44th Parliament, 1st Session
(November 22, 2021 - Present)
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Under Standing Order 108(1), the House of Commons may refer certain matters to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women for examination and report. This Order also authorizes the committee to create subcommittees to focus on particular subjects. Under Standing Order 108(2), the committee has the broad authority to study the policies, programs, expenditures (budgetary estimates) and legislation of departments and agencies, including the Department for Women and Gender Equality, that conduct work related to the status of women and gender equality.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women was created for the first time in the 38th Parliament in 2004. To establish its initial work plan, the committee undertook a series of consultations with national and regional women’s organizations. During roundtable discussions in November and December 2004, four major themes were identified:

  • the impact of federal government funding to women’s organizations and equality-seeking organizations on their ability to provide services and to advocate for equality;
  • the importance of developing and strengthening the capacity of the federal government to take into consideration the way that gender inequality impacts women’s lives;
  • the continued, disproportionate incidence of poverty among women; and
  • the persistent level of violence experienced by women.

These priority issues helped the committee identify four initial subjects for study:

  • gender-based analysis;
  • funding provided through the Women’s Program at Status of Women Canada;
  • pay equity; and
  • access to maternity and parental benefits for self-employed workers.

Although the Standing Committee on the Status of Women was first established in 2004, there was a precedent for having a separate committee to examine women’s issues. During the 34th Parliament, the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Seniors and the Status of Women struck a Subcommittee on the Status of Women. That subcommittee produced two important reports: a report on violence against women, entitled The War Against Women (1991), and a report on breast cancer, entitled Breast Cancer: Unanswered Questions (1992).

In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.

Committee Clerk

The clerk performs their duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee, and as such, will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.

Committee Assistant

The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committee’s Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of the committee.

Committee Analyst

The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the committee. They are part of the committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analysts work individually or in multidisciplinary teams.

Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.


Parliamentary Counsel

Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, parliamentary counsel (Legislation) are available to assist members who are not in cabinet with the preparation of private members’ bills or of amendments to government bills or others.

At various stages of the legislative process, members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the committee stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the report stage, once a bill returns to the House.

Once a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides the name of the parliamentary counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the members.

Legislative Clerk

The legislative clerk serves all members of the committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee with any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of report stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is an officer of Parliament created by the Parliament of Canada Act who supports Parliament by providing analysis, including analysis of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.

The Parliament of Canada Act also provides the PBO with a mandate to, if requested by a committee, estimate the financial cost of any proposal over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request research and analyses of the nation’s finances or economy, or of the estimates.

Further information on the PBO may be found at: http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/en/

The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women studies issues related to the status of women and to gender equality. As well, each fiscal year, the committee has examined the main estimates and the supplementary estimates of the Department for Women and Gender Equality (formerly the Office of the Coordinator, Status of Women).

The committee tabled the following substantive reports during the 43rd Parliament:

Eliminating Sexual Misconduct Within the Canadian Armed Forces
(Adopted by the committee on June 10, 2021; presented to the House on June 17, 2021)

In this report, the committee made recommendations to the Government of Canada on two main issues: creating a safe and inclusive workplace in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), including the importance of changing the culture within the CAF and addressing reports of sexual misconduct in the CAF, and providing support services to survivors in the CAF.

Challenges Faced by Women Living in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities in Canada
(Adopted by the committee on June 8, 2021; presented to the House on June 15, 2021)

In Canada, women who live in rural, remote and northern communities can face many unique challenges. In this report, the committee made recommendations to the Government of Canada intended to improve the safety, security, well-being and economic security of women living in rural, remote and northern communities in Canada.

Women’s Unpaid Work in Canada
(Adopted by the committee on May 27, 2021; presented to the House on June 9, 2021)

During its study, the committee heard about some of the challenges women face because of the unequal distribution of unpaid and invisible work in Canada. In this report, the committee made recommendations to the Government of Canada to help support women who perform unpaid work and to facilitate the redistribution of unpaid work to achieve gender equality in Canada.

A Study on the Implementation of the Pay Equity Act
(Adopted by the committee on May 4, 2021; presented to the House on May 26, 2021)

This report reviewed the progress made towards the implementation of the proactive pay equity regime under the Pay Equity Act.

Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women
(Adopted by the committee on March 11, 2021; presented to the House on March 25, 2021)

This report highlighted the particular impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls in Canada, particularly regarding women’s health and well-being, work and economic security, and physical safety and security. The committee provided recommendations on the ways in which the Government of Canada may ensure that the voices, needs and concerns of women from diverse backgrounds are represented in the post-pandemic economic and social recovery.

The committee also conducted the following substantive studies during the 43rd Parliament:

Eliminating Hate Crimes and Violence Against Women and Marginalized Groups

The committee’s study focused on various factors contributing to women’s economic insecurity in Canada, measures to increase women’s economic security, and measures to increase women’s economic leadership. The measures suggested to address women’s economic insecurity included improving childcare, Employment Insurance, and maternity and parental leave; implementing pay equity; ensuring access to education; improving income, retirement and pension security; and conducting gender-sensitive economic policy-making.

Midwifery Services Across Canada

The committee conducted a study on access to midwifery services across Canada and the potential ramifications of the closure of the Laurentian University midwifery education program (MEP). In June 2021, the Committee sent a letter to selected federal and provincial ministers highlighting possible measures that the Government of Canada could help implement to support the provision of bilingual midwifery education programs and midwifery education in Canada’s North; to include Indigenous knowledge and practices in midwifery education; to support midwives across the country; and to facilitate the growth of the midwifery workforce in Canada.