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Chapter 5 – Equal Opportunity: Budget 2017's Gender Statement


For generations, Canadian women and men have worked hard, secure in the belief that with hope and hard work, a better life is possible.

The Government shares in that belief. It is committed to ensuring that every Canadian has a real and fair chance to succeed—and dedicated to making sure that its decisions deliver results that are more equitable and more fair.

This is the right thing to do. Canada was one of the first signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1981, and continues its commitment to equal opportunity through its support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

To that end, in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, the Government committed to completing and publishing a gender-based analysis of budgetary measures—in Budget 2017 and all future budgets.

What Is Gender-Based Analysis?

Gender-based analysis (GBA) identifies the ways in which public policies affect women and men differently. It does so through a systematic use of data to better tailor the design and delivery of government programs. Recently, this tool has evolved into GBA+ to include the intersecting identity factors that must be considered in public policy along with and in relation to gender (e.g., ethnicity, age, income, sexual orientation).

When making decisions that significantly affect peoples' lives, governments must understand to what extent their policy choices will produce different outcomes for all people.

A meaningful and transparent discussion around gender and other intersecting identities allows for a greater understanding of the challenges this country faces, and helps the Government make informed decisions to address those challenges—with better results for all Canadians.

Gender-based analysis is not new to Canada, but there have been consistent gaps in the level of analysis applied, and the understanding of the process itself. The Government is working to address these challenges and ensure the quality of gender-based analysis across departments.

Budget 2017's Gender Statement reflects these efforts. It builds on the Government of Canada's existing use of gender-based analysis and sets a higher standard for openness and transparency, as the Government continues to make better and more inclusive decisions in the years ahead.

Future Gender Statements will provide more in-depth analysis of proposed budget measures.

Gender in Canada in 2017

As history has shown, when women and girls are given opportunities to succeed, Canada succeeds. In recent decades, improvements in education, and a growing presence of women in the workforce, have helped boost incomes and the economic well-being of Canadian families.

Canadian women are now among the most educated in the world, with nearly three-quarters of working-age women in the labour force holding a post-secondary certificate or degree.

Educational attainment among women has increased significantly
Chart 5.1
Share of Canadians Aged 25 to 64 With a Post-Secondary Certificate or DegreeChart 5.1 - Share of Canadians Aged 25 to 64 With a Post-Secondary Certificate or    Degree
Sources: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey; Department of Finance Canada calculations.

[Chart 5.1 - Text version]

Women's presence in the workforce has also grown considerably over the past 30 years. Today, women account for 47 per cent of the labour force, compared to 38 per cent in 1976. This, along with real wage gains, has led to a significant increase in the earnings of women.

Although women are increasingly more educated, the wage gap between women and men persists.

The gender wage gap has narrowed since 1976 but remains significant
Chart 5.2
Real Median Wage Income of Canadians
Chart 5.2 - Real Median Wage Income of Canadians
Notes: Last data point is 2016. Figures are for full-year full-time workers (persons who usually worked 30 hours or more per week at their main job).
Sources: Statistics Canada; Department of Finance Canada calculations.

[Chart 5.2 - Text version]

The Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap (i.e., earnings of women relative to men) has declined over the last few decades, but Canada continues to have one of the highest wage gaps among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Additional family responsibilities may account for part of the wage gap, and career gaps—when mothers leave and return to the workforce—can exacerbate it. The gender wage gap is particularly large for young women with at least one child, suggesting that women are more likely than men to make accommodations, such as work fewer hours, to balance paid and unpaid work.

Canada's gender wage gap is high by international standards
Chart 5.3
Gender Wage Gap, Select OECD Countries, 20131
Chart 5.3 - Gender Wage Gap, Select OECD Countries, 2013
1 Or latest available year.
Source: OECD.

[Chart 5.3 - Text version]

Different job and education choices can also contribute to the gender wage gap. Young women are less likely to obtain degrees in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which can offer better career and income opportunities.

Labour Market Challenges

On the whole, women are underrepresented in the trades, while they are disproportionately represented in lower-paying occupations across the retail, health and social service sectors. The representation of women in executive leadership positions also remains low, particularly in the private sector where women accounted for 26 per cent of senior management jobs in 2016, and women are in the minority on company boards, representing 19.5 per cent of Financial Post 500 board members.

When it comes to women's participation in the labour market, Canada ranks high compared to other OECD countries. At the same time, Canadian mothers—particularly those with young children—are less likely to participate in the workforce than women in the best-performing OECD countries. Women with children are often excluded from full participation in the labour market due to challenges in balancing work and family life, or they work part-time, which often means lower wages and fewer benefits, including lack of a pension, paid vacation and sick leave, as well as less job stability.

Certain groups of women face particular challenges in terms of educational attainment and labour market outcomes. While immigrant women have comparable education levels to Canadian-born women, they have lower rates of labour force participation and higher unemployment rates. Reasons include significant language barriers and literacy challenges, credential recognition and lack of Canadian work experience.

Indigenous women also continue to face a number of barriers to successful labour market integration, including low literacy and numeracy levels and lower rates of graduation. Data from the 2012 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, an OECD initiative designed to assess skills, including numeracy and literacy, demonstrated that Indigenous women (excluding Indigenous women on-reserve) had literacy and numeracy scores of 262 and 242 (out of 500), respectively, compared to 273 and 259 for non-Indigenous women. Half of Indigenous women aged 25 to 64 held a post-secondary degree in 2011 compared to almost two-thirds of non-Indigenous women.

Poverty and Violence

Women and girls are more likely than men to experience poverty, violence and harassment. Poverty is a particular concern for single mothers and single senior women, who are more likely to have low incomes and face challenges finding affordable housing.

While violence and harassment touch the lives of many women and girls, Indigenous women in particular experience high rates of homelessness, and are particularly vulnerable to domestic violence, mental illness and poorer overall health.

Certain Women Face Added Risks of Violence
  • Women admitted to shelters and transition homes cited abuse as their primary reason for seeking shelter, with the most common abuser being an intimate partner.
  • Women living in poverty face increased risk of victimization due to isolation, economic dependence, and difficulties accessing support services including affordable housing.
  • Indigenous women are twice as likely to be violently victimized as Indigenous men and approximately three times more likely to be violently victimized than non-Indigenous women or men.
  • Sexual assaults account for about 33 per cent of all crimes committed against Indigenous women and 10 per cent of all crimes against non-Indigenous women.
  • Women living with physical and cognitive impairments experience violence two to three times more often than women living without impairments.
  • 59 per cent of senior victims of family violence were senior women, with a rate 24 per cent higher than that of senior men.
  • Women are more likely than men to experience the most severe forms of self-reported spousal victimization, despite having similar prevalence rates as men.
  • In 2014, 5 per cent of Canadians who had been sexually assaulted reported the incident to police.

Sources: Statistics Canada; Status of Women Canada; Public Health Agency of Canada; Western University, Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children.

Taking Action on Gender-Based Challenges

Budget 2016 and Budget 2017 include many measures aimed at reducing the gender wage gap, encouraging greater workforce participation among women, and helping to combat poverty and violence. Such measures include:

The Department of Finance Canada will continue to work with Status of Women Canada and partners outside of government to better understand the challenges women and girls face, to develop policies that promote greater gender equality, and to monitor progress toward that goal.

The Government also recognizes the current gaps in data and understanding related to broader intersecting identities—for instance, how economic policies affect LGBTQ2 individuals.

There is a great deal of work to be done and the Government is committed to making real progress on this front. Canada's economic future will benefit from our ability to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, one that gives every Canadian a chance to succeed.

What Success Will Look Like

  • More equal wages and increased labour market participation for diverse groups of women and men.
  • Greater representation of women in positions of leadership in both the public and private sector.
  • Reduced risk and occurrence of gender-based violence against women and girls.

Budget 2016: Meaningful Investments to Support Gender Equality

In Budget 2016, the Government made historic investments in people and communities—taking meaningful steps toward addressing many of the longstanding economic and social issues that particularly affect women.

These investments include the new, tax-free Canada Child Benefit, which provides low- and middle-income families with more help with the cost of raising their children. Nine out of 10 families receive more help than they did under previous programs, with average benefits for these families rising by nearly $2,300 in the first year.

"The Canada Child Benefit is an example of the social policies needed to ensure prosperity is shared by all. It will change lives—especially for women and children fleeing violence. Fear of economic hardship is one of the driving forces that keeps women and children trapped in abusive situations. By increasing the incomes of mothers living in poverty, it creates more options for safety planning. For mothers with children in emergency shelters, the financial boost could help them secure housing in the community when they are ready. This will help free up essential spaces for other women and children in need….Strong social policies like the Canada Child Benefit are game-changers."

— Maureen Adams and Etana Cain, YWCA Toronto

The Canada Child Benefit is particularly beneficial for families led by single parents. These families are most often led by single mothers and tend to have lower total incomes.

Of the families that receive the Canada Child Benefit and are led by single mothers, nearly 90 per cent have net family incomes below $60,000 per year. These families receive about $9,000 each year in benefit payments, making it easier for them to afford the things that give children a good quality of life: a safe place to live, healthy food and access to recreational and cultural activities.

The Canada Child Benefit can give single parents further peace of mind that at the end of each month, they will have enough money to support their kids.

Most families receiving the maximum Canada Child Benefit are led by single mothers
Chart 5.4
Share of Single Parents and Couples Receiving the Maximum Canada Child Benefit (2016–17 Benefit Year)
Chart 5.4 - Share of Single Parents and Couples Receiving the Maximum Canada Child Benefit (2016–17 Benefit Year)
Source: Department of Finance Canada calculations.

[Chart 5.4 - Text version]

Budget 2016 also increased income support for vulnerable seniors. Enhancements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement have resulted in 750,000 single seniors receiving an increase of up to $947 each year. This enhancement is helping to lift 13,000 vulnerable seniors—including 12,000 senior women—out of poverty.

Significant investments in Budget 2016 helped to make post-secondary education more affordable for students from low- and middle-income families through enhancements to the Canada Student Loans Program, and also made student debt loads more manageable through changes to the Canada Student Loans Program's Repayment Assistance Plan. These measures are expected to benefit women in particular, as women account for approximately 60 per cent of all Canada Student Loans Program loan and grant recipients. Women also represent approximately 66 per cent of borrowers enrolled in the Repayment Assistance Plan.

To further support women's participation in the labour market, the Government committed to exploring flexible work arrangements for federally regulated employees. Because women continue to do the majority of unpaid work in the home, flexible work arrangements can better support women who need to manage personal and family responsibilities as well as the demands of paid work. Budget 2017 takes further action on this issue by proposing amendments to the Canada Labour Code.

Budget 2016 also included a number of measures to enhance the safety of women and girls who have experienced—or are at risk of experiencing—violence and abuse.

To build safer, stronger communities, Budget 2016 committed $2.3 billion over two years to expand affordable housing. These investments are expected to especially improve the housing conditions of senior women living alone and single mothers, who are more likely to face challenges finding affordable housing. Nearly $90 million of the Budget 2016 investment was allocated for the construction and renovation of shelters and transition houses for victims of family violence—an investment expected to create or improve more than 3,000 shelter spaces over two years.

For Indigenous women in particular, the Government supported the construction, renovation and operation of shelters for victims of family violence, on- and off-reserve. This is expected to result in five new shelters on-reserve and access to 3,000 new shelter spaces off-reserve.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, coupled with large-scale investments in Indigenous education, child welfare and housing beginning in Budget 2016, will help to identify and address the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

To further advance gender equality objectives, the Government also expanded the capacity of Status of Women Canada. This investment will help support local organizations working on women's issues and gender equality, and will ensure that gender-based analysis becomes an integral part of government decision-making.

Budget 2017: An Inclusive Plan for Growth

Budget 2017 builds on these investments by focusing on innovative, inclusive and sustained growth for the middle class.

As Canada sets a new course for long-term economic growth, it presents both significant opportunities and challenges for Canadian women and men to benefit equally. In using gender-based analysis in its budgetary decisions, the Government has sought to develop policy that is better informed by its differential impacts on women and men.

Budget 2017's Gender Statement sets out how decisions made in the current budget were informed by gender considerations, with the ultimate goal of delivering the best possible outcomes for Canadians in all their diversity. This first attempt will inform and improve the process used for future statements.


Budget 2017 proposes key investments in areas where gender imbalances persist, such as innovation and public infrastructure.

Targeted measures will help address these barriers to inclusive growth, including through enhancements to student financial assistance and skills training programs, and modern infrastructure that facilitate access to education, social and work opportunities.

Budget 2017 features major initiatives that promote more equal labour market participation, and reduced poverty and violence affecting women and girls.

These include, over the next 11 years, new investments of $7 billion towards early learning and child care and over $11.2 billion towards a National Housing Strategy, and $101 million over five years to support a National Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence.

More than 60 Budget 2017 measures were identified as having differential gender impacts, but there remain many areas where data is not readily available.

The Government will continue to build capacity and expertise across departments, and to work with partners, to deepen its understanding of the impacts of policies on gender and other intersecting identities.

Chapter 1—Skills, Innovation and Middle Class Jobs

With a focus on skills, innovation and clean growth, Budget 2017 will help to deliver good, well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

In an economy that is always changing, women must have access to the same opportunities as men.

Skills Training for the New Economy

Canada's long-term success—and the success of its middle class—depends on a skilled workforce that can adapt quickly to change. By making significant investments in skills training, Budget 2017 will help to build a more resilient and adaptable workforce—giving more Canadians more opportunities to reach their full potential.

Under the existing Labour Market Transfer Agreements, the Government provides nearly $3 billion each year to provinces and territories for the design and delivery of skills training and employment supports aimed at helping Canadians prepare for, return to or maintain employment. However, in 2013–14, women accounted for less than 44.5 per cent of all participants under the Labour Market Development Agreements—the largest of these transfer agreements. This underrepresentation is particularly worrisome given the significant barriers faced by women in the labour market.

Budget 2017 proposes to provide an additional $2.7 billion over six years, starting in 2017–18, to expand these agreements and help more Canadians access training and employment assistance. With this funding comes a renewed commitment to increase the participation of underrepresented groups—such as women—in the workforce. Working with provinces and territories, the Government will develop a new approach to labour market programming that is more responsive to the diverse needs of Canadians.

Building on measures announced in Budget 2016, the Government is proposing further changes to Canada Student Loans and Grants to help more Canadians—in particular, adult learners—pursue post-secondary education.

Women account for nearly two-thirds of all part-time students who receive Canada Student Loans and Grants, and account for the vast majority (80 per cent) of Canada Student Grant recipients who also have dependent children.

By expanding eligibility for Canada Student Loans and Grants for part-time students, as well as for Canada Student Grants for students with dependent children, Budget 2017 will help make post-secondary education more accessible and more affordable for more Canadian women.

Economic Growth and Innovation That Works for All Canadians

Innovation is the key that unlocks possibilities and opportunities—it's what allows Canadians to adapt to change and prepare for the future.

In addition to strengthening and growing the middle class, innovation can deliver a better quality of life: better, more effective health care; smarter, more connected cities; and cleaner, more sustainable energy, among many other examples.

Innovation is also what will drive future economic growth. By creating new jobs and transforming existing ones, innovation will generate good, well-paying jobs today, and even better opportunities for our children.

From a gender perspective, the immediate benefits of these investments—including jobs created and expanded access to innovative technologies—are not shared equally between diverse groups of women and men.

Table 5.1
STEM Education and Employment in Canada by Gender, Immigrant Status, and Aboriginal Identity, 2011
Total Women
% of Total
% of Total
% of Total
Population aged 25-54 14,044,940 51.1 24.5 3.9
Post-secondary credential 9,340,495 52.5 26.1 2.51
Post-secondary credential in a STEM field 1,814,075 29.6 39.9 1.41
Post-secondary credential in a STEM field and employed in a STEM-intensive occupation 606,520 18.9 37.5 N/A2
% of those with a STEM credential employed in a STEM-intensive occupation 38.9% 26.9% 39.1% N/A2
1  Not including trades and apprenticeships.
2  These data are collected, but are not publicly available.
Sources: Council of Canadian Academies, 2015. Some Assembly Required: STEM Skills and Canada's Economic Productivity. Ottawa, Ontario: The Expert Panel on Stem Skills for the Future, Council of Canadian Academies. Based on data from Statistics Canada and Panel calculations.

Gender imbalances persist in the innovation and research sphere, where women continue to be underrepresented in STEM, both at universities and colleges. At school and in the workforce, women account for less than 30 per cent of STEM students and professionals.

Budget 2017 includes several measures to help promote the participation of diverse groups of women and men in STEM and the digital economy—an important part of the Government's overall economic growth strategy.

The PromoScience Program funds organizations that offer young people—from junior kindergarten up to grade 12—opportunities to participate in activities known to build engagement, interest, skills and knowledge in STEM. These activities are particularly valuable for young girls, as their interest in STEM has been shown to decline more rapidly with age, compared to boys.

PromoScience has been successful to date in promoting STEM interest among girls—with 67 per cent of program recipients indicating that the skills and knowledge of girls increased to a great extent following their participation in a PromoScience-funded project. Expanding the PromoScience Program will encourage underrepresented groups to take an interest in STEM, and help create a more gender-balanced stream of talented individuals who are equipped to build—and benefit from—Canada's economic future.

At home, access to the Internet opens up a world of opportunities. From social connections with other Canadians, to improved access to health care services and new ways to learn and work, participation in the digital economy is vital to ensuring the benefits of innovation are spread widely.

Statistics Canada data from 2014 indicate that 15 per cent of households do not have a home Internet connection. Several cross-cutting barriers limit Internet adoption in Canada: those with no Internet connection at home tend to have lower levels of education, are more likely to be elderly, and are disproportionately from low-income groups. There are associated gender imbalances as well, since women are disproportionately represented among low-income families and among seniors, for example, women are less intensive users of the Internet compared with men.

Financial barriers to access include the cost of purchasing a computer and the cost of signing up for a home Internet connection. To help low-income families overcome these challenges, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $13.2 million over five years in a new Affordable Access program, which will provide a confidential portal to allow Internet service providers to offer low-cost home Internet packages to low-income families, bundled together with refurbished computers. Since women are overrepresented in low-income families, they stand to benefit from this program in particular.

Budget 2017 also proposes $29.5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, for a new digital literacy exchange program. This program will foster more inclusive Canadian Internet literacy by supporting initiatives that teach basic digital skills, including how to use the Internet safely and effectively, to certain groups that are affected by digital divides, including seniors, low-income Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, and those living in northern and rural communities.

Support for Women Entrepreneurs

A 2015 report from the Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs stated that "the energy and talents of half of Canada's population is a resource that no economy can afford to squander." The Government of Canada agrees wholeheartedly.

With close to half of all new businesses in Canada now started by women, women entrepreneurs are a driving force in the Canadian economy. Yet two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses are majority-owned by men. Fewer than one in six businesses (15 per cent) are majority-owned by women.

In addition, small businesses owned by women earn less than half the revenue of comparable businesses owned by men, according to data from the Business Development Bank of Canada. This difference could relate to a number of factors. Compared to businesses majority-owned by men, women majority-owned businesses are more likely to be micro businesses with 1 to 4 employees and less likely to export. They also tend to have lower growth rates and lower intentions to grow, and be concentrated in highly competitive service-oriented sectors like health care, retail, and accommodation and food services. Women majority-owners are also less likely to have more than 10 years of managerial experience.

Chart 5.5
Gender Distribution of Firm Ownership
Chart 5.5 - Gender Distribution of Firm Ownership
Source: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

[Chart 5.5 - Text version]

Women entrepreneurs have been consistently vocal about the tools that are needed to help them succeed. Despite many conversations about helping women grow their businesses, the success rates and growth opportunities for women-led companies do not match their male counterparts. 

An ecosystem of support exists; however, there are gaps and an overall lack of awareness and coordination—of the programs available, mentorship opportunities, and the needs of enterprises to maximize their growth potential.

Although progress has been made, it is also clear that women in Canada do not have the same opportunities as men when it comes to representation at senior leadership tables. The February 2017 report from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth highlighted that there is considerable work to be done to break the glass ceiling in Canada:

"The statistics show that Canadian companies are good at hiring women but less effective at advancing them: women make up 46 percent of the country's labour force but hold less than one-third of all senior management positions. Strikingly, the companies in the Canadian TSX 60 have only one woman CEO among them. The share of seats that women hold on the boards of Canadian stock-index companies has received much attention. In 2014, it was just under 21 percent, a smaller proportion than in many other OECD countries."

Women Entrepreneurs: A Growing Force

The Business Development Bank of Canada has recently undertaken important efforts to support women entrepreneurs, including:

  • A new $40 million fund for women-led technology firms, announced in November 2016, consisting of both venture and growth capital, and an additional $10 million to support regional initiatives for women founders.
  • A full client-centred review of its processes from the perspective of women entrepreneurs, to be launched in the spring of 2017.
  • Continued progress on the 2015 commitment to increase term lending to majority women-owned businesses to at least $700 million over three years.

Expanding Employment Insurance Benefits to Offer More Flexibility for Families

For many Canadians, balancing their work and family caregiving responsibilities is a challenge. This is especially difficult when a family member is suffering from a very serious illness.

To help lessen the burden on eligible caregivers, Budget 2017 proposes to create a new Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefit. The new benefit will give eligible caregivers up to 15 weeks of EI benefits while they are temporarily away from work to support or care for a critically ill or injured family member. To support this new benefit, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $691.3 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $168.1 million per year thereafter.

It is expected that women will benefit significantly from improved EI caregiving benefits. Today, women are more likely to provide care than men, and amongst caregivers, women spend more time per week engaged in caregiving compared to men.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Building on the commitment in Budget 2016, Budget 2017 proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated workers the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employer, such as flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home, in addition to new unpaid leaves to better balance work and family demands. This initiative will benefit many women who continue to do the majority of unpaid work in the home.

Chapter 2—Communities Built for Change

Historic investments in infrastructure—like the ones made in Budget 2016 and the ones proposed in Budget 2017—help to build strong communities, create good, well-paying jobs, and grow the economy. This benefits all Canadians.

From a gender perspective, jobs created through infrastructure investments tend to go to men more than women, as men vastly outnumber women in the building trades. These investments benefit women more in areas where they are better represented, for example in infrastructure project and asset management positions, where they account for an estimated 30 per cent of all employees.

However, in terms of the end users of public infrastructure, some studies suggest that specific investments benefit women more than men. For example, studies undertaken in the U.S. and U.K. have found that on average, women—and particularly lower-income women—use public transit more often than men. For these women, investments in public transit could mean shorter commutes to school or work, easier access to child care, and more opportunities to have good, well-paying jobs.

On the whole, generating reliable Canadian data on infrastructure—including data needed to perform gender analysis—is challenging. The Government is committed to improving results-gathering and reporting to ensure that such analyses can be more easily done in the future.

Under the Infrastructure Plan, the Government will work with its partners, including provinces and territories, to ensure more comprehensive reporting on publicly funded infrastructure projects to better understand the local, social and economic benefits of infrastructure projects, and on the ways in which these benefits and related gender impacts were considered, including for specific groups such as women, veterans, youth, people with disabilities and Indigenous Peoples.

Better reporting will give all levels of government more data and more opportunities to consider the gender impacts of projects, leading to decisions that result in better economic and social outcomes and greater gender equality.

Clean Growth and Climate Change

Gender equality and the empowerment of women are foundational pillars of Canada's leadership in the fight against climate change. 

Existing gender inequalities around the world make women more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including in Canada. For example, extreme weather events can have a disproportionately negative effect on low-income earners, the majority of whom are women. By applying a gender lens to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, the Government can ensure that its actions are more effective and responsive to a broader range of needs.

Early Learning and Child Care

In 2014, a regulated child care space was available for approximately one in four children in Canada, a rate lower than best-performing OECD countries, with rates at about 50 per cent or more. Affordability of child care also remains a top concern for many families; in Toronto, for example, average annual child care fees can reach, and in some cases exceed, $20,000 per year.

To make child care more affordable for more Canadian families, and to better support women who wish to return to work, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $7 billion over 10 years in early learning and child care initiatives. More accessible and less costly child care will help all children get a better start in life, help mothers who wish to work to return to work, and support families by reducing the heavy burden of child care costs.

These investments will also improve the quality of early learning and child care programming, and support enhanced skills training, including for early learning and child care workers—a sector that is traditionally dominated by women.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness

To give more Canadians access to housing that is safe, adequate and affordable, Budget 2017 proposes to introduce a National Housing Strategy, supported by an investment of more than $11.2 billion over 11 years, starting in 2017–18. It is expected that this Strategy will help thousands of Canadian households in need find adequate, suitable and affordable housing. This includes a large number of single senior women and single mothers, who are more likely to face challenges finding affordable housing due to their relatively low household incomes coupled with additional financial constraints, such as child care costs.

To help more homeless Canadians find stable housing, the Strategy will make investments of $2.1 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018–19, to renew and expand the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. These investments will benefit a large number of homeless men, who are the predominant users of shelters in Canada. Funding will also support a number of community projects with tailored approaches to recognize the unique needs of homeless women, including accommodations for survivors fleeing family violence.

Addressing Housing and Homelessness by Gender
  • In 2011, more than a quarter of families led by single mothers were found to be in "core housing need"—living in accommodations that are inadequate, unsuitable or unaffordable.
  • Seniors who rent—and in particular, single female seniors living alone—were also more likely to face challenges finding safe and suitable housing.
  • According to the National Shelter Study released in 2016, more than a quarter of shelter users in 2014 were women. Nearly 90 per cent of families using emergency shelters were headed by single women.

Tracking the results of these initiatives is essential to understanding their effectiveness. The Government continues to test and refine the metrics that inform policy development, especially in this space.

Chapter 3—A Strong Canada at Home and in the World

All Canadians deserve to be treated fairly and given opportunities to reach their full potential. Indeed, Canada is at its best when women and men have a chance to build better lives for themselves. When more Canadians have more opportunities to contribute to—and share in—Canada's prosperity, we all benefit.

Long-Term Support for Health Care

To better support home care and mental health services, the Government has offered provinces and territories targeted investments of $11 billion over the next 10 years. This funding will help address specific gaps in Canada's health care system by improving access to home care and mental health services.

Home care is particularly significant for Canadian women. Women account for nearly two-thirds of all home care clients, and are also more likely than men to spend a significant amount of time on caregiving activities. In addition, paid care is mostly provided by female health care providers.

The targeted health care investments in Budget 2017 funding could be used to train additional frontline home care workers, increasing employment opportunities for women. In addition, support for unpaid family and friend caregivers could be provided by increasing access to respite care, with a view to alleviating stress and helping these caregivers provide care for loved ones longer.

Different segments of the Canadian population have different mental health challenges and needs—this is true for women and men, as well as LGBTQ2 individuals, youth, seniors, minorities and other groups. For example, recent evidence has shown that the suicide rate for men is three times higher than the rate for women, yet women attempt suicide three to four times more often than men. Moreover, many organizations, including the Mental Health Commission of Canada, have noted that victims of family violence are predominantly women, a key risk factor for poor mental health, suicide and substance abuse.

By providing the stable, predictable and long-term funding needed to shorten wait times for mental health services, outcomes for many groups—including women at risk—can be improved.

Improving the Health of First Nations and Inuit People

First Nations and Inuit health outcomes continue to lag those of the broader Canadian population. Women also face unique barriers to accessing services and may be deterred from doing so due to stigma, discrimination, a fear of losing their children, family responsibilities or a lack of women-centred programs. The Government will ensure that services and supports acknowledge the role of sex and gender, including the unique experiences of First Nations and Inuit men, women, children and families.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest $828.2 million over the next five years to address the immediate health priorities of First Nations and Inuit peoples. The proposed investments cover most components of current First Nations and Inuit health programming. These include mental health services, home and palliative care, primary care, infectious and chronic disease prevention, maternal and child health, and non-insured health benefits.

Gender impacts will vary depending on the program in question. Broadly speaking, many First Nations and Inuit women face higher rates of family violence, single parenting, sexual harassment, inequality, sexual exploitation and poverty. These issues contribute to poor mental health and substance use, and have a major impact on the lives of their children, families and communities.

The Government is also proposing to invest in services that are women-specific (e.g., maternal and child health), which are adapted to reflect the needs and realities of women. Men are also dealing with the impacts of poverty, violence, sexual abuse, and loss of culture and language. Understanding the different needs of different segments of the population will ensure that programs are designed and delivered in a way that promotes better health outcomes.

Better Outcomes for Urban Indigenous Women

Indigenous women tend to be more vulnerable than their non-Indigenous counterparts. They are more likely to be teen mothers and single mothers than non-Indigenous women. They are also more likely to be unemployed, and they have a median income that is 22 per cent less than non-Indigenous women (2010 data).

Indigenous women are also overrepresented in prisons, where they represent roughly 36 per cent of incarcerated persons (both provincial/territorial and federal) despite only representing 4 per cent of the Canadian population. Indigenous women and girls are also three times more likely to be victims of violence and are more likely to be victims of human trafficking or the sex trade.

Indigenous women are particularly vulnerable in urban centres, and more than half of all Indigenous People live in urban centres. For example, the majority of incidents of missing and murdered women and girls occur in urban areas: 70 per cent of known disappeared Indigenous women and 60 per cent of known murdered Indigenous women. Budget 2017 proposes $118.5 million over five years to support the Urban Indigenous Strategy. The Strategy targets support to address challenges faced by some of the most at-risk community members, including Indigenous women.

In particular, the Strategy will provide funding to support projects relating to women such as family violence programs or support for day care to help Indigenous women participate in the workforce. These initiatives can provide helpful services and programs to support Indigenous women in urban centres, whether by supporting their transition to urban life or reducing their vulnerability.

In recognition of the fact that available data remains limited regarding the direct impacts of the program on Indigenous women, Budget 2017 measures in support of the Urban Indigenous Strategy include funding for research and innovation. This funding can support better data analysis on the impacts of programs and services on all Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women, and work to improve outcomes for these individuals.

Addressing Gender-Based Violence

Overall violence in Canada has declined over the past 30 years, but women continue to be more likely than men to experience the most severe forms of spousal violence. Indigenous women, children and youth, and LGBTQ2 and gender non-conforming people, are at even greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence while immigrant and newcomer women face additional challenges to report gender-based violence.

To help prevent and address gender-based violence, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $100.9 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $20.7 million per year thereafter, to establish a National Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence. The Strategy will create a centre of excellence within Status of Women Canada, to better align existing resources to address gender-based violence, and include measures that will be implemented by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of National Defence.

Gender-based violence is a significant barrier to gender equality. By investing in a National Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence, the Government of Canada is helping to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to live healthy and happy lives, reach their potential and contribute fully to our growth and prosperity.

Supporting the LGBTQ2 Community

In Canada, all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should feel safe, secure and empowered. However, members of the LGBTQ2 community share a history of discrimination, harassment and even violence—affecting career opportunities, social inclusion and well-being.

A survey conducted by the Trans PULSE Project in 2010 showed that, out of the 500 transgender respondents in Ontario, 13 per cent had been fired and 18 per cent were refused employment based on their transgendered status. Twenty per cent of respondents had been physically or sexually assaulted, but not all these assaults were reported to police.

Significant data gaps remain, but the Government is committed to better understanding these challenges and making meaningful progress in advancing the rights of LGBTQ2 individuals in Canada.

On November 15, 2016, the Government appointed a Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. The Special Advisor will engage with LGBTQ2 organizations from across the country to promote equality, protect the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians, and address both historical and current discrimination.

Budget 2017 also proposes to provide $3.6 million over three years, starting in 2017–18, to establish an LGBTQ2 Secretariat within the Privy Council Office, to support the Special Advisor in developing and coordinating government initiatives on LGBTQ2 issues.

Strengthening the Family Justice System

Separation and divorce have different economic and social consequences for women and men. Studies indicate that women's median income drops on average by 30 per cent while men's median income drops by 6 per cent following a separation or divorce. Female-led single-parent families have a lower average income than male-led single-parent families, $39,400 and $51,800 respectively in 2013.

For women, the economic consequences of separation and divorce are significant because, in most cases, children still tend to reside primarily with their mother after divorce or separation of heterosexual couples. As a result, over 90 per cent of family support payers are men and over 90 per cent of recipients are women.

Federal funding for enforcement activities related to family support play a major role in ensuring that women receive the child and spousal support owed to them. On a yearly basis, collective enforcement efforts of federal, provincial and territorial governments approach $2 billion paid directly to families and children. These efforts prevent child poverty and the feminization of poverty, and help more Canadian families to join the middle class.

Budget 2017 commits funding of $107.8 million per year over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $21.1 million per year ongoing, to the Department of Justice in support of federal family law activities. The Supporting Families Experiencing Separation and Divorce Initiative is being funded on a permanent basis.

Principled Engagement on the World Stage

As the Government strengthens its focus on gender equality at home, it also recognizes its responsibility to promote this value abroad—particularly in the developing world where inequalities are often more pronounced.

In many places around the world, women and girls continue to disproportionately be victims of poverty, violence, instability, employment gaps, and uneven social and political development. In all countries for which data exists, women do more unpaid work than men, and their work is often concentrated in low-wage and low-skill industries. Furthermore, women make up more than two-thirds of the world's 796 million illiterate people, and more than 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.

To create a safer and more prosperous world, and to play a constructive role on the world stage, the Government has pledged to increase Canada's support for international peace operations with the United Nations. As a result of this engagement, civilians—especially women and children—will be better protected from conflict and sexual and gender-based violence, and be more empowered to participate in peace processes and other decision-making opportunities.

In addition, development programs that are focused on improving the lives of women and girls are proven to have a positive effect on families and entire communities. When women and girls are fully engaged in decision-making, our societies become stronger, our economies more prosperous, and our countries more secure. The results of the International Assistance Review, to be announced later this year, will outline in more detail Canada's plans to put women and girls at the centre of its development programs.

As part of this focus on empowering women and girls, the Government of Canada recently announced $650 million over three years to support sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries. This funding commitment will give more women access to the quality health care, modern contraception, and sexual education and prevention services they need to retain control over their bodies, and exercise their rights.

Recognizing the horrific violence experienced by survivors of Daesh, particularly women and girls, the Government has announced that it will resettle approximately 1,200 highly vulnerable refugees, including Yazidi women and girls and other survivors of Daesh, to Canada, and support them in the challenges that lie ahead by providing them with the appropriate settlement supports, including psychosocial, physical and social supports.

Chapter 4—Tax Fairness for the Middle Class

The federal tax system is an essential part of the contract between Canadians and their government.

It raises revenue needed to pay for programs that benefit Canadians—especially those with lower incomes, or with special needs and challenges. When properly designed, it also helps to redistribute funds in a way that ensures fairer treatment for all. Through specific measures, it can also encourage beneficial behaviours. For example, the Working Income Tax Benefit provides both tax relief and an incentive to enter the workforce; the Tuition Tax Credit offsets the costs of education; and tax credits for charitable giving encourage Canadians to donate to the organizations that help to strengthen and support our communities.

Snapshot: Personal Income Tax by Gender
  • Approximately 14.2 million women and 13.4 million men are expected to file tax returns for the 2016 tax year.
  • Among single individuals, about 51 per cent of female filers and 59 per cent of male filers pay federal personal income tax.
  • Men have higher taxable income on average than women. In 2016, it is estimated that men earned 59 per cent of all taxable income.
  • It is projected that roughly 66 per cent of all federal personal income taxes in 2016 will be paid by men, versus 34 per cent by women.

Ensuring that the tax system performs these functions in a manner that is fair and efficient—and does not give one group an unfair advantage over another—is an important consideration when developing tax policy. Budget 2017 takes action to close tax loopholes, crack down on tax evasion and avoidance, improve existing tax relief measures, and eliminate measures that are no longer needed.

Acknowledging that tax measures may impact women and men differently, Budget 2017 assessed proposed tax measures to determine their gendered impacts. By applying a gendered lens, Budget 2017 will promote the fair and consistent treatment of women and men under the tax system.

The example below shows the type of analysis informing each tax measure in Budget 2017.

Canada Caregiver Credit

Budget 2017 proposes to consolidate the existing Caregiver Credit, Infirm Dependant Credit and Family Caregiver Tax Credit into the new Canada Caregiver Credit.

Statistics Canada estimates that slightly more women than men are caregivers (about 54 per cent of caregivers were women in 2012). A higher proportion of men claim caregiver tax credits (men make up 55 per cent of all individuals claiming the Caregiver Credit and 59 per cent of those claiming the Infirm Dependant Credit).

The Path Forward

Budget 2017's Gender Statement represents the Government's first comprehensive effort at reviewing and reporting on how budgetary decisions affect women and men differently.

Our commitment is to improve upon this work, and make meaningful progress in elevating gender to the mainstream of government decision-making.

Beyond gender, the Government also recognizes the work remaining to better consider the broader range of intersecting identities that make up the landscape of Canadian society—whether it's age, income, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

This will require widespread partnerships with stakeholders and experts, both in Canada and abroad. Recent engagement with experts from civil society and academia proved immensely helpful in understanding the challenges and opportunities ahead, and we look forward to a more regular dialogue in the coming weeks and months.

The Government will also be working with international partners. This includes the OECD, which will be providing advice on gender issues and gender budgeting in Canada.

By more systematically implementing gender-based analysis plus in policy development and implementation, by making better use of data to inform decision-making, and by better engaging Canadians in the policy-making process, the Government is acting on its commitment to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

Status of Women Canada will continue to provide leadership on the advancement of gender equality within the federal government. Over the coming months, the Minister of Status of Women will lead the identification of government-wide outcomes on gender equality, including performance indicators to monitor progress. This will ensure that the gender impacts of policy decisions, including budgetary measures, are tracked over time.

While there is still much work to be done, the Government endeavours with this first Gender Statement to continue on the path of building a fairer, more inclusive Canada that recognizes the unique effects of policy on Canadians in all their diversity.

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