Evidence of meeting #81 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 going.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Gina Wilson  Deputy Minister, Office of the Deputy Minister, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women
Justine Akman  Director General, Policy and External Relations, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women
Nancy Gardiner  Senior Director General, Women’s Program and Regional Operations, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women
Anik Lapointe  Chief Financial Officer and Director, Corporate Services, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Marie-Hélène Sauvé

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Good morning, everybody. Thank you for visiting us today. I would really like to thank the minister for coming today.

We have lots of great questions for you as we're moving forward.

Thank you to Gina Wilson and Anik Lapointe from the Department of Status of Women for joining us.

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(5), the committee will now begin consideration of the supplementary estimates (B), vote1b under the office of the co-ordinator, referred to the committee on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

The committee is also taking this opportunity to ask questions on the government's response to the committee's seventh report, “Taking Action to End Violence Against Young Women and Girls in Canada”, as well as discussing the implementation of the gender-based analysis plus, which our committee has done such great work on.

Thank you very much for joining us today.

Minister Monsef, I'm going to pass it over to you for 10 minutes.

November 30th, 2017 / 11 a.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Status of Women

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Hello, colleagues. It's a privilege to be with you again.

We are meeting on traditional Algonquin territory and benefit from this land. With those benefits come obligations that I know we are all working hard to fulfill.

I'm joined here today by my deputy minister, Gina Wilson, and our chief financial officer, Anik Lapointe.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of this committee, past and present, and of course the witnesses who have come forward during my time in this role, for all the ways that you are contributing to gender equality. We've heard from individuals who have brought their expertise and lived stories to this table around gender-based violence, around women's economic security, and all those perspectives have been incredibly helpful.

I'd like to extend a very warm welcome and congratulations to the new members of this committee. Martin, Bernadette, Emmanuella, we've been watching and very much appreciate your contributions to this committee.

Before I dive deeply into the content we're here today to discuss, I want to extend my sympathies to our honourable colleague, Mr. Marc Serré. His father was an incredibly influential person, not just in his life but in Canadian political life. Our thoughts and our prayers are with him and his family.

I'm grateful to be here with you during the 16 days of activism working to end gender-based violence not just here in Canada but around the world. On this final day of November, I think it's very appropriate that we're gathering here and having this conversation. I'd like to speak with you today in my remarks about three things. You mentioned the gender-based violence strategy that we're implementing, Madam Chair. I'd like to speak with you about GBA+, the intersectional gender lens we're applying to the various ways we do our work as a government and you do your work as a committee, and of course supplementary estimates (B).

Let's talk about gender-based violence, which has evolved. Social media is one way that it's become easier for unacceptable behaviours to extend their reach to more unwelcome places than before. There's the #MeToo campaign that we've all heard about in our communities and online. here are more people speaking out. There is more public attention and more dialogue taking place. There are more high-profile cases being discussed. Of course, traditional media is playing an important role in shining light and amplifying the voices that are coming forward. These stories are not new stories.

We thank everyone who is coming forward with a lot of courage and with a lot of hope that we prevent this violence. We have all heard statistically and anecdotally in our communities that there are disproportionate rates of violence occurring each and every day in every community. Too many people suffer in silence.

My thanks go to those whose courage and resilience are shaping this conversation, and of course, our gratitude to those who care for them and their families through their healing journey. We know that gender-based violence is a significant barrier to gender equality, but it's one that can be prevented. That's where your work as a committee has been so important to the government response on gender-based violence.

In June, I was at the YWCA in Toronto, joined by many leaders from the movement, service providers, experts, academics, who have provided input to the gender-based violence strategy. The amount of $100.9 million was set aside for a strategy that we intend will focus on prevention, support for survivors and their families, and justice and legal systems that are more responsive. There is a focus on individuals who are particularly vulnerable across our communities. That's another area where the intersectional gendered lens we apply has been critical. It includes new funding for Status of Women Canada to support new programming and awareness initiatives.

This is how the funding will break down: about 40% of that money will support organizations and service providers; about 35% will support new research and data collection; about 15% will be focused on a knowledge centre, which I'm going to talk about more deeply here today; and about 10% will support a national dialogue to engage Canadians in the much-needed cultural change that is an important part of the solution we need to be putting forward.

The knowledge centre is a unique piece of the strategy. As you know, this strategy was developed in consultation with our federal, provincial, and territorial counterparts, with people who do this work on the ground. Its purpose is to get the federal house in order, but also to fill in the critical gaps that we know are there and some that we didn't know were there until we started talking to Canadians and those with the expertise.

The knowledge centre will do five important things. The most important element for me, as someone with a background in grassroots work, is its ability to connect service providers with researchers and policy-makers. It will better align Government of Canada resources. It will fill gaps that exist in the evidence and the data that we need to shape our solutions and interventions. It will support federal coordination and accountability on key actions that the federal government is taking, and it will lay the foundation for future work on gender-based violence. We know that this particular issue is far too complex to go away overnight or over a year, and so, if we're going to be proactive in our responses, this knowledge centre will allow us the foundation to thoughtfully think about future planning and interventions.

Through the #MeToo campaign—another hashtag raising awareness—we have heard and know why it's important to share knowledge, why data matters, why best practices need to be shared and elevated so that we can multiply our efforts and improve results more quickly. Through our ongoing work and collaboration with you, with those who do this work on the ground day in and day out, and the international community, we will create safer, more inclusive societies. We will have more people coming forward. We will be able to do better prevention, and of course we will be able to better provide supports and justice to those who seek it.

I'm going to talk a little bit about GBA+, gender-based analysis plus. I know this is an area you've worked on significantly, and I would like to give you an update on the work that's happening in this regard. We remain committed to using gender-based analysis, but enhancing it as well.

In April 2016 we put in place a GBA action plan to enhance the implementation of gender-based analysis among all federal organizations. In March, as you know, we tabled an interim report on that action plan with this committee, as well as with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, highlighting significant progress achieved so far. Since that tabling, we've continued our work to ensure that systemic application of GBA+ to government activities is taking place within central agencies and also within departments.

This past spring, for the first time ever, we were able to table a budget that included a gender statement. This gender statement was made possible because of the foundational work that GBA+ across departments had implemented. What that gender statement essentially did was set a high standard for openness and transparency as our government works to make more inclusive decisions not just today but in the years ahead.

In May, during GBA+ awareness week, Status of Women Canada launched an updated version of its online course, which has been completed by more than 20,500 federal public servants and political staff to date, and by more than 83,000 public servants and political staff since April 2016. That is real change in just a year, and it's an important part of the cultural change that needs to take place to ensure that it's intertwined with everything we do.

I want to congratulate and thank all parliamentarians and their staff who have been engaged and have been participating in this process. I will also highlight that there has been a significant increase in demand for the expertise and the talents of the good folks within my team at Status of Women Canada.

Regarding supplementary estimates (B), the fall economic statement outlined, as you know, an increase in operational funding for Status of Women Canada, and that's reported in supplementary estimates (B). We'll receive an investment of $41 million over six years, and $7.5 million thereafter, to increase capacity and be in a better position to deliver on the government's commitments and priorities around gender equality. These will strengthen our capacity so that we can enhance policy support for government's gender equality objectives. They'll increase our capacity to engage with our federal, provincial, and territorial colleagues, strengthen our engagement and outreach, and of course, support the development of a new results and delivery function.

I'll stop here. I look forward to answering any questions the committee may have, Madam Chair.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much. I know you had lots to add; I was following the speaking notes. Thank you very much for joining us.

I would also like to welcome Peter Fragiskatos, who is sitting in the chair of Marc Serré.

Today, we will be starting with seven minutes per round.

We're going to start off with Pam Damoff for seven minutes.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Thank you, Minister, for joining us today, and thanks to your department for being here as well.

In my riding, Halton's Women's Place has an amazing program called “engageMENt”, which sends people into elementary and secondary schools to teach young men healthy masculinity. We also have a male ally network, run by SAVIS of Halton, the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services of Halton. Just this weekend I joined you, Minister, at the Grey Cup festival, for which you had partnered with the CFL to encourage people of all genders to take the pledge to end gender-based violence.

I know that in response to our committee's report, “Taking Action To End Violence against Young Women and Girls in Canada”, the government indicated that, as part of the $109 million that is allocated over the next five years to the federal strategy, there will be money spent on on engaging men and boys.

I wonder whether you can provide some details on how Status of Women Canada and other participating departments are planning to engage men and boys as part of the strategy.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Thank you very much for that question and for your leadership here and beyond, Pam.

Gender-based violence occurs in every place, in every community, across every culture. Our solutions need to be working across sectors. They have to include an intergenerational approach. We have to work in a multi-faith way to encourage other communities. We have to work across cultures. And we have to include men and boys.

We all know men and boys who can be allies, who are allies, who want to be part of the solution. The partnership with the Canadian Football League was a first for us as a federal government: partnering up with football players who are looked to with admiration by other boys and men and having them go into schools and talk to students in high schools or even earlier about why it's important for them to end gender-based violence. Terry and I went to Glebe high school last week to help kick-start 16 days of activism. The B.C. Lions, through the More than a Bystander campaign, are doing this work in certain communities.

Watching them do the work was so powerful. They did it in a trauma-informed way; they did it through an intersectional lens. They relied on the power of their own stories to get their message across, and it was well received. We know that the White Ribbon campaign, for example, is doing great work. We know that the Moose Hide campaign is doing really important work around ending violence against indigenous women and girls. Also, of course, we paid attention to the hearings that this committee had conducted and we heard from the group in Halton, SAVIS of Halton, and noted the really important ways that they're engaging, in a grassroots way, their own communities.

Violence that is gender-based is not a women's issue. Men and boys can and do play a role, and we've seen the Prime Minister, frankly, demonstrate that healthy masculinity in his efforts. I think we need to do much more than that. We need to consolidate our efforts better. We need to coordinate our efforts better. We need to engage other players who want to be part of this work, not just here in Canada but internationally as well. The gender-based violence strategy provides the framework for us to do that work.

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Thank you for that. You're right. We do need men in positions...who are sending those messages out to young boys and younger men.

On gender-based analysis plus, all of my youth council did the course and surprised me by coming back with their certificate. I got really good feedback from them. It's extending beyond government, where hopefully those young people will take that gender lens and apply it, regardless of where they go in life.

I have a question about how it's being applied. It was interesting. Peter and I just left the public safety meeting. Where it actually came up was a gender lens applied to Bill C-59, the new national security framework, and we were told that it was applied. We're not sure if it's something that can be shared with us as a committee or whether it was confidential.

I'm wondering if you can provide the committee with some further information on how GBA+ is being used, both legislatively and non-legislatively, within the government.

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Internationally, I can tell you that one of the new demands being created for Canada is our expertise around GBA+. Other governments around the world want to know how we do it, how we've built capacity internally, and how it's actually applied. Within my team, we're working to ensure that the right tools are available, not just for policy-makers, but for anybody, whether it's teachers, or service providers, or municipalities that want to adopt this. I know that my provincial and territorial counterparts are also working on this.

We're committed to making sure that gender equality—

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

You have one minute.

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

We'll come back to that.

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

No, you can finish. You have one minute.

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

GBA+, through an order by the Prime Minister, is mandatory and to be applied in every item that comes before the federal cabinet. It's being applied with a lot of rigour. The quality has risen. That cultural change, which was really essential to it, is happening within government and it is taking place right now. That work can lead to community benefit agreements through infrastructure. That work can lead to a more thoughtful approach around public safety and security. That work can ensure, when we're talking about resource extraction, for example, that we're taking into account what that means for vulnerable communities.

At the front end of the policy-making process—and I've seen committees do this especially—it begins to have a different conversation among policy-makers and that will ensure that the outcomes are different. They are not just aware of how the gender impacts are different, but mitigating factors are included as well.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent. Thank you.

We're going to move to Rachael Harder for seven minutes.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Minister, in July 2017, the finance minister came forward with changes having to do with our taxation laws around small businesses. I heard from many people in my riding, particularly women, who are doctors, lawyers, farmers, or who run other entrepreneurial endeavours within my riding. They came back to me and they said that these tax changes really hurt them. They really impacted them. They impacted their ability to take maternity leave. They impacted their ability to save for their children's education, their ability to take sick leave, their ability to take leave in order to care for a sick loved one, and things like that. At the end of the day, these women would argue that they were actually disproportionately affected by these tax changes.

Was GBA+ looked at when this proposal was put forward by the finance minister?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Thank you for that question.

Absolutely, GBA+ was taken into consideration in our consultations, but also in the outcomes that we deliver. The tax reform consultations that you're referring to heard from lawyers, professionals, doctors, and business owners, and we listened. What actually was proposed—

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

I'm going to stop you right there, because I have a document in front of me that was signed off by Mr. Joel Lightbound, who is the finance minister's parliamentary secretary, and it actually says that gender-based analysis was not applied.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

As the Minister for Status of Women, I can tell you that it was and it will continue to be.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Are you saying that your colleague lied, then?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Please allow me to answer your question.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

I would love that.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

What we've actually heard from stakeholders across the country is really valuable feedback. All MPs help contribute to that consultation process. The tax changes that were actually announced were that we're lowering taxes for small businesses.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Minister, I'm sorry, but I'm going to stop you right there, because the document in front of me actually says, based on an ATIP request, that gender-based analysis was not applied when it comes to passive income and the changes that were made by the finance minister.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

At the time, probably—

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

My question is very simple. I'm assuming you were at the cabinet table. Yes?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

As a cabinet minister, yes, I was.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Yes. Excellent.

I'm going to assume, then, that as a cabinet minister at the cabinet table, you were given a voice. Your voice could have been used in one direction or another. You could have advocated for women and the fact that these changes disproportionately had an ill effect on women across this country or you could have remained silent. That's one option.

The other option is that you could have used your voice and taken a stand for women and had your voice ignored, which tells me something about the way your cabinet functions and whether women are actually given a voice.

Minister, these are our options. Which one is it? Did you stand up and speak out on behalf of women in Canada or did you neglect to?