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FEWO Committee Report

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Government Response to the Second Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women

Gender-Based Analysis: Building Blocks for Success

The Honourable Judy Sgro, P.C., M.P.
Chair, Standing Committee on the Status of Women
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Dear Ms. Sgro:

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to respond to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO) report, entitled Gender-Based Analysis: Building Blocks for Success, which was tabled in the House of Commons on May 19, 2006.

This response focuses on accountability, and builds on activities already undertaken by Status of Women Canada (SWC) and the central agencies — Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), Privy Council Office (PCO) and Finance Canada (Finance). This response also confirms the outcomes of consultations conducted by SWC in the fall of 2005 concerning future directions for advancing gender equality, i.e., that measurable results on gender-based analysis (GBA) and gender equality rest on accountability and sustainability mechanisms.

In their roles as central agencies, TBS, PCO and Finance each play a critical “challenge” role in ensuring departments take into account all relevant factors, including gender considerations, in the development of policies and programs and in proposals being submitted for consideration by Cabinet. It is, however, the responsibility of departments and agencies to ensure the completion of a thorough analysis of proposed policies and programs, including the application of GBA and the inclusion of gender considerations.

Each of the central agencies has appointed a senior official responsible for GBA who sits on a Steering Committee on Gender Equality. Their role is twofold: ensure the integration of GBA within each organization; and ensure that each organization trains its staff on the appropriate use of GBA. The overall goal is to enhance the organization’s horizontal policy coordination and challenge functions in relation to GBA. Each organization has also undertaken individual activities appropriate to its respective mandates.

As part of Finance’s commitment to conducting GBA on policy measures, particularly on tax policy, a gender-based analysis was conducted, when feasible, on all tax proposals presented to the Minister of Finance concerning Budget 2006. In 2006-07, Finance will carry out the following activities: post on its internal Web site good examples of GBA best practices; offer GBA training to branches other than Tax Policy; and include GBA as part of the Department’s recommended curriculum in the training offered to all new employees. Finance Canada will report on the progress made in meeting commitments in its Departmental Performance Report.

The Senior Official responsible for GBA at TBS has developed a work plan for the Department in which the main components are: training to use GBA as one of its lenses more systematically; screening its own policies, using GBA in consultation with SWC, for possible unintended consequences; using the Management, Resources, and Results Structure Policy for collection, management and reporting of performance information in relation to gender specific performance outcomes as appropriate, and ensuring that the Management Accountability Framework makes reference to analytical capacity and practice which includes GBA.

PCO plays a critical policy challenge function, ensuring that proposals developed by federal departments and agencies have taken into account all relevant factors, including those related to gender equality. This involves close and continuing contact between PCO and other departments to help them effectively carry out their responsibilities and to ensure the overall implementation and coordination of the government’s priorities. In this context, PCO’s primary challenge role with respect to GBA is to ensure that departments and agencies have used an appropriate GBA lens, and have taken gender equality into consideration, in the development of policies and programs.

PCO is strengthening its capacity to perform this challenge function through the provision of GBA training by SWC. In collaboration with SWC, PCO delivered two GBA pilot training sessions for its analysts in June 2006. PCO and SWC are currently modifying the training approach to better reflect the specific needs of PCO. Starting in the fall of 2006, GBA training will be added to the annual curriculum of courses PCO offers to its analysts. This training will help to ensure the continued implementation and sustainability of sound GBA in federal departments and agencies. However, it remains the responsibility of federal departments and agencies to ensure that GBA has been applied in developing policies and programs.

While each central agency plays its appropriate role on accountability, current government-wide accountability mechanisms can support the integration of GBA and the achievement of gender equality outcomes. As part of its role in providing management oversight of departments, TBS conducts analysis and oversight of the general policy and program analytical capacity of departments in relation to the Management Accountability Framework. As part of this role, TBS will assess departmental use of GBA, determining whether it is appropriate to departmental needs. TBS also plays a role in ensuring that responsible departments report appropriately once their programs are approved, including reporting on programming that relates to gender equality objectives.

Implementation of the 2005 Management, Resources and Results Structure Policy will lead to the development of a common, government-wide approach to the collection, management and reporting of financial and non-financial performance information by departments. This mechanism provides the basis for Parliamentary reporting in departmental Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports. It will, therefore, provide an excellent basis on which Parliament can review federal programs, including assessing whether they are consistent with achieving gender equality goals and whether they are achieving the intended results.

The integration of GBA is the responsibility of individual departments and agencies. SWC supports departments in implementing organizational mechanisms and structures to sustain the practice of GBA, and in developing and delivering customized training and tools, case studies and public awareness materials. Using a phased-in approach, SWC will continue to work with departments on the creation of sustainable frameworks and accountability mechanisms.

Since 1995, various departments have implemented a variety of mechanisms for, and approaches to, integrating GBA. By 2005-06, departmental approaches covered the spectrum, from the integration of GBA into departmental strategic frameworks and business lines, to establishing networks of GBA specialists, offering training, and developing tools and resources.

SWC will continue to work with departments and the central agencies (PCO, TBS and Finance), both to ensure a GBA lens is applied to any new proposals, and to increase accountability for the application of GBA within government structures and mechanisms.

I look forward to working with the Committee and all of my parliamentarian colleagues to ensure that women’s issues are addressed.

Yours sincerely,

Bev Oda, P.C., M.P.