Gender Equality, Pharmacare, Main Focus of Federal Budget

Tuesday is budget day in Canada, and gender equality and a national pharmacare plan are expected to be two of the cornerstones of Finance Minister Bill Morneau's document, being presented in the House of Commons after the markets close.

Morneau has already hinted at efforts to boost the participation of women in the workforce as part of an overall plan to promote so-called inclusive growth.

One measure expected in the spending plan is dedicated paid leave for new fathers – or, in the case of same-sex relationships, the non-birthing parent. The goal is to allow parents to handle the task of raising children more equitably.

The focus on gender equality – a key priority for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government – could also mean federal dollars to help close the gender wage gap in federally-regulated workplaces.

The budget will also include plans to take the first steps toward a national pharmacare plan – a strategy which would outflank NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has made such a program one of his top priorities.

Senior government officials have told the media that former Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins will be assigned to help breathe life into the pharmacare plan. Hoskins resigned his cabinet posting and his seat in the Ontario legislature Monday.