OTTAWA — The Liberal government is giving Status of Women Canada more money to pay for the extra workload that comes with its focus on gender equality.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that advancing gender equality is a priority of his government, which includes running their proposals through gender-based analysis, which looks at how a certain policy might affect men and women, or boys and girls, in a different ways.
The agency responsible for carrying out much of that work has been struggling from cuts the previous Conservative government made to its budget more than a decade ago.
That is about to change, as the economic update released Tuesday earmarked $41 million to increase capacity at Status of Women over six years.
"The new funding is yet another indicator that our government takes gender equality very seriously and is determined to make it a reality," said Celia Canon, a spokeswoman for Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef, who was not made available for an interview.
That begins with $4 million this fiscal year and ramps up to $8 million annually on an ongoing basis.
That is a significant increase to its budget, which was about $36 million last year, including about $20 million in grants and contributions to organizations working on gender-related issues.
The Finance Department said the money will go towards things like boosting the capacity for engaging with provincial and territorial governments, stronger communications, better strategic policy support and measuring results and delivery.
Earlier this year, the government also said $77.5 million of the $101 million over five years the Liberals committed to the gender-based violence strategy in the March budget, plus $16 million a year going forward, would go to create a centre of excellence at Status of Women.
Lauren Dobson-Hughes, a gender and global health consultant, said it is good the government is boosting the capacity of Status of Women to do its jobs, especially when it comes to better monitoring and evaluation of its results, but would like to know more about where exactly it is going.
"It's a lot of money relative to the size of the department," said Dobson-Hughes, a past president of Planned Parenthood Ottawa.
"I think there will be questions around why that's not going to grants and contributions, or directly to service agencies, or what is the priority or the problem that is so pressing at Status of Women that it requires up to $8 million a year," she said.
Dobson-Hughes said it might be a sign that the Liberal government is looking for a better way to explain its progress on gender issues.
"There's a lot of great discussion, a lot of noise, a lot of awareness, but it's really past time that we started seeing the results," she said.
Diana Sarosi, senior policy adviser at Oxfam Canada, welcomed the funding increase, but said that if the Liberals really want to make a difference in gender equality, they would give Status of Women $100 million a year.
"To make real progress and achieve goals, a much bigger investment is needed," she said.
Sarosi said this would include increased funding for women's rights organizations.
"They are best placed to provide solutions to the issues they are facing," she said.
— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter