The 2021 Federal Budget presents an important opportunity to rethink how Canada will look like after COVID-19. The economic, health, and social fallout of the pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but has disproportionately impacted women in Canada – especially those who belong to Black, Indigenous or racialized communities, (im)migrant and refugees, women living with disabilities or members of the LGBTQ+ communities.
Women’s rights organizations and feminist leaders across the country are well positioned to provide some concrete actions to ensure the next budget further advances gender equality. However, these groups struggle to have their voices heard in fiscal policy discussions. For example, last year the Standing Committee on Finance consulted with close to 300 Canadian organizations – and a mere two per cent of the witnesses were women’s rights organizations.
Fiscal policy is a feminist issue and it is essential that women in all their diversity have a voice in budgeting processes. Oxfam Canada, together with 55 women’s rights and feminist organizations sent a letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to host a roundtable with women’s rights organizations and feminist leaders from across the county on priorities for the next budget. Read the letter below.
September 18, 2020
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
House of Commons
Re: Roundtable with women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations for Federal Budget 2021
Dear Minister Freeland,
In this unprecedented moment in history, federal budget priorities need to be rethought to shape what Canada will look like after COVID-19. The pandemic has had disproportionate economic, health and social impacts on women in Canada, particularly those who belong to Black, Indigenous or racialized communities, (im)migrant and refugees, women living with disabilities or members of the LGBTQ+ communities. It is for this reason that experts are calling the pandemic induced recession a she-cession. It is critical that diverse women’s voices are front and center in consultations for Budget 2021 to respond to the realities of these inequalities. As a part of your Ministry’s pre-budget consultations, we are asking you to host a roundtable with women’s rights organizations and feminist leaders from across the county on priorities for the next budget over the coming month.
Under your government’s leadership, we have seen steady progress in incorporating gender analysis in the budget process. The Canadian Gender Budgeting Act has been instrumental in ensuring budgets now include a gender analysis and framework to measure progress. Through these actions, important initiatives have been spearheaded to level the playing field for women and other equality-seeking groups in Canada and abroad. However, significant gaps remain and Covid-19 has laid bare and exacerbated existing inequalities. The gender wage gap has hardly narrowed in the last 20 years, and the lowest number of women are currently in the workforce since 1986. School closures and inaccessible child care makes it difficult for women to enter the workforce, and women spend almost double the time than men on unpaid care work.
Women’s rights organizations and feminist leaders from across the country are well positioned to provide some concrete actions for you to take in the next budget to further advance gender equality and to lay the ground for a feminist recovery plan for Canada.
Women’s rights and feminist organizations have struggled to have their voices heard in fiscal policy discussions. For example, last year the Standing Committee on Finance consulted with close to 300 Canadian organizations and individuals on the priorities for Federal Budget 2020. A mere two per cent of the witnesses were women’s rights organizations and only seven per cent of witnesses spoke about gender equality and women’s rights. The Federal Budget is an important tool to advance gender equality. To do so, it is important that women’s voices are at the heart of the budget process.
COVID-19 has forever changed the world and we know we have a long way to go to address the impacts. But it is also a time to envision and lay the ground for a future that is more equal, sustainable and inclusive for all. The only way we will overcome the COVID-19 crisis is to make the economy work for women. Fiscal
policy is a feminist issue and it is essential that women in all their diversity have a voice in budgeting processes.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Advancement of Women Halton
Afghan Women's Organization Refugee and Immigrant Services
Amnesty International Canada
Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW)
Canadian Federation of University Women
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Canadian Women's Foundation
Child Care Now
Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Ending Violence Association of Canada
Friends of the Earth Canada
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
Institute for International Women's Rights Manitoba
Make DIVERSITY Possible - by SCWIST
National Association of Women and the Law/Association Nationale Femmes et Droit
National Council of Women of Canada
New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity
Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre
OCASI- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
SAVIS of Halton
Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
South Asian Women's Rights Organization Inc
WMRCC of Durham
Women Of Halton Action Movement, WHAM
Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
Women's Shelters Canada / Hébergement femmes Canada
CC: Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Development