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Working 9 to 5

One of our overriding concerns over the years has been improving the role and status of women in the workplace. In 1912, the issue of minimum wage for women has already been addressed by Club members. As early as 1918, our patience was sorely tried, when, for example, in a speech made to club members, a manager from the Royal Bank assured his audience that “many of the women clerks were able, capable workers and fully 25% of them were quite equal to the men.”

The following is a taste of the Toronto BPW Club‟s pursuit over the years of improved working conditions and promotional opportunities for all women:

It was suggested to the government that they initiate a training course for domestics who would be given certificates on graduation. In 1964 this same resolution was taken to the Ontario Conference for presentation to the Ontario Government.

The Club sent a letter to the Mayor and to the Police Commissioner to protest the Mayor‟s refusal to appoint Miss Fannin to the police force even though there was room for six women.

The Club decided to send a recommendation to the government sponsoring equal pay for equal work in the teaching profession.

In reply to a letter from Miss Alma Brodeur, Chairman for Ontario of the International Relations Committee, the Club sent a Resolution to Miss Brodeur recommending that women be given equal consideration with men, based on their merits, when ambassadorial and diplomatic appointments are being considered by the Department of External Affairs.

The Club requested through CFBPWC that the Federal Government undertake a comprehensive enquiry into the consequences and adequacy of existing federal and provincial laws having a direct bearing on the employment of women and to publish the facts, information and conclusions resulting thereof.

The Club, spearheaded by BPWC of Ontario Committee headed by Margaret Hyndman, to forcefully present to the Ontario Legislature the burning question of “Equal Pay for Equal Work”.

At a special general meeting, held on November 10, it was duly moved and seconded: Whereas the economic status of women is of primary interest in our Organization, and that the restrictions placed on the employment and advancement of married women in the Federal Civil Service have for many years worked an injustice on such women, be it resolved that the Toronto BPW Club urge the CFBPWC to commend the action of the Federal Civil Service Commission in lifting, as of November 1, 1955, all restrictions and discriminatory regulations against the employment and advancement of married women in the Federal Civil Service. – Carried.

The Club sent a resolution to the CFBPWC to urge the Government to improve its present practice to mere token appointments of women to government commissions, special committees and boards.

Something long overdue at our Club was the following motion, made at a Board Meeting on March 19: That we undertake the necessary research in response to the suggestion made by Mary MacAulay for a Women‟s Employment Programme, and that Nazla Dane be requested to chair a Committee of three members to give consideration to this project. – Carried.

At a meeting held on March 14, Mary MacAulay presented the resolution that we petition the Government of Ontario to appoint a qualified woman as Vice-Chairman of the Ontario Hospital Services Commission, and women commissioners in due proportion to the number of women who will be affected by the OHSC Plan; and that we urge the Board of Directors of the CFBPWC to alert the BPW Clubs across Canada to the need for women on boards administering such plans in their provinces.

A resolution was submitted requesting the CFBPWC to urge the Government of Canada to adopt portable pensions.

In January, a Resolution was forwarded to the CFBPWC asking that we urge the Government of Canada to appoint a woman to the National Parole Board.

A five-point questionnaire on part-time employment for women was distributed to BPW Clubs across Canada. The consensus of the questionnaire was that part-time employment of married women does not affect the employment of single women nor does it cause unemployment. Few are known to receive the fringe benefits accorded full-time employees.

At a panel discussion composed of BPW Club members, City of Toronto Controller Jean Newman, speaking about the position of women in public affairs said: “If you want anything you have got to have patience and persistence unlimited.” Doris Anderson, editor of the magazine Chatelaine said she had polled nine Canadian firms to see whether they employed any women in top jobs. In all cases the answer was a straight “no” accompanied by an expression of some wonderment that the question was even asked. Lawyer Margaret Smith reviewed the position of women in legal work, noting that they are practising the profession with some moderate success in Ontario. However, a woman had yet to become a Supreme Court judge, a senior partner in a large law firm or a senior lawyer in a Civil Service department, she said.

The Employment Conditions Committee studied “Discrimination in Employment – What Does It Cost YOU?”

A Toronto Club Resolution to the 1974 CFBPWC conference asked that the Federal Government be requested to establish and maintain a Canadian Women‟s Resource Centre under a qualified woman director and also urged that the provincial BPW organizations request the same of their respective provincial governments.

A delegation went to see Mayor Crombie about appointing more women to Boards such as the Harbour Commission.

Resolution submitted by the Club through the BPWC of Ontario to the Ontario Government examined equal pay for work of equal value.

A letter campaign in March, supported Bill 3, equal pay for work of equal value, which was being blocked by the Ontario Government.

Together with the Zonta Club, we conducted a public forum in April at the St. Lawrence Centre on “Women challenging the eighties – Pensions and Social Policies”, and in December on “Day Care”.

We lobbied with Equal Pay Coalition and met with Dr. Robert Elgie at a press conference.