ED 068 654
VT 017 051
Women's Bureau *71.
Department of Labour, Ottawa (Ontario). Women's
Canada Department of Labour, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
MF-S0.65 HC Not Available from EDRS.
♦Equal Opportunities (Jobs) ; *Federal Legislation;
Females; Labor Force; ♦Sex Discrimination;
♦Underemployed; * Working Women
This publication contains four papers presented by
the Director of the Women's Bureau (Canada) , which cover topics of
concern and interest to the Bureau. Papers ares (1) "The
Underemployed, Underpaid Third of the Labour Force," which presents
statistical data reflecting a picture of working women in Canada,
showing the occupational segregation and wage discrimination that
persists, (2) "The Importance of Perseverance," which is designed to
appeal to women to persevere in their efforts to rectify existing
injustices in Canadian society relating to working women, (3) "A Year
After the Report: Where Are We Now?" which sets out significant
legislation enactments by federal and provincial governments designed
to eliminate sex discrimination in employment, and (4) "Canada's
International Posture on the Status of Women," which discusses two
international bodies with which the Women's Bureau is closely
associated, the International Labour Organization and the United
Nations Commission on the Status of Women. (SB)
Bureau de la
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Cat No.: L38-2871
When Women’s Bureau ‘ 69 was published by the Canada Department
of Labour, it was not foreseen that the format then, adopted would be-
come a continuing one. Had this been anticipated, a different title might
have been chosen, such as “The Director’s Notebook,” to indicate that
the publication contained some of the papers prepared and delivered by
the Director during the course of the year. However, in the light of the
continuing increase in demand for copies, it has been decided to retain
the original format for what is now apparently becoming an annual
The four papers in this Women’s Bureau ‘ 71 cover four specific
areas of concern and interest to the Bureau. ‘The Underemployed,
Underpaid Third of the Labour Force” presents statistical data reflect-
ing a picture of working women in Canada, showing the occupational
segregation and wage discrimination that still dominate the scene in our
The paper entitled “The Importance of Perseverance” is designed
to appeal to women themselves to be strong of purpose and to persevere
in their efforts to rectify existing injustices in Canadian society relating
to working women.
The third paper, entitled “A Year After the Report: Where are We
Now?” — referring to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status
of Women — strikes a more optimistic note: it sets out significant legis-
lative enactments by federal and provincial governments designed to
eliminate sex discrimination in employment. The working women of
Canada, as well as their trade unions and those who support their cause,
are counselled to make full use of the new legislation.
The fourth paper, “Canada’s International Posture on the Status
of Women,” provides a look at the two international bodies with which
the Women’s Bureau is closely associated: the International Labour
Organization, through the International .Labour Conference and the
Panel of Consultants on the Problems of Women Workers; and the
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
The Women’s Bureau is grateful for the public support it has
received as evidenced by the fact that previous editions of this publica-
tion have already gone through several printings.
Sylva M. Gelber,
] THE UNDEREMPLOYED, UNDERPAID
| THIRD OF THE LABOUR FORCE 7
THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSEVERANCE 13
A YEAR AFTER THE REPORT:
I WHERE ARE WE NOW? 20
CANADA’S INTERNATIONAL POSTURE ON THE STATUS
OF WOMEN 29
THE UNDEREMPLOYED, UNDERPAID
THIRD OF THE LABOUR FORCE
There are today in Canada nearly three-quarters of a million ( 678,035 )*
working women, who hav.‘, more than one and one-third million
(1,350, 000) 2 children under the age of fourteen. They are the wives
of men whose families consist of one or more children under fourteen,
and who have a median income of less than six and one-half thousand
dollars ($6,454) 3 a year, Or they are women without husbands, as in
the case of some sixty thousand (60,083 V of them.
There are also ■ ‘ * -third of a million
majority (206,117) are widows. Consider with these, almost a million
(925,000)° single working women, and it may be fair to assume that
the vast majority of women, particularly married women with young
children, who double their own burden by going out to work, are
employed because of economic need.
1 Estimated on the basis of data for 1967 from Canada Department of Labour, Working
Mothers and Their Child-rare Arrangements (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1970), p. 19.
* Estimated on the basis of data for 1967. See Canada Department of Labour, op. cit. t p. 37.
3 Estimated on the basis of unpublished data for 1967 from the study, Canada Department
of Labour, op. cit.
4 Estimated on the basis of data for 1967. Sec Canada Department of Labour, op. cit. t p. 31.
ft Estimated for 1971 on the basis of data in. Dominion Bureau of Statistics (D.B.S.), 1966
Census of Canada , Households and Families , Families by Marital Status, Age and Sex of
Head , Cat. No. 93-611 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1969), Table 69.
9 D.B.S., Labour Division, Labour Force Survey Section, Special Tables — 12 Month Averages
(mimeographed, 1970), Table 2.
families; the vast
The increasing participation of women in the labour force is a
fact of life not only in Canada, but in most industrialized societies
today. International statistical comparisons of the size of the labour
force, of course, may be somewhat misleading, particularly with regard
to the developing countries, where definitions appear to be interpreted
rather freely. However, some comparison in relation to developed
countries may be meaningful. In many western European countries, the
percentage of women in the labour force is greater than it is in this
Sweden and France, West Germany and the United Kingdom, as
well as the United States of America, 7 all report greater participation
of women in the labour force than there is in Canada. This may be due,
in some part, to the availability in other countries of facilities, such
as day-care centres, for those working women who have preschool age
children. Be that as it may, the numbers of women entering the labour
force abroad appear to be continuing to increase.
In Canada, the percentage of women in the labour force has
increased from about one-quarter (25.8%) of the total ten years ago,
to nearly one-third (32.1%) today. 8 At the same time, the participation
rate of women, that is the percentage of all women of working age who
are working outside the home, also rose from more than a quarter
(27.9%) in 1960 to well over a third (35.5%) in 1970.® In other
words, at least every third woman in Canada of working age is in the
There are today about one million more working women in this
country than there were ten years ago. 10 The most recent figure shows
a total of more than 2.9 million women who are working. 11 Further-
more, the largest influx of any group into the labour force in recent
years has been that of women, and particularly women just beyond the
current average childbearing years. 12
? “Western Europe and Canada: Characteristics of Female Employment/* Labor Develop-
ments Abroad , Vol. 15, No. 6 (June 1970), p. 12.
• Dominion Bureau of Statistics (D.B.S.), Labour Division, Labour Force Survey Section,
Special Tables — 12 Month Averages (mimeographed, annual), Table 1.
• Ibid .
11 Statistics Canada, Labour Division, Special Tables — Week Ended July 24, 1971 (mimeo-
graphed.), Table 1.
11 D.B.S., Labour Division, Special Tables — 12 Month Averages (mimeographed, annual),
The marital status pattern of working
women also appears to be undergoing change.
Last year, half (56.7%) of working women were
married, compared with 45.0% ten years ago.
Single women last year accounted for only
34.4% while ten years ago this percentage was
The occupations' 4 in which women are employed have not changed
very radically in the last few years. Almost a third (32.2%) arc em-
ployed as clerical workers, making up well over two-thirds (71.0% ) of
all persons employed in that occupation. Almost a quarter (22.6% ) of
the female labour force is in non-managerial jobs in service industries.
Although women comprise more than 32 per cent of the total
labour force, less than 4 per cent (3.9%) ,fi of the female labour force
are employed in managerial positions. During the last few years, in
spite of the increasing numbers of women entering the labour force,
the percentage of women in managerial or executive jobs has hardly
And what is the picture with regard to professional jobs? The
percentage of women who are reported to be in professional and tech-
nical occupations, 10 amounting to more than fifteen per cent, ( 17.5%),
is somewhat misleading, for within this group are those who are work-
ing in the so-called “female” professions, such as teachers, nurses and
librarians. Although these occupations are certainly professional, they
have never attained recognition in the economic sense when compared
with male-dominated professions.
There are some male-dominated professions in countries with
which Canada has a close association that are at long last beginning to
report a relatively reasonable participation of women, such as the medi-
cal and legal professions. Unfortunately, Canada still lags behind these.
For example, in the medical profession in Britain in 1964, almost 25
per cent (24.6%) of the doctors were women.” In Canada, only 12
per cent of the profession consists of women doctors. 18 In the legal
" Ibid., Table 2.
"Ibid., Table 3(c).
17 United Kingdom, Central Office of Information, Women in Britain (London: 1964), p. 12.
w Unpublished estimate of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.
profession in France in 1969, 20 per cent of the lawyers were women; 19
in Canada the figure was 2.6 per cent in 1961. 20 (Hopefully this ratio
will now improve, since women comprised 8.7 per cent of the under-
graduate law enrolment in 1968-69.)
There are other professions too in which Canadian women are
sorely lacking in representation compared with other countries. More
than 20 per cent (21.9% in 1964) of the dentists in France are
women, 21 compared with Canada’s 3 per cent 22 (3.0% in 1970). Al-
most 50 per cent of the pharmacists in France (48.4% in 1962) are
women, 23 whereas they account for less than 15 per cent in Canada 24
(13.3% in 1961).
The general picture, therefore, of the Canadian female labour
force portrays women as clerical and office workers, sales clerks and
waitresses, telephone operators, and stewardesses on airlines; but there
is a dearth of planners, executives and managers in the total scene.
And what about the earnings of the women in the labour force?
Quite obviously, workers, male or female, who are employed in the
menial. tasks in the economy are paid at the rates which match the
menial occupation. The difference in so far as women are concerned,
however, is that, in spite of legislation forbidding such practices, women
workers are still being paid at rates consistently lower than those of men
even in the same menial occupations.
A survey of average wage rates per hour in selected industries for
selected occupations, showing male and female rates for similarly des-
cribed occupations, 29 reveals a consistent pattern: male rates exceed
female rates all down the line. The amount of the differential in many
instances is considerable.
For sewing machine operators in the women’s clothing trade, for
example, the male rate is 74 per cent greater than the female rate. Why
should a spinner in the synthetic textile trade who is a woman receive an
hourly wage rate that is 41.6 per cent less than that of the male worker
Le Devoir (Montreal), January 16, 1970, p. 11.
“D.B.S., 1961 Census of Canada , Occupations by Sex ; Bulletin 3.1 — 3 (Ottawa: Queen's
Printer, 1963), p. 6—4.
n Andrde Lehmann, Le R6le de la Femme Frangaise au Milieu du XX 9 Steele (Paris: Edition
de la Langue Fransaise pour le Droit des Femmes, 1965), p. 30.
** Unpublished data, Dental Health Division, Department of National Health and Welfare.
* Lehmann, loc cit.
“D.B S. t loc . cit .
■ Canada Department of Labour, Economics and Research Branch, Wage Rates , Salaries and
Hours of Labour 1969 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1970), pp. 58 to 236.
doing the same job? The same question can be asked with regard to
the inspector of finished goods in certain rubber products industries,
where the differential is equally as great.
Other examples of differentials in average wage rates per hour for
similarly described occupations are to be found in the case of assem-
blers in the motor vehicle parts and accessories trade, where the men
get a rate 68.3 per cent greater than that paid to the women for
doing the same job; or machine operators in the same trade, where
the difference is 64 per cent. And on and on.
These few examples, however, relate to the manufacturing indus-
try, which accounts for only a quarter of the female labour force. In
the service industries such as laundries, restaurants and hairdressing
establishments, it is more difficult to present similar precise wage com-
parisons. The female labour force predominates in this essentially
unorganized sector of the economy. The low level of wage rates paid in
the service industries undoubtedly stems from the two significant words
which describe the service jobs; the word “female” and the word
But if different rates of pay apply to women doing the same job as
men in the industrial sector, it might have been expected that where
brain-power was involved there would be more justice in rates of re-
muneration. The facts, unfortunately, reveal the same conditions among
the professional workers and academics as among the rest of the female
The annual earnings of women engineers and scientists are lower
than those of the men in the same profession by as much as 41 per
cent. 26 The same percentage differential in median earnings, amounting
to $4,000 annually, applies in the social sciences. 27 An even more
revealing statistic is that in the field of social work, where, despite the
fact that two-thirds of the profession is made up of women, the men
earn $1,800 annually more than the women. 28
In the academic field, 26 the picture is merely a repetition of the
same type of differential pay on grounds of sex. Male professors earn
* Canada Department of Manpower and Immigration, Research Branch, Canada* s Highly
Qualified Manpower Resources (Ottawa: published by the Department, 1970).
”Ibid. t p. 110.
m D.B.S., Education Division, Salaries and Qualifications of Teachers in Universities and Col-
leges 1969-70 , Cat. No. 81-203 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1970), pp. 26-31.
almost 8 per cent (7.9%) more than women; assistant professors earn
5 per cent (4.7%) more; for lecturers and instructors, the difference
is almost 9 per cent (8.7%). In the smaller colleges the percentage
difference in men’s remuneration over women’s is almost half (48.7%).
There are those who endeavour to explain these differentials on
the basis of such factors as level of education, experience, sector of
employment and work function. Yet studies carried out by the Royal
Commission on the Status of Women 30 of the factors accounting for
the differential in the remuneration of academics reveal that a sub-
stantial element of the wage differential appeared to be based solely on
This then, in summary, is the pattern of the Canadian female
labour force in the early seventies of the twentieth century. To those
who have studied labour force patterns in other countries, in other social
and economic climes, there must be an uneasy sense of deja vu — a
sense of having seen somewhere before similar occupational segregation
and wage rate differentials. The affected group may have been a religious
one, or a national one, or a racial one, or a political one. But whatever
the makeup of the group, the factor that accounted for the peculiar
labour force pattern was a common one: discrimination.
The present pattern of the female labour force in Canada might
well be used as the bench mark against which may be measured
Canada’s forward march in attaining equal opportunity for women.
Token appointments of individual women to individual positions will
not in themselves affect the pattern of the female labour force. But the
removal of the barriers which now exist will inevitably be reflected in
a balanced pattern. To this end, economists should be as deeply con-
cerned as those who plead the cause solely on the basis of justice.
For the continuing underemployment and underpayment of one-
third of the total labour force is not only wasteful of human resources;
it is detrimental to the Canadian economy.
30 Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (Ottawa: Information
THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSEVERANCE
If women wish to achieve a social climate in our country that will
permit them the freedom to pursue an occupation of choice, regardless
of domestic status, then they must not only equip themselves with the
requisite competence, but must also develop and exercise powers of
perseverance. For while competence alone might give them the tools
for their chosen occupation, outdated social attitudes may still impede
their freedom to engage in it.
The world of 1971 is far advanced, both scientifically and tech-
nologically, beyond the world of only thirty years ago. But, unhappily,
the attitudes that still exist in this world of 1971 do not reflect the
changes in our society that should flow from these scientific and
technological advances. If these attitudes are to be changed, and par-
ticularly the attitudes toward women whose potential, perforce, has
undergone virtually revolutionary possibilities, then women themselves
must develop and exercise the power of perseverance. Perseverance is
essential in order continually to withstand outdated social attitudes and
in order to bring about an enlightened view of woman’s place in the
In particular, there must be perseverance in the refusal to accept
discrimination on grounds of sex, be it in the world of employment
or be it in the law; be it in practice or be it in statute. For the battle for
the elimination of discrimination on grounds of sex is still a long way
from being won.
Even in the Public Service of Canada, where the merit system is
said to have applied, it has been shown that women have been discrimi-
nated against. The Chairman of the Public Service Commission, in a
speech 1 a year and a half ago and recently in a statement 2 to the House
of Commons Miscellaneous Estimates Committee, confirmed that for
years the Commission had been discriminating against women in a real
and subtle sense. This was also the finding of two major Reports made
public in the last year. 3
It is obvious, however, that attitudes appear to be changing. The
manner in which revelations of discrimination in employment have been
made, and have been received, can only be interpreted as a prologue to
new and more enlightened policies. In the case of the Public Service
Commission, for example, a senior officer has been appointed recently
whose primary task is to ensure equal employment opportunities for
women in the Public Service.
While attitudes may be changing in some areas, however, they
have a long way to go in others. For example, what are the conditions
in 1971 that lead to the situation, described in the press, of a trade
union’s threatening to strike because the employer proposed to replace
the men on the night shift by women workers?
It seems unlikely, although possible, that the employer in this case
was convinced that the women workers could achieve greater producti-
vity and a superior quality of work. The more likely explanation would
seem to be that the employer realized that he could achieve the same
productivity at a smaller cost by the simple expedient of employing
women instead of men. In other words, the employer found that there
was available to him a reservoir of cheap labour: women workers.
If this assumption is correct, then one may be tempted to enquire
as to the steps taken by the complaining trade union to encourage in the
plant the acceptance of the principle of equal pay for equal work. For
it must be recognized that had the principle of equal pay been applicable
in the circumstances assumed to have existed, then the employer would
undoubtedly have found that there was no particular monetary benefit
•John J. Carson, “Sex and the Public Service.” Speech to the Women’s Canadian Club,
Montreal, November 10, 1969.
* Winnipeg Free Press , March 19, 1971.
* Kathleen Archibald, Sex and the Public Service (Ottawa: Information Canada, 1970), and
Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (Ottawa: Information
to be gained in changing the workers on the night shift; there would
have been no threat to the men’s jobs. A woman worker is not a threat;
cheap labour is!
The trade unions alone, of course, are not to blame for society’s
failure over the years to pay no more than lip service to the principle
of equal pay for equal work. The fact is that for well over a decade
most jurisdictions in Canada have had legislation on the statute books
to protect workers from the unhappy results of differentials in pay
based solely on grounds of sex. Unfortunately, they lay as silent statutes
on the legislative bookshelves.
It was possibly because of certain provisions in the original federal
and provincial equal pay laws that these were not used as they might
have been, since they almost all had a defect in their design: they.could
be activated only on the initiative of the aggrieved person. This weak-
ness in the law is now being rectified in a number of jurisdictions, in-
cluding the federal area of jurisdiction. Under revised forms of the law.
Labour Departments are beginning to be charged with direct enforce-
ment responsibilities, which are being carried out through the usual
inspection services maintained for years to enforce such legislation as
minimum wage. But the principle of equal pay is not reflected as yet
in actual wages and salaries across the country.
The failure to ensure the principle of equal pay for equal work
can have and has had adverse effects on society as a whole and particu-
larly during periods of unemployment. For example, one of these
effects is reflected in current unemployment figures. 4 In March 1971, the
unadjusted unemployment rate for persons of 25 years and over was
7.2 per cent for men but only 3.6 per cent for women.
Obviously, this difference in the unemployment rate between
male and female workers is due to many factors apart from those of
wage rates; certain types of employment have been affected more by the
scourge of unemployment than have others. For example, women are
not employed to any great extent in some of the industries where
unemployment is particularly high, such as the construction industry.
But, nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that, since there are
readily available competent female workers who may acceptably be
employed at lower wage rates than those being pa«d to male workers,
4 Dominion Bureau of Statistics and Department of Manpower and Immigration, Joint Pres s
Release: Labour Force Survey ; March 1971 (mimeographed).
then the employer, whose power to compete in the open market is much
enhanced by virtue of low labour costs, will be sorely tempted to replace
his higher paid employees.
It is also because of this likelihood, clearly illustrated by such cases
as that of the night shift workers referred to above, that women will
find little comfort in the fact that unemployment has hit them less than
it has hit their fellow-workers who are men.
A peculiar phenomenon frequently noted in periods of unemploy-
ment in general, and in this period of unemployment in particular, is
the emergence of a demand from some quarters for the prohibition on
the employment of married women. Presumably what is envisaged is
a legislation setting out the conditions under which married women may
or may not be employed. The rationale for such requests generally is
that unemployed men would have greater opportunities for employment
if married women vacated the positions they hold in the labour force.
Presumably it is assumed that a man who is unemployed, regard-
less of his background or training, could adequately fill the position of a
secretary, librarian, saleslady, nurse, school teacher, telephone operator,
dental technician, or one of the numerous other jobs now held by
women, including married women. Since jobs have been sex-typed to
such an extent, there would seem to be few if any jobs that men could
fill even if they were vacated by married women.
It also seems to be taken for granted that married women who
work when their husbands are also employed are doing so in order to
finance luxuries or to pay for “frills” which could be dispensed with
without inflicting any hardship on the family. This assumption hardly
jibes with the findings of a study" on the married female labour force,
which concluded that the likelihood of a married woman working out-
side the home is greater in inverse proportion to the husband’s earnings.
In a study 0 carried out by the Women’s Bureau it was found that
mothers of young children worked in order to keep the family above the
There are those who suggest that married women whose husbands
are employed should be permitted to work only where it has been
8 Spencer, Byron G. and Dennis C. Featherstone, Married Female Labour Force Participation:
A Micro Study, Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics Special Labour Force Studies, Series
B. No. 4 (Ottawa: D.B.S., 1970).
8 Canada Department of Labour, Women’s Bureau, Working Mothers and Their Child-care
Arrangements (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1970).
shown that there is financial need, presumably on the basis of a needs
test or a means test. It would be interesting to measure public reaction
to a proposal for a means or needs test in the case of married men of
independent means; and to a suggestion that those with means should
be asked to withdraw from the labour force. For surely the rationing of
employment on the basis of financial need, if feasible, should apply to
all persons in the labour force.
But quite apart from the patently impractical grounds of the ration-
ale, what about the liberal precepts of tins free society which prides itself
on its support of the great principle set out in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights?
Does marriage diminish that right for the woman?
It is true that international Declarations and Conventions do not
in themselves embody the law of the land. National legislation fre-
quently stems from the principles set out in international instruments,
but the law courts of a state deal only with the body of the law enacted
by that state. Thus, while a woman cannot rely on the enforcement of
principles prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sex which appear in
international instruments, she should be able to rely on the enforcement
on her behalf of national laws promulgated for the purpose of establish-
ing certain standards.
For example, women in Canada should have been able to rely on
legislation pertaining to equal pay for equal work although the existence
of such laws is frequently overlooked by employers and even by the
trade unions representing women workers.
The lack of sensitivity to or awareness of existing legislation per-
taining to equal pay for equal work, which may account for the failure
to make use of these laws hitherto, is, unfortunately, not merely the
prerogative of persons lacking learning in the law; even the learned
themselves occasionally lapse. It is only some three and a half years
ago that a Justice of a provincial High Court, having conceded that the
plaintiff was in fact a police constable in the same sense as her male
She is not being discriminated against by the fact that she receives
a different wage, different from male constables, for the fact of
difference is in accord with every rule of economics, civilization,
family life and common sense.'
T Beckett v. City of Sault Ste. Marie Police Commissioners et at., Vol. 67, Dominion Low
Reports (2d), p. 294 (Ontario High Court, Ferguson, J., 1968).
At the time when this judgment was delivered, there was on the
statute books of the same jurisdiction a law with provisions requiring
that employers abide by the principle of equal pay for equal work 8 —
provisions which have been strengthened since then.
Incidentally, it was only some four years before this judgment was
given that Canada, after consultation with the provinces, had ratified
an International Labour Convention, the Discrimination (Employment
and Occupation) Convention 1958, pursuant to which each member
undertakes to promote as a matter of public policy “equality of oppor-
tunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, with a
view to eliminating any discrimination in respect thereof.” Discrimina-
tion, as defined in this Convention, includes discrimination on the basis
In fairness to the arbiters of the law, it should be noted that when
this judgment was subsequently referred to the provincial Court of
Appeal,® the learned High Court Judge was somewhat chastised by his
own colleagues when this portion of this judgment was described as:
“. . . a sweeping generalization upon which we make no comment
except to say that we do not assent to it.”. 10
Even in the Court of Appeal judgment, however, there was no
mention of the general principle of equal pay for equal work, or of
discrimination on grounds of sex; perhaps these were no longer relevant.
The principle of prohibiting discrimination in the text of laws that
come within the jurisdiction of the federal Parliament is set out in the
Canadian Bill of Rights, which has been on the statute books for more
than a decade. This law defines discrimination to mean discrimination
on a number of grounds, including grounds of sex. In a recent case
where this statute was the central point of debate, the Assistant Crown
Attorney is reported to have commented: “It would be a sorry day
indeed when Parliament could not differentiate between men and women
and make laws for them.” 11
It is perhaps unfortunate that the Crown ultimately dropped this
case, for undoubtedly the court might have been interested in a previous
# Ontario Human Rights Code, 1967, Section 5.
9 Beckett v. City of Sault Ste. Marie Police Commissioners et al. % op. dr., p. 286.
“Beckett v. City of Sault Ste. Marie Police Commissioners et a/., Vol. 70, Dominion Law
Reports (2d), p. 253 (Ontario Court of Appeal, Schroeder, McLennan and Laskin, JJ.A.,
11 Regina v. Louise Latreille, Ottawa County Court as reported in Ottawa Journal , June 20,
judgment in connection with the Canadian Bill of Rights which included
the following: “The Drybones case (see 15-323) 64 D.L.R. (2d) 260
had established that no citizen in Canada should be treated differently
in law because of his or her race or sex.” 12
It is clear, therefore, that there still remain deeply imbedded in
our society, whether it be within the ranks of the trade unions or
whether it be even in the ranks of those of high estate who are charged
with the interpretation of our laws, attitudes that adversely affect the
position of women in society today. Too often those who might have
been looked to as pioneers of change have exhibited outdated views
which further inhibit progress toward liberal and enlightened attitudes.
If new attitudes are to be formulated, then the onus must fall on
women themselves. They must have the perseverance continually to
demand the environment in which they can fully develop their potential.
Perseverance and staying power are of the essence.
" Dominion Report Service, (Criminal Law), (CCH Canadian Limited), p. 3265, Item
A YEAR AFTER THE REPORT:
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
It is only one year ago that I addressed the Brockville Club of the Cana-
dian Federation of University Women and delivered a paper 1 in which
I threw out a challenge to this Federation: to accept a role of leadership
in the present movement to remove existing injustices to women on
grounds of sex. It was gratifying to receive from the Canadian Federa-
tion, in response, an acceptance of the challenge; and a declaration of
its readiness to institute a program designed to bring about an equitable
status for women university academics.
The change of climate now perceptible within the Canadian Fed-
eration of University Women, is perceptible to some extent in other
areas of our society. It began to be felt even before the Royal Com-
mission on the Status of Women presented to the government, its final
Report 2 in December 1 970. The establishment of the Commission,
followed by the hearings that were held across the country, both suc-
ceeded in throwing into focus many inequities that had previously not
been recognized. Like this Federation before its conversion, Canadian
society had appeared to lack conscious awareness of the existence of
injustices in law and in practices relating to the status of women in our
‘Canada Department of Labour, ’’Discriminatory Practices in the Universities and a Pro-
posed Rote for the Canadian Federation of University Women”, Women's Bureau *70
(Ottawa: Information Canada, 1971).
•Report of the Royol Commission on the Stotus of Women in Conoda (Ottawa: Information
land. But, like your Federation, governments are beginning to take
action with a view to removing utvair practices, action reflecting pop-
ular support for such measures.
As you know, the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status
of Women, containing more than 160 separate recommendations, was
made public in December 1970. The federal government declared its
intention seriously to study its contents and, to this end, set up in the
Privy Council Office the mechanism for interdepartmental consultation
as a preliminary to policy making. At the same time, the Prime Min-
ister publicly declared a that in denying women the full opportunity
wholly to participate on an equal basis in our institutions, “we are
denying to our society benefits which we can ill afford to lose.” He also
expressed optimism that the existing inequalities would not be permitted
to continue in this land.
To the cynics, the federal government may already point to initial
statutory steps which have been taken, particularly in the employment
field. New employment standards relating specifically to women were
recently placed on the statute books. The governmental studies of the
Royal Commission’s Report which are still under way, coupled with
the studies being pursued by non-governmental groups across the coun-
try, will undoubtedly set the scene for further legislative action in other
Within its own household, the federal government has recently
initiated a program of equal opportunity for women. A Co-ordinator,
Equal Employment Opportunities was appointed at a relatively senior
level in the Public Service Commission, charged with responsibilities
affecting some 55,000 women who work for the federal government.
Among the duties assigned to this officer are: the development and
planning of programs; the conducting of studies on career development
and progression to levels of responsibility for women; and the formula-
tion of recommendations in this regard which may have an important
effect on the government's overall program for the employment of
women in the Public Service.
Another step taken by the federal government relates to the na-
tional employment service, maintained to assist workers to find suitable
employment and employers to find suitable workers. The Minister of
3 Rt. Hon. Pierre E. Trudeau. Address to Liberal Party Dinner, Toronto, March 3, 1971.
Manpower and Immigration, who is responsible for this service, is now
required by law 4 to ensure that in referring a worker seeking employ-
ment, there is no discrimination because of sex — except, of course,
when such a sex specification is based on a bona fide occupational
qualification. What this means, in effect, is that where a job specifically
requires a male or female worker, as for instance in the case of a model
for clothing, then the referral of a man or women, as the case may be,
would not be considered to be discrimination.
The federal Minister of Labour has also indicated that the govern-
ment hopes that proposed amendments to the Fair Employment Prac-
tices Act to be introduced in the next session of Parliament “will further
reflect the principle ... of equality between the sexes.” 5
The provinces too have not been inactive; there has been a remark-
able growth of laws relating to the employment of women, particularly
in the field of human rights. The extent of this activity may be judged
by the fact that, in something less than two years, there have appeared
on the statute books about a dozen legislative enactments on the sub-
jects of equal pay for equal work, discrimination, and maternity leave.
Up until 1969 there was only one province with legislation pro-
hibiting discrimination in employment on grounds of sex; at the present
time such provisions are in the laws of seven provinces. 0 Improvements
have been made in equal pay legislation in five provinces, quite apart
from new federal legislation. 7 At present, all but one province have
statutes relating specifically to equal pay. 8 There were only two provin-
cial statutes which made provisions for maternity leave; there are now
three,® quite apart from the maternity leave provisions recently added
to federal statutes. 10
‘ Canada, Unemployment Insurance Act. 1971, Section 142(b).
8 Canada, House of Commons Debates, December I, 1971, p. 10064.
8 British Columbia, Human Rights Act, 1969; Alberta, The Human Rights Act, 1971; Mani-
toba. The Human Right t Act, 1970; Ontario, The Women's Equal Employment Opportunity
Act, 1970; Qu6bec, An Act Respecting Discrimination in Employment, 1964; New Brunswick,
Human Rights Code, 1971; Newfoundland, The Newfoundland Human Rights Code, 1969 .
7 Canada, Canada Labour (Standards) Code, 1971 .
* British Columbia, Human Rights Act, 1969; Alberta, The Alberta Labour Act, 1957; Sas-
katchewan, The Labour Standards Act, 1969; Manitoba, The Equal Pay Act, 1956; Ontario,
The Employment Standards Act , 1968; New Brunswick, Female Employees Fair Remunera •
tion Act, 1961; Nova Scotia, Equal Pay Act, 1969; Prince Edward Island, Human Rights
Code, 1968; Newfoundland, The Newfoundland Human Rights Code, 1969 .
8 British Columbia, Maternity Protection Act, 1966 ; Ontario, The Women's Equal Employ-
ment Opportunity Act, 1970; New Brunswick, Minimum Employment Standards Act, 1964 .
10 Canada, Canada Labour Code, Unemployment Insurance Act, 1971 .
These developments are particularly interesting in the light of the
Recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women
concerning these subjects: equal pay for equal work, discrimination on
grounds of sex, and maternity leave benefits.
The subject of equal pay for equal work has been of social con-
cern for more than a century, ever since industry began to employ
women in large numbers in the factories of industrial countries. It is
interesting to note that the Canadian government itself gave recognition
to the principle of equal pay for equal work before the end of the Jirst
World War. In a Privy Council Order, dated July 1918, the govern-
ment declared that it was a matter of policy “that women on work
ordinarily performed by men should be allowed equal pay for equal
work . . . .”
Following the First World War, when the International Labour
Organization was established in 1919, this principle was embodied in
the constitution of the organization.
Although the principle remained a dead letter during the decades
that followed, the increase in numbers of and need for women in the
labour force during the Second World War once more prompted the
federal government to enunciate the same principle. Thus in 1942,
under a Wartime Wages and Cost of Living Bonus Order, the directive
was given that “basic wage rates ... are to be paid with respect to an
occupational classification . . . not with respect to particular individual
employees in a classification.”
With the termination of hostilities and the return of the veterans
to the labour force, the equal pay principle once more disappeared into
oblivion. In fact, it was not until 1951 that the International Labour
Organization itself, which had incorporated the principle of equal pay
in its constitution, eventually formulated an Equal Remuneration Con-
It is this Convention, which requires that ratifying countries pro-
mote the application of the principle of equal remuneration regardless
of sex, to which the Royal Commission on the Status of Women refers
in one of its Recommendations, and recommends that Canada ratify its
The extent to which equal pay legislation already exists in Canada,
both at the federal and provincial levels of government, is surprisingly
wide, dating back twenty years in some cases. The law has existed —
but equal pay for equal work has not.
Since ours is generally a law-abiding society, the impotence of the
former federal and provincial laws appeared to indicate an urgent need
for some examination. It was as a result of this examination that sup-
plementary legislative action has been taken recently on the part of
It was found that much of the legislation on equal pay, like the
former federal Female Employees’ Equal Pay Act passed in 1956 and
finally revoked this year in favour of stronger provisions, could only be
activated if a complaint were made in writing to the Minister by the
woman employee herself. Women, working women, felt that they dared
not risk the consequences of such action, lest they prejudice a much
needed job. So they made no use of the law. In consequence, the law
lay silent on the statute books.
The former statutory provisions, therefore, are now being set aside
and teeth are being inserted into revised provisions, so that the law
may achieve the purpose for which it was originally intended.
The significance for the Canadian working woman of equal pay
laws, such as that which became a part of the Canada Labour (Stand-
ards) Code a few months ago, could be great. As has been shown
through wage studies, many working women are not receiving the
same wages as men for similar work. Many women are employed in the
same establishment as men where, as the law states, they “are perform-
ing, under the same or similar working conditions, the same or similar
work on jobs requiring the same or similar skill, effort and responsi-
bility.” Examples of wage differentials from one-third and up may be
found in occupations ranging all the way from factory hands to univer-
The lack of awareness of or respect for the principle of equal pay
for equal work was reflected only recently in what was described by
the press 11 as a “landmark arbitration award” made by an arbitration
board, covering 2,500 nonprofessional employees in seven large hos-
pitals in Toronto. The award is stated to have included wage rates “for
basic male labour” as well as a “basic female rate.” According to the
press, the union itself had framed its demand in terms of rates for male
employees and for female employees.
"The Globe and Mail (Toronto), September 10, 1971.
That some trade unions fail to press for the full implementation
of the equal pay law, particularly when they speak in the name of their
female members, is difficult to understand. Certainly all trade unions
are not so disposed, as witness the collective agreement entered into by
another trade union 12 with the City of London a year ago, in which
male and female differentials were completely eliminated.
Clearly the principle of equal pay is one that is not easy to achieve.
As long as officially appointed boards and trade unions themselves look
upon the equal pay law with a blind eye, it is expecting too much from
human nature to hope that employers will abide by it.
So much for the principle of equal pay. But that is only one part of
a broader principle which, as pointed out by the Royal Commission in
its Report, also requires legislative action: other forms of discrimination
in employment. For while equal pay laws may provide the tool with
which to rectify inequality in wages where men and women work to-
gether, there still must be some statutory means of ensuring tl. .t women
are given equal opportunity to get the jobs and to get the promotions,
on the basis of merit alone. The law should ensure that the way will not
be closed to women solely on grounds of sex, stated the Royal Com-
Both nationally and internationally, the principle of non-discrimi-
nation in employment on grounds of such factors as colour and religion,
nationality and race, has been incorporated in international instruments
and national legislation for some years. During the Second World War,
at a session of the International Labour Conference held in Philadel-
phia, this principle was stated in a Declaration now popularly, though
not unexpectedly, referred to as the Philadelphia Declaration. 13 All
human beings, irrespective of sex, have the right to pursue their spiritual
development as well as their material well-being in conditions of equal
opportunity, it declared.
The same fundamental principle of equality and social justice was
enunciated, after the War, by the General Assembly of the United
Nations, when in 1948 it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human
Later, in 1958, the International Labour Organization adopted the
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, not to be
a London Free Press, July 17, 1969.
“ Declaration concerning the Aims and Purposes of tbe International Labour Organization,
confused with the Equal Remuneration Convention to which reference
was made above in connection with equal pay for equal work. The Dis-
crimination Convention requires that ratifying members undertake to
declare and pursue a national policy of equality of opportunity and
treatment in respect of employment and occupation, with a view to
eliminating any discrimination. Discrimination is defined to include any
distinction, exclusion or preference on the basis of race, colour, religion,
political opinion, national extraction or social origin, as well as sex.
Even before the Convention came into force, the federal govern-
ment in 1953 had enacted the Fair Employment Practices Act, for-
bidding discrimination in employment. Many of the provinces followed
suit. Although Canada ratified this ILO Convention in 1964, these early
laws, with one exception, prohibited discrimination in employment on a
number of grounds; sex, however, was not included.
During the last two years or so, there has been a gratifying move
toward the enactment of additional provisions in these laws, prohibiting
discrimination in employment on grounds of sex. As pointed out above,
the federal government included such a clause in the recently enacted
Unemployment Insurance Act whereby, for the first time, the national
employment service is required to adhere to this principle in making
referrals for employment.
When the Royal Commission on the Status of Women was ap-
pointed, there was only one law on the statute books of one jurisdiction
in Canada that forbade discrimination in employment on grounds of
sex. It is a significant achievement, therefore, that within a year of the
publication of the Royal Commission’s Report, there are provisions in
the legislation of seven jurisdictions prohibiting discrimination in em-
ployment on grounds of sex.
There is one more area of legislative development to which refer-
ence must be made: maternity benefits.
It is ironic that the principle of providing maternity leave and
benefits for employed women should only have become an issue at so
late a date in Canada, since it was the subject of one of the first three
Conventions adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1919
following the First World War. (The Convention was revised in 1952.)
Possibly the fact that our great industrial neighbour to the south has
still not legislated widely in this field explains the Canadian reticence.
On the other hand, views such as those expressed recently by an
eminent Director of a well-established school of social work, to the
effect that the maternity benefits under the Unemployment Insurance
Act are merely “higher welfare payments . . . paid to certain groups in
the community whose need has a very low priority,” 14 tend to mislead
the public as to the facts, not to mention to distort the purpose of the
program. Fortunately there is also an enlightened public opinion which,
at long last, has caught up with principles first enunciated interna-
tionally 51 years ago.
It is true that one province in Canada enacted provisions relating
to maternity leave soon after the initial ILO Convention was adopted,
but this provincial law remained alone on Canadian statute books for
some four decades before a second province enacted similar provisions.
Since the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women
was completed, however, maternity leave provisions have become law
in two additional jurisdictions, including that of the federal government.
In the federal Canada Labour (Standards) Code, job tenure is
ensured for a period of 17 we$ks maternity leave. This law, which only
covers women working in undertakings subject to federal labour law,
such as banks and airlines, becomes more significant when it is coupled
with a second federal government initiative written into the new Unem-
ployment Insurance Act.
Under the Unemployment Insurance Act, unemployment insurance
benefits are to be paid, for the first time, with respect to absence from
work for reasons of maternity. This provision has perhaps not been well
enough known to the women of Canada, for it will affect working
women in all jurisdictions, numbering some 2.8 million.
Unemployment insurance, unlike such other provincially adminis-
tered programs as health insurance, is a matter in which die federal
government has been given the constitutional power to act direcdy. In
1940, by an amendment made to the British North America Act (the
law which, in essence, may be described as the Canadian constitution),
the necessary power was vested in the Parliament of Canada. Thus,
unemployment insurance has been a federal program in Canada for
some three decades. It is only now, however, that its coverage will be so
broad as to include virtually all employees. Only now, as well, will it
14 Albert Rose, Director, School of Social Work, University of Toronto, letter to the editor,
The Globe and Mai l (Toronto), September 9, 1971.
include the payment of unemployment insurance in the event of
maternity. The new law will provide unemployment insurance benefits
for a period of 15 weeks in connection with maternity leave.
The effect of these new benefits has yet to be measured, particu-
larly in those provinces where no legislation protects the job from which
the woman must absent herself during maternity leave. It may be that
the availability of the cash benefits on a national basis will encourage
the provinces that have not yet entered this field to enact provisions for
job security in these circumstances.
From this short summary of the progress made in the enactment of
legislation relating to working women, it will be seen that, at long last,
the laws required to achieve the goal of equal and fair opportunity for
women are beginning to appear across the land. But the law is merely a
tool; and a tool is of little value if it is not used. And even if the tool is
used, it is only of value when it is properly used.
It will be recalled by those who are old enough to remember that
in the early days of the Second World War, Winston Churchill avowed
his faith in the people of Britain when he addressed his yet uncommitted
allies, with the ringing plea: “Give us the tools, and we will finish
The tools are beginning to be provided here with which to wage the
battle for fair play in employment. It is up to the people of Canada,
particularly women workers and those who support their cause, to
finish the job.
CANADA’S INTERNATIONAL POSTURE
ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
Canadians have generally been kept fairly well informed about the role
played by our country in a variety of areas in the international field.
However, little has been recorded as yet of the part Canada has played,
and is playing, on the international stage specifically with regard to the
status of women.
Yet Canada has been involved in this type of work for a number
of years. Canada was a member of the United Nations Commission on
the Status of Women for a short period between 1958 and 1960. In
addition, the first Director of the Women’s Bureau of the Canada
Department of Labour was invited, almost a decade ago, to become a
member of the International Labour Organization’s Panel of Con-
sultants on the Problems of Women Workers, an appointment which
she held until 1969. *
Both the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and
the Panel of Consultants of the International Labour Organization, as
their names imply, are specifically concerned with the status of women
in the countries associated with these two international parent bodies.
The International Labour Organization is, of course, the only
international agency that can trace its continual existence back to the
days immediately after the First World War, when Canada was among
its founding members. Although its home base was and still is in
Geneva, Switzerland, the site of the ill-fated League of Nations, the
Organization was temporarily housed in Canada during and immedi-
ately following the Second World War; thus Canada bears toward it a
particularly warm feeling of kinship. The ILO is primarily concerned
with matters pertaining to working people, and many of the international
instruments which it has devised and which it monitors directly affect
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, on the
other hand, is a relatively young body, established by the United Nations
Economic and Social Council in 1 946. Its function is to make recom-
mendations designed to promote women’s rights; and to develop pro-
posals giving effect to the principle that men and women should enjoy
equal rights in all spheres of modern-day life. The Commission is made
up of only 32 countries, elected for a specified number of years on a
regional basis, so as to permit as wide a participation of member states
as possible, while at the same time preserving a small though representa-
Canada was re-elected to the United Nations Commission on the
Status of Women in 1970, thus re-establishing an active participatory
role in that agency after a break of several years. There has been no
break, however, in Canada’s direct participation in the work of the
International Labour Organization nor in the work of that Organiza-
tion’s Panel of Consultants on the Problems of Women Workers, to
which the present Director of the Women’s Bureau was appointed, fol-
lowing in the footsteps of the Bureau’s first Director.
Recently Canada has been particularly active in matters concerning
the status of women both at the International Labour Oiganization and
at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Canadian initiative during the last session of the United Nations
Commission on the Status of Women, for example, accounted for a
particularly satisfactory achievement designed to bring about some
measure of change in the composition of the Secretariat of the United
Nations itself, and in the related agencies. It should have the effect of
furthering the employment of more women in the senior ranks of the
international civil service. This initiative stemmed from the knowledge
that among the most senior appointments in the international bodies,
there are few women.
For a decade, an outstanding Canadian woman filled the post of
Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. 1 Following her retirement in
1967, the number of women in the senior ranks of the international civil
service was no greater than it had been at the time of her appointment.
Efforts had been made on a number of occasions to place before
the General Assembly of the United Nations recommendations adopted
by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women concerning
the employment of women by the United Nations and its related agen-
cies. However, on such occasions, the General Assembly had merely
confined itself either to taking note of the recommendation or to taking
no action whatsoever. Certainly, the Secretariat of the United Nations
itself did not welcome such efforts by the Commission.
As a rale, the Secretary-General of the United Nations or other
officers of the Economic and Social Council, in presenting these recom-
mendations, claimed that the Commission’s resolution regarding the
appointment of women to senior posts in the international service raised
questions that fall exclusively within the discretion of the Secretary-
It was claimed also that, in the absence of evidence that the Secre-
tary-General was not adhering to the provisions on the selection of
personnel set out in the Charter, or was failing to adhere to staff regula-
tions, both of which prohibit discrimination on grounds of sex, it was
inappropriate to take action as requested by the United Nations Com-
mission on the Status of Women.
The Secretariat also raised the bogey of special measures to ensure
the employment of women, claiming that this would amount to dis-
crimination in reverse.
In mitigation of the fact that few women served in senior positions
in the Secretariat of the United Nations, it was also claimed that the
Secretariat relied heavily on member governments; it was suggested,
therefore, that the Commission’s objective could best be served by
addressing member governments rather than the international organiza-
1 Mrs. D. B. Sinclair, S.M., O.B.E., M.A., LL.D., D.Sc.Soc., L.H.D., former Director of the
Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service during the Second World War and subsequently
Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Welfare, Department of National Health and
Having put forward all these reasons for not taking any action, it
was then contended that it was up to the Fifth Committee of the General
Assembly to take up the specific issue of the employment of women,
since the authority to regulate appointment policies was vested in the
All of this having been said and nothing having been accomplished,
the Canadian delegation at the United Nations Co mmis sion on the
Status of Women, at the session held in Geneva in March 1970, thought
the time had come to initiate more positive action.
Thus, the delegation discussed with friendly governments a draft
resolution for which it sought as wide support as possible. The resolu-
tion urged the United Nations and the intergovernmental agencies to
take appropriate measures to ensure the employment of women at senior
or other professional levels.
Furthermore, the resolution requested the Secretary-General to
include in his report to the General Assembly, on the composition of the
Secretariat data on the employment of women at senior and other pro-
fessional levels, including their numbers and the positions they occupy.
This resolution was introduced at the United Nations Commission
on the Status of Women by Canada; it was co-sponsored by nine other
countries representing a broad cross section of the United Nations mem-
bership. Several socialist countries did not wish to co-sponsor the resolu-
tion on the grounds that discrimination against women in international
bodies was merely a reflection of the discrimination practised in capi-
talist countries. They claimed that in socialist states there is no such
phenomenon! However, they did not vote against the resolution, which
Since the Commission on the Status of Women is an offshoot of the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, a Commission
resolution directed to the General Assembly must be adopted by the
Council itself. Consequently, at its meetings in May 1970, the Economic
and Social Council passed the Commission’s resolution, with minor
amendments, for onward transmission to the General Assembly.
The ways of bureaucracy are not simple, however. The subject
matter of the Council’s resolution at the United Nations came within
the purview of the work of two committees: the Fifth Committee insofar
as the Secretary-General’s report on staff was concerned, and the Thiid
Committee, which deals with social policy.
In December 1970, the Fifth Committee, which quite coinci-
dentally was chaired on that occasion by a Canadian, voted to include
in its report a request to the Secretary-General to include data on
women employed in senior positions in the United Nations Secretariat.
The Third Committee also adopted the resolution transmitted by the
Economic and Social Council.
In its final form, as in the initial draft formulated by the Commis-
sion on the Status of Women, the resolution expressed the hope that
the United Nations, including the special bodies and all intergovern-
mental agencies of the United Nations family of organizations, would
set an example with regard to the opportunities they afford for the
employment of women at senior and other professional levels.
The General Assembly itself urged the United Nations, including
its special bodies and agencies, to take or continue to take appropriate
measures to ensure equal opportunities for the employment of qualified
women in senior and other professional positions. The General Assembly
requested the Secretary-General also to include in his report on the
composition of the Secretariat data on the employment of women at
senior and other professional levels by each of the Secretariats of these
bodies, including the numbers of women employed and the positions
occupied by them.
The General Assembly took further note of the report it had re-
ceived from the Fifth Committee in which it was pointed out that in the
Secretariat of the United Nations, only 6 per cent of the senior-level
staff consisted of women. (In fact, over a period of 26 years, no woman
has attained the key post of an Assistant Secretary-General, although
there are 1 8 such posts available. 2 )
The Secretary-General will now include in his report to the General
Assembly at the 26th Session data on women employed in the United
Nations Secretariat. The results should prove to be revealing.
Throughout the march of this resolution from its inception to its
successful conclusion, Canadian representatives gave full support to the
The international work of Canada in connection with the status of
women will continue within the family of the United Nations organiza-
tions, not only by virtue of membership in the United Nations Commis-
* The London Free Press, October 13, 1971,
sion on the Status of Women, but also by virtue of participation in the
International Labour Organization.
For a considerable number of years, the Canadian government
delegation to the International Labour Conference, which is an im-
portant segment of the International Labour Organization, has included
some women. These have been involved in the normal work of the
International Labour Conference, whether or not this work has related
to matters of concern specifically to women.
Canadian participation in the work of the Organization, and par-
ticularly in the annual Conference, has made it possible to have some
influence on those international instruments, be they Conventions or
Recommendations, that relate in whole or in part to the employment or
well-being of women.
The subject of the status of women is one that has been receiving
greater attention in recent years. It was reflected in a number of docu-
ments and activities that marked the latest Conference of the ILO, held
in June 1971.
Even before it had convened, a memorandum addressed to ILO
members included the following paragraph:
It will be noted that the items on the agenda of the 56th Session
concern women as much as men. The attention of governments is~~
therefore drawn to the fact that women are equally eligible with men
for appointment as delegates or advisers to the Conference, irre-
spective of the nature of the items on the agenda, and that article 3,
paragraph 2, of the Constitution of the Organization provides that,
when questions specially affecting women are on the agenda, one at
least of the advisers should be a woman.*
Then, in his report entitled Freedom by Dialogue: Economic
Development by Social Progress; The ILO Contribution, the Director-
General included the following revealing paragraphs:
Wholly different from these inequalities in its nature, but like them
a serious affront to social justice and a disturbing failure to develop
the human potential of society, is the persistent inequality in the
status of women in employment. The measures adopted in the
earlier years of the Organization to protect working women against
bad working and living conditions still have every justification in
many cases; the emphasis, however, has now changed clearly to
promoting greater equality of opportunities and treatment, a notable
a International Labour Organization, Memorandum on the 56th Session of the International
Labour Conference, 1971 (Geneva: I.L.O., 1970), p. tt.
example being the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100),
which is now in force for seventy-one countries. Nevertheless,
acceptance of the principle of non-discrimination has not always
been followed by measures to promote true equality and to over-
come the prejudices and other obstacles in the way of the employ-
ment of women. Even in the advanced countries, where significant
progress has been made in the emancipation of women, complex
problems have arisen in attempts to secure them greater equality
of access to employment and to vocational training, an even equal-
ity in remuneration. Old prejudices against the employment of
women, although dying away, still persist in many cases; job open-
ings for girls and women tend to be in the lower-level, least skilled
and less well paid occupations; many opportunities for vocational
training are available only to men; the reconciliation of work on an
equal footing with men with domestic responsibilities remains a
problem. In many developing countries the scarcity of jobs in urban
areas makes these problems still more acute and only a vast expan-
sion of employment opportunities can provide for any real break-
through. But special measures are needed to make women real
partners in the development process. How can the ILO give fuller
effect to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sex?
What should be its contribution to the more effective integration of
women into the fabric of economic and social life?
The graver inequalities are grave because of the injustice they
involve, but they are no less grave because of their effect on the
general progress of society, because of their inhibiting effect on the
rate of economic development, and because of the further element
of explosiveness which they add to political and social instability.
How can the ILO come to grips with them more boldly and effec-
tively? What guidance has the Conference to offer on the response
which we should make to these challenges?*
Thus, at the 1971 Conference, the scene was set for further dis-
cussion of the subject of women in the labour force in this changing
world. In addressing a plenary session, the Minister of Health and Social
Affairs of Sweden expressed the need for a review of the ILO recom-
mendation on the subject of the employment of women with family
responsibilities, Employment (Women with Family Responsibilities)
Another important matter as far as employment policy is concerned
is the necessity of taking into account the new status being accorded
to women. In labour market planning — both nationally and within
4 Report of the Director-General, Part I, International Labour Conference, 1971 (Geneva:
International Labour Office, 1971), pp. 27-28.
the World Employment Programme — women should be seen as an
integrated part of the labour force, not as a marginal group with
strictly limited duties. Numerous obstacles to the gainful employ-
ment of women exist in all our countries, in the form for instance
of an excessively traditional view of male and female roles in the
family and society. In this context 1 should like to suggest that the
time has come to start preparing a review of the Employment
(Women with Family Responsibilities) Recommendation, 1965
(No. 123), in accordance with the resolution adopted in the same
year providing for a periodic review of the application of the
The question of reviewing existing international instruments that,
in the view of a number of industrial states, appear to be outdated was
also raised in one of the committees of the Conference. In its report to
the Conference it was recommended that a study 'be undertaken as to
the effectiveness of certain ILO “protective” Conventions, which now
appear to pose obstacles to female workers in achieving principles set
out in other Conventions. Particular reference was made to the manner
in which certain outdated standards now appear to impede the achieve-
ment of equal opportunity for women in employment. In this committee
the Canadian government delegate played an active part. .
In another committee, the Canadian government delegate laid
particular emphasis on the need to ensure that, in all ILO Social
Security Conventions and Recommendations, member states are re-
quired to ensure that benefits are provided without discrimination on
grounds of sex.
Canada will continue to provide initiative and give support to the
measures it considers to be necessary to ensure that international labour
instruments are brought into line with modern-day concepts of equal
opportunity for women in employment.
Within the ranks of the appropriate international agencies, the
voice of Canada will continue to be heard, wherever the cause of
enlightened action demands, so as to achieve social justice for women,
both within the international institutions themselves and within the
member states which together make up the United Nations family.
* (The Hon. S. Aspling) International Labour Conference, Provisional Record , 56th Session
(Geneva, 1971), p. 269.