Hon. Carol Anne Haley Minister for the Status of Women Fourth Floor, West Block P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6
May 22, 2020
Dear Minister Haley:
As the only woman Leader and one of only two women MHAs on the Joint Public Health Response Committee on COVID-19, I am compelled to point out that this panel has not been doing a good enough job addressing women’s issues. In fact, if James Dinn, MHA for St. John’s Centre, and I were not at the table, women’s issues would never come up. Together we have advocated for PPE for early childhood educators, sex worker protections, improved wages for essential employees, improvements in Workers’ Compensation, and improved labour standards legislation.
Our Caucus has also spoken publicly about the need to address women’s issues. In our news release of May 14, I pointed out, “This COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the disproportionate harms and risks for women and shone a light on gaps in our legislation and regulations protecting workers.”
The May 11 letter from St. John’s Status of Women Council, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women, and the Gender and Politics Laboratory highlights the problems of low pay and high-risk levels for front-line and essential workers, often women, which have been exacerbated during this pandemic.
On April 22, we called for enhanced worker protections for these same individuals, including more paid sick leave days, emergency leave, and presumptive Workers’ Compensation if an employee contracts COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the Office for the Status of Women has been silent on these issues. Your support would go a long way to ensuring women’s issues are addressed at the Joint Committee.
I note in your response to the letter from the St. John’s Status of Women Council, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women, and the Gender and Politics Laboratory, that you have been supporting government’s application of Gender-Based Analysis Plus. Please provide a list of programs, services, legislation, and budgets to which this analysis has been applied since the public health crisis began.
Your letter also refers to provincial and community partners with whom you have been working since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Can you please provide a list of these partners?
Finally, it is promising to hear of your commitment to having a centralized phone line for domestic violence. Given the immediate need, what is the timeline for its implementation?
I anticipate your prompt attention to these matters. Please call or email if you would like to discuss anything further.
Alison Coffin M.H.A., St. John’s East – Quidi Vidi Leader, Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party