Backgrounder: Gender Equality and a Strong Middle Class

Through Budget 2018, the Government is taking action to make sure that the benefits of a growing economy are felt by all Canadians. Taking into account the diverse experiences of women and girls is an opportunity to be seized, and the Government is creating opportunities for men and women in all their diversity to contribute and share in Canada's prosperity.

This starts by putting gender at the centre of Government decision-making. By working to help support women and girls, reduce the gender wage gap, and increase the participation of women in the labour force, the Government is helping to boost economic growth for all Canadians. 

RBC Economics estimates that adding more women to the workforce could boost Canada's gross domestic product by as much as 4 per cent. Similarly, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance equality for women—such as employing more women in technology and boosting women's participation in the workforce—Canada could add $150 billion to its economy by 2026.

Through Budget 2018, the Government is promoting gender equality by proposing to:

  • Create a new Employment Insurance (EI) Parental Sharing Benefit, which will support more parenting by providing additional weeks of EI parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave.
  • Move toward addressing the gender wage gap by shining a light on pay practices in the federally regulated sector and moving forward with a proactive pay equity regime that will be tabled later this fall. This robust pay equity regime will cover businesses and organizations operating within the federally regulated sector, applying to around 1.2 million individuals. It will include strong oversight and enforcement, require regular maintenance and take an innovative approach to ensure that on average, women and men receive the same pay for work of equal value. To complement this, the Government will also implement pay transparency by publishing user-friendly online content on the pay practices of employers in the federally regulated sector through an investment of $3 million over five years, starting in 2018–19.
  • Support women-owned businesses so that they can grow, find new customers and access export opportunities by:
    • Making available increased access to capital for women entrepreneurs through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada with $1.65 billion over three years.
    • Supporting investments in and networks that support women-owned businesses through locally designed solutions with a commitment of $105 million over five years.
    • Encouraging women to grow export-oriented businesses, aligned with the Innovation and Skills Plan, through an additional investment of $10 million over five years in the Business Women in International Trade program.
  • Build on Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy, which provides help to those in need around the world by:
    • Providing an additional $2 billion over five years, starting in 2018–19 for development and international assistance.
    • Creating the International Assistance Innovation Program with a $873.4 million commitment over five years to support new approaches to development financing.
    • Creating the Sovereign Loans Program. This pilot program will diversify the tools Canada has to engage partner countries and international development organizations, by providing up to $626.6 million over five years.
    • Demonstrating global leadership and providing $20.3 million over five years, beginning in 2018–19, to welcome an extra 1,000 refugee women and girls from conflict zones around the world.
  • Introduce a new Gender Results Framework to guide future decision-making and to measure our progress in fostering an economy that works for everyone. This will be supported by additional funding of $5 million per year for Status of Women Canada to support research and data collection in support of the Framework. Related to this, the Government will also introduce legislation to finally make Status of Women Canada an official Department of the Government of Canada, and ask the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine making it a requirement that when any Minister of Finance tables a budget in the House of Commons, a Gender-based Analysis Plus of the budget documents must be tabled concurrently.
  • Ensure that Parliament is flexible, compassionate and reasonable in making accommodations for Parliamentarians with needs related to their Parliamentary functions. This includes improving work-life balance, providing access to child care and designated spaces for the use of those with infants and children, and making it possible for Parliamentarians to take parental leave.
  • Help women enter and succeed in the trades by allocating $19.9 million over five years to pilot a new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women. The grant will provide up to $3,000 in each of the first two years of training to women apprenticing in male-dominated Red Seal skilled trades. This, in combination with the Apprenticeship Completion Grant, would provide up to $8,000 to women who complete their apprenticeship training in those often better-paid trades.
  • Implement Canada's first-ever National Housing Strategy (NHS), which commits that at least 25 per cent of investments will support projects that specifically target the unique needs of women and girls. As part of the NHS, at least 7,000 shelter spaces will be created or repaired for survivors of family violence based on investments made in Budgets 2016 and 2017.
  • Improve access to the Canada Child Benefit to give hard-working moms and dads support each month to buy the things their families need—so more help goes to the families who need it.
  • Continue to implement the Government's historic multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework which, through investments in Budgets 2016 and 2017, will support approximately 40,000 child care spaces over the next three years.
  • Enhance the Women's Program by providing $100 million over five years to Status of Women Canada to support projects that advance gender equality such as: ending violence against women and girls; improving women's and girls' economic security and prosperity; and encouraging more women and girls to reach leadership and decision-making positions.

What is GBA+?

GBA+ is an analytical tool used to assess how different groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives.

The "plus" acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences to consider intersecting factors such as race, ethnicity, age, disability and sexual orientation.

GBA+ provides the foundation for gender budgeting—ensuring that the impacts of individual budget proposals on different groups of people are understood, supporting better policy-making, priority-setting and decision-making.

  • Engage Canadians on the benefits of gender equality by:
    • Providing $1.3 million in 2018–19 to host a national roundtable on Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+).
    • Providing funding of up to $7.2 million over five years to lead a national conversation on gender equality with young Canadians.  
    • Providing $1.8 million over two years to engage men and boys in the importance of working towards an egalitarian society, which would make the Government of Canada one of the only governments to date to have a strategy focused on men and boys.
  • Launch a pilot program to support newcomer women entering the workforce by providing $31.8 million over three years starting in 2018–19.
  • Promote the participation of women and girls in sport by providing support for data and research and innovative practices to promote women's and girls' participation in sport, and for national sports organizations, by providing funding of $30 million over three years to support gender equality in sport.
  • Enhancing access to justice and improving outcomes for a significant number of Canadian families by investing $77.2 million over four years, starting in 2019–20, to support the expansion of Unified Family Courts.
  • Combat gender-based violence and harassment by:
    • Providing an additional $86 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to expand Canada's Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence. This includes additional funding to prevent teen dating violence, support rape crisis and sexual assault centres, and address online child exploitation.
    • Developing a National Human Trafficking Hotline, including an online portal and a referral system to social services and law enforcement, by investing $14.51 million over five years, beginning in 2018–19, to protect those vulnerable to being trafficked and enable victims to access the services they need. This will be developed in collaboration with provinces and territories.
    • Providing $50.4 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to boost legal aid funding across the country with a focus on supporting victims of sexual harassment in the workplace and to develop an outreach program to better inform workers about their rights and how they can access help if they have been harassed in the workplace.
    • Providing an additional $34.9 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to support implementation of Bill C-65 and address sexual harassment and violence in the federally regulated sector.
    • Building on job-protected leave for survivors of violence introduced in Budget 2017, the Government proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to provide five days of paid leave to workers in the federally regulated sector who are victims of family violence or the parent of a child who is the victim of family violence.
    • Establishing a Centre of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness within the public service to better support public servants in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.
    • Developing a national framework to address gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions across the country by investing up to $5.5 million over five years, starting in 2018–19.
    • Addressing "unfounded" sexual assault cases by providing $10 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to establish a national unit that will coordinate a review of the nearly 25,000 "unfounded" cases. An external advisory committee and better support for victims will also form part of this initiative.  

By supporting gender equality, skills training for women and girls, and fundamental fairness for all Canadians, Budget 2018 demonstrates that the Government is committed to the full and equal participation of women and girls that is essential to Canada's prosperity.