What we know about the government’s plans for gender based analysis thus far
By Sam Mathers, News Editor
Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to deliver the 2017 federal budget this week, and for the first time, this will include a gender-based analysis of budget measures.
According to the Government of Canada website, gender-based analysis “provides a snapshot that captures the realities of women and men affected by a particular issue at a specific time. This means that analysts, researchers, evaluators and decision makers are able to continually improve their work and attain better results for Canadian men and women by being more responsive to their specific needs and circumstances.”
The federal government also looks at factors like age, income, education, language and culture when analyzing inequality in Canada.
On the surface, a federal budget might seem to be inherently gender neutral. The reality is, federal budgets tend to ignore the ways in which measures and decisions can affect men and women differently.
For example, in the last twenty years, tax cuts have been a major priority in the federal budget. Due to wage disparity, tax cuts mostly benefit men, who on average have a higher income – in fact, 38% of women do not have an income high enough to be taxable. Tax cuts in turn affect public services, by leaving less money to add or improve them – and public services tend to be relied on more heavily by women.
Another aim of including a gender-based analysis in the budget is to increase the recent plateau in women’s participation in the workforce. Budget allocations could include access to affordable postsecondary education, access to affordable childcare, funding and programs for shelters and other supports for victims of domestic violence, and a commitment to pay equity.
Canada committed to completing gender based analyses when Jean Chretien signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, which stated: “Governments should make efforts to systematically review how women benefit from public sector expenditures; adjust budgets to ensure equality of access to public sector expenditures.” Yet, in the 22 years since, very little has been done. The auditor general found in 2015 that of 100 federal departments and agencies, a mere 30 had committed to gender based analysis, and of those, at least 6 hadn’t fully implemented it.
A supplement to the budget will include an assessment of the current state of gender equality in Canada, a gender based analysis of the 2016 budget, a gender based analysis of this year’s budget, and goals for a more in-depth gender based analysis for 2018.
Gender based analysis is meant to consider how a particular policy or budget decision will affect men and women differently, and to ensure decisions will be beneficial to both. “We’re sensitive to both economic inclusion and social inclusion,” Social Development Minister Jean Yves Duclos said during his pre-budget tour last week, “it involves all characteristics beyond income that make it difficult sometimes for Canadians to feel included in our society. And gender is one.” While the Trudeau government is not expected to get it exactly right on the first try, many are anxiously awaiting this new addition to the federal budget. It is a clear step in the right direction and one that is long overdue.