CIC Updates Received an internal memorandum from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) containing recommendations based on the latest Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA) audit released by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).
The audit determines whether government departments are using GBA while implementing policies and programmes. This year’s audit also sought to ascertain the action taken after the 2015 audit.
The report concluded that there is no way for the government to know whether the use of Gender Based Analysis Plus is achieving better gender equality outcomes for different groups of people.
What is GBA Plus?
Gender-based analysis was implemented in 1995 to help reveal and address inequalities experienced by women and girls in government programmes, activities and initiatives. The GBA has been renamed GBA Plus as it has expanded to include other identifying factors such as age, sexual orientation, disability, and geography, all of which can intersect.
The report notes that this lack of information is largely due to missing government regulation in programs that would benefit from gender-based analysis as well as a lack of disaggregated data. This means that when it comes to GBA Plus, most departments are taking a one-size-fits-all approach to departmental GBA Plus policy and programs, without taking additional intersecting factors into account and monitoring outcomes. .
Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) found before the OAG that there is an inconsistent understanding of the intersectional aspects of the GBA Plus analysis. They report that sometimes, gender and gender were the only identifying factors used in the departmental results that report on GBA plus effects. In contrast, others used different diversity factors to separate the data without considering sex or gender.
Without accurate data, there is no way of knowing whether GBA Plus works as it was intended and this could lead to less inclusive government policies and programmes.
Audit also attributes difficulties with tight timelines for development of policy initiatives and lack of review by senior management, creating constraints in the implementation of the GBA policy. There is a clear lack of capacity within government departments to raise awareness and train about GBA Plus and why it is important.
The OAG called on WAGE to provide more support in the form of training, practical tools and guidance for departments and agencies in implementing GBA Plus. In response, WAGE told the OAG that they have met this need since 2016 by offering more than 30 training sessions to departments, agencies and interdepartmental committees. He also developed over 15 tools and guides, including:
- In 2020, the department collaborated with the Canada School of Public Service to provide GBA Plus to guide departments and agencies implementing their pandemic response measures.
- In 2021, the Department developed additional guidance on identification factors, including a step-by-step guide to operating GBA Plus.
IRCC response to report recommendations
In response to the OAG report, the IRCC has made some internal recommendations to better incorporate GBA Plus into its daily operations.
IRCC first recommends re-establishing the Department’s GBA Plus Working Group to build a behavioral equity policy community and develop data standards for the collection, use, and integration of disparate data. It also plans to refresh the 2011 GBA policy, with a greater emphasis on anti-racism, interactivity and digital transformation.
The department says the Chief Data Officers Branch is currently developing a separate data framework to better fill gaps in ethno-cultural diversity and intersecting factors, including gender. IRCC will use the new data map to support its anti-racism work, including GBA Plus impacts on new and existing programs and initiatives.
OAG also recommends that government departments monitor and publicly report on the status of GBA Plus implementation.
IRCC says they are already processing these reports in line with the rules set forth by TBS and the Immigration, Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the federal law that governs immigration into Canada.
In addition, the report recommends that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) set out clear guidance for departments on GBA Plus reporting to better set measurable goals. This will ensure that the GBA Plus analysis is accurate and will set the tone for more effective implementation in the future.
What is OAG?
The OAG is tasked with providing unbiased information to Parliament to help measure the success of government programs and activities. This information helps hold the government accountable and ensure it is meeting the program’s goals and objectives.
The OAG worked with TBS, the Privy Council Office (PCO), and WAGE to determine whether the 2015 audit objectives on gender equality had been met. TBS is responsible for accountability and ethics in government departments and helps to set a standard of transparency for government departments.
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