Sarah Kaplan was invited to speak before the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance regarding Bill C-86 on December 05, 2018.

Bill C-86 is the second Budget Implementation Act for Budget 2018 and includes several measures to increase women’s participation in the workforce (e.g. the Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit), assure pay equity in federally regulated workplaces, and promote gender budgeting. Bill C-86 also establishes the Department for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE), previously known as Status of Women Canada.

You can download the full testimony here, as well as read it below. If you’d like to watch the meeting in full, including Sarah Kaplan’s testimony, click here.

Testimony before Senate Standing Committee on National Finance regarding Bill C-86

Good evening.

It is an honor to appear before this Committee to comment on Bill C-86, as it relates to the creation of the Department for Women and Gender Equality.

I am a Professor and Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto. In this role, I promote the use of rigorous academic research to inform policy and practice, with a specific goal of supporting innovative new solutions to achieving gender equality.

There are a number of reasons that the creation of this Department will yield progress on equality in Canadian society.

First, it announces and anchors equality as a central value for Canadians. Its name signals its focus on women and also people of diverse genders, including two-spirit, gender nonbinary and trans people. It further signals attention to men and masculinities. As we have learned from recent efforts to improve parental leave policies, it is vital to pay attention to facilitating new norms of masculinity that can transform caregiving and paid work for men, women, and people of diverse genders.

Relatedly, I would also like to call to your attention the importance of the section under “powers and duties” which includes understanding “the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors that include race, national and ethnic origin, Indigenous origin or identify, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic conditions, place of residence and disability.” That the department would have this mandate to put intersectionality front and centre is essential for the pursuit of equality because we know that most barriers to full participation in all spheres of peoples’ lives come precisely at these points of intersection.

Second, appropriately funded and resourced, the department can serve as a centre of excellence for capabilities in gender analysis and policy-making. While some form of gender analysis has been mandated since 1995 at the Federal level, we still lack essential capabilities for conducting and using these analyses — and this is at the Federal, Provincial and local levels of government as well as in the corporate and non-profit spheres. Gender analysis at its best should be used for three interrelated sets of activities: (