On Friday, April 8th, 2011, 300 participants gathered in front of the New Brunswick Legislature to protest the abolition of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, announced during the recent provincial budget. Participants demanded that the government reverse its decision and reinstate this arm’s length agency. The rally was organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) NB. Representatives from other labour unions were also in attendance as were representatives from several women’s and civil society organizations.
The Advisory Council plays three roles in the community: advising government on women’s equality issues, disseminating unbiased research and information and providing networking and collaboration opportunities for women’s organizations in the province. Its independence from government is central to its role in society.
The provincial government claims that financial reasons are behind the $342,000 budget cut and that its functions will be incorporated into the Women’s Issues Branch at the Executive Council Office. This decision represents a 9 per cent cut to the government funding allocated to women’s equality issues. No consultation was done before the announcement was made during the March 22nd budget. The Advisory Council ceased its operations on March 31, 2011.