International Women’s Day

Jennifer Howard, executive director of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, gives the opening address during the International Women’s Day Event held at the Wardroom on Thursday, March 8, 2018.
Photo: Mike Bonin, CFB Halifax Public Affairs

International Women’s Day a chance to listen, learn, and share

By Virginia Beaton,
L’équipe du Trident

MARLANT marked International Women’s Day 2018 with an event that ranged from a session on confidence building, to one that offered options on how to take change of your financial life.

The theme was Strong Women for Change: Stop the Violence, Do It Now!

In the opening session, guest speaker Jennifer Howard, executive director of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), focused on the topic of domestic violence, especially as it pertains to the workplace. As to whether unions have an interest and duty to end domestic violence, Howard said that they do. “We have a responsibility to our members as full people…to make the world a better place.”

The workplace as well as the home can be affected by domestic violence, as a women who is experiencing it at home may as a result be late for work, miss days of work, or be harassed by constant phone calls by her partner, according to Howard.

To begin to deal with this, it’s necessary to acknowledge there is a problem, she says. “The first thing to understand is that domestic violence is our business.” Though colleagues or friends who know or suspect a problem may be reluctant to ask, “Secrecy allows violence to go on unchecked.”

Some unions and workplaces have been able to negotiate leave policies and job protection for employees escaping situations of domestic violence, says Howard. Formerly an MLA and then a cabinet minister in the Manitoba provincial government, Howard spoke about that province’s enactment of legislation to allow employees time off work for specific purposes to address violence issues in the home. In hearings before the legislation was enacted, the MLAs listened to many stories from people describing their experiences with family violence and how it shaped their lives.

“One of the things we can do is to tell our stories and to listen to other people’s stories,” said Howard. She described her own childhood, during which her stepfather abused Howard and her mother until the night Howard fled the house, believing that otherwise, he might kill her. That prompted her mother to leave as well, and to end the marriage.

Workshops during the day included a session on confidence building, and another titled Taking Charge of Your Financial Life. Presented by financial coach Paula Roode, the session focused on ways to better understand and manage your money.

Statistics from as recently as 2015 dhow that almost half of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque, Roode observed.

“People really need facts and information about money,” she noted, adding that with these, people can develop strategies and make good decisions about everything from what kind of insurance to buy, to how to manage debt and credit cards.

“Financial goals are highly individual,” said Roode. However, she stressed the importance of having an emergency fund, as well as a short term savings fund for items such as a vacation, and a long term savings and/or investment fund for retirement.

The MARLANT event was open to CAF members, PSAC members and employees of federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations.