The Royal Commission on the Status of Women (1967-1970) made many official recommendations that affected federal government policies relating to women. Since the majority of the social welfare and health programs administered by the Department of National Health and Welfare affected the lives of Canadian women, the Department decided in 1973, independently of the Royal Commission's recommendations, to establish their own internal Office of Special Advisor, Status of Women (NHW) to coordinate departmental policies on "women's issues". In August, 1976, the Department established a Departmental Advisory Committee on Status of Women Concerns, to be chaired by a Senior Advisor, Status of Women, who would report to the Office of the Special Advisor on Policy Development. With the abolition of the latter in 1985, the Senior Advisor reported directly to the Deputy Minister.
The Senior Advisor is the key coordinating and advisory position within NHW for ensuring the development, assessment, implementation and integration of policies and programs for promoting and preserving the social welfare and security of Canadian women and their families. The Senior Advisor, often in collaboration with the Minister of State for the Status of Women, advises the Minister of National Health and Welfare on recommended policy to implement national programs relating to such social welfare and health concerns as pensions, daycare, family violence/wife assault, income security, etc. The Office of the Senior Advisor also acts as the Canadian government's focal point for national and international educational and interpretive initiatives on social issues relating to women and often represents Canada at appropriate international gatherings. The Senior Advisor also works with two entities created as a result of the Royal Commission's recommendations: the Co-ordinator, Status of Women (est. 1970), and the Advisory Council on the Status of Women (est. 1973).
The records in this accession consist of letters, memoranda, briefing books, briefs to Cabinet, reports and pamphlets, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, articles, and conference papers on a wide variety of subjects affecting the health and welfare of Canadian women. A block of records (140-5) relates to the establishment of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in the mid 1970s, including minutes of the Health and Welfare Departmental Committee on the Status of Women. Recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women are listed, along with their relevance to the programs of Health and Welfare and any action taken or planned. Liaison files with other agencies such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission contain mainly of correspondence and annual reports (also block 140). Since the Senior Advisor often acted as the Canadian representative on women's issues within the international arena, there is a large block of material (block 149) which deals with contacts with other women's programs in foreign countries, such as Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United States, Sweden, Italy, France, Portugal, and Norway, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. Other subject files in this series deal with the following topics: contraception and control of reproductive health (141 block); employment, including equal opportunities and training (block 142); aging and retirement (block 144); occupational health, including hazards to pregnancy (block 145); health promotion and prevention, such as alcohol abuse, mental health, suicide prevention, anorexia, and sexually transmitted diseases (block 146); reference material on native and immigrant women (block 152); parenthood and pregnancy on such topics as daycare, abortion, and maternity leave and benefits (block 154); social security and other welfare programs designed to protect women such as Family Allowance and the Child Tax Credit (block 156); and violence against women and the family such as rape, family violence, wife battering, and sexual assault (block 158).
For related material, see RG 29 Accessions 88-89/012 and 89-90/036 (Special Advisor, Policy Development), the records of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (RG 33/89), and RG 106 (Status of Women Canada).