The federal government’s progress in delivering on their feminist commitments during a prolonged pandemic has been bumpy but is making some headway. Historic investments in the care sector are helping advance women’s economic equality, but the government failed to deliver on fairer and more equitable taxation and has a mixed record on tackling gender-based violence, climate action, Indigenous women’s rights, poverty, work and pay equity, global development, and conflict and crisis, according to a new report released by Oxfam Canada today.
On International Women’s Day, Oxfam Canada’s sixth annual Feminist Scorecard, Closing the Gaps Towards a Feminist Green COVID-19 Recovery, grades the federal government’s actions to help Canada and the world respond and recover from the pandemic, focusing on actions between March 2021 until February 2022 in 10 policy areas. Oxfam uses a traffic light approach (red, yellow and green), indicating little, some, or significant progress.
Two categories received a green rating for significant progress this year: the care sector, and representation and leadership.
“While COVID-19 ran its course for a second year, inequality exploded. The pandemic has set back gender parity by an entire generation. In Canada, the pandemic knocked women’s participation in the workforce down from a historic high to its lowest level in 30 years – dipping to 55 per cent for the first time since the early 1980s.This has been another challenging year for women and gender diverse people living on the margins. Billions of dollars in federal investments for a national child care system are helping to close some of the economic inequality gaps,” said Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada’s Director of Policy and Campaigns.
However, one key policy scored red this year – taxation, with the government having shown little appetite for tax reforms to reduce inequality. Wealth inequality has grown during the pandemic, with the wealthiest Canadians, who are mostly men, and corporations benefiting from tax loopholes and not paying their fair share.
”Canada saw another year where 15 new billionaires were minted and the fortunes of the country’s 59 billionaires increased by $111 billion since March 2020. That’s despite government promises to tax extreme wealth inequality and stop policies that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and help corporations avoid paying their fair share of taxes. A feminist recovery will rely on investments in much needed public services funded by a progressive tax system,” Sarosi said.
The scorecard also highlights a number of policy gaps, particularly for the most marginalized women and gender diverse people, who have been sliding deeper into poverty because of the pandemic. Other areas identified where more can be done to accelerate a feminist recovery include affordable housing; disability rights; racial inequality; humanitarian crises; decent work and pay equity; climate action; and upholding the rights of Indigenous women.
“As the world continues to recover from the pandemic, it is clear that more has to be done to ensure no one is left behind,” Sarosi said. “The government has made a lot of effort to take an inclusive approach to policy-making by setting up various advisory bodies and consultation processes. The government should collaborate directly with the feminist movement as it drives forward huge public policy initiatives on housing, jobs, climate and child care, among others.”
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Notes to Editors:
- Oxfam Canada’s Feminist Scorecard is available for download here.
- The scorecard does not rate the government’s overall performance in each policy area. It presents an assessment of actions between March 2021 and February 2022 that have, or have not, been taken by the government in these 10 policy areas to advance a feminist response and recovery to COVID-19.
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