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Gender based budgeting

Background

Studies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have demonstrated gender gaps, for example, in labour market participation, entrepreneurship, remuneration, representation in senior management positions in both the public and private sectors, health outcomes, and education. As a means to address these gaps, countries (including Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and others) have started to mainstream gender in their budgetary process. This is known as gender budgeting. 

As a leader on the issue of gender budgeting, the OECD defines gender budgeting as “integrating a clear gender perspective within the overall context of the budgetary process, through the use of special processes and analytical tools, with a view to promoting gender-responsive policies”. This analysis allows the government to promote equality through fiscal policy and allocate resources accordingly. 

Budget 2017 provided the first ever Gender Budget Statement and included information on the impact of current budget measures on diverse populations. Budget 2018 ensured that no budget decision was taken without being informed by GBA+. In addition, in Budget 2018, the Gender Results Framework was introduced as a tool with which federal budget decisions were made and upon which the gender analysis of the annual budget would be based. Budget 2019 moved further by providing Canadians access to the Budget 2019 Gender report, a publication of comprehensive Gender –Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) summaries for each budget measure.

In addition, the Canadian Gender Budget Act came into force in December 2018, and enshrines gender budgeting in the federal government’s budgetary and financial management process. The Act has three key requirements:

  1. Report — new budget measures 

    The Minister of Finance must table, before each House of Parliament, on any of the first 30 days on which that House is sitting after the day on which a budget plan is tabled in Parliament, a report on the impacts in terms of gender and diversity of all new budget measures described in the plan, if an assessment of the impacts is not included in the budget plan or any related documents that the Minister has made public.

  2. Analysis — tax expenditures 

    Once a year, the Minister of Finance must make available to the public analysis of impacts in terms of gender and diversity of the tax expenditures, such as tax exemptions, deductions or credits that the Minister considers appropriate.

  3. Analysis — programs 

    Once a year, the President of the Treasury Board must make available to the public analysis of impacts in terms of gender and diversity of the existing Government of Canada expenditure programs that the President, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, considers appropriate.

The impact of gender budgeting is monitored annually through the Gender Results Framework indicators. Finance Canada will be including an analysis of progress on the indicators in the Gender Equality Statement of future federal budget. Women and Gender Equality Canada works with Finance Canada on the implementation of the Gender Budget Act and the drafting of the Gender Equality Statement as the Government of Canada’s centre of expertise on gender issues.

Since gender budgeting was introduced less than three years ago, its impact has yet to be fully assessed. The development of metrics to measure the impacts of gender budgeting is currently a shared priority of Canada and partner jurisdictions across the OECD.

Early evidence of how GBA+ is applied to budget measures suggests that gender budgeting could help to ensure that budget measures are more responsive to the needs of diverse groups of Canadians. For example, below are two Budget 2019 initiatives in which the budget noted that a “GBA+ responsive approach” resulted in a more inclusive initiative:

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