Will the 2017 federal budget reflect gender-based analysis as promised?

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2017 Budget
Next Wednesday, after the budget is released, hopefully women’s groups will be celebrating.

It’s no secret that on the whole, federal budgets have favoured men. With the March 22 federal budget, exactly two weeks after International Woman’s Day – themed ‘Be Bold for Change’, Canadian women may have reason to celebrate.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau issued a statement late last year about the pending change.

The Morneau statement said, “to ensure that the government continues to deliver real and meaningful changes for all Canadians, it will submit Budget 2017, and all future budgets, to a more rigorous analysis by completing and publishing a gender-based analysis of budgetary measures.”

 Gender-based analysis in the federal budget would take into account the different ways tax and spending measures might affect men and women. The end result would be to identify and reduce the inequalities on how men and women are treated by public policy.

There has been mixed reaction to this pending change. Some positive and some negative. 

My opinion is this is a step forward. Whether you are a company doing business in Canada, or the federal government, you are serving specific groups.

The better that these groups can be defined the better job at determining how to allocate scarce resources.

Take Netflix for example, one of their competitive strengths is that they have significant data on those using their service. They know the age, gender, and interests of their audience. 

That allows Netflix to better serve their target market. 

Perhaps you have heard the expression “data mining”. Firms want to find out as much as they can about their client base.

The same modern-day business logic that companies live by should be used by the federal government.

Define the public policy you would like to implement, understand the details of the market, and then plan accordingly.

My thoughts are that Canadians deserve even better transparency than the new proposed gender based analysis of budgetary measures.

We should see full details of how our tax dollars are being invested. Gender analysis is just the starting point. 

Government budgets should break down how its spending benefits specific groups including age, income bracket, and geographic location. The more meaningful subcategories, the better.

This is not the first time gender analysis has been considered. Back in 1995 the idea was introduced but not significantly used. 

Next Wednesday, after the budget is released, hopefully women’s groups will be celebrating.

Women will benefit, Canada will benefit… it makes perfect sense.