March 29, 2023 – The federal government’s investment of $160 million over three years for feminist organizations in Budget 2023 is a victory for gender equity, says the Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF). The budget also contains an important $36 million commitment over three years to renew the Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund.
Feminist organizations in Canada have been calling for increased investment in gender equity and reproductive health. This funding will contribute to the work of the feminist movement in Canada as it resists a global backlash against the rights of women, girls, trans, and non-binary people.
In recent months, LEAF and 40 other gender equity organizations launched a campaign to renew and expand capacity-building funding, seeking a commitment of $125 million over five years in Budget 2023. The existing funding has been provided through the Women’s Program and is set to expire this month. It has proved critical for the sector to rebuild after years of drastic funding cuts from previous governments, as well as providing a lifeline for organizations during the social and economic uncertainty of COVID-19.
“We are very pleased that the federal government has recognized the importance of investing in feminist organizations through the Women’s Program in Budget 2023,” says Pam Hrick, LEAF’s Executive Director & General Counsel. “Through our advocacy, we have sent a strong message that the government must direct some of this funding to capacity building in order to strengthen our sector and, most importantly, benefit women, trans, and non-binary people in Canada.”
LEAF also welcomes several other notable initiatives in the budget. These include:
- An increase in Court Challenges Program funding, which supports constitutional challenges to federal laws;
- Funding for the federal government to work with provinces and the disability community on the future implementation of the proposed Canada Disability Benefit;
- Paid leave for pregnancy loss for federally-regulated workers;
- Funding for a federal-territorial-provincial-Indigenous table on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQI+ People, which includes creating a ‘Red Dress Alert’; and
- Funding for a new action plan to combat hate, which LEAF urges the government to develop in collaboration with communities and subject matter experts.
We are, however, concerned that there were limited investments addressing the housing and affordability crises, which disproportionately impact women, girls, trans and non-binary people in Canada. Furthermore, LEAF is disappointed to see a lack of specific commitments for 2SLGBTQI+ communities in this budget.
In a situation of fiscal restraint, LEAF is pleased that Budget 2023 provides dedicated resources for feminist organizations to fulfil their diverse mandates and further strengthen the coordinated national movement of organizations advancing gender equity. LEAF hopes that the funding commitments in this budget will lay the foundation for increased and longer term investments in future years.
For additional feminist analysis of Budget 2023, LEAF will be participating in a virtual media event hosted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Oxfam Canada on Thursday, March 30 at 10am EDT. Register here to attend.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Executive Director & General Counsel, LEAF
About the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) is a national not-for-profit that works to advance the equality rights of women, girls, trans, and non-binary people in Canada through litigation, law reform, and public legal education. Since 1985, LEAF has intervened in more than 130 cases that have helped shape the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To find out more, visit www.leaf.ca.