In 2016, 2017, and 2018, City Council approved my motions to an intersectional gender equity lens in the City budget. These motions are a major opportunity to join cities across the world that already promote gender equity by rethinking how spending and revenues impact Toronto’s families, especially diverse women and girls in the city.
In the preliminary 2017 budget, the proposed service cuts are directly aimed at the homeless, seniors, poor, youth, women and children. If gender-based analysis was actually incorporated in the development of the capital budget, staff recommendations would certainly have gone against overpriced infrastructure destined to serve mostly male, car-focused commuters and do more to assist Toronto's vulnerable residents, who are mostly racialized, newcomer, poor families including women and children living in far flung suburban neighbourhoods.
The burden of ongoing budget cuts and the lack of investment in social services fall largely on the shoulders of women and girls, especially those who are racialized and low-income. These systemic failures are shocking. In Toronto, 37% of single mother-led families in live in poverty. 59% of minimum wage workers are women and over 25% are precariously employed. According to YWCA Toronto, Toronto's largest women's organization, the annual child care fees are $19,200 a year while the average annual salary for women is $32,000. 70% of part-time workers are women, who are not eligible for subsided childcare.
Gender-Responsive Budgeting ensures that government budgets, policies and programs address the needs and interests of all individuals belonging to various social groups. The intersectional gender-based analysis for any budget will need the consistent and ongoing collection of disaggregated data. This informs the foundation of GRB and will be used to intentionally address the gender bias that can arise while at the same time considers disadvantages inflicted as a result of ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, location, class or poverty status.
GRB can be organized in a myriad of ways by local residents, civil society groups, government staff and politicians. It is also not confined to a 'one-size fits all' ideology. Gender-based analysis can be used on any type of budget or financial planning tool including the ones Toronto is most familiar with, namely, Operating, Capital, Rate-Supported budgets.
Since putting forward these motions, the City of Toronto has established an Equity Responsive Budgeting process to provide an equity impact analysis of changes in the staff recommended Operating Budget. Equity impact analysis identifies: equity seeking groups that are impacted, with an emphasis on women and persons with low income; barriers to equity that are affected (e.g. access to services); and level of impact.
I have hosted three town halls on Gender Responsive Budgeting in 2017, 2018 and 2019, with over 150 participants at each event. We have been blown away by the level of participation and excitement for gender-equity budgeting as a catalyst for long-term, sustainable, equitable service delivery in Toronto.
- Women (And Children) Still Missing From Toronto's Budget, Op-Ed by Kristyn Wong-Tam, Huffington Post, February 15, 2017