SMA at the United Nations: CEDAW


Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the occasion of its consideration of Canada’s combined eighth and ninth periodic reports at its sixty-fifth session (24 October - 18 November 2016).


The BC CEDAW Group is a coalition of women’s non-governmental organizations committed to advancing the rights of women and girls in British Columbia. Formed in 2002, the Group has participated in United Nations periodic reviews before a variety of treaty bodies. Past reports of the BC CEDAW Group can be found at http://

 65th Session: CEDAW Canada Review Lobby Document Short Version: BC CEDAW Group Report


 Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC • Hospital Employees’ Union • Justice for Girls

 Poverty and Human Rights Centre • Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights

 Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter • West Coast LEAF-Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund

 Single Mothers’ Alliance of BC • Vancouver Women’s Health Collective

Legislative authority is split between the federal and provincial levels of government in Canada.  Matters such as minimum-wage, employment standards, education, healthcare, social services, and welfare fall under provincial jurisdiction.

  • Women's rights under CEDAW rely on provincial observance.
  • The Province of British Columbia (BC) is failing women in key areas and failing to uphold the CEDAW in BC. 
  • We stress the crucial reality of provincial compliance with treaty rights for the full implementation of the CEDAW in BC and across the country.


Canada's periodic review by CEDAW to take provincial failure and accountability into account in the Committee’s Concluding Observations.

The result of BC’s failure to comply with the CEDAW:

  • Welfare rates in BC have not been raised since 2007.
  • An overwhelming majority of single parents on welfare are single mothers as of July 2016.
  • Over 50% of children in poverty in BC are in single parent families.
  • Single mothers with kids under 18 have highest rate of food insecurity in BC: 34.2%.
  • ‘Welfare Wall’ of intersectional disadvantages compounded for Indigenous and immigrant single mothers; apprehension of children due to poverty common.
  • Crisis due to lack of affordable childcare, access to justice, inadequate responses to violence against women, and lack of access to education for those accessing welfare. 


BC to raise welfare rates and restore access to education for all accessing welfare.

Enact a comprehensive poverty reduction plan within a gender based analysis with special temporary measures and targets to eliminate women’s poverty in BC.

The right to childcare:

 Canada’s national investment in child care at 25% of OECD’s recommended benchmark.

  • Mothers often spend three to four months of their annual salary to pay for childcare.
  • Subsidy programs to assist low income women inadequate; lack of quality, affordable childcare causes reduced workforce participation, increased part-time and gendered job segregation, pay gaps.

Pay equity: 

BC has no pay equity law that requires employers to pay women and men equal pay for equal work. 

BC has no employment equity law or program that force employers to scrutinize practices to minimize discriminatory effects on disadvantaged groups, including women.


  • In British Columbia, 63% of minimum wage workers are women.
  • 310,000 women in BC earn minimum wage as of 2014.


British Columbia adopts and implements the $10 a Day Child Care Plan over ten years.

Province to introduce proactive pay equity legislation requiring both public and private sector employers to ensure women equal pay for work of equal value.

Introduce $15 per hour minimum wage, as recommended by BC Federation of Labour.

Without adequate access to justice, women are trapped in violent situations: 

  • 16,259 cases cases of intimate partner violence reported to police in BC in 2010.
  • 15 women murdered by their intimate partners in the province in 2014.
  • BC & AB have most of unsolved cases of missing/murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
  • Number of family law cases approved for legal aid in BC in 2001: 15,526. In 2015: 3,442.
  • Family law budget cut by 60% and restrictive eligibility criteria created: 2002/2008.
  • CEDAW Committee expressed concern in 2008 about financial cuts to legal aid.
  • Since 2008, access to justice has not improved in BC.


BC to reinstate the BC Human Rights Commission; provide adequate funding for poverty and family law legal aid and raise financial thresholds for qualification. 

BC to develop an effective provincial anti-violence plan to address economic and social policy failures that make women unable to escape violence.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Join SMA as a member! DONATE Share your legal aid story with SMA!