Why The Federal Budget Should Focus on Gender Equality written by Armine Yalnizyan

After decades of budgets that favoured men, the Trudeau government has said budget 2017 will include gender-based analysis. It’s what Canada’s economy needs.

Infrastructure and innovation have got a headlock on analysis of what will be featured in the next federal budget. But I bet you missed it when, last fall, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that Budget 2017 and all future budgets would be subject to gender-based analysis. The reason was to “ensure that the government continues to deliver real and meaningful change for all Canadians.”

Yesterday we learned the next federal budget will be tabled on March 22. So will it deliver “real and meaningful change for all Canadians”? And what is gender-based analysis, anyway?

Budgets are a feminist issue

Gender-based analysis examines how different tax and spending measures affect men and women differently. The goal is to identify and reduce inequalities in how men and women are treated by public policy.

It’s often taken as given that budgets are gender neutral. They’re not.

For example, over past two decades Canadian governments have made budget choices that prioritized tax cuts, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in foregone revenues.

That has mostly benefited Canadian men. Income tax cuts don’t reach 38 per cent of women in Canada (and 27 per cent of men), because they don’t make enough money to be taxable. On the other hand, a measure like pension income-splitting, introduced in 2007 by the Harper government, cost over $1 billion in 2012, of which 89 per cent was claimed by men.

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