Sex and Gender Action Plan Implementation Report December 2018

Table of Contents


Health Canada's mandate is to help Canadians maintain and improve their health by ensuring that high-quality health services are accessible and that health risks are reduced. Everything we do impacts all Canadians—from health protection to consumer safety and the regulation of pharmaceuticals, food, health products and medical devices. To that end, we aim to establish Health Canada as an organization where sex, gender and diversity considerations are systematically integrated into all our research, legislation, policies, regulations, programs and services.

Health Canada has been actively working to integrate sex, gender and diversity considerations into its work since 2003 through policy and practice. In 2016, we recognized that we needed to build further on this work and subsequently launched the Sex and Gender Action Plan (the Action Plan) in May 2017. The Action Plan aims to ensure that Health Canada engages in evidence-based policy and program design informed by sex, gender and diversity research. A better definition of issues will result in a more accurate identification of solutions and better outcomes for a diverse population.

Reporting Period

This annual report covers the period from May 2017 to December 2018. An initial 6-month progress update was provided in October 2017, which focused on establishing the groundwork to fulfill our objectives for 2018. Future reports will be released annually in December.

Background and Objectives

The aim of the Action Plan is to:

This report, aligned with the Action Plan, is grouped under the three priority areas of:

  1. Building departmental capacity;
  2. Strengthening the evidence base and expertise; and
  3. Increasing accountability.

The five key elements of the Action Plan on which this report is based are:

Executive Summary

Government context

Over the last few years, the federal government has been increasingly prioritizing gender equality, diversity and inclusion with strengthened accountability mechanisms, which have influenced progress on the integration of sex, gender and diversity considerations at Health Canada. This shift has provided levers to aid in the implementation of the Action Plan while at the same time significantly increasing demand from across the Department for SGBA advice and assistance with new processes and requirements, such as the inclusion of SGBA into the departmental results framework, performance information profiles, and budget proposals.

In addition, Health Canada participated in the development of the new federal Gender Results Framework, provided contributions to the agenda for feminist and inclusive open government as part of Canada's 2018-20 National Action Plan on Open Government and is aligning and reporting within these additional parameters.

Key federal levers include:

“The federal Policy on Results requires that sex, gender and other identity considerations be taken into account within Performance Information Profiles and proposals to Cabinet. The Chief Financial Officer Branch's (CFOB's) implementation of this policy imperative had the effect of amplifying the Deputy Minister's and Gender Health Unit's messaging with respect to SGBA. Not only has it driven capacity building within CFOB, the nature of interactions with Branches provides opportunities to enforce the integration of SGBA into the program performance story-telling, and in doing so, provide Health Canada a better understanding of how activities and programs may impact diverse groups of males, females and gender diverse individuals.”

Chief Financial Officer Branch


Much of the focus since the launch of the Action Plan has been to establish the groundwork from which to deliver while also increasing awareness and capacity on sex, gender and diversity considerations. This has included engaging in a lengthy hiring process to obtain qualified researchers, developing a logic model and indicators for tracking progress, establishing and training a network of SGBA advisors across the Department, and establishing communication and resource platforms for employees and researchers to access tools and guidelines.

The work on the priority initiatives is well underway. Each initiative is proving to be beneficial in improving sex, gender and diversity research and analysis capacity while strengthening the understanding of the benefits of a deliberate and systematic approach to incorporating such analysis into policy and program design. Progress on each initiative is itemized in Annex A. Through the Policy Research Partnership with the Institute of Gender and Health of CIHR, five researchers were hired. Each one is working with a policy team and is entrenched into the Action Plan Coordinating Committee, which oversees progress on the Action Plan.

Sex and gender is now included in a senior-level committee focusing on delivery and results, evaluation, performance management and data analysis. Through the federal Policy on Results, sex and gender-disaggregated data were integrated into Health Canada's departmental results indicators and performance information profiles.

The successful, inaugural Sex and Gender Symposium, “Bridging Science, Policy and Practice with Sex and Gender,” organized in collaboration with CIHR, took place in October 2018 to bring together experts from across Canada to discuss emerging issues and trends in sex, gender and health and in integrating research, policy and practice.

Health Canada has revised its SGBA assessment process to include qualitative criteria, which has led to an improvement in the quality of SGBAs that are being done for decision-making processes. Health Canada was applauded by the Department of Finance for the SGBAs that were completed for the 2018 Budget. Since that time, the quality has steadily improved through advice being sought from sex and gender advisors earlier in the decision-making process and by providing the time needed for greater diligence.

With a multi-faceted approach, senior-level commitment and the sharing of early findings in the Policy-Research Partnership, there is broadening interest in embedding sex, gender and diversity considerations into the work of the Department.

The year ahead is expected to achieve greater results with the completion of some of the Policy-Research Partnership initiatives, which is enabling a better understanding of the impact of incorporating SGBA into our policies and programs.

Implementation Report


As the lead in the implementation of SGBA at Health Canada, the Gender and Health Unit (GHU) in the Strategic Policy Branch provides leadership, advice and support on sex and gender-related responsibilities across the Department, and it tracks activities, progress and impact. This report includes initiatives and activities undertaken by the GHU and each of the branches in the Department. Information was acquired through ongoing tracking and a written progress report from each branch head.

The branch progress reports included questions related to:

  1. Activities undertaken by the branch to enhance understanding of SGBA and inclusion of sex, gender and diversity considerations in branch activities;
  2. Progress on the priority initiative(s) undertaken under the Action Plan to enhance SGBA expertise and capacity;
  3. The collection, analysis and dissemination of sex and gender-disaggregated data and products;
  4. Participation and engagement in Health Canada SGBA networks and internal and external learning opportunities; and
  5. Barriers and strategies in the implementation of SGBA.

Progress: Building Departmental Capacity

Enhance guidelines, processes, tools and resources

Objectives for the first year:

In order to increase awareness and provide guidance and learning tools more effectively to a wider audience, internal and external platforms were developed and/or enhanced. These included:

“There is a heightened awareness of the sex, gender and diversity factors in management, given the priority given to this issue within Health Canada and across Government. The mere fact that considerations of sex, gender and diversity are being addressed in the development of policies and programs and in the holding of forums and meetings is a clear improvement over previous years.”

Health Care Programs and Policy Directorate, Strategic Policy Branch

In addition, an enhanced and clearly communicated process for SGBA attestations was developed and made available on GCpedia and the Intranet. These attestations had criteria in place to assess the quality of SGBAs and their inclusion in decision documents as well as on whether the findings were included in the policy or program.

Due to greater awareness of SGBA requirements, a switch to the qualitative assessment of SGBAs in Health Canada decision documents, and additional federal requirements to include SGBA in decision-making, there was greater demand for advice and support on the GHU than anticipated. Although platforms, tools, resources and training were developed to support employees, there is still much more to be done. There is increasing use of the communication and resource platforms, but further work is needed to popularize the platforms as a key resource across the Department.

Health Canada was applauded by the Department of Finance for the SGBAs that were completed for the 2018 budget and overall there is growing improvement in the quality of SGBAs.

Increase sex and gender-based analysis (SGBA) promotion and provide targeted training for key priority areas

Objectives for the first year:

“Throughout the department there is an increased awareness of sex, gender and diversity. In the Corporate Services Branch (CSB), the SGBA lens is being used to design and deliver internal tools and services. There is more thinking about how diverse individuals might be impacted by an idea, a new service line or a new initiative. This means that SGBA is thought about more consistently throughout the whole planning and implementation stages of a project or a task.”

Corporate Services Branch

Awareness and Promotion

In order to create greater visibility of the Action Plan and the importance of SGBA, both internally and externally, promotional products were created for use at awareness and learning events (e.g. the Health Canada Science Forum, the sex and gender symposium, and training events).

A placemat (pictorial) was created to more easily and effectively outline the Action Plan, which is available on Health Canada's website as well as other internal platforms.

With a view to creating consistent and relevant messaging on gender equality and SGBA under both the federal and the Health Canada contexts, modernized presentation materials were created for internal and external audiences. This provided a backdrop for internal committees on training, promotion and updates and for discussion with external audiences.


With the large number of employees in the Department, it is difficult to provide in-person training to everyone. The strategy has been to:

Engagement and collaborative training between the GHU and other parts of the Department has also worked well in the past year for focused training for specific sectors and functions, such as:

Another strategy has been to provide an SGBA skills training series (5 sessions) for 70 representatives across Health Canada in order to build a network of employees with additional SGBA expertise in each of the branches. Almost all of the branches participated in the series. The materials from these sessions are on GCpedia, which allows for greater accessibility. Some of the sessions were done jointly between the GHU and other branches such as:

More work is required to increase employee understanding of expectations for areas outside of policy, such as in regulatory development, consultations, and evaluation where requirements may not be as clear.

Some sectors have introduced mandatory training (e.g. Status of Women Canada's online course: Introduction to GBA+) for specific staff levels or functions, and the course is also a requirement for all in-house intermediate and advanced SGBA training in the department. For the past two years, Health Canada has been averaging 150 online course participants per year. This is an increase over previous years, but it is still low in comparison to the number of staff in the Department.

Progress: Strengthening the Evidence Base and Expertise

Use priority initiatives to enhance SGBA capacity and improve sex- and gender-sensitive expertise and advice

Objectives for the first year:

In order to increase overall capacity and expertise in the Department, the GHU established an SGBA Network of Change Agents with representatives from each branch. The goal is to further integrate SGBA into each branch and establish a network of employees with expertise to provide advice and support within their branch. After an initial training series, we have continued to meet to share best practices and good examples. We will be able to assess the success of the network in the next report.

Photo: Sex and Gender Symposium October 2018 
Cannabis Legalization Regulation Branch and Communications and Public Affairs Branch Kiosk

Photo: Sex and Gender Symposium October 2018 Cannabis Legalization Regulation Branch and Communications and Public Affairs Branch Kiosk

Webinars were organized in 2018 to utilize the CIHR, which is supporting priority initiatives for Health Canada. These webinars are meant to highlight the sex and gender research underway and progress in designing initiatives using that data. These webinars included the following priority initiatives: application of a sex and gender lens in support of psychologically healthy workplaces; trauma-informed, sex/gender-informed approaches to substance use policy and practice; and gender diverse data matters. These are also available on our GCpedia site to enable access after the events.

Health Canada organized an inaugural Sex and Gender Symposium in October 2018, which brought together over 250 participants from across government and academia to discuss issues and emerging trends in health and sex and gender and to showcase Health Canada's priority to integrate sex, gender and diversity considerations into all of its work. The symposium was successful in engaging senior leaders and academics to share their vision, priorities and findings related to sex, gender and diversity analysis as well as their progress on incorporating this work into Health Canada's priority initiatives. The event was successful in increasing awareness of the priority, necessity and value of including sex, gender and diversity considerations in our work.

Partner with the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to embed cutting edge SGBA research expertise into priority initiatives

Objectives for the first year:

Establishing a formal agreement with the IGH at the CIHR was a strategy to address gaps in sex and gender expertise across the Department and to embed cutting-edge research into Health Canada's priority work.

“Taking a more deliberate and systematic approach in the application of SGBA in policy and program provides a useful frame for improving the results and outcomes of policy interventions. The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Branch is increasing efforts, including through the partnership with Dr. Greaves.”

Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Branch

Despite some initial delays in the hiring of researchers, progress on the policy-research initiatives is well underway and each of the branches has reported on their progress (outlined in Annex A).

The researchers are integrated in the Action Plan Coordinating Committee, have been the focus of SGBA learning webinars and are increasing capacity to integrate evidence-based sex and gender research into the Department. They are helping to address the barriers of lack of both time and evidence, and they are paving the way for greater investment of efforts to advance sex, gender and diversity objectives in a more systematic and coordinated way.

Progress: Increasing Accountability

Increase governance, accountability and transparency in the integration of SGBA into Health Canada decision making

Objectives for the first year:

A critical component of the Action Plan is to ensure accountability for results by establishing a system of monitoring and reporting and by being transparent, both internally and externally, on our progress.

The Action Plan Coordinating Committee, identified by assistant deputy ministers, meets quarterly to provide progress updates on the implementation of SGBA. It includes representatives from each branch as well as the researchers hired through the Policy Research Partnership.

Sex and gender is also now included in another senior-level committee focusing on delivery and results, evaluation, performance management and data analysis.

A performance measurement framework was developed in collaboration with the Office of Audit and Evaluation and the coordinating committee to monitor progress on the Action Plan. Using this framework, the Office of Audit and Evaluation will be evaluating the Department's Sex and Gender Action Plan in 2021-22.

In addition, the Office of Audit and Evaluation is contributing to the increasing of accountability and transparency in the integration of SGBA in Health Canada decision making by incorporating a line of enquiry related to SGBA in audits and evaluation. They have also developed an SGBA tool to ensure that evaluators review sex, gender and diversity issues systematically in each evaluation. This tool provides guidance on incorporating SGBA indicators and data sources into the evaluation process.

As of August 2017, Health Canada's website provides Canadians with information, such as progress reports, on sex and gender implementation in the Department.

The revised sign-off process for decision documents now includes an assessment of the quality of the SGBA and follow-up requirements rather than the previous checklist that simply indicated whether an SGBA was done. The process allows for follow-up on gaps and for a comparative analysis each year to review quality improvement.

The Coming Year

In the coming year, we will advance the priority initiatives while continuing to share findings through webinars and presentations. We have also expanded the Memorandum of Understanding with CIHR to expand the Policy Research Partnership for additional research capacity.

A priority in the coming year will be to showcase the impact of doing evidence-based sex, gender and diversity research and of incorporating the analysis and findings from that research into the design of policies and programs. We foresee collaboration with the new Centre of Excellence at Status of Women Canada (now the Department of Women and Gender Equality) on sharing and showcasing this work as a best practice in SGBA.

The next sex and gender symposium will be a key forum to showcase the results of sex and gender research; how it is influencing policy, programs and services; and the impact of including it in the decision-making process.

The GHU will continue to develop guidance materials for the Department using relevant examples from our work to provide training and learning opportunities in collaboration with other parts of the Department.

We will also continue to build internal capacity through advanced training and support to the SGBA Network of Change Agents, and we will meet regularly to share best practices and create more expertise within the individual branches. This branch expertise, in collaboration with the GHU, will work to address some of the branch-specific challenges that have been identified, such as internal mechanisms and tools to advance the understanding and practice of integrating SGBA into processes that are not specific to policy development.

A Sex and Gender-based Analysis Employee Survey was launched in December 2018. This biennial survey is done by the SGBA Policy Implementation Working Group of the Health Portfolio (Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the CIHR and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and surveys employees across the portfolio to assess knowledge and use of, and attitudes toward, SGBA. Results from the survey were not available at the time of this report, but they will be available in early 2019 and will inform strategies and activities throughout 2019. Results will also be included in the next report in December 2019.

An innovative component of the Action Plan included the identification by each branch of a key priority initiative for a thorough investigation on sex and gender. Each had to be part of the Minister's mandate and/or respond to a departmental priority. The following is an update by branch on progress in each of the initiatives undertaken. Some initiatives include researchers provided through the Memorandum of Understanding between Health Canada and the IGH at the CIHR.

Annex A : Progress on Priority Initiatives by Branch

Branch: Chief Financial Officer Branch (CFOB)

Title: Application of SGBA lens in Departmental Results Framework (DRF) and Performance Information Profiles (PIPS)

Description: In 2017-18, the first year for implementing the federal Policy on Results, the objective was to identify program areas that lend themselves to sex-disaggregated analysis (e.g. areas, such as tobacco, nutrition, and e-health, that report on results for groups of people), and to ensure that the methodologies for the related departmental results indicators were designed to capture sex-disaggregated data.

Progress: CFOB supported and encouraged programs to identify areas that lend themselves to sex-disaggregated analysis, for example in areas, such as tobacco, nutrition, and e-health, that report on results for groups of people). Performance indicators incorporated, where relevant, disaggregated information based on sex, gender, and other intersecting identity factors.

The integration of SGBA into PIPS is well advanced, and will continue to be a focus into the future.

Impact: Disaggregating data will allow the Department to gain a better understanding of how programs impact different groups of people, advance departmental work towards gender equality, and ultimately lead to more effective programs.

Observations: As a result of communications about the SGBA requirements, Health Canada branches are taking initiative to find opportunities to further integrate SGBA into performance information. The dual drivers of the Policy on Results and the Deputy Minister's Action Plan are bringing the focus necessary to embed SGBA in an enduring way.

Next steps: Under the next wave of activity (2018-19), gender and other identity factors will be considered more fully in addition to sex.

Branches: Cannabis Legalisation and Regulation Branch (CLRB and Communications and Public Affairs Branch (CPAB)

Title: Applying a Gender-based Lens to Cannabis Risk Perceptions, Public Education and Awareness

Researcher: Dr. Lorraine Greaves

Description: CLRB and CPAB, in collaboration with the IGH at the CIHR, initiated a Policy Research Partnership with an external research expert to advance work on the adoption of a gender-based lens in developing, testing and delivering cannabis public education and awareness activities, and in formulating targeted, gender-sensitive messages for key population sub-groups, such as pregnant women and LGBTQ2 individuals that may require special focus. The research expert will also help interpret results from the Canadian Cannabis Survey, from a sex and gender-based lens.

Progress: Dr. Greaves has supported work in the following areas:

  • The preliminary review of public opinion research to better understand gender differences in cannabis use patterns and risk perceptions;
  • The review of public education fact sheets on the health effects of cannabis use to ensure the application of an SGBA lens;
  • The support of public education partnerships efforts by providing expert advice to organizations wishing to access federal funding and by reviewing project proposals to identify SGBA considerations; and
  • The promotion of SGBA issues relevant to cannabis legalization and regulation through an information/capacity-building session with Health Portfolio staff.

Dr. Greaves is currently working on a report, which is an SGBA key deliverable, and includes the following elements:

  • An overview of current evidence from research and literature and their possible implications for cannabis policy and public education;
  • An analysis of data available from existing surveys and their possible implications; 
  • An examination of the cannabis indicators framework and advice on the development of adequate SGBA-specific cannabis indicators; 
  • Advice from the SGBA lens to inform messaging for public education and awareness campaigns; and
  • Accessible and practical “bottom lines”/key takeaways for policy and communications analysts.

Impact: The findings outlined above have helped to shape the federal government's thinking on how to design effective public education and awareness campaigns, and they have been informative in policy and program development more broadly. In particular, these insights have informed federal public education messaging for specific populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. For example, while the advertising campaign in particular will target all women, men, girls, boys and gender diverse individuals in Canada, there will be a focus on young males aged 16 to 24 as they are more likely to have consumed cannabis in the past 12 months and to engage in high-risk activities, such as driving within 2 hours of consuming cannabis.

Observations: Key challenges encountered include the insufficient data on sex and gender and differences in biological responses to cannabis; differences in risk and protective factors; progression of substance use behaviours; and differences in access, readiness, and outcomes of treatment. Lack of evidence on the impact of sex and gender on the way an individual interacts with public education and harm reduction interventions has also been a challenge. The Policy Research Partnership initiative with Dr. Greaves has been established as one way to address this challenge.

Next steps: These insights will also be used to frame harm reduction messages. In light of the SGBA findings, CLRB is increasingly cognizant of the need to avoid perpetuating sex and gender norms through public education efforts.

CLRB would organize a series of engagement activities with Dr. Greaves to present her findings to key staff in CLRB, CPAB and other groups.

Branch: Communications and Public Affairs Branch (CPAB)

Title: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Public Education and Awareness Campaigns with SGBA

Description: Gender-based variances are considered in public education campaigns when selecting a target audience, drafting key messages, developing strategies and tactics, producing creative concepts, and determining the media strategy based on media consumption habits.

Progress: SGBA has been used for opioid communications and marketing activities. A gender-based lens is being applied to the development of the public education and awareness campaign.

Impact: While the opioid campaign will be aimed at reaching the general population, males aged 30 to39 have been identified as a priority audience as they are the group that has been disproportionately affected by opioid-related overdose deaths.

Observations: CPAB is developing several initiatives to promote greater inclusion and foster cultural change. CPAB noted an increase—from 82% in 2014 to 85% in 2017 (source: the Public Service Employee Survey)— in CPAB employees who feel the Department implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace.

Next steps: Gender-based variances will continue to be considered in public education campaigns when selecting target audience, drafting key messages, developing strategies and tactics, producing creative concepts, and determining the media strategy based on media consumption habits.

SGBA will continue to be used for all Privy Council Office advertising proposals and in developing advertising and marketing strategies. This applies to all our social marketing campaigns, including for cannabis, opioids, food safety, tobacco cessation, vaping, sugary drinks, environmental health, childhood vaccination, seasonal flu and Lyme disease.

Branch: Corporate Services Branch (CSB)

Title: Considering Sex and Gender to Support a Psychologically Healthy Workplace

Researcher: Dr. Ivy Bourgeault

Description: Two streams are being led by two different directorates within CSB:
Stream A applies the SGBA lens to the development of mental health and wellness tools, training and promotional materials; and Stream B focuses on how the SGBA lens can be more fully incorporated into Employee Assistance Services (EAP) policies, procedures and services as well as EAP performance measurement and evaluation activities.

Progress: In fall 2018, initial findings of a literature review and data analysis were made available that will inform the development of a draft SGBA Mental Health in the Workplace tool kit.

Impact: Applying a sex and gender lens to the tool kit will contribute to a better understanding of how sex and gender relate to workplace mental health and will allow CSB to share evidence, lessons learned and best practices to promote gender-responsive approaches to psychological health in the workplace. Further advancement of the Stream B initiative will ensure that an SGBA perspective is integrated into all aspects of EAP service delivery, which is provided to over 80 federal departments/agencies.

The development of tailored training and products based on sex and gender needs, and the review of all in-house training methodology and delivery, work hazard assessments, and the development of communication products using SGBA will also increase overall awareness.

Observations: Considering the volume of information available related to initial search terms, researchers determined the scope of the literature review for both streams A and B to be too broad. The scope of research was therefore redefined and narrowed in order to produce more manageable results.

Next Steps: CSB will produce a report to summarize data and policy analysis used to identify high risk groups within Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. These groups will be targeted for further consideration in the development of mental health in the workplace tools and resources. CSB will also produce a report with recommendations to guide future development of relevant tools, training and resources. The branch will map the decisions made, activities undertaken and feedback received; including from the initial point of contact in the EAP process to after the intervention. The branch will also identify the points where relevant sex, gender and diversity information is gathered.

Branch: Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB)

Title: Health Risks of Vaping Products: Public Awareness Marketing Campaign Strategy 2018-2020

Description: The goal of this marketing campaign is to increase awareness of the harms and risks of vaping product use. It targets youth (aged 15 to18), their parents and teachers, as well as non-smoking young adults (aged 19 to 24).

Progress: In 2018, public opinion research (POR), under the title “Peer Crowd Analysis and Segmentation for Vaping and Tobacco,” was conducted to further segment the youth/young adult population. SGBA is a consideration for messaging, content development and campaign activity. Findings from the POR will be considered and applied to the campaign.

Impact: The Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey 2015 reported that “ever use” of e-cigarettes is more prevalent among males (16.1%) than females (10.5%), but there was no difference in past 30-day use (3.6% vs. 2.8%).Sex differences were more pronounced among younger age groups.

Observations: HECSB expects challenges in finding the right balance of messaging related to tobacco and vaping prevention for the general population and relevant sub-populations.

Other SGBA initiatives in HECSB:
The Climate Change and Innovation Bureau is the lead on the National Climate Change and Health Assessment and provided guidance to the authors on best practices for incorporating SGBA considerations. Additionally, there will be a chapter in the Assessment report that highlights the intersecting vulnerabilities for which SGBA considerations will be discussed in the context of climate change and health.

The Bureau's Heat Division developed a draft action plan that outlines their 2018-19 key priorities and activities and how SGBA may be incorporated into those actions.

The Climate Change and Health Adaptation Capacity Building Program proposal application required applicants to indicate how SGBA considerations have been integrated into their application and included a list of guiding questions and resources.

Chemicals and Environmental Health Management Bureau initiated five research projects in spring 2017 that consider SGBA. These projects address various knowledge gaps under the Chemicals Management Plan. These projects will generate data with SGBA considerations that will be published in scientific peer-review journals. Findings are expected to be included in research publications to be shared with the scientific/regulatory community for consideration in risk assessment and risk management activities under the Chemicals Management Plan initiative.

Further to the Post-2020 Chemicals Management Plan renewal work with Environment and Climate Change Canada, HECSB is engaged in the development of an SGBA tool geared to that project and of a targeted approach to seeking gender-based perspectives on chemicals in the environment.

Branch: Health Products and Food Safety Branch (HPFB)

Title: Investigating Consumer Perceptions and Behaviours of Health Product Labelling: Cosmetics, Natural Health Products and Non-Prescription Drugs

Researcher: Dr. Louise Pilote

Description: HPFB is modernizing oversight of self-care products, such as cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs, while continuing to ensure that Canadians have access to safe and effective products. Following the review of the input received throughout several consultations and engagement sessions with interested stakeholders to inform the way forward, HPFB announced a phased approach to implementing the Self-Care Framework in February 2018.

Progress: In 2017-2018, the project charter was finalized and a comparative analysis report on key sex, gender and diversity considerations based on analysis of public opinion research was completed in fall 2018. This work was done by Dr. Louise Pilote from McGill University.

Impact: HPFB hopes to benefit from knowledge transfer and SGBA guidance opportunities that have been outlined in the project charter once the project moves past its preliminary stages.

Observations: Front-line staff will benefit from continued targeted, area-specific training and resources. This will help staff bridge theoretical knowledge with practical applications and understand expectations related to applying SGBA in their work. This is to go beyond policy development where SGBA is often placed and into more specialized areas such as procurement and scientific review.

Next Steps: In December 2019, Dr. Louise Pilote will be providing recommendations in a report on metrics, data collection and monitoring to evaluate the success of the gender-related aspects of the Self Care Framework.

Branch: Office of Audit and Evaluation (OAE)

Title: Integrating SGBA+ in Evaluation: Piloting the Use of the Public Health Agency of Canada/Health Canada Program Evaluation Division's SGBA+ Lens for a Health Canada Program Evaluation


  1. Application of the SGBA+ lens to the Health Canada food safety evaluation design.
  2. Updating the lens to align with the Treasury Board 2016 Policy on Results and the anticipated Treasury Board guidance document “Integrating GBA+ in Evaluation” (forthcoming).
  3. Pilot the application of the lens for a Health Canada program evaluation.

Progress: The SGBA lens was used for the Health Canada food safety evaluation, which is currently in data collection and analysis. Findings include: food safety program communications and outreach efforts to Canadians have been targeted toward those most at risk (i.e. seniors, those with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and children under five years of age), and specific products (e.g. pamphlets and posters) have been developed to reach them. The program has conducted surveys of Canadians' knowledge and behaviours related to food safety, which helps to better target high-risk groups.

Impact: Evaluators will complete an SGBA+ lens template at the conclusion of an evaluation; the template will capture information that was gathered about how sex, gender, and diversity issues impact the program. Information from the template will be available to be rolled up at a future date.

Observations: Both Health Canada's deputy minister and the Public Health Agency of Canada's president have said that SGBA is to be addressed in every evaluation and audit going forward. This has increased interest and energy for applying SGBA in the OAE.

Next steps: Familiarize OAE evaluators with the lens, applying it (next to the Chemicals Management Plan) and gathering feedback on its use; finalizing the lens once Treasury Board has issued its guidance document.

Branch: Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)

Title: Sharing Information on PMRA's Existing, Science-based Consideration of Sex and Gender in the Evaluation of Pest Control Products.

Description: The PMRA will create a communications document to raise public awareness of the role that sex and gender play in the agency's current scientific evaluations and risk assessments, which already consider vulnerable subgroups, including pregnant women, infants, children, women and seniors, as required by the Pest Control Products Act.

Progress: The PMRA developed and published a Fact Sheet on line in December 2017 to raise public awareness of the role that sex and gender play in its current scientific evaluations.

Impact: Increased communication of sex and gender considerations in existing scientific evaluations is expected to raise public awareness and confidence in the pesticide regulatory framework at Health Canada.

Next Steps: An infographic document is currently being developed.

Branch: Regulatory Operations and Regions Branch (RORB)

Title: Applying a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Lens to Health Canada's Risk Communications for Health Products

Researcher: Dr. Margaret Haworth-Brockman

Description: As part of a new consumer communication strategy, we will apply a gendered lens to evaluate ways in which Health Canada disseminates risk communications for health products. This initiative involves a research partnership with Dr. Haworth-Brockman from the University of Winnipeg.

Progress: Activities in 2017-18 included a high-level literature review and analysis summary of gender-relevant findings and risk communications. The analysis indicated that there are gender-relevant considerations with regard to risk communications that include: risk perception, mental noise, negative dominance, and trust determination. These findings, along with general SGBA considerations, are the subject of a presentation being developed by RORB to deliver to its employees through an SGBA 101 session.

Impact: The impacts of the branch project will be monitored by collecting data on: (1)the number of participants and interactions at sessions or through a hands-on exercise; (2) the number of networks or units expressing interest in additional sessions or hands-on exercises; and (3) additional strategies adapted to each tool or activity to demonstrate impact, depending on how the project advances.

Observations: Working with a team of experts outside of government has its challenges (e.g. learning how to work together and understand each other's reality), and at the same time, ensures we have a strong knowledge base in SGBA that would have been more time- consuming to develop internally, given competing priorities. A key challenge throughout the first phase of the project was to effectively translate the key findings of the literature review and summary analysis into an accessible format for regulatory policy and program staff.

Next steps: In fall 2018, RORB launched a branch-level advisory group beginning with health product representatives to advise on the next phase of the project. An employee orientation session was scheduled for December 2018. An evaluation of the session will be conducted to assess its impact in raising awareness and interest in applying the principles to program policy or risk communications.

Branch: Strategic Policy Branch (SPB), Health Care Programs and Policy Directorate

Title: Digital Technology to Support Informal Caregivers: Matching the Tools to the Needs

Researcher: Dr. Angela Colantonio

Description: The use of digital technologies, including mobile applications, home surveillance systems, and eHealth applications to assist in the delivery of care, is an innovation that could provide significant benefits to Canadians receiving home and community care and could help the community to cope with the increasing pressures on caregivers. Although sex, gender and diversity are important elements, they have not been systematically considered in the design and evaluation of these technologies. This initiative will develop an evidence-based technology assessment framework that explicitly addresses sex, gender and diversity considerations.

Progress: The initiative is still in a preliminary stage, but it has developed partnerships with the CIHR and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

A unique cross-sectional survey was administered to 418 family caregivers (80% female) of a high-needs population (e.g. persons with dementia) across Canada on the needs and preferences for technology among informal caregivers, and the results have been analyzed. Items within the questionnaire gathered information relating to demographics, caregiver knowledge of and attitudes toward technology, features and function of technology, and the financial considerations of technology in caregiving.

Impact: Ultimately, the findings can be used by management to develop sex-, gender- and diversity-sensitive policies. The results of the initiative will be disseminated to stakeholders in the field. Management will follow up on the adoption of SGBA as part of the development of its policies and programs

Observations: Preliminary findings have found significant differences in technology preferences between male and female caregivers. After controlling for caregiver age, employment status, family finances and the age of the care recipient, female caregivers were found to be more likely to have some knowledge about technology to support persons with dementia compared to their male counterparts; however, male caregivers were more likely to be willing to pay for these technologies compared to female caregivers. Female caregivers in the survey tended to be significantly younger than male caregivers, but no other significant demographic differences were found.

Next steps: The project will enter a more active phase over 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and more results will be shared in the coming year.

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