Interim Progress Report on the Implementation of the Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Action Plan

The Honourable Kevin Sorenson, M.P.
Chair, Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Dear Mr. Sorenson:

Pursuant to the Government Response to your Committee of October 7, 2016, I am pleased to provide you this interim progress report on the implementation of the Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Action Plan, on behalf of Status of Women Canada (SWC), the Privy Council Office (PCO), and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS).

The Government of Canada continues to prioritize the advancement of gender equality, supported by the implementation of GBA+ across all federal departments and agencies. This commitment was recently reinforced in my mandate letter, which contains new commitments aimed at increasing accountability for GBA+ across Government, including in departmental reporting, and integrating GBA+ into federal consultations.

As you are aware, the Government has recently published the first-ever gender-based assessment of budgetary measures. Budget 2017’s Gender Statement identified a total of 60 measures that were analyzed and impacted by GBA+. This reflects this Government’s commitment to creating a culture that values GBA+ as a critical lens to be applied long before the budget process begins. This is an important precedent, setting Canada on a path of continuous improvement in ensuring that gender is considered in all aspects of budget preparation. I look forward to working with the Minister of Finance and stakeholders in strengthening the GBA+ in all future budgets.

Since the tabling of the GBA+ Action Plan, significant progress has been made in all areas, including measures to: create new requirements for GBA+ in Cabinet proposals; strengthen networks and enhance GBA+ training for officials; increase SWC’s engagement in the provision of GBA+ advice on initiatives; and, identify new, more robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

Mandatory GBA+ Requirements and Supporting GBA+ Networks

The Committee reinforced that GBA+ should not be optional. In summer 2016, this Government made GBA+ mandatory for all Memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board (TB) submissions. All proposals must indicate relevant gender and diversity considerations, with clear expectations that when proposals come to Cabinet or TB, differential impacts have been identified and mitigation strategies have been proposed where needed.

These requirements have led to a sharp increase in demand for SWC’s advice and assistance. Over the past year, SWC has been consulted on 27 federal initiatives by departments seeking to improve the quality of GBA+. These have included, for example, large-scale government priorities such as the Defence Policy Review, the National Housing Strategy, the long-term Infrastructure Plan, and the Government’s Innovation Agenda. This collaborative approach has provided the opportunity to clearly demonstrate to departments the importance of integrating GBA+, and has allowed SWC to more closely track the impact of GBA+ on initiatives throughout the policy cycle.

TBS is also examining how best to strengthen GBA+ in regulatory and policy proposals and decision-making. Through the ongoing review of its suite of policy instruments, TBS has developed new tools and practices to ensure gender-related considerations are part of the policy development and approval processes. Enhancing GBA+ is also being considered in the TBS review of the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management (CDRM) and supporting policies.

As a means of enhancing support to departments, SWC has also created three GBA+ Interdepartmental Committees (the Social, Health and Justice cluster, the Security and Defence cluster, and the Science, Economic and Research cluster) of organizations in similar sectors on a regular basis to share information and collaborate on GBA+ activities. These groups, as well as the meetings of the senior-level GBA+ Champions network, have proven to be important fora for expanding GBA+ knowledge and enhancing accountability.

SWC has also enhanced outreach to departments to assess the implementation of GBA+ across government. In April 2016, a GBA+ Implementation Survey was sent to 30 Deputy Ministers to collect information on each department’s internal GBA+ capacity, and to collect concrete examples of the impact of GBA+ on specific proposals. The results were presented to Deputy Ministers at the Public Service Management Advisory Committee in March. This survey will be repeated annually as a means of tracking progress and identifying best practices.

Training, Definitions, and Intersectionality

The renewed emphasis on ensuring quality GBA+ means that more federal officials than ever before are accessing training in GBA+ competencies. Since April 2016, there has been a 400% increase in the completion of SWC’s Introduction to GBA+ online course by both officials and parliamentarians. A growing number of departments are making GBA+ training mandatory for some or all employees and many have invested in the design of internal GBA+ tools.

SWC has also established a Memorandum of Understanding with Global Affairs Canada’s Centre for Intercultural Learning to facilitate access to advanced GBA+ training. Through this partnership, in November 2016 designated gender advisors from 30 departments and agencies attended two full-day sessions designed to build their competencies to support the practice of GBA+ in their organizations. In February 2017, officials from seven security and defence agencies participated in the first-ever advanced GBA+ training designed for policy and operational employees in these sectors. Training was also offered to all Ministerial staff in February and March 2017, as a means of enhancing their ability to identify and ensure strong GBA+ in proposals. All departments may access the Centre for Intercultural Learning’s expertise through this Memorandum of Understanding in order to develop and deliver tailored GBA+ training.

SWC has also been working with the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) to incorporate GBA+ into its policy training suite. As a result, the CSPS has hosted several armchair discussions and training sessions on GBA+ for both policy and regulatory communities.

In May, SWC will launch an updated version of the Introduction to GBA+ online course, including new interactive online training modules, and updated content on gender identity and intersectionality, in line with the Government’s recognition of the need to better reflect the full range of Canadians’ diversity. The course will continue to be available to all Canadians free of charge on the SWC website, and will continue to be used as the foundational resource for GBA+ competencies.

Improving Monitoring and Accountability for GBA+

SWC, PCO, and TBS are continuing to assess the impact of the changes to Cabinet and TB submission requirements, improved access to GBA+ training, and greater intervention by SWC in providing advice on government proposals. The emphasis will be not only on making sure GBA+ is done, but on improving the quality of GBA+ in proposals to Cabinet. SWC is working with PCO to identify priority initiatives where SWC engagement in providing direct GBA+ advice could be most impactful.

Per my mandate letter commitment, SWC and TBS are also developing guidance to incorporate GBA+ into Departmental Results Frameworks, Departmental Plans, and in performance reporting. This provides an important means of gathering additional information on GBA+ application and impact, and of making this information available to Canadians. SWC is also working with TBS to finalize guidelines for federal evaluators on GBA+, to be published in 2017.

Finally, as a means of showcasing Canada’s leadership on GBA+ and in order to engage key experts, SWC will host a national GBA+ roundtable in 2018, with a focus on sharing results and best practices, and engaging men in advancing equality.

I am strongly committed to continuing to promote GBA+ as an essential tool in Government decision-making. I look forward to continuing to engage the Committee on the promotion of GBA+ in the coming year, and to provide continued updates on the impact of the Action Plan’s implementation. The reports from your Committee and from the Standing Committee on the Status of Women have been instrumental in cultivating the change we have seen over the past year. We will continue to assess the impact of these new measures in order to determine the best approaches to improving implementation and accountability for GBA+, and will report back to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in March 2018.

Sincerely,

Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.

c.c. Ms. Marilyn Gladu, M.P., Chair Standing Committee on the Status of Women

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