Budget 2019 delivers historic investment in women’s rights organizations, but fails to invest in accessible and affordable child care

March 19, 2019

Today the federal government released its last budget before the elections in the fall. It is the first budget since the Canadian Gender Budgeting Act came into force, which requires all budget initiatives to include a gender-based analysis. This is a ground-breaking step to ensure the budget is more inclusive of people in all their diversity and actively contributes to advancing gender equality. It is critical that the experiences of women and marginalized groups inform how taxes are collected and spent.

Women’s meaningful participation in policy and budget-related decision making requires resources and Oxfam Canada applauds the federal government for continuing to invest in women’s rights organizations. Building on the 2018 investment of $100 million over five years, Budget 2019 is allocating an additional $160 million over five years starting in 2019-2020 for the Women’s Program. By 2023-2024 the Women’s Program will total $100 million annually, something Oxfam Canada has been advocating for.

“Today’s investment in women’s rights organizations is historic. Evidence confirms that women’s rights organizations and movements are fundamental in catalyzing change towards gender equality. Considering the growing backlash against gender equality and women’s rights in Canada and around the world, this investment is critical to sustaining gains and breaking new ground when it comes to pushing the needle on gender equality,” said Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada’s Policy Manager.

Considering the government’s commitment to inclusive economic growth and to advancing women’s economic equality, it is disappointing to see that Budget 2019 includes no new investments in child care. Women in Canada do twice as much unpaid care work than men and a lack of affordable and accessible child care is one of the biggest hurdles for women to pursue decent work and other opportunities.

“Investing in affordable child care for all families in Canada is the best investment the government can make to close the gender gap in the economy. They are hearing it from feminist activists and they are hearing it from international agencies such as the OECD and the IMF. Now is the time for Canada to take action and develop a 10-year plan to make child care accessible, affordable and of quality for all Canadian families,” said Sarosi.

The government must also do more to ensure its Feminist International Assistance Policy is resourced for success. Budget 2019 announced an additional $700 million in 2023-2024 to the International Assistance Envelope. While this is welcome, this investment does not move the needle on Canada’s record low ODA levels. Canada’s aid investments continue to be significantly lower than many of its global peers.

“The government’s bold Feminist International Assistance policy will fail to deliver on its promise if it continues to be inadequately resourced. A significant increase in Canadian aid would make a real difference in the lives of women around the world, especially at a time of backlash against women’s rights and feminist movements. Oxfam is looking to Women Deliver as an opportunity for the government to announce some major new aid investments in women’s rights and gender equality, including a $500 million commitment towards sexual and reproductive health and rights,” says Sarosi.

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