News Releases

Harper Government Increasing Participation of Women on Boards

April 5, 2013


TORONTO, ON – The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, today introduced an advisory council to promote the participation of women on public and private corporate boards.

"Increasing opportunities for women to serve on corporate boards makes good business sense for Canadian women and for Canada's economy," said Minister Ambrose. "Businesses with more women on their boards are more profitable and routinely outperform those with fewer. The role of the advisory council will be to advise our government on how industry can increase women's representation on corporate boards."  

While many women lead successful businesses and are active members of corporate boards, they remain under-represented. Through Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, the Harper Government announced the creation of an advisory council of leaders from the private and public sectors to promote the participation of women on corporate boards. The Harper Government will work with the private sector to promote the participation of women on corporate boards and champion their leadership.

The role of the advisory council is to:
  • Provide advice on how industry can increase women's representation on corporate boards.

  • Suggest how industry and government can track and measure progress in this initiative and what tools, if any, government should employ to achieve this goal.

  • Make recommendations on how the government could recognize leaders in industry and applaud companies that have succeeded in reaching their targets. The advisory council will come back with recommendations by the fall of 2013.

The new advisory council is comprised of women and men representing a wide range of experience within the corporate sector. All have distinguished themselves as inspired, forward-thinking leaders and decision-makers committed to the principles of equality, diversity and excellence in our country's boardrooms.

The Harper Government is committed to strengthening Canada's economy with initiatives that create jobs while supporting families and communities. The federal government's support through Status of Women Canada for community-based projects has nearly doubled since 2006-2007, from $10.8 million to close to $19 million, its highest level ever.

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For media inquiries only:

Amber Irwin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and
Minister for Status of Women
819-997-5421

For all other inquiries, contact:

Nanci-Jean Waugh
Director General, Communications and Public Affairs
Status of Women Canada
613-995-7839

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Backgrounder

Advisory Council for Promoting Women on Boards – Members

The following organizations will serve as ex-officio members:

Additional Backgrounder

INCREASING WOMEN'S ECONOMIC SECURITY AND PROSPERITY

GOVERNMENT-WIDE ACTIONS

ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN 2013

There are countless qualified and ambitious women in Canada who want to contribute to our economic success. Promoting the increased representation of women in all occupations, including skilled trades and other non-traditional occupations - many of which are experiencing skills shortages - will allow women to participate fully in a stronger Canadian economy. The Government is moving forward with a three-point plan to address challenges in connecting Canadians with available jobs. The focus is to equip Canadians with the skills and training they require to obtain high-quality, well-paying jobs.

Canada Job Grant
  • Economic Action Plan 2013 announces that the Government will transform skills training in Canada through the introduction of the Canada Job Grant, as part of the renewal of the Labour Market Agreements in 2014–15. Upon full implementation of the Canada Job Grant, nearly 130,000 Canadians each year are expected to have access to the training they need to fill available jobs. The Government will also renegotiate the Labour Market Development Agreements to reorient training toward labour market demand.

Support for Apprentices
  • Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to reallocate $4 million over three years to reduce barriers to accreditation of apprentices. The Government will work with provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices, as well as examine the use of practical tests as a method of assessment, in targeted skilled trades. This work will ensure more apprentices complete their training and encourage mobility. Economic Action Plan 2013 also proposes to support the use of apprentices through federal procurement, the Investment in Affordable Housing, and as part of the new Building Canada plan for infrastructure.

Support for Under-Represented Groups
  • Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to reallocate $4 million over three years to reduce barriers to accreditation of apprentices. The Government will work with provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices, as well as examine the use of practical tests as a method of assessment, in targeted skilled trades. This work will ensure more apprentices complete their training and encourage mobility. Economic Action Plan 2013 also proposes to support the use of apprentices through federal procurement, the Investment in Affordable Housing, and as part of the new Building Canada plan for infrastructure.

  • Aboriginal women are generally less likely to be part of the paid work force, they experience lower income levels and they have less education than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. This situation is likely to increase their vulnerability to violence and abuse. Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes $241 million over five years to improve on-reserve Income Assistance Program to help ensure First Nations youth can access the skills and training they need to secure employment. The Government will consult with First Nations across Canada on the development of a First Nation Education Act and is committing to sharing this draft legislation with First Nations communities for their input.  Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes $10 million over two years to Indspire to provide post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for First Nations and Inuit Students.

  • Immigrant women often face gender-based obstacles to employment, including challenges in foreign credential recognition, resulting in their greater vulnerability to economic insecurity. Compared with immigrant men, immigrant women in 2009 had lower employment rates, no matter how long they had been in Canada.  Economic Action Plan 2013 announces the Government's commitment to improving foreign credential recognition for additional target occupations under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications.

Measures for Small Business
  • Canada's economy is one of the most stable in the world. This provides rich opportunities for the largely untapped potential of women, as a well-trained and highly educated sector of Canada's workforce. Canadian women entrepreneurs and small business owners will benefit from the following actions:

    • Economic Action Plan 2013 expands and extends the temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business, available to a significant proportion of women small business owners. This will encourage small business job creation and reduce small business costs. The Government further proposes to provide $60 million over five years to help outstanding and high-potential incubator and accelerator organizations in Canada expand their services to entrepreneurs, and to make available a further $100 million through the Business Development Bank of Canada to invest in firms graduating from business accelerators.

    • Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to provide $20 million over three years to help small and medium-sized enterprises access research and business development services at universities, colleges and other non-profit research institutions of their choice through a new pilot program to be delivered through NRC-IRAP, providing women entrepreneurs with greater access to valuable support.

ACTIONS TAKEN IN PAST BUDGETS TO INCREASE WOMEN'S ECONOMIC SECURITY AND PROSPERITY
Increasing representation of women on boards
  • The Economic Action Plan 2012 called for the creation of an advisory council of leaders to link organizations to a network of skilled and experienced workers. Its goal will be to increase the representation of women on corporate boards. By increasing opportunities for women's leadership, the council will also help to keep Canada's economy strong.

Entrepreneurs
  • Self-employed women now have greater access to business financing and a range of supports to launch and expand their businesses.  In 2007, 95% of female owners who sought financing were able to obtain some form of financing compared to 98% for males.

  • In Budget 2011, the Government provided a number of new supports for small businesses. This is good news for women entrepreneurs, who owned 16 percent of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada in 2007i

  • The additional support comes through a number of measures to help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and create jobs, including the temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business. Budget 2012 and Budget 2013 extended this new credit for another year.

  • Budget 2011 also provided $3 million per year to make permanent the red-tape cutting service BizPaL. Customs Tariff legislation will reduce the processing burden for Canadian business, providing a welcome boost to the women business owners, who currently sell abroad, of whom 70% plan to grow their businesses.

Employment Insurance Benefits and Training
  • On December 18, 2009, the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act received Royal Assent. This measure extends Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits, including maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, to self-employed individuals on a voluntary basis.  This measure will allow self-employed workers, both men and women, to better balance work and family responsibilities.  Women have traditionally taken greater advantage of EI special benefits, and this trend is expected to continue among the self-employed persons who opt into this program.

Child Care and Taxation
  • Since 2006, the federal government's Universal Child Care Plan provides choice in child care to parents. The Plan has two main components:

    • The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), which offsets the costs of whatever form of child care parents choose, providing Canadian families with $100 per month for each child under six. It provides 1.5 million Canadian families with approximately $2.5 billion annually.

      • Budget 2010 improved the taxation of the UCCB for single parents by allowing them to choose to include UCCB payments in their own income, or in the income of the dependant for whom an Eligible Dependant Credit is claimed.  This change provides up to $168 in tax relief for single parents with children under six.

    • $250 million in new transfers to provinces and territories (P/Ts):  Announced in Budget 2007, this funding supports the P/T priorities for child care spaces, allowing them sufficient flexibility to meet the needs of families within their respective jurisdictions.  This funding is in addition to other transfers to P/Ts for early childhood development and early learning and child care.

  • Budget 2007 also included a 25-per-cent investment tax credit to businesses that create new child care spaces in the workplace to a maximum of $10,000 per space created.

  • In 2007, a non-refundable child tax credit for each child under age 18 was introduced. For more than three million Canadian families, the credit amount of $2,089 for 2009 reduces federal income taxes by up to $313 per child.

  • The Government of Canada's 2009 Budget included enhancements to the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) and Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) providing a benefit of up to $436 for a family with two children.

  • A Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) was introduced in 2007, benefiting low-income Canadians, many of whom are women. It supplements earnings through a refundable tax credit, and includes a supplement for persons with disabilities.  Budget 2009 introduced enhancements to the WITB, nearly doubling the tax relief provided by it, to strengthen work incentives for low-income Canadians.

  • Separate rather than joint taxation of spouses has promoted women's labour force attachment through lower effective marginal tax rates on the lower-earning spouse.

Aboriginal
  • Economic Action Plan 2012 reflected the Government's commitment to expanding opportunities for Aboriginal peoples, which will benefit Aboriginal women, through such initiatives as:

    • increased support to First Nations education to build additional schools and improve existing schools on reserves;

    • working with partners to pass legislation establishing the supports for strong and accountable education systems on reserve;

    • improving incentives in the on-reserve Income Assistance Program while encouraging working individuals to access training so they are better equipped for employment;

    • providing support to extend the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative, which are sectors of non-traditional work for Aboriginal women; and

    • renewing the Urban Aboriginal Strategy, which will help Aboriginal women living off-reserve in major centres.

  • The Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, announced in 2009, builds on a number of recent federal actions to improve the participation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the Canadian economy. These include an investment of $200 million through Canada's Economic Action Plan for Aboriginal skills and training to improve labour market outcomes for Aboriginal peoples, amendments to the Indian Oil and Gas Act, investments to benefit all Canadians living in the North, including Aboriginal Canadians, and a commitment to establish a new regional economic development agency for the North.

Immigrant women
  • Economic Action Plan 2012 supported further improvements to foreign credential recognition and aims to identify the next set of target occupations beyond 2012. Continued progress on foreign qualification assessment and recognition will help more highly skilled newcomers, many of whom are women, to find work that is related to their training, allowing them to quickly contribute to Canada's economy.
  • The Foreign Credential Recognition Loans Pilot was launched in February 2012 and is an $18M investment over three years. The Pilot is providing funding to nine community-based partnerships to increase their capacity to deliver financial assistance to eligible individuals seeking to have their credentials recognized in Canada. Women account for a significant proportion of workers targeted under this initiative.

i SME Research and Statistics, found at www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/vwapj/Profile-Profil_Oct2010_eng.pdf/$file/Profile-Profil_Oct2010_eng.pdf (accessed on April 4, 2013).