Policy on Gender-Based Analysis Plus

Policy Statement and Application

Justice Canada (Justice) is dedicated to ensuring that its activities are aligned with the Government of Canada’s commitments to GBA+ (Annex A) and help foster fair outcomes for diverse groups of women, men and people with other gender identities. Justice officials in all parts of the Department, whether working on legal services, litigation, law reform, policy and program development, international agreements or programs, research, communications, evaluation, management or other areas, are to apply GBA+ and ensure that their work considers and reflects the diverse needs of different groups of people. To enable this, GBA+ training is now mandatory for all Justice Canada officials.

What is GBA+?

GBA+ is an analytical tool used to assess the potential impacts of policies, programs, services, and other initiatives on diverse groups of women, men and people with other gender identities.

The "plus" highlights that this type of analysis goes beyond gender, and includes the examination of a range of other intersecting identity factors (such as age, sexual orientation, disability, education, language, geography, culture and income). Please see Annex B for a Glossary of Key Terms.


Sex and gender
Sex and gender - Text version

This figure illustrates some of the factors which can intersect with sex and gender. Six oblong shapes of differing colours overlap and fan out. Each oblong has two identity factors written on it. The top oblong has "sex and gender" written in a larger font. Starting below sex and gender and going clockwise, the additional identities identified are: geography, culture, income, sexual orientation, education, ethnicity, ability, age, religion and language.

Renewal of the departmental gender policy supports the federal government’s April 2016 statement articulating a renewed commitment to GBA+ including making its implementation stronger across all departments. Conducting GBA+ as required by this Policy enables a more comprehensive analysis and supports more informed decision-making and better public policy. It can be an effective way to help identify and mitigate policy and legal risks and it helps satisfy a new requirement of Memoranda to Cabinet (MC) and Treasury Board (TB) Submissions.

Mandatory GBA+ training will help develop officials’ analytical competencies, increasing their awareness about gender-related issues and helping to ensure that analyses are grounded in theory and knowledge. Online training offered by Status of Women Canada (SWC) will satisfy the requirement. Additional training may be useful to some officials, depending on their specific responsibilities.

Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles are intended to support the integration of GBA+ in Justice’s work:

Integrated and Systematic Approach:
GBA+ should be conducted routinely throughout key stages of the development of a new initiative, from planning through to evaluation, along with the analysis of other key considerations. GBA+has been built into new Privy Council Office (PCO) and Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) requirements for MCs, TB submissions and departmental results frameworks. PCO’s Due-Diligence and Evidence-Based Analysis Tool enables systematic examination of gender and other important cross-cutting factors necessary for developing risk-informed and sound public policy.
GBA+ should be evidence-based, relying on reputable statistics, data and research. When presenting multiple options for a Cabinet document or other purposes, GBA+ considerations should be factored into each of the options going forward. Officials should document their GBA+ analysis and how it has been integrated into their work. A report of the GBA+ analysis may be required by senior management or central agencies and should be kept on file, in addition to the Due Diligence and Evidence-Based Analysis Tool when used.
Recognize evolution of societal norms:
A comprehensive GBA+ analysis requires that assumptions that may affect policy be challenged. It is important to recognize that societal norms are constantly evolving and require a consistent re-questioning of assumptions. Incorrect assumptions can lead to unintended impacts for diverse groups of people.

“...all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals … without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression...”

Bill C-16- Section 2 to amend the CHRA and the Criminal Code

For guidelines to apply GBA+, please see Annex C.

Responsibilities and Accountability

Justice Officials of all levels are responsible for applying GBA+ in their work.

  • The Deputy Minister is responsible for providing overall leadership to support GBA+ in the department and ensuring due diligence related to GBA+ across all business lines.
  • The Senior Assistant Deputy Minister (SADM), Policy Sector, is responsible for the GBA+ Unit, provides leadership in the promotion, implementation and monitoring of GBA+ in the department, and advises senior management of their roles and responsibilities.
  • The Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) and Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) across the department are responsible for ensuring their officials take GBA+ training and integrate GBA+ in their work.
  • The GBA+ Unit is the first point of contact for GBA+ at Justice. The Unit is responsible for: raising awareness and offering tools, information sessions and resources to help Justice Officials better understand GBA+ and how to integrate it into their work; providing advice and guidance on incorporating GBA+ into specific initiatives undertaken by Justice colleagues; and, coordinating horizontal departmental reports.
  • All officials of Justice are responsible for taking GBA+ training and integrating GBA+ as needed in their work.

Annex A: Summary of Government of Canada and Justice Canada GBA+ Commitments

Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women
Creation of a Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
Government commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action outlined in the Federal Plan for Gender Equality
Department of Justice Policy on Gender Equality Analysis
Government adoption of the Agenda for Gender Equality (AGE)
Mandatory GBA consideration in Treasury Board Submissions
Mandatory GBA consideration in Memorandum to Cabinet
  • First Auditor General report on GBA implementation
  • Departmental Action Plan on GBA
  • Launch of annual GBA reporting to Parliament
GBA Unit at Justice Canada created
SWC-led Rebranding of GBA to GBA “plus”
  • Second Auditor General report on GBA implementation
  • Due Diligence Evidence-based Tool required for MC’s
  • SWC, PCO and TBS Action Plan on Gender-based Analysis (2016-2020) (commitment to further integrate GBA in government processes)
  • Release of the Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Implementing GBA+ in the Government of Canada
  • Government’s response to 2016 Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts
  • Equal Opportunity: Federal Budget 2017’s Gender Statement
  • SWC, PCO and TBS Joint Progress Report on Implementing GBA+ in the Government of Canada submitted to Standing Committees on Public Accounts and Status of Women
  • Publication of the first Gender Report in the 2019 Federal Budget

Annex B: Glossary of Key Terms Related to GBA+

Gender bias
Gender bias can take different forms. It often refers to taking the experience of one sex and applying it to both sexes, and usually means that men’s experiences are treated as the standard. Gender bias also encompasses insensitivity by ignoring sex and gender as important variables. Gender bias also includes double standards, by assessing the same or essentially the same situation, trait or behaviour differently on the basis of sex.
Gender blindness
Gender blindness refers to the failure to recognize that gender is an essential determinant of social outcomes impacting on projects and policies. A gender-blind approach assumes that a policy or program does not have unequal (even if unintended) outcomes for diverse population groups.
Gender disaggregated data
Gender disaggregated data situates diverse population groups in their social and economic contexts and shows relations to other groups of men and women. For example, data could be broken down by age, race, ethnicity, income, education, etc.
Gender expression
Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender.
Gender identity
Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex. Gender identity is fundamentally different from a person’s sexual orientation.
Intersectionality is the notion that an individual’s identity factors overlap or intersect. It acknowledges that people are members of more than one community at the same time and live multiple, layered identities. For example, a woman who is also a new immigrant and a senior can be viewed as belonging to three separate identity groups.
Sex refers to the biological characteristics that distinguish males from females such as anatomy (e.g. body size and shape) and physiology (e.g. hormonal activity or functioning of organs).
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation refers to the direction of one’s sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces.

The information contained in this Annex is subject to change as required.

Source: Status of Women Canada and Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Annex C: Key Steps for Applying GBA+

1. Explore:

What is a GBA+? It’s an analytical tool used to assess the potential impacts of policies, programs, services, and other initiatives on diverse groups of women, men and other gender identities. Before starting your GBA+, familiarize yourself with the concept to enrich your understanding. Several information and training tools are available on the Status of Women Canada (SWC) website. Keep GBA+ in mind throughout your project or policy development process. Make sure to start your GBA+ analysis early to obtain the greatest benefit.

2. Ask:

Conducting a good GBA+ starts by asking a lot of probing questions. Good questions are those that challenge your assumptions: Are there specific non-target groups who may be affected? Will some groups be excluded from benefits? What are some possible unintended consequences? Which specific groups are more affected by the question? What are the anticipated socio-economic repercussions? For a more thorough GBA+, be sure to ask others (consult) – your analysis will likely be more complete.

3. Gather:

Gather relevant qualitative and quantitative data if available (e.g., reports, documentary analyses, statistics, etc.) for the purpose of: identifying the population(s) or group(s) targeted by your initiative; describing and measuring the possible impact of the project; and, answering your questions above in #2 (ASK). The Justice Canada’s Research and Statistics Division, Statistics Canada and SWC (for example, the 7th edition of the gender-based statistical report, Women in Canada) are excellent resources.

4. Analyze:

Assess the GBA+ impact of your initiative by analyzing the gathered data and answers to your questions against the options and next steps you are considering. This analysis will enable you to discern if there are differential impacts on various groups of people, to explore the potential consequences and to consider recommendations to mitigate potential negative consequences, if any. Be sure to analyze all options in memoranda to cabinet and to draw conclusions regarding the GBA+ impacts of each.

5. Document:

Document your process and your findings. Save records of the work you have performed for your GBA+, your findings and any data used (records could include, for example, documents analyzed, repercussions identified, mitigation options/strategies). Be prepared to share a report or the key points of your GBA+ with senior officials.

6. Comply/Attest:

Complete and submit the Due Diligence and Evidence-based Analysis Tool, which is mandatory for all Justice-led and co-led memoranda to cabinet. This tool contains questions on factors to be considered systematically in policy and program development (e.g. gender, official languages, diversity, etc.) in order to enhance integrated decision-making and ensure good public policy. This information could be used to support SWC-led annual reporting to Parliament.

The information contained in this Annex is subject to change as required.

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