Canada’s 'Feminist' Budget 2021: What's In Store For Women?

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A little over a month ago, while celebrating International Women’s Day, Canada had unveiled an all-female task force that was meant to ensure that the 2021 federal budget remembered women and addressed gender inequality. Chrystia Freeland, on the other hand, had repeatedly stressed upon a “feminist agenda” since being named the country’s finance minister in August last year.

Has Canada’s first female finance minister landed on her feet with that promise? Let’s see...

A Motherlode of an Investment in Childcare

As promised in the Fall Economic Statement 2020, the Trudeau-led Liberal government has gone ahead with its plans to establish a national childcare plan in the federal budget of 2021.

Freeland on Monday announced a package of C$30 billion for the early learning and childcare initiative for the next five years and of C$ 8.3 billion ongoing thereafter.

The agenda of this plan is to cut the cost of child care in half by next year and to reduce it to C$ 10 a day by 2025-2026.

A nationwide childcare initiative is targeted to help women, especially working mothers. The federal government’s plan is said to be modeled after Quebec’s subsidized childcare program, which has reportedly helped improve the participation rate among core-aged women in comparison to the national average.

Initiatives to Support Businesswomen

The COVID-19 pandemic, while impacting all Canadians, has taken more from women over the past year. And numbers support that claim. According to government figures, over 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force till date and their employment rate continues to recover more slowly than that of men.

In its efforts to build a “more inclusive” and “feminist” economy, the government proposed to provide up to C$ 146.9 million for the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy over the next four years. This initiative aims at providing female entrepreneurs a greater access to the required funding, mentorship and training.

The investment will also be supporting the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.

©Kalkine Group 2021

What Else is in Store For Women?

The Federal Budget 2021 proposed a series of other women-centric initiatives, such as:

  • promoting greater diversity in senior ranks of the financial sector
  • the implementation of gender and diversity reporting in Crown corporations
  • an investment of about C$ 470 million for a new Apprenticeship Service over three years
  • an investment of C$ 601.3 million over the next five years to build towards a nationwide plan to eliminate gender-based violence
  • earmarking C$ 236.2 million for the next five years to help eradicate sexual misconduct and violence on the basis of gender within the military
  • an additional C$ 2.2 billion investment over the five years to aid the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls
  • various housing-related support programs, including at least 25 per cent of the C$ $1.5-billion Rapid Housing Initiative being aimed towards women.
  • a C$ 45 million funding to make sexual and reproductive healthcare-related information and services more accessible, etc.

There is said to be a tradition in Canada, dating back to the 1950s, which requires a Minister of Finance to put on a new pair of shoes when delivering a budget.

On the day of the big event, Chrystia Freeland walked in wearing a pair of brand-new black pumps manufactured by a Toronto-based woman-led company called Zvelle.

In her own symbolic way, FM Freeland appears to have landed well in her new shoes as far as women-centric initiatives go.