More than just networking…

Once a year, at our AGM, we get together as members of Business and Professional Women of Saskatoon to reflect on the past year.  We get the opportunity to hear from the Board and all the BPW Committees as they provide a summary of their work during the year.  We also get to review and update our bylaws to make sure that they are current and relevant to the work we do.  Probably the most exciting part of this night is when we get to discuss and vote on BPW Canada’s National Resolution Package.

Not only is this exciting but it is so important.  BPW organizations across Canada submit resolutions regarding women’s issues to our National Board.  The board then compiles them for us to vote on at our AGM.  Approved Resolutions are then re-voted on at the National AGM in August.  Once finalized those resolutions are sent to the Federal Government to be considered to help make impactful changes in the lives of women.

Last year BPW Saskatoon submitted a resolution requesting the federal government to research the effects that a gender neutral formula for Canada Pension Plan benefits would have on income vs the current gender based formula that is used.  Why is this important?  Historically women have lived longer than men.  A gender based formula meant women would receive a smaller pension (albeit for a longer time frame) due to their extended life expectancy.  However, in recent years that gap in life expectancy is closing but the formula hasn’t changed.  This means that even though men and women have roughly the same life expectancy, men are receiving a higher CPP amount than women.  Not surprisingly this resolution made it past all the voting and was part of the resolution package sent to our federal government.

So did we actually make a difference?  Yes!  It was announced recently that the Federal Government is starting to study the gender inequality in CPP benefits.  This is hopefully the first step in creating a gender neutral formula for benefits.

This year I submitted a resolution as National Chairperson for Violence Against Women in partnership with BPW Saskatoon to pass Bill S-215 by Senator Lillian Dyck.

Senator Lillian Eva Dyck’s Senate Public Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for violent offences against Aboriginal women), would require courts to consider more severe sanctions against people convicted of violent offences against Aboriginal women. In the event that the victim of is an Aboriginal woman, that fact would be considered an aggravating circumstance on sentencing.

The bill is a direct response to the national tragedy of the more than 1,200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The intention of this bill is to ensure people who commit acts of violence against Aboriginal women and girls receive just sentences that reflect the gravity of these offences.

A 2014 RCMP report showed that Aboriginal women and girls are three times more likely to be missing and four times more likely to be murdered compared to other Canadian females. They are also three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other Canadian women. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is supposed to guarantee equal benefits and equal protection of the law for all Canadians but given that this has not been the case for Aboriginal women and girls, we believe remedial actions must be taken.  While this bill has had success through the Senate we still need it to make it through the House of Commons before it is granted Royal assent.

This is just one of the resolutions we will be discussing and voting on.  So, Members of BPW Saskatoon I am asking you to #BeBoldForChange and attend our AGM so that you can help us make a difference in the lives of women in Saskatoon and Canada.