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Lack of opportunity holding women back: spokesperson

A lack of opportunity is holding women back in Pictou County and preventing them from achieving full equality both locally and across Canada, says one local advocate.

Speaking one day after the provincial budget was released, Shelley Curtis-Thompson at the Pictou County Women’s Resource and Sexual Assault Centre said that more needed to be done to help female workers find full-time jobs.

Key to this is greater child-care support, which would allow mothers to better juggle work commitments and caregiving.

“I think women in Nova Scotia and across the country need to have an investment in a national child-care program,” said Curtis-Thompson, who serves as the centre’s executive director.

The budget released Tuesday promises $15.5 million for new child-care spaces, plus subsidies to make it more affordable, plus $3 million to double the poverty reduction credit to $500 per person and $3.4 million to fully exempt child support payments from income-assistance calculations.

The Liberals will also hire two prosecutors to tackle sexual offences and some funding for services such as sexual assault centres and specialized nurse examiners to help survivors.

“These are wonderful steps in the right direction,” said Curtis-Thompson.

However, she said there was much more work left to do, citing the 2018 Alternative Budget released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on March 19 pertaining to Nova Scotia.

This includes serious action to tackle poverty that the CCPA says was created by the government’s own income-assistance support program, a last resort for people in poverty.

Curtis Thompson said that women are particularly affected by poverty, owing to many of them being stuck in part-time work. Income inequality is also an ongoing concern nationwide.

The Alternative Budget proposes an investment of half the cost to reduce poverty – $300 million – including a major increase for income supports. This includes a plan to reach the market poverty line adjusted for household income with additional support for persons with disabilities.

According to the CCPA, the measures will provide a substantial increase of at least $100 per month for all income assistance recipients.

The Alternative Budget proposes to end the child support clawback, allowing recipients to keep the first $500 of earned income per month, and will only take back 30 per cent of remaining earnings. The earnings exemption/retention income is also averaged over six months.

Further, it offers income support to top up the base support with substantial increases to the poverty reduction credit and income eligibility level, as well as the affordable living tax credit.

“We need a lot more,” said Curtis-Thompson.

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