On May 14, 2018 Women’s Habitat’s Manager of Policy and Programs Leila Sarangi and Consultant Emily Paradis submitted their deputation on Intersectional Gender Budgeting to the City’s Executive Committee (see details of the meeting here) . Their recommended next steps included an overarching intersectional gender equity strategy for application in all policy-making, an intersectional gender equity framework to guide budget decisions, a disaggregated data strategy, and engagement of women directly affected in these initiatives.
May 12, 2018
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: EX34.9 EQUITY RESPONSIVE BUDGETING
Submitted by Emily Paradis and Leila Sarangi
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today regarding the staff report on Equity Responsive Budgeting. We understand this report to be an update to this committee as part of the third set of motions that have been adopted in as many years on developing an Intersectional Gender Budgeting Tool for the City.
Today we want to express our ongoing support for the work the City is doing to move forward with gender and equity budgeting and analysis. We are also here to recommend next steps, including an overarching intersectional gender equity strategy for application in all policy-making, an intersectional gender equity framework to guide budget decisions, a disaggregated data strategy, and engagement of women directly affected in these initiatives.
We have been working with city staff in various capacities to help inform the development and implementation of intersectional and gender equity analysis on the poverty reduction strategy and the city’s budget. This past year, we participated in the External Review Committee that analyzed and reported on the potential equity impacts of proposed service level changes to the 2018 budget.
We want to commend the work that staff have done to date on developing the budget tool that centres gender as well as income in its analysis of equity impacts. We are pleased to see that there is a commitment to continue to develop this work over the next two budget cycles. We are very pleased to see that three City strategies will explicitly apply a gender analysis that will inform the development, implementation and evaluation of their objectives and actions. An intersectional gender equity lens will significantly enhance the next phases of the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy and the Housing Opportunities Toronto Action Plan 2020-2030.
The application of intersectional gender analysis in these three strategies will also provide an opportunity to test and refine approaches to setting intersectional gender-based policy objectives to guide future budgets. We look forward to the expansion of an intersectional gender equity analysis into all areas of City fiscal decision-making, including Planning, Transit, Infrastructure and other areas whose impacts for intersectional gender equity in our City are significant but under-recognized.
Centering gender within an equity analysis is crucial to addressing inequalities in our City.
Income inequality, as the Mayor has said many times, is the greatest challenge facing our city. Income inequality is fundamentally gendered, with a persistent wage gap that grows significantly wider for women who are racialized, Indigenous, and differently abled. We are the child poverty capital in Canada, and that is an indicator of the poverty rates among mothers in Toronto.
Violent crime has gone down, with the exception of sexual assault and domestic violence rates, both of which are gendered crimes, with women, trans and children making up the vast majority of victims of these crimes. As with poverty, certain groups face higher rates of violence, including Indigenous women, young women, and women with cognitive and/or physical disabilities.
Women who are struggling with income insecurity and violence are more reliant on city services to stay safe and make ends meet, including deeply affordable housing, affordable childcare, transit, and recreation programs.
Applying an intersectional gender lens to policy and budget is not about favouring one group over another, or taking services away from anyone. It is about ensuring that programs and services are reaching everyone who needs it so no one is left behind. The response to the shelter crisis this winter provides a good example of where an intersectional gender equity strategy would have helped serve all of those who needed it. During this crisis, there were not enough beds added to the system, and the ones that were, did not meet the needs of the many refugee mothers with children who were landing on the doorstep of women-serving organizations. In spite of the best efforts of women’s organizations, these residents were often unable to find appropriate emergency shelter in Toronto’s system for themselves and their children, leaving them with nowhere to go and heightening their risk of violence and exploitation.
Intersectional gender-based, or GBA+ , analysis and budgeting are international best practices. As this report states, both Canada and Ontario are moving in this direction. But so are Canadian cities, including Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa. Toronto has the opportunity to be a leader in the field of municipal intersectional gender based analysis.
To continue building on its important work to date, we recommend that the City of Toronto take the following actions:
- Develop an overarching intersectional gender equity strategy that can be applied to all City of Toronto strategies, action plans and policies;
- Implement an intersectional gender equity framework with clear targets and indicators to guide all budgetary decisions, including existing allocations in both capital and operating budgets, and decisions with regards to revenue sources;
- Develop and implement the disaggregated data strategy (also on the agenda today) to support the above initiatives.
- Continue to engage civil society in these processes, and expand engagement of the public, through ongoing and transparent processes in which communities directly affected by gender equity policies and budgets have meaningful input and leadership in City decisions.
We look forward to our continuing partnership in this work and supporting the leadership of the City.