No free feminist lunch, Mr. Prime Minister

January 28, 2016

1-minute read

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond, 1914-1965. A civil rights icon in Canada, she inspired people to fight racial discrimination.


Source: Women on Canadian Bank Notes,

Prime Minister Trudeau declared himself a feminist on the global stage this week. I applaud him. He appointed a gender equal cabinet. An important symbolic gesture. Because it was 2015.

Now it’s time to deliver more than a gesture.

Now it’s time to pay for lunch.

The federal department mandated to promote equality for women and their full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada is Status of Women Canada.

And to deliver on that mandate? The department’s budget is 0.3% of total federal program spending. That is one-third of one percent of all the money that the federal government currently spends on policies and programs for Canadians. That’s not lunch; that’s not even a good tip. Oh, and the department lost its mandate to fund research and advocacy in 2006. Because facts, who needs them? And don’t talk about it please.

Basically, Status of Women Canada is doing everything other departments are doing, only backwards in high heels.

Achieving gender equality is no small task. It will take time. It is complex. Action is required across a diversity of economic and social fronts. But here’s something our feminist prime minister could do right now: put his money where his mouth is.

Just 1% of program spending would triple Status of Women’s capacity. Working to end violence against women. Ensuring women can participate in our economy fully. Supporting other government departments so that they understand how their policies might impact men and women differently. Fund research. Fund advocacy. So that we know what works for women in Canada and the folks who know get a chance to share that knowledge with decision makers in their communities.

I’m glad you’re a feminist, Mr. Prime Minister. I hope your Finance Minister is too. I don’t think 1% is too much to ask, for half the population.

We’ve been making your lunch for a long time. We’re ready to sit down at the table and have a bite.

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