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An Intersectional Approach to Policymaking: Canada

Canada's Gender-Based Analysis Plus assesses policy impact on diverse populations

June 4, 2023
Author: Roshni Menon

Introduced in 2011, GBA+ is a federal policy tool and analytical process which provides a rigorous method for the assessment of systemic inequalities. It was designed to assess how diverse groups of women, men, and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs, and initiatives1 passed in Canada.

GBA+ is a gender and diversity approach designed to consider many factors in addition to sex and gender, such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and disability, in the design and implementation of policies. Depending on the issue, the tools used can range from descriptive statistics, interviews, and community forums to discuss findings. The appropriate methods used will depend on the community and project context.


 The GBA+ Responsibility Centre ensures that GBA Plus is integrated into decision-making processes by requiring that every budget proposal, Cabinet Memorandum, and Treasury Board submission undertake a rigorous assessment of the potential implications of all policies, programs, or initiatives on diverse populations of Canadians. The Centre tracks and retains analyses for all cabinet and budget documents. It also provides advice and guidance to decision makers within the Department and equips the Department to undertake GBA+ through the provision of training, resources and support.

The basic steps to applying GBA+ include gathering appropriate data, understanding context, and asking analytical questions to determine whether the project is expected to have disproportionate effects on diverse or potentially vulnerable subgroups. Government agency staff can use this to look for key indicators that the GBA+ was integrated throughout the Impact Statement and that the analysis was thorough and complete.

For more on how the Centre operationalizes the use of GBA+, see here.2


While there is scant information on the cost of implementing the GBA+ approach across government departments, it has been recognized that improved GBA+ will require more in-depth gender-disaggregated data than is currently available. Therefore the 2018 Canadian Budget proposed investing CND 6.7 million over five years for Statistics Canada to create a new Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics, a Centre that will act as GBA+ data hub.3 It is currently in development.4 Budget 2018 also proposed to provide CND 5 million per year to Status of Women Canada to undertake research and data collection in support of the Government’s Gender Results Framework.


As GBA+ is not a prescribed method but a way of thinking or a lens, there is a challenge in implementing the analysis to mainstream patterns and develop indicators that are sensitive to not just sex and gender identity, but also impacts of racialized gendered oppression. A 2020 assessment5 found that the implications of GBA+ and impact assessment on gender non-binary populations need to be further examined, including on LGBTQ2SI+ communities, as well as intersectionalities within the Indigenous experience.

While the “+” in GBA+ is sometimes viewed as an additive approach that prioritizes consideration of sex and gender and other factors “in addition to,” which runs counter to an intersectional approach, the very fact that it also raises awareness of intersectionality means that it could offer an important opening to improving theoretical and practical knowledge of intersectionality. In this way, it may be an intermediate step towards a longer-term possibility of truly intersectionality-informed transformative mainstreaming, thereby being an example of “incremental radicalism” as it builds on an existing approach of mainstreaming, rather than being a true innovation. The GBA Plus Departmental Summary Template is a tool that captures key GBA Plus information for an initiative, policy or program in order to support and inform decision-making.

All opinions and views expressed on this website solely represent the views of the authors and of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a program of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.