This article is an edited version of a submission by Action Travail des Femmes to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It was prepared after the CHRC sent an investigator to assess ATF's complaint against the Ministry of Employment and Immigration Canada. The Investigator did not know what constituted systemic discrimination and was unable to do an adequate investigation. ATF subsequently did its own investigation of which this is a portion. It was not possible to publish here, the statistical tables which accompany the report, but they/ are available from CCLOW or from Action Travail des Femmes at 2515 rue Delisle, Montreal, Que. H3J lK8.


In filing a complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Commission against the Minister of Employment and Immigration in July 1982, ACTION TRAVAIL DES FEMMES (A.T.F.) accused the Commission of training policies which operate to exclude women from training courses which have been, and still are, reserved for men. The Ministry's refusal to provide a welding course to 15 Montreal women was cited as an example of an overall policy not to make trade training accessible to women.

The evidence that such policies exist is to be found firstly in the Ministry's own statistics. Of forty-eight courses designated by C.E.I.C. as non-traditional and supposedly the object of the policy known as "priority to women" Since 1977, only three trade courses - cook, butcher, and business administration (finances)  - had substantial (at least 20%) female enrolment in 1981-82. It is interesting to note that these three courses are offered during the day. The other 48 courses mostly offered from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. had a total enrolment of 3,274 including only (3%) women. Needless to say courses such as clerk-typist and sewing machine operator are composed totally of women. Such courses are also generally offered during the day.

According to a study published in 1980 by the Canadian Advisory' Council on the Status of women, women are under-represented in institutional training programs subsidized by C.E.I.C. In 1980-81, women were 48% of the unemployed while they comprised only 32% of C.E.I.C. institutional trainees.

These statistics are the inevitable result of the implementation of Commission policies.

Women who register with Canada Manpower and who seek information on retraining programs are systematically oriented towards courses such as typing, bookkeeping and keypunch operator. Since September 1980, 744 women have come to A.T.F. for employment counselling; 63% of these women have previously registered with Canada Employment and Immigration. To date we have never encountered a woman who has been informed about trades training by a C.E.I.C. counsellor although many women have been encouraged to enroll for secretarial training. No written material is available in C.E.I.C. offices in Quebec on the so-called "priority to women" in trades courses and many counsellors with whom we have dealt are unaware of this policy.

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