In response to demands by trade union women and by feminists in the academic and professional fields, the federal government set up the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor in 1954, a with Marion Royce as its first Director. It was a modest beginning by Canada in making good on its U.N. commitment. This valuable agency provided women's organizations and government departments with facts and figures that could be brought together to demonstrate the existence of discrimination against women in a work-force which they joined in increasing numbers as necessity dictated and as the economy had need of their skills and services.

STATUS OF WOMEN 1967 - 1970

However, growing numbers of women realized that statistics alone could not do the job and that much more needed to be done if there was to be any progress worthy of the name.

Thus, in 1967, the federal government appointed the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in response to persistent and ever-increasing demands by numerous feminist groups across the country. The Royal Commission members were appointed: inquire into and report upon the Status of Women in Canada and to recommend what steps might be taken by the federal government to ensure for women equal opportunities with men in all aspects of Canadian society . . .

The Royal Commission held hearings for women in ten provinces and in the Yukon and Northwest Territories; they received 468 briefs plus about 1000 letters and heard some 890 witnesses.

In keeping faith with the U.N. Declaration of 1948 and in acceptance of the premise that:
... the full use of human resources is in the national interest...the Commission was guided by four principles:

  1. that women should be free to choose whether or not to
    take employment outside their homes;

  2. that the care of children is a responsibility to be
    shared by the mother, the father and society;

  3. that society has a responsibility for women because of pregnancy and
    child-birth, and special treatment related to maternity will always be necessary;

  4. that in certain areas women will, for an interim period, require special treatment
    to overcome the adverse effects of discriminatory practices.

The Royal Commission Report, presented to the federal government in 1970, contained 167 recommendations for changes in existing laws and practices, deemed necessary to eliminate discrimination against women in all aspects of Canadian life. It is the most complete report on record bearing on women's status in Canada. A large number of its recommendations have been partly or wholly put into Canadian laws over the years. However, much remains to be done, in terms of enacting or amending legislation and, especially, of enforcing the new legislation.

It is fair to say that no-one can claim to have serious understanding of the status of women in this country unless he or she has a working knowledge of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (1970).


In response to a recommendation of the Royal Commission (1970), the government set up the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women in 1973 by an Act of Parliament. Its mandate is:

  • to bring before the federal government and the public, matters of interest and concern to women; and
  • to advise the Minister either on his or her request or as the Council deems appropriate. (The Nielsen Report, "Citizenship, Labor and Immigration, Improved Program Delivery" p. 114)

As a para-governmental body, the Advisory Council monitors trends, conducts research, consults with women's groups and informs and advises government and its many departments, committees, task forces and officials on issues of concern to women, with the objective of eradicating discrimination against women and promoting legislative reform and improved social policies, as was intended by the Royal Commission.

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