Checking the Rear
View Mirror and Going Forward
by Cheryl Senecal, Catherine Cookson, and Catherine O'Bryan
Just like Janus, the Roman deity with two faces, one looking forward and one behind, as the "three Presidents" of CCLOW, we are mindful of the organization's rich herstory while, at the same time, conscious of the need for fundamental changes that will allow the issues of women's education and training to be addressed in meaninful and relevant ways for the new millennium.
The Changing Landscape
First, over the past few years, there has been a gradual devolution of responsibility for training from the federal government to the provinces. As a consequence, provincial and territorial jurisdictions are in various stages of negotiation with the federal government to develop training agreements. This dramatic and unprecedented shift in the responsibility for training from one level of government to another has resulted in a great deal of confusion and uncertainty for women seeking access to training programs.
Second, unemployment benefits have been changed through a restructuring of the Employment Insurance Act. These changes, among other things, have limited the number of women who are eligible to receive a variety of Employment Insurance benefits, including access to training.
Third, there is a continuing shift towards privatized training that can produce short-term, measurable outcomes. This has resulted in dramatic loss of funding for the type of community-based training that has traditionally provided a more long-term and comprehensive approach to employment issues. As a consequence, many services designed to meet the needs of women, have collapsed.
In addition, a continued trend towards increased fiscal restraint and accountability at various levels of government has necessitated national women's organizations to diversify their funding sources. For CCLOW, the shift towards project-based funding has been a reality that we have attempted to grapple with, despite the fact that it has often left us feeling disheartened and debilitated.