Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Status of Women Memo: SOW is a relic of the past

A pair of reports from 2005 and 2006 say the agency's own staff labelled it "a relic of the past" and that its effectiveness was hobbled as gender equity slipped from being "a top-of-the-agenda issue" in Ottawa.


However, the documents obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act suggest the agency was due for a major shake-up even before the Tories decided on an overhaul.

A 2006 internal memo posed the question "Where is the organization today?"

The answers: "Unknown; getting worse - low and lowering profile both within and outside of government - lots of turnover with employees - no real stability - concerned about institutional stability - high turnover results in loss of corporate memory."

"We're not showing results . . . we don't have the authority to make things happen."

The documents cited staff burnout, including people leaving out of frustration, a "defeatist attitude" and lack of political leadership, no "clear vision of where it's going and how it plans to get there," and "inefficient attention to results and accountability."


The 2005 study quoted officials as calling the agency a "a relic," an institution that may once have served an important purpose, but whose mission and mandate needed to be rethought or updated.


Bev Oda, the Conservative minister for the status of women, said the government reviewed all of the reports when it considered changes to the agency.

"I think it just shows that the Liberal government was out of touch all along and not aware of the real issues that women face," she said.


Catherine Tillsley, executive director of the National Council of Women of Canada, said she still worries about the agency's future. Where it was once a ministry, it's slipped to the status of a program.

"I think we're going to lose Status of Women Canada entirely," she said. "I think that's the goal of the Conservatives."


It's time the government stop wasting taxpayer money with this agency.

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