Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10Footnote 1 aims to reduce inequality within and among countries. This SDG calls for reducing inequalities in income as well as those based on:

  • age
  • gender identity
  • sexual expression
  • visible and invisible disability
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • origin
  • religion
  • economic or other status within a country

The goal also addresses inequalities, including those related to representation, migration and development assistance. Sustainable development cannot be achieved if individuals and communities are excluded from better access and contribution to social, economic and political life. Therefore, reducing inequalities and ensuring no one is left behind are key to achieving all 17 SDGs.

Canadian ambition under Reduced inequalities

Canada’s ambition for this goal is to reduce inequalities and ensure Canadians live free of discrimination. Income disparities between and among diverse groups of people, including Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians, and men, women and gender diverse people, are expected to decrease over time. Fewer Canadians will report being discriminated against or treated unfairly.

Canadian Indicator Framework

In collaboration with federal departments and agencies, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals. The CIF includes 76 indicators specific to Canada, which measure progress using a set of nationally relevant, objective and comprehensive indicators. CIF indicators for SDG 10 are:

  • Gini Coefficient
  • Proportion of the population self-reporting discrimination or unfair treatment
  • Median hourly wage ratio
  • Median household after-tax income

What we are doing to reduce inequalities in Canada

The federal government has strengthened implementation of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) to support the development of responsive and inclusive initiatives, including policies, programs, and other initiatives, that meet the needs of diverse groups of people.

The Canadian Gender Budgeting Act (2018) promotes the principle of gender equality and greater inclusiveness in society as part of the annual federal budget, in support of Canada’s long-term economic growth and prosperity. This includes considering gender and diversity in taxation and resource allocation decisions and making information available to the public on the impacts of Government decisions in terms of gender and diversity.

On June 21, 2021, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and came into force. This Act provides a roadmap for the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples to work together to implement the Declaration based on lasting reconciliation, healing, and cooperative relations.

The Policy Direction to Modernize the Government of Canada’s Sex and Gender Information Practices aims to:

  • promote the respect, inclusion and personal safety of transgender, non-binary and two-spirit people
  • support the collection of accurate sex and gender data for government operations analysis, and evidence-based decision-making
  • protect the personal information of individuals

It complements work underway across Canada on strengthening data and information disaggregation to take into consideration many factors, advancing the evidence base for robust GBA Plus to reduce deeply embedded inequalities.

The Pay Equity Act establishes a proactive pay equity regime for approximately 1.3 million workers. The Pay Equity Act is expected to be an effective step towards addressing the portion of the gender wage gap that can be attributed to the undervaluation of work traditionally performed by women. Within federally regulated workplaces, new pay transparency measures were introduced to raise awareness of, and help reduce, wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.

The Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot Program helps racialized newcomer women find good, well-paying jobs that set them up for success in Canada by addressing the barriers they may face, such as:

  • gender and race-based discrimination
  • precarious or low-income employment
  • lack of affordable childcare
  • weak social supports

The Government of Canada created a Task Force on Women in the Economy to help guide a robust, inclusive, and feminist recovery and to help address long-standing systemic barriers faced by women.

The Government of Canada is working with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) system, so all families have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care no matter where they live. This includes investments under the Enabling Accessibility Fund to make Early Learning and Child Care systems more accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities. Investing in ELCC will:

  • provide jobs for workers in a field typically dominated by women
  • enable parents, particularly mothers, to reach their full economic potential
  • improve graduation rates, which helps promote lifelong well-being, boost lifetime earnings, and increase social equity

In 2020, a comprehensive engagement process with LGBTQ2 communities across Canada was formally launched by the Government of Canada’s LGBTQ2 Secretariat to inform the development of the first federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan. This plan will guide the Government’s work to improve the social, health, and economic outcomes of diverse LGBTQ2 communities throughout Canada.

In 2021, the Government of Canada criminalized conversion therapy practices, an important milestone in the Government’s commitment to protect the dignity and equality of LGBTQ2 communities. In 2022, legislation will come into force that protects all Canadians from the harms of conversion therapy and from its commercialization. It also protects minors from conversion therapy both in Canada and abroad.

Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022 seeks to increase equity of access and participation among racialized communities, religious minorities, and Indigenous peoples in the areas of employment, justice, and social participation. Components include establishing the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat and providing funding to community-based programs through the existing Community Support, Multiculturalism and Anti- Racism Initiatives Program and the newly created Anti-Racism Action Program and a public education and awareness campaign.

Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy offers a bold vision for Canada as a world leader in the eradication of poverty and is aligned with the SDGs, aiming to reduce poverty by 50% by 2030 relative to 2015 levels. The Strategy is based on 3 pillars to focus government actions to reduce poverty: Dignity; Opportunity and Inclusion; and, Resilience and Security. This strategy seeks to reduce and remove systemic barriers, including for those communities that face unique barriers that can make them more vulnerable to poverty, such as:

  • single parents (80% of whom are women)
  • single people aged 45 to 64
  • persons with disabilities
  • recent immigrants
  • Indigenous peoples
  • individuals from Black or other racialized communities
  • transgender individuals

It established Canada’s Official Poverty Line, based on the cost of a basket of goods and services that individuals and families require to meet their basic needs and achieve a modest standard of living in communities across the country. As part of the Strategy, the National Advisory Council on Poverty was established to counsel the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on poverty reduction and to publicly report on the progress of poverty reduction in Canada each year. The Strategy brings together significant new investments that the Government has made since 2015 to support the social and economic well-being of all Canadians, including funding for key poverty reduction initiatives, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up for single seniors, and the National Housing Strategy.

Canada adopted the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) to proactively eliminate and prevent barriers and ensure greater opportunities for persons with disabilities. All federal departments and federally regulated industries must develop a multi-year Accessibility Plan by December 2022.

The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) provides grants and contributions funding through periodic Calls for Proposals to support construction, renovation, or retrofit projects aimed at improving physical accessibility and safety for persons with disabilities in Canadian communities and workplaces. By funding accessibility projects, the program is able to:

  • support accessible and inclusive communities and workplaces
  • increase access for persons with disabilities to services, programs and employment opportunities
  • increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in and contribute to community life and the labour market

In addition, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities supports persons with disabilities in overcoming barriers to participation in the Canadian labour market, and supports employers to hire persons with disabilities.

Through the Social Development Partnership Program (Disability) and the Canada Book Fund,  the Government of Canada is making investments to increase the production, distribution, and availability of Canadian-authored accessible books to better serve persons with print disabilities. This will help persons with print disabilities access reading materials so that they can fully participate in society and the economy throughout their lives for education, professional and leisure purposes.

The Social Development Partnerships Program (Children and Families) makes strategic grant- and contribution-based investments to support the creation of more responsive programs, services or tools to better serve the diverse needs of children and their families, particularly those living in disadvantaged circumstances.

Canada’s Youth Policy allows the perspectives of young people to better guide Government priorities and actions. This is done, for example, through the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, a group of young Canadians who provide non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada on issues of importance to them and to all Canadians, including the reduction of inequalities. The Policy also commits to a State of Youth Report every 4 years. The first Report was released in August 2021.

The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy helps young people, particularly those facing barriers to employment, get the information and gain the skills, work experience, and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market.

The Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy supports social purpose organizations (charities, non-profits, social enterprises, co-operatives, businesses with a social mission) working to address complex socio-economic challenges, by providing them with the tools and resources they need to grow and enhance their impacts, including through access to flexible financing opportunities and skill building.

The Indigenous Growth Fund, partially funded through the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy, provides capital to Aboriginal Financial Institutions and ultimately Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs, contributing to the economic self-determination of Indigenous peoples.

Each year, the Government of Canada provides over $700 million for individuals and employers to obtain skills training and employment supports through bilateral Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) with provinces and territories. Over 300,000 training and employment supports are provided to individuals and employers a year. The agreements include specific funding targeted for persons with disabilities and are used to support members of under-represented groups. Additional temporary top-up funding was also allocated for the WDAs through Budget 2017 and in response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group was created in April 2020 to provide advice and ensure a disability-inclusive approach to the Government of Canada’s response to the pandemic in keeping with a “Nothing Without Us” approach. The advisory group’s mandate was renewed and expanded in December 2020 to advise on disability inclusion and accessibility priorities of the Government of Canada.

The 2020 Speech from the Throne announced a Disability Inclusion Action Plan, which will include:

  • the introduction in Parliament of a bill to create a new Canadian Disability Benefit
  • a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities
  • initiatives to improve access to federal programs and services

An objective of the Action Plan is to ensure that disability inclusion is considered in all government programs, policies and services in order to foster a culture of inclusion and shift away from attitudes of disablism and discrimination. As part of the Action Plan, developing an Employment Strategy for Canadians with Disabilities will help to address the systemic barriers to labour market participation faced by persons with disabilities.

The Skills for Success program helps Canadians improve their foundational and transferable skills through training and assessments. The program supports the reduction of inequalities based on factors such as age, sex, disability, race or ethnicity by focusing support on underrepresented populations, such as newcomers and racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and Indigenous peoples. The program helps address inequalities these groups face in entering and succeeding in education, training, and the labour market.

The New Horizons for Seniors Program provides funding to support initiatives that are led or inspired by seniors to make a difference in the lives of others and their communities. The program reaches vulnerable and diverse Canadian seniors such as women, LGBTQ2S, socially isolated, Indigenous, newcomers and refugees.

Canada announced its full support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent in 2018. Several Government of Canada initiatives contribute to the goals of the International Decade, including:

  • enhancing local community support for Black Canadian youth
  • improving research to support more culturally sensitive mental health programs in Black Canadian communities
  • providing funding to celebrate, share knowledge and build capacity in Black Canadian communities

In 2019, the Government created the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative to implement targeted measures that build capacity and foundational infrastructure within Black Canadian community organizations whose collective mission is to address the longstanding systemic social, economic, environmental, and cultural barriers faced by Black Canadians.

The Government of Canada, through the Sport Support Program is investing in the following initiatives that aim to reduce inequalities:

  • the Innovation Initiative, which provides funding to eligible organizations to test innovative approaches to encourage equity-deserving groups to participate and remain in sport
  • the Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities supports the use of sport for the purpose of achieving targeted social outcomes in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, i.e., improved health, education, and employability and the reduction of at-risk behaviour
  • the recently announced Community Sport for All Initiative supports community-based organizations to deliver organized sport projects for equity-deserving groups, in particular, Black, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQQIA+, and new Canadians. The objectives are to:
    • increase sport participation and retention
    • remove barriers to participation in sport programming
    • help make organized sport safe and accessible to all

What Canada is doing to help reduce inequalities abroad

Canada actively promotes LGBTQ2 rights around the world, and collaborates closely with civil society organizations in Canada and abroad to advance LGBTQ2 rights. Along with members of the Equal Rights Coalition, Canada plays a leadership role by co-chairing the Thematic Group on National Laws and Policy. In line with the Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada has continued to implement the LGBTQ2 International Assistance Program which represents $30 million in dedicated funding over 5 years (2019 to 2024) aiming to advance human rights and improve socio-economic outcomes for LGBTQ2 people in developing countries.

In June 2020, Canada became a champion for the Global Compact for Migration. As part of this work, Canada Co-Chairs the Global Forum on Migration and Development’s Working Group on Public Narratives on Migration. Through this working group, Canada is helping to lead the development of a new global campaign, It Takes a Community, that showcases the positive impact migration can have at the community level. Canada has also actively promoted the importance of gender-responsive and inclusive migration management to ensure no one is left behind in the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration. 

For July 2021 to July 2022, Canada is chairing the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework Support Platform to support responsibility-sharing on forced displacement in Central America and Mexico. Canada’s theme is the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Girls on the Move, which draws attention to the international protection and education needs of refugee women and girls, as well as the need to protect the human rights of displaced women, girls, and LGBTQ2 individuals in vulnerable in situations.

Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010 and acceded to its Optional Protocol in 2018. Canada is also a member of the Global Action on Disability Network, which seeks to enhance the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development and humanitarian action. Canada continues to monitor its suite of 7 commitments related to disability-inclusive development and humanitarian action made at the 2018 Global Disability Summit. These include a commitment to ensure that the interests and priorities of girls with disabilities are taken into account in the development and delivery of Canada's $400-million G7 commitment on girls’ education.

Canada continues to work to strengthen the rights of Indigenous peoples globally through development programming and bilateral and multilateral advocacy, and announced its unqualified endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2016. Since then, Canada has taken steps to support the Declaration as an important part of the framework for advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. In June 2021, Canada enacted legislation to guide the federal implementation of the Declaration in consultation with Indigenous peoples. As a representative for North America and Western Europe in the UNESCO-led Global Task Force governing the International Decade for Indigenous Languages 2022 to 2032, Canada is committed to working jointly with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to implement the Decade in a meaningful way and to support international efforts.

Canada leverages its Office for Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion (OHRFI) to promote human rights at home and abroad. OHRFI’s Inclusion, Diversity and Human Rights Fund (C$7.5 million annually) serves to promote inclusion, diversity, freedom of religion or belief, and human rights globally by providing rapid and targeted support to grants and contributions projects with various partners. These include global or regional projects that have addressed the erosion of civil society space, threats to human rights defenders and at-risk actors, exclusion of marginalized and vulnerable minorities, as well as digital risks to human rights. 

Through the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat at Canadian Heritage, Canada will be working with regional partnership to create a North American Partnership for Racial Equity and Inclusion, committed to by government heads at the North American Leaders Summit 2021.

Related links

Page details

Date modified: