Introduction to GBA Plus

It’s time to bust some myths

Now that you know the difference between equality and equity and you have seen a glimpse of GBA Plus, let’s answer a few of the questions we often hear.

“Hasn’t gender equality been achieved in Canada?”

Myth: Women and men are already equal in Canada, so GBA Plus is not needed.

While many advances have been made, significant equality gaps remain. Today, even women in Canada who work full-time earn on average only 87 cents to every dollar earned by men (Statistics Canada, 2017). Women are also more often the victims of domestic and sexual violence. They also continue to be under-represented in leadership and executive positions, occupying just 25% of board positions in Canada’s top 500 corporations (Canadian Board Diversity Council 2017 Report Card). The gap is even larger for women with particular intersecting identify factors, such as transwomen and women with a disability.

Gender equality benefits everyone in a society, and GBA Plus can improve the situations of women, men and non-binary people. For example, in the same way that women were left out of heart disease research because it was seen as a “man’s disease,” men have historically been overlooked in osteoporosis research. While osteoporosis is often considered a disease of post-menopausal women, men actually account for nearly a third of osteoporosis-related hip fractures.

“Isn’t GBA Plus all about women? What about men? What about culture, race and ethnicity?”

Myth: GBA Plus only applies to women and women’s issues – it is advocacy for women.

GBA Plus is not advocacy. It is an analytical tool designed to help us ask questions, challenge assumptions and identify potential impacts, taking into account the diversity of Canadians.

GBA Plus considers all factors, such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender and mental and physical disability. Once an issue has undergone the GBA Plus process, gender may emerge as the most important factor, while in other cases it might be any or a combination of factors that influence a person’s experience of a government policy, program or initiative.

Your department’s mandate could also impact the factors that you prioritize. You might begin with ethnicity, or with sexual orientation, or with disability. It is about understanding how and when identities come together and converge.

“I work in an operational department. I don’t need to know about GBA Plus.”

Myth: GBA Plus only applies to the “social” sectors.

All government policies and programs affect people. While gender and diversity issues may be more obvious in some areas, such as education and health, and less obvious in others, such as natural resources and defence, this does not necessarily mean that gender is not relevant. GBA Plus can and has been used in all federal sectors and domains. For example, using GBA Plus to assess large-scale procurement projects can help to ensure that equipment and products meet diverse needs. It can also help to ensure that strong hiring strategies are implemented within the public service to ensure workplace diversity.

Later in the course we will examine how it is applied across social, economic, public safety and scientific sectors.