Mr. Speaker, where feasible and appropriate, a gender-based analysis was conducted on measures in the budget presented to the House of Commons on February 26, 2008.
The federal budget preparation process is a broad exercise involving many individuals and groups. It is an ongoing process of consultations, policy development and cabinet committee deliberations. The Department of Finance is unique in that it plays two roles within the Government of Canada: it is a central agency but it also develops and implements policies. In its role as a central agency, the Department of Finance assesses policies proposed by other departments. Therefore, in these circumstances, departments that sponsor the policies are responsible for ensuring that the full range of considerations are analyzed and assessed--including their gender implications – as they bring forward their policy proposals. In its role of developing and implementing policies, the department has adopted a systemic approach to conducting gender-based analysis--that is all budget policy proposals going to the minister include a section on gender-based analysis and gender-based analysis is developed and conducted when the policies are being developed, so it is an intrinsic part of policy work. The systemic approach allows for gender-based analysis to be included from the earliest stage of development of a policy.
In preparing budgets, the government’s actions and decisions are informed by consultations that are thorough and comprehensive. Specifically:
The Minister of Finance holds pre-budget consultations in person, which gives him first-hand knowledge of the views of various stakeholders, including non-government organizations, business, provinces and others;
The Minister of Finance also hosts on-line consultations which, this year, took place from mid-January to mid-February and attracted nearly 3,000 submissions from a broad cross-section of individual Canadians. More information on the online pre-budget consultations for budget 2008 can be found at http://www.fin.gc.ca/activty/consult/prebud08_e.html); and
Department of Finance officials consult with representatives of all sectors of society throughout the year.
Additionally, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance conducts pre-budget hearings across the country each fall, gathering submissions and testimony from individuals and stakeholder groups. These submissions and the committee’s report are closely monitored by the Government. More information on the submissions and House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance report can be found at http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/committee/392/fina/reports/rp3253372/finarp03/finarp03-e.pdf)
The knowledge gained from extensive and multifaceted consultations by the minister, officials and the finance committee plays an essential role in informing the government’s understanding of the concerns and perspectives of stakeholders, as well as the impact of proposed policy initiatives on various segments of the population.
The budget presented to the House of Commons on February 26, 2008 and the ensuing legislative process mark the culmination of extensive deliberations and consultations on many fronts. In this regard, the policy directions and specific measures articulated in budget 2008 represent the government’s response to the many groups and individuals consulted.