – would be lost if the Council was abolished.
The Human Development Council urges you to reconsider your government’s decision.