International Women’s Day with Jagmeet Singh: A Call to Action
The atmosphere was full of excitement and chattering yesterday afternoon at My Sister’s Place, a women’s shelter and support program facility, as many waited for the arrival of federal NDP leader and Western alumnus Jagmeet Singh.
Singh made an appearance at the organization days before International Women’s Day, to make an announcement about what the party’s plans are to support Canadian women.
Singh began his announcement by emphasizing that he wants the federal government to formally commit to funding for various initiatives that will assist women in low-income situations. He called on the government for increases in funding for affordable housing, investment in new affordable housing units, and the development of a national childcare plan.
Singh’s announcement comes in light of a CBC investigative report that revealed women and children are turned away from shelters in Canada almost 19,000 times a month. He emphasized this statistic numerous times throughout his announcement.
When asked about increasing women’s participation in the workforce, Singh re-emphasized the importance of a national childcare plan.
“It can’t be highlighted enough how much childcare would help,” he said.
“We also know that, particularly at the highest levels, when we’re talking about executives, the boards of business, there’s not enough representation of women. So there’s a way for us at the federal level to encourage that participation.”
Singh also talked about how affordable housing would help women in marginalized groups, such as Indigenous women, women of colour, and women with disabilities.
“If we make investments in housing, with a specific focus on making sure there’s culturally appropriate housing, and in communities where they are facing a lot of struggles, it will help those who are most marginalized.”
Singh’s announcement was received well by a room full of hopeful women. Although he left the building in jovial spirits yesterday, things may change as he prepares to take on Prime Minister Trudeau’s upcoming budget.
The timing of Singh’s announcement was not surprising – it’s budget season in Ottawa. The NDP leader emphasized his commitment to creating change in Ottawa, and he plans to use Trudeau’s minority government position to do so.
When asked how he was going to put pressure on the Liberal government to commit to more investments in affordable housing, he alluded to an alliance between the Liberals and the NDP. When speaking about his conversations with the Prime Minister, he stated the readiness of the NDP to join forces with the Liberals if they take action.
“I am ready. My party is ready,” Singh said.
Lindsay Mathyssen, Singh’s Member of Parliament for London-Fanshawe, echoed Singh’s readiness to join hands with Trudeau’s government and emphasized how important young people are to the success of the party.
When asked if she believes the Trudeau government is listening to students, she said “I hope so…. I don’t know what goes on in those Cabinet meetings. But I can tell you that we are listening to students.”
Although Jagmeet’s visit wasn’t long, the underlying message he left was significant. He was quick to criticize Trudeau for not making enough of a commitment to social services, while simultaneously bailing out big corporations, and this was met with a big cheer from the crowd.
With budget season kicking into high gear, and Trudeau and the Liberals in a minority government position, it looks like Singh and the NDP are getting ready to list their demands.