Evidence of meeting #145 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was work.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Nancy Gardiner  Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality
Lisa Smylie  Director General, Research, Results and Delivery, Results and Delivery Unit, Department for Women and Gender Equality
Danielle Bélanger  Director, GBA Plus, Policy and External Relations, Department for Women and Gender Equality

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

There's been a tremendous amount of work going on over the last number of years on GBA+. The minister raised a few points. The agency's becoming a department under legislation is one really critical factor, and the budgeting act is another.

The fact that it's mandatory for all Treasury Board submissions and cabinet submissions to have a GBA+ and that this analysis be considered is something that's been really critical for us. Integrating GBA+ in departmental plans is as well.

Another piece that I should mention is that there was a forum that we led in the fall. There were over 1,000 participants who came together over two days to learn from each other, and also to share best practices related to GBA+ to ensure that folks, not only in government, but also across the sectors—in the private sector and organizations—understand the benefits of gender-based analysis and utilizing it. We've heard the concern raised around intersectionality and ensuring that work around rural women, indigenous women and racialized groups is strongly considered as we're doing a GBA+.

We do know that there is continuing improvement and work to be done. We will continue to do that through our training and supports provided to other departments. As the department becomes a lead in this area, we will continue to provide that advice and guidance to other federal departments.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

In February this year, there was an article released that mentioned an internal survey conducted by Status of Women Canada measuring the implementation of gender-based analysis plus. It found that fewer than half of the departments and agencies have a GBA+ plan in place—so, fewer than half—and that most departments would report that they lacked the internal mechanisms to apply a GBA+ strategy. That's pretty significant. With regard to a government that boasts about implementing GBA+ and making sure that all policy decisions go through this lens, to then find out that fewer than half of the departments are actually implementing a plan and that they lack the infrastructure to do so is alarming to me, and it should be to Canadians. There seems to be a discrepancy there and, I would say, a mistruth being propagated by the current government.

How would you respond to that?

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

As I said earlier, I think that the need to continuously improve how we're doing this work is definitely recognized. The agency's becoming a department is one of those steps for sure. Having the capacity to develop a central support function, to have a centre of expertise that will support and continue to support other government departments that are doing this type of work, is critical.

We know that most organizations do have key elements of the GBA+ capacity in place, and we do know that the number of FTEs focusing on GBA+ in departments has increased. However, we do recognize that there is continuing work to be done in that area, and we will continue to support those departments.

Danielle.

Oh, sorry.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

We're over the time.

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

I'm now going to move over to Irene Mathyssen for seven minutes.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Thank you for being here. I appreciate the light that you can shed on these many questions.

I want to pick up on the gender-based budgeting plus.

You mentioned, Madam Gardiner, that there is a plan to put in place a centre of expertise. Can you describe that? Is it funded? Is it in place? How do you see the concrete follow-up that I think we're all looking for with regard to GBA+?

10:05 a.m.

Director, GBA Plus, Policy and External Relations, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Danielle Bélanger

In terms of gender budgeting and GBA+, the government passed the Canadian Gender Budgeting Act, which requires the Minister of Finance to report to Parliament on gender and diversity impacts to all new budget measures.

We also have a gender-results framework, which represents Canada's road map to gender equality. We have also been working very closely with the Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics. In doing so, within WAGE we have a centre of excellence on GBA+ through which we work very closely with the minister, with the Department of Finance and with Statistics Canada in order to build the evidence base to ensure that a GBA+ is applied to policies, programs and various initiatives.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

There has been some discussion in regard to a program to end gender-based violence. To be quite frank, we've been waiting for it and we're not seeing it. Organizations are concerned that these plans have not been fully developed. When can we expect them and will these plans include concrete outcomes, timelines and deliverables to ensure that women are indeed at the centre of any programming to reduce gender-based violence? As has been mentioned, women's economic security depends on that.

Where are we in regard to a program in terms of gender-based violence?

10:10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

As I said, we just met with our gender-based violence advisory council earlier this week. The strategy for the federal government is to invest over $200 million in the prevention and addressing of gender-based violence.

Our department, WAGE, has one of the program elements that invests about $10 million a year. The minister has just announced recently about 60 projects that total over $50 million in support of that. Organizations from across the country applied for that funding. It's very community-based and focused on figuring out what some of the required pieces are, what programming elements are required and what services are required to be in place on the ground.

Organizations are just starting to put those projects in place, so hopefully we'll continue to see progress on that.

10:10 a.m.

Director, GBA Plus, Policy and External Relations, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Danielle Bélanger

At WAGE, we have four different initiatives under the strategy. This includes the gender-based violence knowledge centre, which includes an online portal, knowledge mobilization products, data and research. As well, we do coordination. Then we have governance and reporting under the strategy.

Under the strategy there are six different government departments that have funded initiatives as well as others. We ensure there is coordination across the federal government in terms of reporting on what the different initiatives' outcomes have been.

We also have a youth awareness campaign, which the minister alluded to earlier, and a gender-based violence program, as well as the development of a framework to address GBV in post-secondary institutions.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

On that last point, I'd like to pursue it, first internationally and nationally.

Canada needs to continue its work in defence of sexual and reproductive health and rights—obviously, internationally through development assistance. The money for that program is set to end in less than a year. Given the need to support SRHR objectives, like abortion, contraception and adolescent sexual rights, is the department prepared to ensure that Canada will step up beyond the end of the funding regime with the $500 million that's needed over the next 10 years? Have you any sense of that?

10:10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

That program is not specifically focused in WAGE, so we will get further information and get back to you on that, if that's okay.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

I would appreciate that.

In terms of the national perspective, the minister talked about young people being violated online and taken advantage of, not knowing the reality of bullying, and things like that. In regard to that, Canada accepted and received a recommendation from the UN in 2018—the universal periodic review—to take action and ensure equal access to comprehensive sexuality education throughout the country.

That's a human right. It's a right under the Canadian charter and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Has the federal government looked at the fact that sexual health and reproductive rights are not being taught in jurisdictions across the country? Is this something that concerns you? I'm referring back to the minister's comment about young people and their rights to sexual health and reproductive rights.

10:10 a.m.

Director General, Research, Results and Delivery, Results and Delivery Unit, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Lisa Smylie

In response to a previous question, I had mentioned the fact that the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently funding a project to revise the “Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education”. WAGE is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada in providing technical advice for that project. The project is designed to ensure that at an early age, and throughout their life course as well, folks are provided with adequate information to engage in healthy relationships, healthy sexual relationships.

There's an effort to provide more information on consent to reduce gender-based violence, so we are actively participating in projects to ensure comprehensive sexual health education to support sexual reproductive health.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent. Thank you very much.

We're now going to move over to Eva.

Eva, you have seven minutes.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'll share my time with my colleague, Rachel Bendayan.

I want to thank everyone for joining us today.

We all know that, in most cases of domestic violence, women are the ones who are abused by their partners, men in general. The best way to put an end to this scourge is to include men and boys in our processes.

In the 2019-20 departmental plan, you said that you'll develop a strategy to involve men and boys in promoting gender equality.

How will this strategy be developed?

Ms. Gardiner, can you tell us about it?

10:15 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

The men and boys strategy and the participation of men and boys in the development of the work that we've been doing around gender-based violence has been very important.

As you've noted, there was and is a commitment to continue to work on that piece, looking at how men and boys can be engaged appropriately in ending gender-based violence, and looking at the whole focus on gender equality.

We have had a number of conversations across Canada over the last year, working with organizations and men and boys to give us ideas and suggestions on how that work could be done. We are also now looking at what type of projects we can support that would enable that work to continue, and to build the strategy going forward.

In terms of what the strategy will look like, we are continuing to do that work, and the year 2020 is when the strategy will be fully developed.

As I said, there have been many examples of projects that we've worked on, including the Moose Hide Campaign I spoke about earlier, White Ribbon, and Walking In Her Moccasins. Many organizations have been very focused on this work over the last little while, and we will continue to work with them.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Can you give us an idea of the funding? Has there been any change compared to last year? Can you provide some more details? How much funding was provided this year?

10:15 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

There was $1.8 million committed to focus on this particular initiative. Right now, we're working on what type of pilot projects we would be able to support that would continue the work at looking towards building a men and boys strategy. At this point, we are still in that process of figuring out what those projects would be, based on the support and the information we received from the consultations, and working with our partners and stakeholders.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

I have another question. It concerns the front-line organizations that often appear before our committee. Most of the time, they come to complain about the fact that they need more grants.

What does the 2019-20 departmental plan say about grants? Will the funding be recurrent? Will the amounts be the same as before, or have you taken these issues into consideration?

10:15 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

It's an excellent question.

Many of us work very closely with our partners on the ground in communities. I think the thing that we are most proud of at WAGE is that in anything we've been doing over the last few years, we've been doing in consultation with our stakeholders.

We have an ongoing program at the department to support projects in advancing women's economic security, safety and leadership. The minister talked very passionately about building the capacity of women's organizations on the ground. There was $100 million announced in budget 2018 to continue that work, and there have been announcements of over 250 organizations receiving support to build their capacity to do the work they need to do to establish themselves and to continue to do the work supporting services and the women who come into their centres.

Budget 2019 spoke about and provided $160 million to continue that work and to continue to support the women's programs specifically. That funding will be rolled out in the coming years to allow that to continue to happen on the ground.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

I now pass the floor to my colleague, Rachel.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

I was wondering how long you have been working at Status of Women now, or WAGE.

10:20 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Department for Women and Gender Equality

Nancy Gardiner

I've been with the department for about a year and a half.

Most of my experience has been with ESDC, working on social programming and employment programming.