30 March 2023 – Although we have had limited time to review the budget given our work with the Shockproofing Communities Summit this week, it appears as though reference to gender-based violence (GBV) in the 2023 federal budget is limited to the Statement on Gender Equality and Diversity in Canada. The document acknowledges the increase in GBV, but this is not accompanied by any new investments to address it.
As we know, Budget 2022 included an allocation of $539.3 million for the National Action Plan (NAP) to end GBV. These funds are being transferred to the provinces and territories and will begin to roll out during this fiscal year. On this front, we have two major preoccupations:
(1) As Canada’s NAP begins to come to life, it is imperative that systems be in place to ensure accountability and transparency. As a first step, an independent oversight mechanism must be implemented. All evidence points to the need for a council of independent experts from the sector to support the success of the NAP. Accountability also entails setting up a robust Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL) framework. Intended outcomes need to be effectively measured and the results of these measurements, including how and where funds are distributed, must be easily accessible to civil society.
(2) The Federal Government’s Strategy to End Gender-Based Violence has been more or less dormant since 2019. In the coming year, we will continue to advocate for funding in Budget 2024 for the federal strategy and will continue to monitor the process of implementation of the NAP in the provinces and territories.
The issue of access to safe and affordable housing is intrinsically linked to GBV. The lack of safe and affordable housing is one of the major reasons why GBV shelters and transition houses are constantly having to turn away women and children. This rings true in all areas of the country, rural and urban, northern and remote.
It was extremely disappointing to see that Budget 2023 made no investment in this area. We had hoped that the Women and Children’s Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative, which was in Budget 2021, would be renewed as it was oversubscribed by over 100%. In the coming year, we will continue to advocate for both more funding as part of the National Housing Strategy and more transparency in being able to track the objectives and commitments made in the Strategy linked to gender equality.