Thank you, Madam Chair.
It is a privilege to be with you on this unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin peoples, and on this particularly important day.
On May 24, 1918, I'm sure it seemed that the government of the day had finally recognized that women had a role to play in the government and the governance of this country, but there were more milestones to come. It would be another 12 years before the first woman was appointed to the Canadian Senate, thanks to the Famous Five. It was 22 more years before women in Quebec could vote in provincial elections. It was another 42 years, 1960, before indigenous women and men on reserves could vote in federal elections. It was another 97 years, 2015, before Canada saw its first gender-balanced cabinet.
Since then, you may have noticed, a lot of work has been done. A lot of work can be attributed to governments, but most of it I think is attributed to those whose tireless advocacy got governments like ours to listen.
I'm here to give you a summary of some of the work that's being done, and I'd be happy to take any questions afterwards.
Let's start with the main estimates.
The main estimates reflect this government's commitment to breaking down barriers to gender equality and to developing strategies to better prevent violence against women and girls. Our $62.3 million allocation in the 2018-19 estimates represents a nearly 60% increase in our overall spending over the previous year.
This increase is very important to us because our role has grown tremendously in the past year or two, and because we need to grow to keep up with the new demands on Status of Women Canada. There's an increased level, as you know, of public focus on the need to end gender bias in all parts of our society. We want and need to build on this momentum.
We will be using the increase in funds to improve the capacity at Status of Women Canada to handle new demands coming from cabinet, Parliament, parliamentary committees, Canadians, the profit sector, and the non-profit sector. Our new responsibilities on GBA+, for example, involve a great deal of coordination with other federal departments and agencies, as well as interactions with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. In many instances, issues stretch across many departmental lines. We don't always own a particular file, so more effort is involved in making sure that the proper inputs are considered. We also need to strengthen our public policy capacity to establish the permanent corporate structures necessary to meet the needs of our clients, and to deliver on our ambitious government priorities.
On gender-based violence, a large part of our increase will directly address the high demand to focus more of our attention and resources on gender-based violence. We're funding many different projects on this issue at local, regional, and national levels, as well as in partnership with indigenous leaders living on and off reserve. The new gender-based violence program—this is the funding envelope—helps organizations in the development and implementation of promising practices in support of survivors of gender-based violence and their families, including underserved populations.
We're also making adjustments to the way we support organizations with potential extensions of project funding from three up to five years, an increase in grants of up to $1 million, and an expansion of eligible groups to include think tanks, organized labour, post-secondary institutions, and others. We're also providing funding for gender-based violence research, data analysis, and surveys to give us a deeper understanding of the true scope of the challenge.
On GBA+, as you know, all measures in budget 2018 were subject to a GBA+ analysis. The budget also included a new gender results framework to guide future decision-making while measuring our progress in creating an economy that works for everyone.
New GBA+ legislation will be introduced this fall to enshrine gender budgeting within the federal budget-making process. We will continue improving the use of GBA+ across the federal organizations that we're responsible for, so that an intersectional gender lens is carefully applied to the government's decision-making on policies, programs, and services. We will also host a national round table on GBA+ later this year to share the results and best practices of these efforts.
An important part of this initiative is making sure that federal employees have the necessary training to carry out GBA+. I am pleased to report that to date, we have been able to build on the GBA+ skills of over 100,000 public servants, parliamentarians, and staff. I thank all of you around this room who have taken the course and have your certificates to prove it.
We are also focusing, like you, on another issue that the committee has studied extensively, addressing the persistent barriers that create economic insecurity for far too many Canadian women every day. The statistics are all too familiar. The stories are familiar to this group as well, as I know you've studied it.
To address this, and as part of our efforts where Status of Women specifically is leading, earlier this month in Alberta I announced $10 million in funding for projects to tackle the root causes of economic insecurity for women by improving their access to jobs and careers. For example, we are funding a project to encourage more women to get involved in aviation. Only 5% of pilots, by the way, are women. Another helps to remove barriers to the job market for those fleeing domestic violence. There are also projects aimed at increasing women's participation in STEM fields.
We also recognize that we are in an era of reconciliation. We need to do business differently, but we also need to work in respectful collaboration and partnership with the first peoples of this land. Last night it was an honour for me to join with colleagues and bring together the first indigenous women's circle to advise Status of Women Canada directly. We recognize that in this era of reconciliation, women hold the key to a lot of the solutions we need. We know there is a lot of strength and resiliency in those communities, and their wisdom will help guide the way for us as this is the most important relationship for our government.
You also are aware that Canada is leading the G7 this year, and gender-based analysis and that intersectional gendered lens is woven through all the important conversations that ministers and leaders will have in Charlevoix in two weeks, and that's an important milestone. Mainstreaming gender into this agenda has never happened before, and I'm grateful to the members of the Gender Equality Advisory Council, Women 7, Youth 7, and Labour 7, who came together, along with other ministerial colleagues, to ensure that the work of the G7 is going to address inequality and focus on equality as a driver for growth.
As we all are, I'm sure, I am proud that the legacy of those who fought for us to have the right to vote 100 years ago is in the hands of many across the country, including those of us who have the privilege of serving as parliamentarians. I am proud of our government's efforts to honour their legacy by continuing to build on the work they've done, and clearly all the work that remains to be seen.
I also appreciate and want to thank every one of you for the work you've done on this committee. I also know that you are tapped to do work on other committees because gender equality, of course, is not just an issue that Status of Women, neither the committee nor the agency, can do alone. Many thanks for the time you are offering me to be here with you today. Two great women from Status of Women Canada are here to provide any technical briefings that this group may wish.
Madam Chair, I am happy to take any questions colleagues may have.
The Commission on the Status of Women, at which many colleagues around this table were present and thankful for that participation, was an important opportunity to share our best practices as Canadians on the work that is being done to further support women and girls living in rural and remote communities. It was also an important opportunity to learn from other countries. I think we went there with a lot of pride in what we're doing, but also humility, knowing that we have more work to do.
In our case in Canada when we talk about rural communities, we also need to include remote communities. In the Canadian context, the issue of indigenous communities is also part of this. First, the work that's being done to ensure that we apply that intersectional gender lens to all our policies also includes a rural lens being applied. I think that's really important so that this perspective is understood at the onset of the policy-making process and programs.
The second piece that I think is important is the investment in rural broadband. I have a mixed riding, rural and urban, and having that cellular and Internet access is not just important with regard to the economic realities that we know can be consequences of not having it, it's also important for access to resources like services. With regard to social issues like gender-based violence, I was touring some rural communities over the past summer, hearing from women's organizations. We know that those women's organizations are doing more than just supporting gender-based violence survivors and victims. They're employment agencies. They're youth counsel reps. They do all sorts of work. We know through our gender-based violence program, for example, that ensuring that those who serve under-represented groups, like those living in rural communities, need to be prioritized, and we are prioritizing them.
These are just some examples of the work that we're doing. As I said, that work continues. Our rural identity and our rural communities are essential to the well-being of Canada as a whole, especially the women and girls in those communities.
Thank you very much for your question, and for all the work you do to advance equality in the country and beyond.
You're right. The sustainability of the women's movement is critical to the sustainability of all our efforts to ensure that, long after our work as politicians is wrapped up, women's organizations have what they need to continue to move forward on our agendas.
You're right. We are making changes to the way we fund women's organizations. I'll use the example of the gender-based violence funding envelope we announced in January of this year. It's a $20-million envelope, and it is up to five years now. What we decided to do to ease the access of the application for these projects for the women's organizations, based on what they asked for, was to say, don't write the whole application right now. That takes time and resources. Instead, give us your idea. Give us a concept. If it's approved, we will give you up to $30,000 to further develop the project.
We're also more than doubling the funding for women's organizations so that there is actually more to support these important leaders across the country in their work. As you know, a significant part of our effort since we formed government is forming better relationships with provinces and territories. I met with my provincial and territorial counterparts last fall. I'll be meeting with them again this fall. This is an item on our agenda. It's a shared priority for all of us because—especially in the context of #MeToo, and every hashtag that increases the rate of survivors seeking support—we know that the demand on these organizations has also gone up. Part of the supplementary estimates includes further funding for these organizations, and ensuring that those who have willingness to be part of the solution...like unions, for example. They asked to be eligible for these funds, and now they are.
I am going to try again to obtain some clarifications about the time it takes to obtain grants. Some say that it takes a lot of concerted action. Since there has to be a lot of collaboration, and since Status of Women Canada wants to share in the vision involved, one gets the impression that the department already knows where the grants will be going, and that is problematic. In fact, it is often the same organizations in the field that receive grants. I am from a rural area that is somewhat remote, and that is the impression one gets. I'll ask my next question now, but you may also answer that one.
There is also a gap regarding organizations that provide services to girls and young women, particularly those that are transitioning to adulthood, those between 14 and 24. These are organizations such as Justice alternative du Suroît and its Ateliers créactions, in the Montérégie area. The purpose of this project is to identify women from disadvantaged areas who might commit crimes. Since it targets women between 14 and 24, from the outset, Status of Women Canada refused to fund them, because some of their clients were under 18. This led to a shortage of services. We don't know who those young women can turn to, because they have not yet reached the age of majority.
How will Status of Women Canada, which wants to fight violence against women, adjust?
Thank you. On this important day, the 100th anniversary of some women receiving the right to vote, I think that question is particularly important.
Yes, we've come a long way, but we also have so far to go. Each of you around this table who's gone through the process has a great deal of expertise in this area, so I'm very much looking forward to your study and I'm very much looking forward to the recommendations. I think our most important job in this place is to inspire the next generation of leaders to come and do the work that we've come here to continue.
I think this study is important in many ways. I know that women in politics experience different barriers. We've heard from so many of them. We know that there are barriers around care work. We know that there are barriers around financial access. We know there are barriers in lack of role models. Unless she can see her, she cannot be her. When little girls see women like those around this table in positions of power and influence, as I can tell you my nine-year-old niece certainly does, they think to themselves: if they can do it, I can too. This is why it is so important for each of us to be mindful of the fact that we are leaders and we are role models and that little girls, boys, and gender diverse individuals are looking up to us to lead by example.
That's why I was saddened and, frankly, disturbed to see a member of the Status of Women committee take it upon herself to send cyber and mail violence to one of our colleagues around this table. That is not the way that public resources ought to be used. That is not the way we are expected to behave as politicians. Sure, we can disagree without being disagreeable. Sure, we can have different ideologies, but the disrespect and the online violence that we perpetrate against one another actually sets all of us back.
In terms of the work being done to further enhance women's leadership capacities. I will say we have a pot of money available—and this was announced last year—to support indigenous women's leadership. We're working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to support a project or series of projects with them. We've invested close to $20 million in supporting women's leadership capacities, including young women, because they are leading today and they have important ideas that need to be heard. All of that work is being done. Your study will be very much appreciated and very timely, frankly, but unless as individuals we lead by example, we are not going to advance the cause that brings us together around this committee table, which is improving the status of women in Canada.
Of course, as a woman, I'm very excited to see that this year's budget and therefore the estimates, of course, were in regard to women, since I am a woman and since I support women.
However, I am very concerned—I've stated this previously in committee—about the outcomes that these types of budgets have historically had. In Australia, this type of budget was abandoned in 2014. In Austria, we saw a third party auditor review this type of budget, with no data coming out that women were in fact much better off. Also, in a study of several OECD countries, only half were shown to have some type of measurable improvement in the lives of women in their nations with these types of budgets that were implemented.
I asked the minister this question the last time she was here and it wasn't addressed at all. As someone who is very proud to have managed million-dollar budgets for the government in my previous role as a management consular officer for missions abroad, and as someone who prides herself on having a Master of Business Administration—like many of my colleagues in the House, I'm sure, who also have many designations—I'm wondering if you can please identify specifically the metrics by which this budget and these specific portions relevant to the Status of Women will be measured.
I think the Canadian public is very excited to see this budget, but they will need the evidence, the proof. The government talks all the time about being a science-based government, a data-based government, so what are the metrics that we can look for and the tools that will be used to see the positive outcomes, the benefits, and the results for this budget, please?