"Over the past two years, our Government has invested in Canadians, and in the things that matter most to Canadians. These investments reflected the choice to reject austerity policies and instead invest wisely in strengthening the middle class and growing the economy. With a declining debt as a percentage of the economy, it’s a choice that makes sense for the Canadian economy.

And thanks to Canadians’ hard work, those early investments are paying off.

The economy is strong and growing. In the last two years, Canadians have created more than half a million jobs, the unemployment rate is near 40-year lows, and our towns and cities are better, cleaner places to live.

With lower taxes for the middle class and more help with the high cost of raising a family, Canadians are feeling more optimistic about the future. Everyday dreams—whether it’s paying down debt, saving for a first home or going back to school to train for a new job—are closer to reality.

By putting the needs of Canadians first, the Government has helped to bring good jobs, more money and renewed confidence to millions of middle class Canadians and their families. 

And across Canada, a growing middle class is driving the stronger economic growth that helps create new jobs, and new opportunities for more people to succeed.

But more hard work lies ahead.

A single mother who is struggling to make ends meet doesn’t feel relief when good gross domestic product (GDP) growth numbers are posted—she’s focused on making sure her kids have what they need to be healthy, happy and strong.

A young person trying to land his first job doesn’t worry about consumer confidence—he just wants a chance to find good, meaningful work.

And those who are no longer in the workforce, such as retirees? They care less about economic indicators, and more about making sure they can live their retirement with dignity and security.

These are the people whose hopes and dreams continue to build the Canada we know and love—the women and men who work hard every day to take care of their families, grow their businesses and build a stronger Canada.

With a strong and growing economy in place, now is the right time to focus on the deeper challenges that hold our economy—and our people—back.

It’s time build an economy that truly reflects the kind of country we are, wish to be and need to be.

A country where differences are recognized not as a barrier to success, but as a source of strength.

A place where every child has equal opportunities to achieve their dreams.

A Canada where every person has a real and fair chance at success.

All Canadians deserve the opportunity to contribute to, and prosper from, a strong and growing economy.

For all their hard work, and for all their efforts—seen and unseen, paid and unpaid—Canadians deserve an economy that truly works for them, built on a plan that puts people first.

This is the plan for people.

When Women Succeed, We All Succeed

“Equal pay and better economic opportunities for women boost economic growth—creating a bigger pie for everyone to share, women and men alike. Better opportunities for women also promote diversity and reduce economic inequality around the world. It is an economic no-brainer.”

From the 1950s on, Canada welcomed a new generation of workers. For the first time in Canada’s history, well-educated, hard-working Canadian women entered the workforce en masse, helping to boost family incomes and drive economic growth.

Over the last 40 years, the rising number of women in the workforce has accounted for about a third of Canada’s real GDP per capita growth. Thanks to the contributions of hard-working women, family incomes are now higher, fewer children live in poverty and all Canadians are better off.

In recent years, women with young children have increasingly been able to enter and stay in the workforce, and in 2017 the share of working-age women in the labour force hit its highest point ever.

For Canadian families, this means greater financial security, and greater peace of mind as they look to the future. With good, steady incomes, hard-working moms have more money to support their families today, and save for years ahead.

With more women in the workforce, businesses benefit too—from the talent, ambition, new perspectives and hard work that women bring to their jobs.

Canada’s economy—Canada’s success—is deeply tied to women’s opportunity to work, and to earn a good living from that work.

Experts agree that our future prosperity depends on greater equality between Canadian women and men. Equality is not just an important value for women and their families, it benefits all Canadians.

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance greater equality for women—such as employing more women in technology and boosting women’s participation in the workforce—Canada could add $150 billion to its economy by 2026.

Similarly, RBC Economics estimates that adding more women to the workforce could boost Canada’s GDP by as much as 4 per cent. Closing—and eventually eliminating—the gap between the percentage of women and men who work may even offset expected economic declines brought on by an aging population.

And the Peterson Institute for International Economics has found that increasing the share of women in leadership positions from zero to 30 per cent translated into a 15 per cent boost in profits—that’s more money for businesses to invest in new jobs that will benefit more people.

Simply put, when women have the support and opportunities they need to fully contribute to Canada’s economy, the entire economy does better—today, and well into the future.

For Canadian businesses, hiring, promoting and retaining more women does more than boost the bottom line. Women bring unique perspectives and new ideas to their work, helping companies to innovate and solve problems in new ways.

When more women work, we build stronger companies—and stronger communities.

But the challenges that make it difficult for many women to earn a good living from their work are real and systemic, and the Government recognizes that.

Even when women are paid equally, they do not always have equal opportunities or equal treatment.

For too many Canadian women, the barriers to getting hired and getting promoted persist. This is especially true when social identities like race, religion, sexuality, disability and socio-economic status are considered alongside gender. These women may be pressured to take jobs that do not reflect their skills or education—such as a psychologist working in a food service job—simply because of their desire, and need, to work.

Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workforce, unbalanced parental leave, a decade of no investments in affordable child care, and the shortage of leaders who will advocate for equal workplaces—these are just some of the things that make it tough for women to succeed. And when women are denied opportunities to grow and succeed, we all pay the price.

There is growing consensus among Canadians that the time has come for things to change.

That begins with respect for the choices people make—whether they decide to work within the home, or outside the home.

Increasing the number of women in the workforce, and better supporting those who are already in the workforce, is not a problem to be solved, it’s an economic opportunity to be seized. 

It’s a chance to give more Canadians equal access to good, well-paying jobs.

A chance to build a country that is more equal—and more prosperous.

It’s the right thing to do for Canadians, and the smart thing to do for our economy.

Women at Work: Opportunities to be Seized. Greater equality for women could produce significant economic benefits for Canada, but it’s important to know where things stand today, and to recognize the barriers that make it difficult for women to fully succeed in today’s economy.

Canadian women are less likely to participate in the economy, and once employed, more likely to work part-time. In January 2018, only 61 per cent of women were participating in the economy, compared to 70 per cent of men. Women who are 25 to 54 are three times more likely to hold part-time jobs than are men—about 1 million Canadian women aged 25 to 54 work part-time—often because they are caring for children, aging family members or family members with disabilities.

The wage gap between women and men has narrowed, but remains a barrier. The persistent wage gap between what Canadian women and men earn can make it difficult for women to get ahead. On average, women earn 69 cents for every dollar earned by men on an annual basis.

Canadian women are underrepresented in positions of leadership. Though they account for nearly half of the Canadian workforce, only a third of senior managers and one in 20 chief executive officers are women (Catalyst Canada).

Businesses in Canada are overwhelmingly owned by men. The share of small and medium-sized businesses owned by women is increasing but remains at 16 per cent.

The number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields remains low.While close to 60 per cent of science and technology graduates are women, that number falls to only one-third of students studying engineering, math and computer science. What’s more, women who graduate from STEM fields earn, on average, $9,000 a year less than their male peers.

The demands of unpaid work can make it difficult for women to pursue opportunities for paid work. Canadian women devote approximately 4 hours a day to unpaid work, compared to about 3 hours for Canadian men. This could include caring for children or elderly parents, or simply doing the day-to-day work needed to support their families.

Not all women face the same challenges.Women with disabilities, visible minorities, Indigenous women, members of the LGBTQ2 community, new Canadians and others with marginalized intersecting identities often find it more challenging to find and keep a good job—not because of the quality of their work, but because of systemic biases that exclude them from opportunities open to other women and men. Despite having higher levels of education than Canadian-born women, only 58 per cent of recent immigrant women aged 25 to 54 are employed, compared to nearly 80 per cent of their non-immigrant counterparts.

Workplace harassment and gender-based violence have a real cost. For too many Canadian women, these challenges can make working difficult, or even impossible. Nearly one in three women in Canada have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, according to a recent study by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Budget 2018 recognizes that Canada’s future economic success rests not only on the hard work of Canadians, but on giving more people—people like Anna and Marc, Layla, Sarah, Rheal and Sam, Priya, Marilyn, and Johanne—a real and fair chance to succeed.

For all they do, all Canadians deserve to be equal partners in society, and to share equally in the benefits that come from their hard work.

#Budget2018 will help make this goal a reality for ALL Canadians."

Dorcas Onuh

Dorcas Onuh