Chantier Politique

March 8, 2016

English Edition, No. 3

Long Live March 8, International Women's Day!

All Out for the Affirmation and Emancipation
of Women and All of Society!

Long Live March 8, International Women's Day!
All Out for the Affirmation and Emancipation of Women and All of Society!

Short Interviews with Women Workers on the Occasion of March 8th
Manon Castonguay, President of USW Local 6486 for Workers at the
CEZinc Refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield

Magali Giroux, Postal Worker, Member of the Montreal Local
of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Nathalie Savard, President of the Union of Health Care
Workers in Northeastern Quebec

Nathalie Soullière, Construction Worker and Member of the
Electrical Union (FIPOE) 

Statistics on the Situation of Women in Quebec

 Calendar of Events

Long Live March 8, International Women's Day!

All Out for the Affirmation and Emancipation
of Women and All of Society!

On the occasion of International Women's Day, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) sends its warmest revolutionary greetings to all fighting women in Quebec, Canada, the First Nations and around the world. In 2018, while society's retrogression is intensifying on all levels, women continue to stand at the forefront of all struggles, including for the elimination of poverty, violence, war and aggression and against all attacks on human rights. They defend the right to health care, to education for all, they oppose privatization and the anti-social offensive. They do so not only for themselves, their families, their communities and society as a whole, but for a nation-building project that guarantees the rights and well-being of all and does not leave anyone to fend for themselves.

The intensification of the anti-social offensive of the governments of Quebec and Canada reveals its hideous features in all aspects of life. One of the salient features of the anti-social offensive of the rich and their political representatives is the stifling repressive silence that is imposed and the criminalization of speech as a human right to deliberate, discuss and act to solve the problems of society in a way which benefits the people. In that regard, we must salute and congratulate First Nations women in particular who, across Quebec and Canada, have smashed the silence and taken the floor to demand justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women. Alongside their sisters and their allies, they reject the smooth talk and deceptions of the colonial state. They refuse to remain silent about the fate of their daughters and their communities. No to impunity! They are defending their mothers, sisters and aunts, their missing or murdered daughters and are doing so in defence of their right to be, their future and that of their families and society and they refuse to give up.

We must also greet and congratulate the nurses of Quebec who are also on the front lines to break the silence and demand the working and living conditions they need to work with dignity and peace of mind to provide the health care services to the people. Under threat of suspensions and reprisals, they have courageously put forward their demands. While they take up the social responsibility their profession and work require of them, the government refuses to take up its own. They are putting forward and defending their claims that they have a right to make on society. They reject the Couillard government's anti-social agenda and consider it an affront to human beings and a threat to society's future.

The Quebec government has made a lot of effort in recent months to appeal to women and have them believe it is on their side. The more it bandies about words such as 'feminist,' 'equality between men and women,' and 'progressive,' the more it tries to have its anti-social agenda accepted and divide the body politic. According to the government, the problem is behaviour, attitudes, or the wearing of certain clothing, and what is needed are laws for the protection of informants, criminalization and increased police powers. But women reject these powers over and above them that are and will be used against them. They reject such laws that criminalize them and provide no solution whatsoever to the problems they face as workers, as women and as members of the body politic. All this is done to hide the reality that the source of women's oppression is directly related to capitalist exploitation. This system based on the exploitation of persons by persons in all aspects of society blocks the emancipation of woman and the society.

Based on their own experience, women are realizing more and more that what is blocking them are the so-called democratic institutions, such as the National Assembly, which is one of the tools being used to attack them. Clearly, women and their allies have no control whatsoever over the decisions taken which affect their lives or the wealth they create, so that it serves the well-being of all. By taking up action with analysis and placing the full weight of their organizations behind the defence of their rights and their dignity and to put an end to all forms of humiliation and exploitation, real advance will most certainly be made.

One hundred and seven years ago, the first International Women's Day took its lead from the call for peace issued by communist women in Europe prior to the First World War. Since then, life itself  has confirmed that women are the mightiest force for peace worldwide. This finds expression in the struggle to Make Canada a Zone for Peace and to establish an anti-war government and to remove Canada from all war alliances, coalitions and cartels of all kinds, including all economic, military and cultural blocks in their service. Today, both Quebec and Canada are embroiled in all U.S. wars of aggression, occupation and regime change and Canada is a member of alliances and coalitions which threaten the annihilation of those peoples who refuse to submit to U.S. dictate. On the occasion of International Women's Day 2018, let us commit to tripling our efforts to establish an anti-war government and make Canada a zone for peace.

Throughout the month of March women are organizing activities in all regions of Quebec. Together they are discussing, reflecting upon, seeking and advancing solutions to open the path and move society forward. Join us in activities celebrating International Women's Day across the country! Together, let us lay our claims: increased investments in social programs, decent wages, day care and senior care services, no to the criminalization of speech and social action, justice for Indigenous women and girls, nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples in a modern Quebec and Canada and no to aggression and war! All out in defence of the rights of women and girls!

Long live International Women's Day!

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Short Interviews with Women Workers on the Occasion of March 8th

Manon Castonguay, President of USW Local 6486 for Workers at the CEZinc Refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield

My message on the occasion of March 8, is that anything is possible. There is no barrier that women cannot cross. As far as I'm concerned, I started working at the refinery in 1997 and was the first woman to work there. Now there are 18 women out of a total of 368 workers. I am also the first woman president of the local. It is important to open doors for women in non-traditional occupations. These are jobs that are often well paid. There is talk of achieving women's financial independence, but often single-parent women are forced to work one, two or three jobs to support their families. If they work in a non-traditional environment, often they will be able to achieve the same goal with one job. I find very sad the situation of single-parent women who do not have financial independence, who face a battle every month to get food on the table and pay the rent. Often the jobs are precarious, part-time jobs. Women end up with 20 hours a week and they do not know their work schedule in advance. This should not happen in this day and age. Women must have a job that meets their needs because that is what they deserve.

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Magali Giroux, Postal Worker,
Member of the Montreal Local
of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers

March 8th is an important and relevant day because it's a time to remember. Yes, we have come far and there are women who have really struggled, but there is still a long way to go. There is still a big wage and social gap.

If we look at the postal sector, it is still mostly men who are letter carriers, even though things are changing. A pay equity fight is currently being waged today, in 2018! Rural and suburban letter carriers, the majority of whom are women, earn 30 percent less than what urban letter carriers earn, who are mostly men. We still have a problem. We have a problem in our union bodies, which are mostly comprised of men. There are family constraints - we have children, a family. We still carry the main load, the mental load, the school meetings, family health, the purchase of clothes - winter, summer, autumn - dentist and doctor's appointments.

The union is making efforts to facilitate women's participation. Training is done on weekends to make it more accessible. Women can come with their children - daycare is provided by the union, or they pay for childcare. These are gains. At meetings, children are welcome. When we see that women want to get involved, we can assist, encourage and help in doing so.

In society the important battles are equity, equality and the #metoo movement. For me it is of paramount importance - we are in the midst of change, something is happening, it must continue to change.

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Nathalie Savard, President of the Union of Health Care Workers in Northeastern Quebec

The majority of our members, 90 percent, who are nurses, nursing assistants and respiratory therapists, are women. With what we are currently facing in the health care sector, such as absences for sick days, overtime, the difficulty of balancing work, family and studies, our conditions are not easy, so celebrating March 8th has meaning. We have women who fought before us for women's rights. As women we have a fight to wage in terms of our working conditions, at the level of public services, and with all that is happing with the denunciation of abuses, March 8th this year takes on an even broader meaning.

We are seeing things at the level of denunciation of sexual abuse, at the level of reporting abuses in our working conditions and we have to be there and fight as much as needed. We must defend our living and working conditions and be present in society, especially for the defence of living conditions in the regions. When we talk about the women we represent, it is inspiring to see how they are determined to care for their families, how they want to care for the health of patients in our regions, how they are concerned about their having access to good services close to where they live. We are also active with community organizations so that women's associations, for example, continue to have the necessary budgets to do their work with people in difficulty.

As far as we are concerned, what makes our people sick is how work is organized, overtime, the deficiency of the organization of work -- all these changes that have been made by a minister who is a doctor alone in his office alone without any knowledge of the reality facing the people on the ground. In the face of these problems disciplinary measures do not solve anything.

We have people who had black shirts made and placed their employee number on the back in protest. There was nothing else written on the shirt. The employer advised them that the patients were afraid of their shirts. They wanted to discipline them. We have people in James Bay who have had their job titles removed and were given another title to save money for budget purposes. They are asked to do the same tasks but paid less. When they refuse saying that it is no longer part of their job, they have meetings with the employer for insubordination and disciplinary action is taken against them. It is a reign of terror. It just aggravates the problems.

All this is being raised this year on the March 8th.

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Nathalie Soullière, Construction Worker and
Member of the Electrical Union (FIPOE)

I am a worker member of the Fraternité inter-provinciale des ouvriers en électricité (FIPOE). I am an electrician and I also have my welder's cards. I am a member of the Workers' Committee of FIPOE, a women's group that meets a few times a year to discuss the various issues women face. Our committee is mainly for women. Our job is to provide the resources to help them, to make them aware of the resources that exist to help them. Some women have difficulty getting accepted into their workplace. There are employers who do not want women. The committee undertook a survey of women workers to find out what they expected from the committee. Many told us that they can't get work, that not all employers are interested in hiring women. Either they are not hired, or are not called back.

In the construction industry, when the job is finished, it's "bye-bye, go home." A major problem, and it's not just a problem for women, is work-family balance. It is not easy for women who are single parents and for men who are in the same situation, with the hours we do. For example, tomorrow morning I start working at 6:30 am in Montreal and I live 45 minutes from my place of work. There is no daycare open at this time. I'm fine because my daughters are old enough to be independent, but for single parents with preschool children, that's a big problem. The construction industry is not always well suited to these conditions. I think we need to continue to increase the number of women in construction, but we have to make sure they have the training and the knowledge they require.

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Statistics on the Situation of Women in Quebec

We are publishing below some statistics that provide a snapshot on the situation facing women in certain areas: demographics, education and illiteracy, family life, work, income and physical wellbeing.


- As of January 1, 2017, Quebec's population was estimated at some 8,351,700 persons compared with 8,283,300 at the beginning of 2016, an increase of 68,500 inhabitants. Of that number, 4,187,355, or 50.3 percent of Quebec's total population is female, with males representing 49.7 percent.

- In 2016, the breakdown into three large age groups for women was as follows: 15.1 percent were under 15 years of age, 65.2 percent were between the ages of 15 and 64 and 19.7 percent were 65 and over. It is estimated that approximately 1,700 Quebeckers are over one hundred years old, 90 percent of which are women.

- In 2016, life expectancy was set at 80.8 years old for men and 84.5 years old for women.


- In 2015-2016, girls and women represented 48.8 percent of young students in general education and 44.9 percent in vocational training.

- In 2015-2016, 58.0 percent of all students at the college level were girls and 58.6 percent of those attending university were women.

- In 2013-2014, 99.0 percent of girls registered at the secondary school level obtained a diploma or a high school leaving certificate (compared with 92.0 percent of boys).

-In 2015-2016, 76.3 percent of young women registered in vocational training at the secondary school level were concentrated in the following three sectors: administration, commerce and computer technology; healthcare; beauty care.

- Amongst those registered at the college level in a technical studies program, the studies of over three quarters of young women were concentrated in three sectors in the fall of 2015. Health Science attracted the largest number of students (32.9 percent of registrations). This was followed by Social, Educational and Legal services (30.4 percent), then Administration, Commerce and Computer Technology (12.9 percent).

- At the undergraduate level in university, in 2015-2016, Human Sciences attracted 21.9 percent of young female students and 14.9 percent of young men, while Administration was comprised of 21.1 percent of young women and 23.3 percent of young men.

- More and more young women are involved in postgraduate studies. In 2015, they represented over half of those who had recently obtained a Masters Degree (56.9 percent). At the PhD level they came close to achieving parity: 46.7 percent of graduates were women.

- Women represent 76.6 percent of students in Health Sciences. In the fall of 2015, the majority of recent graduates in the following sectors were women: Teaching (81.5 percent), Literature (69.8 percent), Social Sciences (70.2 percent), Law (63.7 percent), Liberal Arts (62.9 percent), and Administrative Sciences (56.4 percent).

- Regardless of the level of education, upon entering the job market women earn a gross weakly wage lower than that of men. In 2015 for example, women with a Bachelor's Degree earned on average $899 weekly and those with a Master's Degree earned $1,131. Their male colleagues earned respectively $1,000 and $1,307. This translates into women earning on average per week 89.9 percent of what their male counterparts with a bachelor's degree earned and 86.5 percent of the gross salary of men entering the workforce with a Master's degree.

- More women than men have a university degree. In 2015, within the population aged between 25 and 64 years old, 34.5 percent of women had obtained a certificate, a diploma or a university degree compared to 26.9 percent of men. That gap is widening within the younger population: 43.0 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 and 26.9 percent of men within the same age group had a university degree.


No less than 53 percent of Quebeckers between the ages of 16 and 65 are considered functionally illiterate. This means that they are incapable of comprehending a simple text with a minimum of words. Of that number, 20 percent can neither read nor write. Another 19 percent of Quebeckers are considered illiterate (literacy levels -1 and 1) and 34.3 percent have great difficulty reading and are considered at literacy level 2.

- 10 percent are between 16 and 25 years old

- 39 percent are between the ages of 26 and 46 (parenting age)

- 51 percent are between 46 and 65 years old

- Only 31 percent of those at level 1 are immigrants (16 to 65 years old). Immigrants often are more highly educated than the average Quebecker. In fact, education constitutes an important criterion in obtaining the right to immigrate to Quebec. They therefore are very competent in reading and writing in the their mother tongue. However they have difficulty with the French language and therefore require more courses in French than they do in literacy.

Family Situation

- Women in Quebec gave birth to 86,400 children in 2016, compared with 86,000 in 2015. The median age of women giving birth was 30.6 years old in 2016 compared with 27.3 years old in 1976. Fertility amongst women aged 30-34 recently surpassed that of women between the ages of 25-29. In 2016, the average age of mothers giving birth to a first child was 29 years old, 31.1 years at the time of birth of their second child and 32.6 at the time of their third.

- Close to two infants out of three were born out of wedlock in Quebec in 2016. In 2006 this was the case with 60 percent of newborns and was over 50 percent in 1995. The percentage of births where at least one parent was born outside of Quebec increased from 21 to 31 percent between 2000 and 2016.

- Out of the 2,203,625 families registered during the census of 2011, 907,725 (41.2 percent) were two-parent families with children and 365,510 were single parent (16.6 percent). Couples without children accounted for 42.2 percent of the total.

- In 2011, 76.0 percent of single-parent families had women as the sole parent.

- In 2011, 17.1 percent of women 15 years and older lived alone, compared with 15.8 percent of men. That number has increased over the last 20 years: in 1991, only 13.0 percent of women and 10.5 percent of men lived alone.

- The vast majority of women between the ages of 25 and 54 whose youngest child is 12 years old or less holds a job. In 2016, that was the case for 70.2 percent of women who were single parents and 81.5 percent of women living with a spouse. Compared with 2014, the rate of employment for single mothers therefore decreased by 3 percentage points, while that of mothers living with a spouse increased (73.6 percent of single mothers and 79.8 percent of mothers with a spouse were working in 2014). In 1996, that portion was represented by 53.2 and 63.5 percent respectively.


- In 2016, employment increased slightly for women, while it slightly decreased for men. Within the population aged 15 years and older, the employment rate was 57.0 percent for women (+0.3 percentage points) (-0.1 percentage points) for men.

- In 2016 the unemployment rate for women was lower than that of men: 6.0 percent compared with 8.1 percent respectively. Within the age group of 15 years old and over, 60.7 percent of women were part of the workforce (compared to 68.6 percent for men).

- Women active in the workforce without a high school diploma was 25.5 percent in 2016 (compared to 45.2 percent for men). 77 percent of those women had a university diploma, a rate statistically equivalent to that of men, at 77.1 percent.

- In 2016, 75.2 percent of salaried women aged 15 years and over held a full time job, compared with 87.8 percent of men. For salaried women therefore, it was twice as probable that they held a part-time job, than it was for men: this was the case for 24.8 percent of women, compared with 12.2 percent for men.

Rate of Unionization

- The percentage of women workers with a collective agreement continued to increase, surpassing that of men in 2016: it climbed from 38.4 percent in 2011 to 39.3 percent in 2016. For men the rate has decreased, dropping from 39.7 percent in 2011 to 37.9 percent in 2016.

- In 2016, 11.0 percent of women holding a job were self-employed, compared with 15.6 percent of men.

- The proportion of women in the ten main professional categories of the female workforce (in early childhood education, primary and secondary education, sales, personal care, general office work, etc.) was 75.3 percent in 2016, compared with 66.6 percent of men in the same categories.

- More and more women are choosing traditionally male professions that fall under a professional order. In 2016, they made up over a third of all architects (37.3 percent) and close to half of dentists (46.3 percent), doctors (44.9 percent) and accountants (45.3 percent). They also made up the majority of lawyers (51.9 percent), as well as veterinarians (61.9 percent), notaries (62.6 percent) and pharmacists (65.6 percent).

- In Canada, women continue to find themselves in jobs that pay less than those of their male counterparts, earning on average less than $20 per hour. For example, women occupy 97 percent of all domestic jobs, of which 80 percent belong to immigrants. Most part-time jobs are occupied by women, as it is they who they carry out almost all domestic or family caregiver tasks.


- In 2016, the average weekly wage earned by women working full time corresponded to 85.4 percent of that of men. Between 2000 and 2010, that percentage point climbed from 78.4 to 83.8 percent.

- In comparing the average hourly wage of women and men, we see that the gap has widened. In 2016, women earned on average $22.74 per hour, compared to $25.67 per hour for men. Their earnings represented 88.6 percent of those of men whereas in 2015, they represented 90.1 percent of those of men.

- According to Statistics Canada, women earn on average 0.87 cents of every dollar that men earn, based strictly on hourly wages. When calculated on the basis of yearly wages, for every dollar earned by men, women earn only 0.74 cents.

- In 2016, women made up 58.5 percent of all minimum wage earners, which constitutes an increase when compared with 56.7 percent in 2015.

- In January 2017, 153,483 women received last-resort financial assistance, compared with 177,258 men.

- In 2014, 37.9 percent of women who reported an income earned less than $20,000 per year, compared with 27.3 percent of men in the same situation.

- In 2014, 2.8 percent of women who reported an income and dependents earned income higher than $100,000, compared to 7.7 percent of men with dependents.

Violence Against Women

- In 2014, the police registered 18,746 crimes committed against persons within a domestic context. In 78.5 percent of cases, the victim was a woman.

- The rate of declared offences committed within a domestic context dropped by 5.4 percent between 2012 and 2014. However, it rose by 14.2 percent between 2008 and 2012.

- Every six days, a woman dies in Canada as a result of domestic violence. Each year, the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters and Transitional Houses provides a "day in the life" look at women and children in need of shelter. On that day in 2017, 44 percent of shelters were full. That day, 356 women and 250 children requested shelter services from 105 houses and shelters. The vast majority, that is 273 women and 182 children, were told there was no more space.

- In Quebec in 2015, 3,870 sexual assaults were reported, 328 more than in 2014. Women are very largely over-represented in such cases (in 2014, 86.5 percent of victims of those offences were women). On the Island of Montreal, 1, 299 cases of sexual assault were reported in 2015. This represents a significant increase (+17 percent) as the police reported 189 more cases than in 2014.

- According to Statistics Canada's Social Survey on Victimization, 553 000 sexual assaults were reported by victims in 2014. In the vast majority of cases, those victims were women.

- There are three times more cases of violence committed against Indigenous women, compared with those who are non-Native. The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and Walk 4 Justice have established that there are over 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

- Based on  a survey carried out amongst high school students, one out of five girls reported at least one episode of sexual violence on the part of their partner (compared with one out of 15 for boys).

Sources : Council on the Status of Women, Statistics Canada, TML, Literacy Foundation

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