A Plan that Puts People First

Over the past two years, the Government has invested in Canadians, and in the things that matter most to Canadians. These investments reflected the choice to reject austerity policies and instead invest wisely in strengthening the middle class and growing the economy. With a declining debt as a percentage of the economy, it’s a choice that makes sense for the Canadian economy.

And thanks to Canadians’ hard work, those early investments are paying off.

The economy is strong and growing. In the last two years, Canadians have created more than half a million jobs, the unemployment rate is near 40-year lows, and our towns and cities are better, cleaner places to live.

With lower taxes for the middle class and more help with the high cost of raising a family, Canadians are feeling more optimistic about the future. Everyday dreams—whether it’s paying down debt, saving for a first home or going back to school to train for a new job—are closer to reality.

By putting the needs of Canadians first, the Government has helped to bring good jobs, more money and renewed confidence to millions of middle class Canadians and their families. 

And across Canada, a growing middle class is driving the stronger economic growth that helps create new jobs, and new opportunities for more people to succeed.

But more hard work lies ahead.

A single mother who is struggling to make ends meet doesn’t feel relief when good gross domestic product (GDP) growth numbers are posted—she’s focused on making sure her kids have what they need to be healthy, happy and strong.

A young person trying to land his first job doesn’t worry about consumer confidence—he just wants a chance to find good, meaningful work.

And those who are no longer in the workforce, such as retirees? They care less about economic indicators, and more about making sure they can live their retirement with dignity and security.

These are the people whose hopes and dreams continue to build the Canada we know and love—the women and men who work hard every day to take care of their families, grow their businesses and build a stronger Canada.

With a strong and growing economy in place, now is the right time to focus on the deeper challenges that hold our economy—and our people—back.

It’s time build an economy that truly reflects the kind of country we are, wish to be and need to be.

A country where differences are recognized not as a barrier to success, but as a source of strength.

A place where every child has equal opportunities to achieve their dreams.

A Canada where every person has a real and fair chance at success.

All Canadians deserve the opportunity to contribute to, and prosper from, a strong and growing economy.

For all their hard work, and for all their efforts—seen and unseen, paid and unpaid—Canadians deserve an economy that truly works for them, built on a plan that puts people first.

This is the plan for people.


When Women Succeed, We All Succeed

“Equal pay and better economic opportunities for women boost economic growth—creating a bigger pie for everyone to share, women and men alike. Better opportunities for women also promote diversity and reduce economic inequality around the world. It is an economic no-brainer.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, November 2016

From the 1950s on, Canada welcomed a new generation of workers. For the first time in Canada’s history, well-educated, hard-working Canadian women entered the workforce en masse, helping to boost family incomes and drive economic growth.

Over the last 40 years, the rising number of women in the workforce has accounted for about a third of Canada’s real GDP per capita growth. Thanks to the contributions of hard-working women, family incomes are now higher, fewer children live in poverty and all Canadians are better off.

In recent years, women with young children have increasingly been able to enter and stay in the workforce, and in 2017 the share of working-age women in the labour force hit its highest point ever.

For Canadian families, this means greater financial security, and greater peace of mind as they look to the future. With good, steady incomes, hard-working moms have more money to support their families today, and save for years ahead.

With more women in the workforce, businesses benefit too—from the talent, ambition, new perspectives and hard work that women bring to their jobs.

Canada’s economy—Canada’s success—is deeply tied to women’s opportunity to work, and to earn a good living from that work.

Experts agree that our future prosperity depends on greater equality between Canadian women and men. Equality is not just an important value for women and their families, it benefits all Canadians.

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance greater equality for women—such as employing more women in technology and boosting women’s participation in the workforce—Canada could add $150 billion to its economy by 2026.

Similarly, RBC Economics estimates that adding more women to the workforce could boost Canada’s GDP by as much as 4 per cent. Closing—and eventually eliminating—the gap between the percentage of women and men who work may even offset expected economic declines brought on by an aging population.

And the Peterson Institute for International Economics has found that increasing the share of women in leadership positions from zero to 30 per cent translated into a 15 per cent boost in profits—that’s more money for businesses to invest in new jobs that will benefit more people.

Simply put, when women have the support and opportunities they need to fully contribute to Canada’s economy, the entire economy does better—today, and well into the future.

For Canadian businesses, hiring, promoting and retaining more women does more than boost the bottom line. Women bring unique perspectives and new ideas to their work, helping companies to innovate and solve problems in new ways.

When more women work, we build stronger companies—and stronger communities.

But the challenges that make it difficult for many women to earn a good living from their work are real and systemic, and the Government recognizes that.

Even when women are paid equally, they do not always have equal opportunities or equal treatment.

For too many Canadian women, the barriers to getting hired and getting promoted persist. This is especially true when social identities like race, religion, sexuality, disability and socio-economic status are considered alongside gender. These women may be pressured to take jobs that do not reflect their skills or education—such as a psychologist working in a food service job—simply because of their desire, and need, to work.

Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workforce, unbalanced parental leave, a decade of no investments in affordable child care, and the shortage of leaders who will advocate for equal workplaces—these are just some of the things that make it tough for women to succeed. And when women are denied opportunities to grow and succeed, we all pay the price.

There is growing consensus among Canadians that the time has come for things to change.

That begins with respect for the choices people make—whether they decide to work within the home, or outside the home.

Increasing the number of women in the workforce, and better supporting those who are already in the workforce, is not a problem to be solved, it’s an economic opportunity to be seized. 

It’s a chance to give more Canadians equal access to good, well-paying jobs.

A chance to build a country that is more equal—and more prosperous.

It’s the right thing to do for Canadians, and the smart thing to do for our economy.

Women at Work: Opportunities to be Seized. Greater equality for women could produce significant economic benefits for Canada, but it’s important to know where things stand today, and to recognize the barriers that make it difficult for women to fully succeed in today’s economy.

Canadian women are less likely to participate in the economy, and once employed, more likely to work part-time. In January 2018, only 61 per cent of women were participating in the economy, compared to 70 per cent of men. Women who are 25 to 54 are three times more likely to hold part-time jobs than are men—about 1 million Canadian women aged 25 to 54 work part-time—often because they are caring for children, aging family members or family members with disabilities.

The wage gap between women and men has narrowed, but remains a barrier. The persistent wage gap between what Canadian women and men earn can make it difficult for women to get ahead. On average, women earn 69 cents for every dollar earned by men on an annual basis.

Canadian women are underrepresented in positions of leadership. Though they account for nearly half of the Canadian workforce, only a third of senior managers and one in 20 chief executive officers are women (Catalyst Canada).

Businesses in Canada are overwhelmingly owned by men. The share of small and medium-sized businesses owned by women is increasing but remains at 16 per cent.

The number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields remains low.While close to 60 per cent of science and technology graduates are women, that number falls to only one-third of students studying engineering, math and computer science. What’s more, women who graduate from STEM fields earn, on average, $9,000 a year less than their male peers.

The demands of unpaid work can make it difficult for women to pursue opportunities for paid work. Canadian women devote approximately 4 hours a day to unpaid work, compared to about 3 hours for Canadian men. This could include caring for children or elderly parents, or simply doing the day-to-day work needed to support their families.

Not all women face the same challenges.Women with disabilities, visible minorities, Indigenous women, members of the LGBTQ2 community, new Canadians and others with marginalized intersecting identities often find it more challenging to find and keep a good job—not because of the quality of their work, but because of systemic biases that exclude them from opportunities open to other women and men. Despite having higher levels of education than Canadian-born women, only 58 per cent of recent immigrant women aged 25 to 54 are employed, compared to nearly 80 per cent of their non-immigrant counterparts.

Workplace harassment and gender-based violence have a real cost. For too many Canadian women, these challenges can make working difficult, or even impossible. Nearly one in three women in Canada have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, according to a recent study by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Equality in Action

In previous budgets, the Government took strong and decisive steps toward building a more equal Canada—one where women and men are empowered to make positive changes that benefit their own lives, and our economy as a whole. These measures include:

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which gives more help to the families that need it most, such as those led by single mothers.

From baby clothes to bikes to braces to child care, raising children is expensive. The CCB helps families keep up with these high costs. Since its launch in July 2016, the CCB has been supporting more than 3.3 million families with children, putting almost $2 billion each month, tax-free, into the bank accounts of families who need it most.

For single-parent families—most often led by single mothers—the CCB is especially helpful. Last year, single mothers earning less than $60,000 a year received about $9,000 in benefit payments on average, making it easier for them to afford the things that give children a good quality of life—things like a safe place to live, healthy food, summer programs and new winter boots.

For an unemployed single mother who is struggling to make ends meet, the CCB could help with child care costs, making it more affordable for her to return to work. For a working single mother, it may provide the extra financial security needed so that she can work fewer hours, giving her more time to spend with her children.

Historic investments in infrastructure, including new money for public transit to help reduce long commute times and give families more time to spend together; and significant new investments in green infrastructure to ensure that Canada’s communities are healthy and productive places to live.

More money for social infrastructure that families need means substantial new investments in early learning and child care, to give children the best start in life and women the chance to support their families through work.

Though more and more men are taking on family responsibilities, women still carry the heaviest burden when it comes to looking after children and other family members, such as aging parents.

The lack of affordable and accessible child care in many communities means that for too many women, it just doesn’t make financial sense to return to work after parental leave ends. This puts a strain on families whose budgets rely on the support that two incomes can provide, and deprives Canadian workplaces of the talents, skills and insights that working mothers bring to their jobs.

To create more of the high-quality, affordable child care spaces that Canadian families need, and to make it more affordable for parents to return to work, the Government is investing $7.5 billion over 11 years.

This investment will increase the number of affordable child care spaces for low- and modest-income families by supporting up to 40,000 new subsidized child care spaces over the first three years after agreements are in place with provinces and territories. This will, in turn, allow thousands of parents, especially women, to return to the labour market, increasing their family’s financial security and contributing to economic growth that benefits all Canadians.

Housing for women and children escaping family violence, as part of the first-ever National Housing Strategy, that gives more Canadians a safe and affordable place to call home.

Across Canada, 1.7 million families don’t have a home that meets their basic needs. For these families, the lack of a safe and affordable home makes every other choice more difficult. Moving to a more affordable neighbourhood could mean less access to public transit, health care and other services—and fewer opportunities to find and keep good, well-paying jobs.

Because of their relatively low household incomes, single mothers, women with disabilities, and senior women living alone often find it especially hard to find affordable housing. And for the thousands of Canadian women and children who are homeless due to family violence, housing in shelters doesn’t just provide a safe place to sleep, it saves lives.

To help more Canadians find safe and affordable places to call home, and to protect those already living in community housing from being displaced, the Government is implementing a comprehensive National Housing Strategy. Investments of more than $40 billion over the next 10 years will create over 100,000 new housing units and repair 300,000 housing units for Canadians. This means that 530,000 households will be removed from housing need, 435,000 will benefit from the maintenance and expansion of community housing in Canada, and the estimated number of chronically homeless shelter users will be reduced by 50 per cent. Moreover, at least 25 per cent of National Housing Strategy investments will support projects that specifically target the unique needs of women and girls, including senior women who are more likely than senior men to need affordable housing.

As part of the National Housing Strategy, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund commits to build and renew shelter spaces for survivors fleeing family violence, reducing the wait list for shelter spaces and lowering the number of women who might otherwise risk returning to an unsafe relationship or the street. Government investments in housing will create and repair at least 7,000 shelter spaces for survivors of family violence.

Greater support for women entrepreneurs, whose businesses have room to grow.

Priya runs a small export consulting business out of her home. She routinely has more work than she and her business partner can handle, but without additional capital, they are not able to hire the extra staff and secure the office space they need to service more clients.

With close to half of all new businesses in Canada now started by women, it’s clear that women entrepreneurs are a growing force in the Canadian economy.

At the same time, when it comes to business ownership, men still outnumber women by a large margin. Two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are still majority-owned by men, with fewer than one in six businesses (16 per cent) majority-owned by women. Because small businesses owned by women tend to be smaller than businesses owned by men, there is additional room for these businesses to grow. This growth potential was recognized by the 2015 Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs, chaired by Arlene Dickinson.

Marilyn is a widow who has lived alone since her husband passed away. She doesn’t want to move in with her adult daughter, who is busy raising her own family, and is grateful for the staff at the local food bank, who help to keep her cupboards stocked and spirits up.

To help more women entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) launched a $50 million fund in 2016 to give women-led technology firms greater access to venture and growth capital—and based a highly promising pipeline, the fund was increased to $70 million in November 2017. The BDC’s 2015 commitment to increase term lending to majority women-owned businesses to at least $700 million over three years has also been surpassed, and as of January 31, 2018, the BDC has lent $912 million to an additional 1,636 women-owned firms, resulting in a 49 per cent increase in its women-owned portfolio since the start of the initiative. These investments are expected to fuel the growth of these businesses and create jobs for Canadians across the country, while helping more women entrepreneurs become successful role models for the next generation of enterprising girls.

Improvements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which provides greater income security for low-income seniors, especially senior women.

Retirement is meant to be the reward after a lifetime of hard work, but for too many senior women in Canada, it simply means financial hardship. Senior women are 1.5 times as likely to live in poverty as senior men.

To give Canadian seniors greater security and a better quality of life, in 2016, the Government boosted the Guaranteed Income Supplement paid to low-income single seniors. This enhancement gives those seniors most in need as much as $947 more each year, and is helping to lift 13,000 vulnerable seniors—12,000 of them senior women—out of poverty.

More support for Canadians—most often women—who care for their loved ones.

Johanne works full-time as a college instructor. Her dad, who lives alone, is recovering from a stroke. Thanks to the EI Family Caregiver Benefit, Johanne was able to take time off to help her dad, without losing all her income or her job.

Today, millions of Canadians provide informal care and support for family members who are seriously ill. For those who need help, the care they receive from their families is priceless. For those who offer help, however, balancing work and family responsibilities can be emotionally, physically and financially draining.

To help lessen the burden on caregivers, the Government introduced a new Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefit that allows eligible caregivers to claim up to 15 weeks of EI benefits while they are temporarily away from work to support or care for a critically ill or injured family member.

Because women are more likely to provide care than men—accounting for about 70 per cent of claims under a previous compassionate care program—and because women spend more time per week engaged in caregiving compared to men, women are expected to get the most from this new benefit.

Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class

Canada is a country built on hard work, a place where people take care of each other, and work together to solve big challenges.

For the past two years, that hard work has helped to strengthen and grow Canada’s economy, creating more opportunities for the middle class and all those working hard to join it.

It is time for the Government, and for all Canadians, to tackle the next big challenge: making sure that every person has an equal chance to contribute to, and share in, Canada’s success.

Budget 2018 is a plan to deliver more prosperity and growth to Canadians, fuelled by greater equality for all Canadians.

This plan focuses on:

Growth—A strong economy starts with a strong and growing middle class. Budget 2018 introduces a more generous and accessible Canada Workers Benefit for low-income workers (formerly the Working Income Tax Benefit) and improved parental benefits, alongside continued investments to help Canadians find and keep good, well-paying jobs. Combined with historic pay equity legislation and new measures to improve tax fairness, these measures will give Canada’s middle class the help it needs to grow and prosper.

Progress—Investments in Budget 2018 will build on Canada’s tradition of innovation, helping to create positive change for ourselves, and the world. These investments in entrepreneurs, researchers and scientists will help build the Canada of tomorrow—and the strong middle class of today.

What is GBA+?

GBA+ is an analytical tool used to assess how different groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives.

The “plus“ acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences to consider intersecting factors such as race, ethnicity, age, disability and sexual orientation.

GBA+ provides the foundation for gender budgeting—ensuring that the impacts of individual budget proposals on different groups of people are understood, supporting better policy making, priority-setting and decision making.

Reconciliation—Building on earlier investments, the distinctions-based investments to deliver clean water, housing, training, health care and other programs in Budget 2018 will help to secure a better quality of life for Indigenous Peoples, while laying the foundation for a renewed relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

Advancement—The country we share and the values that connect us help to define who we are as Canadians. Through Budget 2018, the Government highlights these points of connection with investments that protect Canada’s natural legacy, affirm our place in and commitment to the world, uphold our shared values and help make Canada a safer, more just country.

Equality—Where Budget 2017 included the Government’s first-ever Gender Statement—a high-level review of the ways in which the policies put forward affect women and men in different ways—Budget 2018 goes further, integrating considerations of gender impacts at each step of the budgeting process, and introducing a new Gender Results Framework. This Framework includes goals and indicators that will guide the Government’s decisions and measure Canada’s progress in achieving greater gender equality.

In Budget 2018, no budget decision was taken without being informed by Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+). And to ensure that gender remains a key consideration for future governments, the Government will introduce new GBA+ legislation to make gender budgeting a permanent part of the federal budget-making process.

Results that Matter for Canadian Women and Men

The Gender Results Framework has informed the investments made in Budget 2018, and each chapter of this budget shows how these investments are advancing the objectives of Canada’s new Gender Results Framework.

Figure 1: Pillars of the Gender Results Framework

Figure 1: Pillars of the Gender Results Framework


Budget 2018 recognizes that Canada’s future economic success rests not only on the hard work of Canadians, but on giving more people—people like Anna and Marc, Layla, Sarah, Rheal and Sam, Priya, Marilyn, and Johanne—a real and fair chance to succeed.

For all they do, all Canadians deserve to be equal partners in society, and to share equally in the benefits that come from their hard work.

Budget 2018 will help make this goal a reality.


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