Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to acknowledge our presence on the traditional territory of the Algonquin peoples, who have taken care of this place for generations upon generations.
I am standing in the House to speak to, and urge my colleagues to support, Bill C-86, the budget implementation act, part 2, more affectionately known in this House as BIA 2, and to speak to the measures that help grow Canada's middle class and support those working hard to join it. I firmly believe that, when passed, these measures will help support Canadians across the country and help to grow our economy.
I also need to acknowledge the work of the feminists who have come before us, those who have worked so hard, those effective trailblazers and courageous silence-breakers who have brought us to this moment in time when we recognize that equality is a driver of economic growth. In fact, this past October, we launched Women's History Month, with the first online gallery that captures the stories of Canada's women of impact. This particular website tells the stories of women like Elsie Knott, the first woman to be chief of a first nation in Canada; Louise Fish; and young women like Faith Dickinson, along with the more well-known trailblazers, like the Right Hon. Kim Campbell. I encourage my colleagues and Canadians to google "Canada's women of impact" and read their stories. There is a teacher's guide so that we may share those stories in an effective way. Of course, Canadians are welcome to provide their nominations for other women whose stories ought to be on that website.
I mention those women, because our government is committed to continuing their legacies. Advancing gender equality is the right thing to do, and it is indeed the smart thing to do. We would benefit to the tune of $150 billion in Canada's economy over the next decade if Canada's women participated equally in our economy. We would increase our GDP by 4%, we would fill critical labour shortages, and would ensure that Canada's middle class grows, and that we stay competitive.
There are several measures in Bill C-86 to close the gender wage gap and to build on our government's existing efforts. I would like to speak broadly to five of those.
The first is the introduction of an act that would ensure there is a new and full department with a broader mandate to help Status of Women Canada evolve. It would evolve into the department for women and gender equality, WAGE in short. There is proactive pay equity legislation. We are legislating the application of a gender and diversity lens to all federal budgets moving forward. There are provisions for shared parental leave, and there is also a new benefit of five days of paid leave for survivors of family violence.
I would like to speak to the enabling legislation that would ensure that the department for women and gender equality would be able to build on the good work of the small but mighty agency that is Status of Women Canada. I will take this opportunity to thank my predecessors, as well as the team at Status of Women, who, regardless of the whims and values of the sitting governments of the day, kept the work of gender equality alive, kept tools like GBA+ sharp and applicable in Canadian contexts, and worked tirelessly, with limited resources, to help transform an agency into a full department and help meet the additional demands on their expertise with a feminist government.
The department, to be called WAGE, the department for women and gender equality, will have a wide mandate for the advancement of equality, including social, economic, and political equality with respect to sex, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, rurality, indigeneity, immigration and immigrant status, as well as to ensure that we take into account the wide range of varieties that Canadians find themselves in.
The proactive pay equity legislation included in this bill, Bill C-86, is historic. It is a historic step that will ensure that women in federally regulated industries, whether in the public service or others, are paid equally for work of equal value.
In doing so, we consulted with employees and employers and advocacy organizations and worked to strike a balance between the recommendations that came from the Bilson report, as well as the hard work and the report presented to the House from the committee that worked on pay equity. Proactive pay equity legislation is part of our government's efforts to get our house in order, and to continue to lead by example, hopefully compelling other employers to do the same.
The third item I would like to speak to is gender budgeting. BIA2 includes legislation that enshrines gender budgeting in law. This will ensure that future governments apply a gender and diversity lens to their budgetary decisions. This is an important example of how our government is working to ensure that an intersectional gendered lens is applied to our decision-making, including the federal budget.
The fourth item I would like to speak to is a new benefit to advance gender equality. Our government's five-week EI “use it or lose it” parental sharing benefit which is available to two-parent families, including adoptive and same sex couples, proposes to provide greater flexibility, particularly for mothers to return to work sooner, if they so choose. It encourages the second parent to take part in the work that is caring for a newborn.
We know that it will help shape and change some of the gender norms around who provides the care. We also know that for mothers who experience postpartum depression, having that additional support in those early days will provide some relief.
The fifth item that I would like to speak to is a budget measure that is tabled by our government that will ensure that survivors of family violence receive five days of paid leave. Advocates, women's organizations and unions have told us that these five days will ensure that those who experience that violence will have some time to figure out next steps, to come up with a plan, to take a time out, whatever that may be. This is something that we heard from advocates across Canada and we listened.
Regardless of our political persuasions, we all agree that nobody should have to live in fear, in economic uncertainty, of not having access to a decent job, or being paid less for work of equal value. Everyone should have the opportunity to succeed in this great country, no matter their gender, gender identity, age, language, origin, race, abilities, rurality or other identity factors.
I encourage my hon. colleagues in this House to support this bill. The measures introduced, combined with our government's efforts, like support for women's organizations, like child care, like a national housing strategy that has a carve-out for women who are escaping violence, like the work we are doing to support women entrepreneurs and women leaders, like Daughters of the Vote, all of these measures combined will ensure greater equality in Canada, will grow Canada's middle class and will support those working hard to join it.
I hope that colleagues support Bill C-86. I am happy to answer any questions they may have.