Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks at the "Boosting Women's Economic Empowerment" World Bank/IMF meeting April 2017. Photo by Clarissa Villondo/World Bank

Canada's gender-based budget falls short, Christian think tanks say

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  • March 6, 2018
OTTAWA – The Liberal government, which tabled Canada’s first gender-based budget Feb. 27, received mixed reviews from think tanks devoted to Christian social teaching.

While Citizens for Public Justice applauded the budget’s female focus as a “step forward,” CPJ’s executive director Joe Gunn said the “ambition wasn’t huge in this case.”

“There are many more things the government could do to make a gender-based budget really sing,” Gunn said. One key element would be a universal daycare system, but CPJ’s budget analysis pointed out the $7.5 billion allotted over 11 years “is far from the universal access required to ensure that women with children face less barriers when returning to work.”

CPJ also criticized the budget for not putting a “downpayment on a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.”

“This was just not mentioned in the budget at all,” Gunn said.

“There’s no question at all that the current government over-promises and under-delivers, so Canadians beware,” said Gunn.

Cardus, a think tank based on 2,000 years of Christian social teaching, questions whether the goals the budget sets out to achieve can be reached by any government.

“I think this budget overestimates the power of government to make change,” said Brian Dijkema, program director of Cardus Work and Economics, noting some of the differences between men and women are genetic, or are based on cultural traditions.

“It claims to be after gender equality, but it takes a very macho approach,” Dijkema said. “‘We’re the ones who are going to lead on that and that’s how it’s going to get done’.”

Andrea Mrozek, director of Cardus Family, said she believed the gender-based analysis is a code to cover government goals of growing the Gross Domestic Product by getting more women into the workforce.

“They want the GDP to go up, so they’re going to use the power of the state to cajole more women into the work force, basically allowing mothers fewer choices,” Mrozek said. “Low-income women are going to suffer the most. If you have money, you can make a choice.”

While GDP promotion is a “legitimate goal of government, I don’t like dressing it up in equality language.”

REAL Women of Canada, a pro-life, pro-family women’s group, criticized the Liberals’ budget approach: “Instead of reducing taxes and increasing child benefits to provide some genuine flexibility in women’s lives, (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau prefers to assign to women the role in which he thinks they belong: in the work force,” REAL Women said in a news release. 

“Unfortunately, equality in the work place cannot compete with the inequity of nature which curiously allows only women to become pregnant, and never men.”

REAL Women pointed out having more women in the workforce also increases tax revenue for the government, but based on the Liberals’ three budgets, none of that revenue will go to deficit or debt reduction.

The government’s projected budget deficit for 2018-19 is $18.1 billion, three times higher than the $6 billion promised by allowing deficits of $10 billion for two years and $6 billion in the third year. 

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