The 2015 federal budget, like previous budgets, gave priority to infrastructure, construction, resource industries, and to defence. Employment in each one of these sectors is dominated by men, with women making up less than a fifth of their workforces. Sectors of the economy where women form a larger share of the workforce—health care, education, and social assistance—are almost completely ignored, as they have been for many years.
Federal transfers for health care—the biggest employer of women—will be constrained in coming years, reducing federal support for health care by $36 billion over ten years.
The only specific measures aimed at women in the 2015 federal budget are minor; they help women entrepreneurs, and try to increase the number of women on corporate boards. These aren’t exactly areas that will help the vast majority of working women.
The Conservative government’s heavy focus on the private sector to the detriment of the public sector also does little to help women. Women not only make up a smaller share of private sector employment, but pay gaps for women—together with Aboriginal and racialized workers—are much larger in the private sector than in the public sector.
The federal government is long overdue for a more balanced approach in its social, economic and spending policies.