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About 35% of pregnant workers do not benefit from the federal maternity and parental leave programme. Is this news to you? | Image by Jude MacDonald

About 35% of pregnant workers do not benefit from the federal maternity and parental leave programme. Is this news to you? | Image by Jude MacDonald


report from the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women all things (not) being equal

July 25, 2008

for those who think women have reached equality

All data in this first section, except where indicated, are from the 2008 Report Card on the Status of Women in New Brunswick, published by the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. See the Report Card for the original sources.

  • 5 women per month are killed by an intimate partner in Canada, and almost one in 10 Canadian women surveyed say they were assaulted by their spouse in the preceding 5 years. (— Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, Statistics Canada | 2005)
  • 879 women reported to police in New Brunswick in 2004 that they had been criminally assaulted by a partner. Since 1974, close to 90 N.B. women – plus a few related victims (children, mother or friend) – have been killed by women’s current or ex-partners.
  • N.B. police received 499 reports of sexual assault incidents in 2006 (this includes sexual assaults of male, female, child and adult victims). 38% of adults convicted of sexual assault in N.B. (16% in Canada) were given conditional sentences, compared to only 10% of those convicted of other violent offences.
  • Women are 84% of the victims and men, 91% of the accused in sexual assault incidents in Canada. Only 8% of Canadians who said they were sexually assaulted in the previous year had reported the incident to police.
labour force
  • On average, N.B. women earn 13% less than men, occupations where women are still traditionally clustered are, without exception, low- or under-paid, and women remain almost absent from certain levels of responsibility and certain trades and professions.
  • Women who graduated from a N.B. university in 1999 and who were working full-time 5 years later earned 18% less on average than men with whom they had graduated.
  • Women who graduated from a N.B. community college in 2006 and who were working full-time 1 year later earned on average 20% less than men with whom they had graduated.
family life
  • 73% of New Brunswick women whose youngest child was under age 6 were employed full-time or part-time (and 55% of lone mothers with young children in 2006). However, few of them (less than 20%) could find a licensed child-care space for their child.
  • About 35% of pregnant workers do not benefit from the federal maternity and parental leave programme.
  • The dramatic increase in the number of families with a working mother has not brought about a drastic change in the division of unpaid work at home. On average, New Brunswick women do 4.2 hrs a day of unpaid household work, versus 2.5 hrs a day for men. For women, it is the same daily time investment as in 1998, but down slightly for men (2.6 hours in 1998).
  • Only 52% of Canadian women with children in couples working long hours reported feeling satisfied with their work-life balance in 2005, compared to 71% of men.

Women are only:

  • 13% of elected members of the Legislative Assembly in N.B., the lowest rate since 1987;
  • 12% of mayors and 26% of municipal councillors;
  • 19% of judges appointed by the provincial government; and
  • 28% of members of boards and commissions appointed by the provincial government, down from 30% in 1996. Women are between 15% and 53% of members of regional health authorities.

Policies rarely include an analysis of women’s needs and so services rarely treat women’s needs equally :

  • civil legal aid is practically non existent;
  • programmes for women with addictions and women in prison are significantly poorer than those for men;
  • decisions are taken and programmes developed without access to data broken down by sex and without analysis of the specific needs of women.

for those who think the status of women has not improved

While 30% of N.B. women were in the labour force in the 1970s, 60% of them are in 2007.

Twenty-five years ago, almost half of unattached elderly women were living in poverty in N.B. In 2005, fewer than one in ten are in that situation. Ten years ago, about six in ten lone mothers in N.B. lived in poverty, now close to four in ten are in that situation.

The teenage pregnancy rate in N.B., which in 1974 was 63.9 pregnant girls per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19, was down to 24.2 pregnant girls per 1,000 in 2004.

— 2008 Report Card on the Status of Women in New Brunswick, published by the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women

All information below is from the book We the undersigned, A History of New Brunswick Women 1784–1984, published by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women | 1985

1971 – discrimination based on sex was finally prohibited in a provincial law (Human Rights Code).

Until 1967 – N.B. women who were employed and who got married lost their job if they worked for the provincial government or one of several employers with a policy of only hiring women in permanent positions if they were divorced or married to an invalid husband.

Only since 1965 – is N.B.’s minimum wage the same for women and men, a fact which continues to contribute to the low salary scale of traditional female jobs.

In 1982 – laughter and jokes were heard in the federal House of Commons when the subject of battered women was raised – a new issue for the House and for the times. Not before the 1980s did police in N.B. start dealing with violence against spouses in the same way as other assaults.

In 1980 – N.B. women gained the right to have custody of their children and support payments had to be paid even if the mother had been adulterous.

A provincial law was required in 1906 – for women to be accepted as practicing lawyers – since the bar society said women could not practice since they were not persons. In 2007, 52% of students in law schools in N.B. are women.

The first woman to train as a teacher in N.B. (1849) had to wear a veil, arrive 10 minutes before classes, sit in the back, leave 5 minutes before the end and speak to nobody. Women soon dominated the profession and, in 1920, female teachers finally won equal pay with male teachers in N.B.

In 1981 – a First Nations woman from N.B., Sandra Lovelace, won her complaint to the United Nations to have abolished the section of the 1869 Indian Act which stripped Indian status from Aboriginal women if they married a non Indian man.

1981 – a provincial law establishes that marital property must be divided equally upon separation or death – a revolution compared to what was occurring. First Nations women on reserves still do not have similar protection for an equal sharing of property.

Only in 1985 – did N.B. abolish certain sexist concepts in family law, especially the idea that a husband and wife were “one flesh”, his, and that married women lost some of their legal personality. Women could not choose a separate domicile, husbands were protected for loss of the wife’s services and they could sue if someone seduced, induced or harboured their wife, or had a “criminal conversation” with her (relations).

To subscribe to NB Women’s News / NouvELLES – the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women’s free weekly email with news about N.B. women – send a message with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to


  • Seasonal Feature

  • April 1994: the night raid at Kingston’s Prison for Women

    by Sierra Bacquie

    There was supposed to be a new approach to the Correctional Service of Canada’s relationship to female offenders, who were promised responsible choices, respect, dignity, supportive environments, and shared responsibility. But on the night of April 26, eight women experienced humiliation, degradation, raw fear and trauma at the hands of an all-male emergency team. How did this happen? What has changed since?  read more