On Thursday, March 31, the New Brunswick Legislature debated a Liberal motion to reverse the decision to cut funding for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Liberal MLA for Kent County Bertrand Leblanc expressed what this decision means to New Brunswick.
“The Advisory Council on the Status of Women was created in 1977 by the Hatfield government and has ended with the Alward government. The New Brunswick population of women make over 51 per cent of the province’s population. Mr. Speaker, the opposition requests the government move to recognize the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and reinstate it as an arm’s length independent entity,” he said.
The Minister for the Status of Women Margaret-Ann Blaney responded on a number of key points regarding the decision.
“The organization can certainly continue as an independent voice without funding. The council can continue but without the money just like the others,” she said.
Bertrand introduced a number of letters concerning the decision. One statement was submitted by the founding president of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Madame Delaney Leblanc.
“The Women’s Issues Branch of the New Brunswick Government will receive the funding through a transfer. They only want to abolish the Advisory Council, but not the others. I ask the government to reverse the decision or declare a moratorium on the issue.”
Bertrand then questioned the Women’s Issues Branch and their capacity to remain independent, citing issues on conflict of interest.
“They cannot do it independently. The Women’s Issues Branch and those civil servants working within it don’t criticize their own government and or the Minister. It will no longer be an independent voice,” he said.
Minister Blaney stated the cuts were part of a government mandate and that although change is good she supports the work performed by the Women’s Issues Branch.
“In no way do we want to muzzle the voice of women, our government remains dedicated to the women of New Brunswick. As for the motion made by the opposition I cannot support motion 29,” she said.