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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during women business leaders' roundtable in Mumbai, India, on Feb. 20, 2018.
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5 Ways Canada's 2018 Budget Is a Step in the Right Direction

Canadian Prime Minister’s government unveiled its 2018 budget today — and there’s a lot of stuff in there for Global Citizens to be excited about. 

The plan, called "Equality + Growth" and presented by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, outlines the Liberal government’s priorities for the year, according to the Toronto Star. This includes measures that support women in the workplace, a feminist foreign aid plan, and more support for Indigenous peoples.

Women played such an important part of shaping the entire budget , the word “gender” appeared 358 times, according to the Globe and Mail. The budget also stated that “‘every single decision on expenditure and tax measures was informed’ by a gender-based analysis.” The budget also included 29 specific gender equality goals for the country, including things like, "Fewer women are victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault" and "Feminist international approach to all policies and programs, including diplomacy, trade, security and development."

Here are five things in Canada's budget that Global Citizens will like.

Take Action: Help Break Down Barriers That Are Holding Women Back

1/ Equal pay for women

Calling it “an economic no brainer," Morneau’s plan focuses on making sure more women are able to be successful in the workplace. There are “persistent barriers that hold too many back,” such as wage inequality and caring for children and the elderly, according to the budget. Specifically, the budget calls for equal pay for equal work for federally regulated sectors, which could reduce the wage gap by 2.7 cents on the dollar, according to the budget.

2/ Stronger parental leave

The budget also includes a $1.2 billion parental leave program aimed at getting fathers to take more parental leaving, freeing up women to return to the workforce.

“The way to best impact our long-term demographics is to get every Canadian with a real and fair chance not only to work, but to have really good work,” Morneau said,  The Star reported . “And we start with women. If half our population (is) held back, we’re just not going to be as successful.”

3/ Working families

Low-income working families will see a $500 million boost to what’s now being called the Canada Workers Benefit (replacing the Working Income Tax Benefit. This would help increase the take-home pay of low-income workers with a tax credit. 

4/ Indigenous people

Canada’s Indigenous people will see $4.7 billion in new funding for skills development and training, house, and child and family services. The $447 million Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program is meant to help increase employment rates and wages by preparing them for better-paying jobs. There is also $1.4 billion earmarked for child and family service agencies that support Indigenous children as well as prevention programs so that First Nations families can stay in tact.

"When it comes to renewing the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples, we have a responsibility to do better, and to do more," Morneau said in his speech to the House of Commons.

Read More:  What Canada's Female-First Foreign Aid Policy Really Means for Women

5/ Feminist foreign aid

Following on its pledge in June 2017 to create a “feminist foreign policy” agenda, the budget calls for $2.3 billion in new funding for foreign aid, with most of it dedicated to programs that support women and children. The year’s budget represents the biggest increase in foreign aid in 16 years, according to the National Post. That said, the budget allocation for official development assistance (ODA) is short of the .7% of gross national income, which is the goal set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development if the world is to end extreme poverty. This budget calls for .28% of GNI. Canada is ranked 14th on the list of major donor countries, according to the OECD. 

Reaction to the budget’s foreign aid efforts by organizations in the aid sector were generally positive. 

“Last summer, Canada announced a ground-breaking Feminist International Assistance Policy that seeks to end poverty by investing in women and girls. ... We want to see this policy – which has the potential to be transformative – succeed. We are pleased to see that the Government of Canada recognizes that it will take more than good intentions to make that happen," said Julia Sánchez, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.

Read More:  7 Feminist Laws Iceland Has That the World Needs

Bono, founder of the anti-poverty advocacy group ONE, lauded the decision. 

“Oh Canada! Prime Minister Trudeau’s budget — and the smart, women-centred policy that guides it — is leadership in action,” the U2 singer  said in a statement. "Words alone can be cheap, but words written into budgets are worth their weight in lives saved, and worthy of praise. We are grateful for your leadership today, and for what we know Canada will help the world deliver at the G7 this spring.''

Michael Messenger, president and CEO of World Vision Canada, also applauded the move.

“We’re very encouraged by today’s budget, Canada is demonstrating global leadership that helps put ambition into action. Escalating conflict, health pandemic threats and weakened economies have created global needs we haven’t seen in recent times, especially for the most vulnerable children — and Canadian international assistance is an important part of the solution.”

Global Citizen campaigns to end extreme poverty, which won't be possible without robust foreign aid packages from wealthy nations like Canada and the US. You can take action on the issues surroundind extreme poverty  here .