Government Response to the First Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Increasing Funding to Equality Seeking-Organizations
The Honourable Judy Sgro, P.C., M.P.
Chair, Standing Committee on the Status of Women
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Ms. Sgro:
On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to respond to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO)
recommendations contained in two reports, entitled Increasing Funding to Equality Seeking-Organizations and Funding Through
the Women’s Program: Women’s Groups Speak Out, which were tabled on May 19, 2006.
The two FEWO reports contain ten recommendations which were made following testimonies by stakeholders who appeared before
the Committee. The recommendations are mostly focused on issues related to grants and contributions, including funding
levels, the introduction of a mix of core and project funding, support for indirect costs, funding for a minimum of three
years and the need to promote the principles of the Code of Good Practice on Funding. Moreover, FEWO recommended that
Status of Women Canada (SWC) hold meaningful consultations with women’s groups and work with other federal departments to
raise awareness about the importance of funding gender equality projects that fall within their mandate.
The commitment of the Government of Canada to equality for women has been reaffirmed through domestic and international
instruments, such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against
Women and the U.N. Beijing Platform for Action. While Canada has made considerable progress in advancing gender equality,
I recognize that there is still work to be done to achieve the full participation of women in the economic, social and
political life of Canadian society.
SWC has facilitated the implementation of Canada’s commitment to gender equality by playing three key roles as a knowledge
broker on gender equality, a centre of expertise on gender issues and a catalyst for network building. With an annual grants
and contributions budget of $10.8M, the Women’s Program (WP) is the instrument supporting SWC’s mission of promoting gender
equality and the full participation of women in the economic, social, cultural and political life of Canada.
In May 2005, the Expert Panel on Accountability Mechanisms for Gender Equality was appointed to study and provide advice on
strengthening accountability for gender equality in Canada. In its report, Equality for Women: Beyond the Illusion, the
Panel identified the importance of ongoing engagement with a wide-range of groups and individuals, including the provision
In 2005-2006, SWC completed a summative evaluation of the WP, which examined the relevance, impact, design and delivery, and
cost-effectiveness of the Program. The evaluation findings underlined the Program’s relevance, noting that WP funding and
technical assistance continues to support a large number of organizations in their work to advance gender equality. However,
when asked what improvement could be made to the WP, only 24% of the respondents to the question suggested increasing the
WP budget. The evaluation also identified areas for improvement, such as strengthening the WP’s capacity to measure and
report on Program outcomes.
SWC also conducted a consultation process in the fall of 2005 to engage Canadians in a dialogue on gender equality, including
the role of the WP in supporting the voluntary sector. As suggested by FEWO, the question of availability, access and level
of funding for gender equality work was one of the subjects discussed at length. Participants noted that funding from the
WP was crucial for the continuity of women’s organizations, supported increasing the WP grants and contributions budget and
called on other departments to play a greater role in the funding of women’s groups.
As we move forward to deliver on our five key priorities for Canadians, I have taken the initiative to seek the views of a
cross-section of Canadians on key areas for action to advance equality for women. In July 2006, I hosted two roundtables
that brought together women’s groups, other organizations, academics and others to share information and exchange views on
ways to advance gender equality. One of the roundtables provided an opportunity to discuss with key national Aboriginal
women’s organizations the challenges faced by Aboriginal women. I will continue the dialogue with Canadians on ways to
achieve gender equality in Canadian society.
I am also committed to ensuring that all initiatives within my mandate, such as the Women’s Program, support key Government
priorities, including accountability and the achievement of results. The renewal of the WP terms and conditions will provide
an opportunity to address key aspects of the Program, as detailed in the evaluation completed in the fall of 2005, the SWC
consultations and FEWO reports. As well, an independent blue-ribbon panel, which was established in June 2006 to study the
policies, processes and practices of grants and contributions, will advise on ways to achieve stronger accountability,
efficient management of and effective access to funding programs.
I am confident that the steps mentioned above, including the renewal of the WP terms and conditions, and the recommendations
of the blue-ribbon panel, will strengthen both the Women’s Program and this Government’s commitment to gender equality.
In closing, I wish to thank FEWO for its work and to reassure its members of the Government’s commitment to equality for
women. I look forward to working with the Standing Committee in finding ways to bring about the full participation of
women in the economic, social and cultural life of Canada. I will be pleased to inform the Committee of the outcomes of
the various ongoing processes.
Bev Oda, P.C., M.P.