PRESENTATION, ONTARIO PRE-BUDGET, JAN.30, 2018
Good afternoon. Thank you for the invitation to speak. My name is Tina Agrell and I am here on behalf of Advancement of Women Halton, a coalition of more than twenty community groups and agencies in the Halton region.
Applying a gender lens
I am here to remind you of your government’s undertaking to look at each line of the upcoming budget through a gender lens and incorporate a gender equity perspective .
A gender-based analysis of proposed budgets allows for the assessment of how a certain policy may affect women.
* We want Gender Based Analysis of all future Ontario budgets
Making a gender statement
Since the 2017 Federal budget, all spending proposals submitted to the Treasury Board are required to provide proof that gender was considered. (1)
Toronto City Council has also finalized a gender-responsive budget plan. The plan includes the development of a data collection strategy designed to assess the gendered impacts of budgetary and policy decisions. (2)
* We want all Ontario Provincial government spending proposals to provide proof that gender was considered
* We want a data collection strategy to assess gendered impacts of budgetary and policy decisions
Ontario MPPs have noted that, increasingly, women’s participation in the paid labour force doesn’t just benefit women—it helps the whole economy. (3) A study by the Royal Bank of Canada estimates that the GDP could grow by 21 per cent if women had pay equity. (4) These issues are not adequately addressed by a basic income proposal alone, and therefore basic income has to be part of a larger packet of social policy measures, if it wants to maximise real freedom for all.
* We want pay equity in Ontario
* We want basic income to be part of a larger packet of policy measures to promote gender equity
What kinds of budget measures could achieve the goals of greater gender equity in the labour market?
For years these have been access to affordable, high quality post-secondary education and reliable and affordable childcare.
In particular young women are currently less likely to obtain degrees in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which can offer better career and income opportunities. (5)
And according to Statistics Canada, Ontario has the highest cost of full-time child care, with an average cost of $677 per month. Affordable, quality day care is still the stuff of dreams. (6)
Expanding access to education and to childcare is usually seen as very expensive, but that fails to take into account how, ultimately, they pay for themselves in the form of higher tax revenues. In the case of childcare, this payback is immediate. In 2008, each $100 of subsidy for child care paid out by the Quebec government resulted in an additional $104 in tax revenue in the same fiscal year for the province, both from the mothers now freer to work productively and from the newly created jobs of child care workers. (7)
* We want improved access to affordable, high quality post secondary education
* We want reliable and affordable child care
Other budget measures could pay off by preventing costs, both financial and human. Ontarians spend millions a year coping with the terrible price of violence against women. On any single day, women and children fleeing domestic violence are turned away from shelters because they are full. (8)
Well-targeted programs for shelters and supports could forestall huge costs and misery.
* We want well-targeted programs for shelters and supports
Gender budget analysis simply asks: do your budgetary initiatives generate more equality or less? For the Wynne Liberals, the answer should be a resounding “more.” There are precedents world-wide.
Walking the talk
Canada hosted a national conference in Paris last year on best practices in gender budget analysis, even as we were figuring out ourselves how best to do it. The OECD showcased Prime Minister Trudeau, who opened their conference on Business, Finance and Gender on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017. (9) This year Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef, will host a National Round table on Gender Based Analysis
Living within our means
Our governments have consistently placed priority on tax cuts or eliminating the deficit. Keeping taxes low means making choices that impact the most vulnerable members of Ontario’s population. And invariably that means women.
By 2020 there is a projected surplus of almost 1 per cent of GDP between what we collect in revenues and what we spend. According to the Centre for Policy Alternatives. by 2020, 1 per cent of GDP could fund a provincial child care program, an affordable housing strategy, a post-secondary granting strategy, Pharmacare, community infrastructure (including transit and neighbourhood revitalization) and still leave more for any other initiatives. (10)
* We want 2020 surplus to be spent on provincial child care program, affordable housing strategy, post secondary grants, Pharmacare and community infra-structure
This is not a bean counting exercise, it is a benefit counting exercise, using robust data and responsible government to improve services and save costs
Will the Ontario government opt for process over substance, citing lack of resources as the excuse, or will it kick-start a new fiscal sensibility, where men and women are equals?
More than 50% of voters in Ontario are women. And we are ready to give our support and help fight the battles.
Will the Ontario Government lead the way?
1.Department of Finance Canada: Budget 2017
Empowering Women to Lead in the New Economy
2. The Public Policy Governance Review February 2017
“Budgets Speak Louder than Words” Emily Wong
3. Toronto Metro April 2017
“MPP Cheri Di Novo brings gender lens” Gilbert Ngabo
4.RBC Economics Research March 2017
“The State of Women in Canada’s Economy”
5. Catalyst January 2018
“A Leaky Pipeline in STEM Education”
6.Statistics Canada November 2015
“Child Care in Canada” Maire Sinha
- Policy Network Newsletter April 2015
“A Child Care win-win” Pierre Fortin
- The Globe and Mail March 2017
“Canadian Shelters Forced to Turn Away” Tavia Grant
9. Minister of Status of Women Mandate Letter
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau October 2017
10.Centre for Policy Alternatives March 2017
Rebuild, Rethink, Renew. An Alternative Federal Budget