On Wednesday, February 4, PEI Status of Women Chairperson Isabelle Christian and researcher Jane Ledwell made a presentation to Provincial Treasurer Wes Sheridan as part of budget consultation sessions leading up to the 2009 PEI Provincial Budget. The Status of Women took the opportunity to initiate what we hope will be ongoing discussion about gender budgetting. We also drew the Treasurer’s attention to priority recommendations with potential budget implications in the 2009 Equality Report Card.
PRIORITY ACTION AREAS: 2009 EQUALITY REPORT CARD
A REVIEW FOR 2009 BUDGET CONSULTATIONS
February 4, 2009
The members of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women initiated the Equality Report Card for PEI in 2007 to assess the PEI government’s progress towards women’s equality goals. The Report Card is also a tool for increasing communication, collaboration, and understanding between the Advisory Council and government about government’s obligations to women and women’s equality. We thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today in the lead-up to the 2009 Provincial Budget. We will be reviewing this year’s budget and budget address with great interest.
When the Advisory Council set priority recommendations for assessment, Council did not want the Report Card to be all about money. Council members worked hard to ensure that many recommendations could be accomplished without significant new investment. They put strong emphasis on recommendations that address changes in legislation or that require more emphasis on women’s equality in public statements and in departments’ planning. In addition to asking about bottom lines, the Report Card asks departments to talk about processes: meetings and consultations founded on good principles and process, and steps, no matter how small, towards implementing complex recommendations.
Again this year, government can achieve good grades on many of the Advisory Council’s recommendations based on good legislation, policy development, consultations, and processes that are based on gender- and diversity-based analysis. Many of the goals we discuss can be reached simply by taking women and the reality of women’s lives into consideration in public policy, and by setting priorities that will lead to more equitable outcomes for women and men citizens of Prince Edward Island, with special consideration for diversity groups that may face particular vulnerabilities. We acknowledge that sometimes this will have indirect costs, especially in terms of human resources; however, the benefits from better, and more responsive policy making in the long term are worth the effort.
That being said, many barriers to women’s equality have an economic element. Some of the barriers to equality we identify can only be overcome with new or additional resources. Many of the recommendations we make could be implemented more quickly or easily with more funding. Budget increases are also easy to identify, to measure, and to reward. It is for this reason we are pleased to have a chance to make you aware of our 2009 priority recommendations for the Equality Report Card during your consultations on the 2009 Budget.
When governments take systematic account of potentially different outcomes of budget decisions on women and on men, this is referred to as “gender budgetting.” In addition to reviewing Report Card recommendations with you today, our second goal today is to introduce the idea of gender budgets and to open a dialogue about how gender budgetting could be applied in Prince Edward Island for the benefit of citizens.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today about the Equality Report Card and gender budgetting.