Follow-up on Gender-Based Analysis Plus

Opening Statement to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Follow-up on Gender-Based Analysis Plus

(Report 3—2022 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada)

21 September 2022

Karen Hogan, Fellow Chartered Professional AccountantFCPA, Fellow Chartered AccountantFCA
Auditor General of Canada

Madam Chair, thank you for this opportunity to discuss our follow-up report on gender-based analysis plus, which was tabled in Parliament in May of this year. I would like to acknowledge that this hearing is taking place on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people. Joining me today are Carey Agnew and Stephanie Moores, who were responsible for this audit.

As you are aware, gender-based analysis plus—or GBA Plus—is the main tool used by the government to consider how gender and other identity factors can impact how Canadians experience the delivery of programs and services.

Many demographic factors beyond our gender can impact how we experience life and how we access government programs and services. For example, a person may be part of a visible minority, be Indigenous, be old or young, have a disability, live in a rural setting, or be a newcomer to Canada. Using GBA Plus, the government should be taking our identity factors into account when developing, implementing, or adjusting programs and services.

We found that long-standing challenges that we previously identified continue to hinder the full implementation of GBA Plus across government. For this audit, we again included the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and Women and Gender Equality Canada. Although the lead organizations have addressed some of the recommendations from our 2015 audit, many others date back to our first audit of gender-based analysis in 2009.

It’s been 25 years since the government committed to GBA Plus. Progress on identifying and addressing barriers has been slow. Despite our previous work and recommendations, it is unclear whether actions are achieving better gender equality, diversity, and inclusion outcomes.

We found that the actions taken to identify and address the challenges of undertaking GBA Plus did not go far enough. The Privy Council Office and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat made GBA Plus analysis a requirement for some submissions and implemented a more rigorous system for senior management review, as we recommended in our 2015 audit. However, these central agencies fell short in using their knowledge and the results of their challenge-function role to advance GBA Plus implementation across government.

Women and Gender Equality Canada took action by developing tools and delivering training to build capacity across government to perform GBA Plus. Despite this, departments and agencies still faced challenges that limited the meaningful application of GBA Plus.

One of the challenges identified by most departments and agencies was GBA Plus data availability. Even though they are trying to improve disaggregated data availability, this challenge was not resolved. The lack of disaggregated data makes it impossible to understand how diverse groups experience inequality, and all three of the organizations we audited identified this issue as a significant challenge.

Finally, we also found that there was no approach to sharing information between the central agencies and Women and Gender Equality Canada to track progress of GBA Plus implementation throughout government over time. As GBA Plus is the main tool used by government to consider gender and other identity factors, Canadians should know whether it is effectively implemented and having real impacts on programs and service delivery.

The Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and Women and Gender Equality Canada need to better collaborate and ensure that all departments and agencies fully integrate GBA Plus in a way that produces real results for all Canadians.

Madam Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer any questions the committee may have. Thank you.