The establishment of a gender equity office and strategy that would apply a gender-based lens to planning decisions has been unanimously approved by Mayor John Tory’s executive committee and will now go to city council as a whole for final approval.

According to a staff report, the establishment of the strategy will largely focus on “advancing an intersectional gender-based lens into city programs and services, and internal workforce initiatives.”

The staff report says that a two-person gender equity office could then help ensure the sustainability of that strategy through the implementation of a “results based accountability framework” and the establishment of partnerships with other sectors addressing gender inequality.

The cost of creating a gender equity office with two full time positions is estimated at $333,132 in 2020.

“Women, girls, trans and non-binary individuals make up more than 52 percent of Toronto's population. They are as diverse as the city in terms of their ethnicity, race, age, religion, immigration status, ability, sexual orientation and income. Yet, they face disproportionately higher rates of violence, greater poverty including more precarious employment, lower wages, religious discrimination based on attire, and are underrepresented in political and professional leadership positions,” the staff report notes. “Addressing intersectional gender inequities in City of Toronto programs, service delivery, outcomes and workforce initiatives will help to decrease inequities experienced by diverse women, girls, trans and non-binary people in the City of Toronto.”

The City of Toronto has conducted an equity analysis as part of its budget process since 2016 but the staff report calls for the development of more tools and strategies to address gender equity in areas such as housing, shelter, governance, transit planning, recreation, urban planning, youth, violence against women and affordable child care.

It also calls for improvements to be made to the city’s online equity lens tool to help “guide staff in integrating an intersectional gender analysis in the development of programs, services, policies and budgeting.”

In a message posted to Twitter following Wednesday’s meeting, Ward Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said that vote “represents a big day for gender justice in Toronto.”

“The executive committee has just unanimously adopted the recommendation to create a #GenderEquityTO Strategy + Office! Thank you to those who wrote letters of support and came out to depute,” she wrote.

If approved by council the gender equity strategy will be crafted by staff, who will report back at the end of 2021 on their recommendations.