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B.C. not meeting UN targets on women’s rights, group says

A legal advocacy group says British Columbia is falling short of meeting targets set by the United Nations on women's rights.

The annual report card released by West Coast LEAF says the province is missing targets in a UN convention aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in a number of areas including access to justice, affordable housing and childcare.

Although seven of nine focus areas showed improvements, the highest grade was a C-plus for health and employment.

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"The takeaway is that there's no room for complacency," said Alana Prochuk, a manager at West Coast LEAF in a news release.

"Now is the time to increase pressure on the provincial government to fulfil its promises and stay accountable to women. B.C. can and must comply fully with international standards for gender equality and human rights."

The government's handling of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and access to childcare received a D grade.

Executive director Kasari Govender says the province has stalled on addressing violence and deep poverty experienced by Indigenous women and the organization calls the province's performance "abysmal."

The report says only eight of 63 recommendations from the B.C. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry have been fully implemented five years after being released and the organization says it's time for the province to fulfil its promises.

It adds that a "healing fund" to support the families of missing and murdered women has not been created.

The report also says "bias-free policing standards" have not been established and while new transportation improvements have been announced for Highway 16, the so-called Highway of Tears, the cost of the service poses a barrier to low-income women.

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The B.C. government wasn't immediately available to respond to request for comments.

The report also says the lack of affordable, high-quality childcare has consequences on women's empowerment.

It acknowledges the new appointment of B.C.'s minister of state for child care, which suggests the government will prioritize the issue, but says it's too soon to predict the results.

The report also points to the fact the new government did not include $10-a-day childcare in its September budget update, which John Horgan's New Democrats campaigned on during the May election.

Woman shares impact of losing her mother at missing, murdered inquiry hearing (The Canadian Press)
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