Brock Professor writes piece about “gender equality” budget

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Kate Bezanson, the Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology at Brock University, recently published a piece in The Globe and Mail on Canada’s 2018 Federal budget, or the “gender equality budget”. The opinion piece addressed concerns against the budget, brought up the topic of Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) and levels in on the intersectionality that was taken into account during the creation of the new budget.

The 2018 federal budget, first released in February, used the word gender over 359 times in its 367 pages, placing a significant stress on gender equality and the wage gap. Despite this fact, Bezanson commented that the overall response was not entirely what she expected.

“I was somewhat surprised by the somewhat silent reception to budget 2018,” said Bezanson. “I thought it was really a historic budget that set incredible benchmarks for gender equality.”

Despite the landmark budget that introduced concepts of intersectionality, there has been significant criticism towards how the budget operates.

“It was a budget that spread a lot of money in a bunch of areas but didn’t make really huge investments in one specific area,” Bezanson furthered. “I think it was criticized for being more of a sprinkling budget but I think the budget itself was more of a template of an agenda, and it’s quite an ambitious agenda around data gathering and investments in the future.”

Bezanson also went on to note that it was criticized for not meeting the targets around debt deficit reduction though national debt had reduced over the past year in part due to an “unexpectedly robust economy”.

“I think the federal government’s commitment to this is animated in part because we have real demographic pressures that we’re facing nationally,” said Bezanson.

These pressures include a lesser replacement birth rate, (a population that is not replacing its workforce entirely through birth rate) an aging population that will play a large toll in the amount of workers that will continue to contribute to the economy as well as CPP, EI and other tax bases needed in order to keep the social infrastructure intact, and immigration levels that are not sufficient to replace the loss of workers.

“But we do have quite a significant percentage of women who are either underemployed or who’re not in the labour market for a whole number of reasons,” said Bezanson. “In lots of ways, it’s smart economic policy to tap an untapped resource. We have a highly educated female population that is underemployed.”

“It could actually stem that gap and lead long term economic prosperity to have more women in the labour force, but also more women in the labour force with better jobs that reflect the kind of training that they have,” Bezanson added. “On both sides it’s good social policy but it’s good for the economy as well.”

“I’m sort of watching a bit cautiously to see how it’s taken up and how it’s been received,” said Bezanson. “I know though that it has ripple effects, so I know provincial governments and now municipal governments are looking at implementing versions of this GBA+, or intersectional gender-based analysis plus, into their budget planning but also into looking at what they’re spending on, and I think that can have really important outcomes at the service delivery level.”

Benzanson`s full article can be found at: theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-why-the-gender-budget-is-important-to-canada-and-what-it-got-wrong/

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