Sent to Premier Alward, Minister Blaney, and Leader of the Opposition Victor Boudreau:
Regarding the end of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in New Brunswick
The Women’s Studies Programme at the University of New Brunswick deplores the destruction of the Advisory Council. For more than 30 years, the Council has undertaken the objective and thorough investigation of the status of women in this province over time and has publicized its analysis in highly accessible documentation. It has exposed the disparity between women’s and men’s monetary compensation for work of equal value to New Brunswick society. It has proposed ways to improve the status of all women in the province, particularly the most disadvantaged and the most exploited. It has exposed the weakness of government policies with regard to women and demonstrated the need for more comprehensive programmes to meet the needs of women and children. The thoroughness of its research and the integrity of its representatives have meant that its widely publicized findings have been unassailable. Anyone, of any political persuasion, has been able to trust its findings and to make use of them to promote essential improvements in New Brunswick society, such as equality in the work place between women and men, and an end to family violence. The Council has also served as a link between disparate and geographically separated women’s groups, particularly those working on the front lines and those who support them. Its Chairperson has provided the leadership that has enabled front-line workers and others to provide service to the women of this province in greatest need. Sadly, such leadership and such service continue to be necessary, because social problems have not been solved, and inequalities have not yet been righted.
While some of the work of the Council may be continued if two of its members are integrated into a government department, its most important quality — its independence and ability to ‘speak the truth to
power’, as well as to bring women together — will be lost, as those members become public servants accountable first of all to the government of the day. All possible avenues should be explored to ensure the continuation of the Council as well as the continuation of support for front-line workers, in the struggle to ensure that all New Brunswick women may enjoy basic human and economic rights. It will be a tragedy for us all if this important independent institution is lost to New Brunswick society as a whole.
Professor of History and
Acting Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Programme
University of New Brunswick