Deputy Minister Transition Binder 1

Overview of the Department for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE)

Table of content

Mandate, vision and raison d’être


The mandate of Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) is to advance equality with respect to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression through the inclusion of people of all genders, including women, in Canada’s economic, social, and political life. In addition, WAGE is responsible for the promotion of a greater understanding of the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. These factors include but are not limited to race, national and ethnic origin, Indigenous origin or identity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic condition, place of residence and disability.

WAGE works within the context of a number of federal and international instruments that support the principle of gender equality such as: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

WAGE’s priorities include, but are not limited to, the following:

WAGE’s mandate is delivered nationally and through five regions: Atlantic; Quebec and Nunavut; Ontario; Prairies; and Pacific. Regional offices are located in Moncton, Montréal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. The national office is located in Gatineau.


A Canada where people of all genders, including women, are equal in every way and can achieve their full potential.

Raison d’être

WAGE works to advance gender equality through an intersectional gendered lens. Working in partnership with key stakeholders, including civil society organizations, labour groups, the private sector, other orders of government, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, WAGE actively promotes the inclusion of all people in Canada’s economic, social, and political life. WAGE works to uphold its mandate to advance gender equality by performing a central coordination function within the Government of Canada,  developing and implementing policies, providing grants and contributions, delivering programs, investing in research, and providing advice to achieve equality for people of all genders, including women.

Ministerial Mandate Letter

Dear Minister Ien:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.

From the beginning of this pandemic, Canadians have faced a once-in-a-century challenge. And through it all, from coast to coast to coast, people have met the moment. When it mattered most, Canadians adapted, helped one another, and stayed true to our values of compassion, courage and determination. That is what has defined our path through this pandemic so far. And that is what will pave our way forward.

During a difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice. They entrusted us to finish the fight against COVID-19 and support the recovery of a strong middle class. At the same time, they also gave us clear direction: to take bold, concrete action to build a healthier, more resilient future. That is what Canadians have asked us to do and it is exactly what our Government is ready to deliver. We will work to build that brighter future through continued collaboration, engagement, and the use of science and evidence-based decision-making. With an unwavering focus on delivering results, we will work constructively with Parliamentarians and maintain our strong partnerships with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners. This decade has had an incredibly difficult start, but this is the moment to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive and stronger country for everyone.

The science is clear. Canadians have been clear. We must not only continue taking real climate action, we must also move faster and go further. As Canadians are increasingly experiencing across the country, climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us. As Minister, I expect you to seek opportunities within your portfolio to support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.

This year, Canadians were horrified by the discovery of unmarked graves and burial sites near former residential schools. These discoveries underscore that we must move faster on the path of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. We know that reconciliation cannot come without truth and our Government will continue to invest in that truth. As Ministers, each of us has a duty to further this work, both collectively and as individuals. Consequently, I am directing every Minister to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights.

We must continue to address the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in the core fabric of our society, including our core institutions. To this effect, it is essential that Canadians in every region of the country see themselves reflected in our Government’s priorities and our work. As Minister, I expect you to include and collaborate with various communities, and actively seek out and incorporate in your work, the diverse views of Canadians. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, faith-based communities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 Canadians, and, in both official languages.

Across our work, we remain committed to ensuring that public policies are informed and developed through an intersectional lens, including applying frameworks such as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and the quality of life indicators in decision-making.

Canadians continue to rely on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news. I expect you to maintain professional and respectful relationships with journalists to ensure that Canadians are well informed and have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, Canadians and their governments have adapted to new realities. Governments must draw on lessons learned from the pandemic to further adapt and develop more agile and effective ways to serve Canadians. To this end, I expect all Ministers to evaluate ways we can update our practices to ensure our Government continues to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The success of this Parliament will require Parliamentarians, both in the House of Commons and the Senate, to work together across all parties to get big things done for Canadians. I expect you to maintain constructive relationships with your Opposition Critics and coordinate any legislation with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. As Minister, you are accountable to  Parliament both individually, for your style of leadership and the performance of your responsibilities, and collectively, in support of our Ministry and decisions taken by Cabinet. Open and Accountable Government sets out these core principles and the standards of conduct expected of you and your office. I expect you to familiarize yourself with this document, which outlines my expectations for each member of the Ministry.

Our platform lays out an ambitious agenda. While finishing the fight against the pandemic must remain our central focus, we must continue building a strong middle class and work toward a better future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success and no one is left behind.

As Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, you will prioritize the development of a 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, the completion of Canada’s first Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan and the continued implementation of the Youth Policy. You will likewise prioritize the creation of a new stream of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy for Canadians with disabilities. As you work to drive these priorities, you will continue to support all ministers as they work to advance gender equality and inclusion across their portfolios, with an emphasis on enhancing GBA Plus so that it better captures the lived experiences of all Canadians.

To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.

Continue to lead the evaluation process of GBA Plus with the goal of enhancing the framing and parameters of this analytical tool and with particular attention to the intersectional analysis of race, indigeneity, rurality, disability and sexual identity, among other characteristics. You will be supported in this work by the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Minister of Rural Economic Development, the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

As part of this work, you will continue to strengthen the Department for Women and Gender Equality as a centre of expertise for advancing gender equality and supporting the application of GBA Plus across government decision-making processes.

Continue the work of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat in promoting LGBTQ2 equality at home and abroad, protecting LGBTQ2 rights and addressing discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities, building on the passage of Bill C-4, which criminalized conversion therapy.

As Minister, you are also responsible for actively engaging with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. As we deliver on our platform commitments, it will be important that members of the Ministry continue to collaborate and work constructively to support rigorous and productive Cabinet decision-making. I expect you to support your colleagues in delivering their commitments, leveraging the expertise of your department and your own lived experiences.

To best achieve results for Canadians, Ministers must be rigorous and coordinated in our approach to implementation. I would therefore ask that you return to me with a proposed approach for the delivery of your mandate commitments, including priorities for early implementation. Furthermore, to ensure we are accountable for our work, I will be asking you to publicly report to me, and all Canadians, on your progress toward these commitments on a regular basis.

As we have been reminded throughout the pandemic, adapting to change is not only something government should do, it is something government must do. As you work to fulfil our commitments, I expect you to actively consider new ideas and issues as they emerge, whether through public engagement, your work with Parliamentarians or advice from the public service. I also expect you to work with your Deputy Minister to assess priorities on a continual basis as we build a better future for all Canadians. In addition to achieving results, you are responsible for overseeing the work of your department and ensuring the effective operation of your portfolio.

As you staff your office and implement outreach and recruitment strategies for federally appointed leadership positions and boards, I ask that you uphold the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. This helps ensure that federal workplaces are dynamic and reflective of the Canadians we serve. You will also

ensure your Minister’s office and portfolio are reflective of our commitment to healthy and safe workplaces.

Canadians expect us to work hard, speak truthfully and be committed to advancing their interests and aspirations. When we make mistakes – as we all will – Canadians expect us to acknowledge them, and most importantly, to learn from them.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you, and to turn to me, and the Deputy Prime Minister, early and often to support you in your role as Minister.


Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

Departmental legislation


The Department for Women and Gender Equality Act, which came into force in December 2018, transformed the former Status of Women Canada (SWC) into a full department called the Department for Women and Gender Equality, overseen by the Minister for Women and Gender Equality.

The former Office of Co-ordinator, Status of Women, known as Status of Women Canada, was originally created through an Order in Council and was given a mandate in the 1976 Appropriations Act No. 3, to coordinate policy with respect to the status of women and administer related programs.

Dedicated departmental legislation establishing the Department solidifies the roles and responsibilities that had been undertaken by the former SWC and its Minister, making that work more transparent and more entrenched while expanding the official mandate. Any future attempt to modify or eliminate these responsibilities will be subject to greater public scrutiny through the parliamentary processes required to change formal legislation.

The expanded mandate of the new Department also formalizes as a responsibility of the Minister the promotion of a greater understanding of the Government’s gender and diversity lens, known as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus), which involves the development of policies and programs with consideration of the needs and experiences of diverse groups of people based on factors such as sex, gender, race, national origin, ethnic origin, Indigenous identity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socio-economic condition, place of residence and disability.

Annex A

Organizational Chart

Description: Department for Women and Gender Equality - Organizational Structure
  • Frances McRae: Deputy Minister
    • Julie Webster: Chief of Staff
  • Alia Butt : Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy
  • Natalie St Lawrence : Director General, Policy & External Relations
  • Crystal Garrett-Baird : Director General, GBV Policy
  • Fernand Comeau : Director General, LGBTQ2 Secretariat
  • Gail Mitchell : Assistant Deputy Minister, Departmental Program and Operations
    • Joanna Baker : Director General, Program & Regional Operations
    • Kristina Guénette : Director General, Communications & public Affairs
    • Catherine McLaughlin : Director General, Human Resources
    • Stéphane Lavigne : CFO and Director General, Corporate Services
    • Runa Angus : A/Director General, Corporate Secretariat

External Environment

Key Groups with Regular Interaction

Women’s Organizations

National Indigenous Women’s Organizations and Key National and Regional Organizations

LGBTQ2 Organizations

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Forum of Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women

Annex A

Provincial and territorial partners responsible for The Status Of Women
Contact Name Contact Title
The Honourable Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk Associate Minister of Status of Women - Alberta
Dr. Grace Lore Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity - British Columbia
The Honourable Rochelle Squires Minister of Families; Minister responsible for Accessibility; Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs; Minister responsible for the Status of Women – Manitoba
The Honourable Tammy Scott-Wallace Minister of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture; Minister responsible for Women's Equality - New Brunswick
The Honourable Pam Parsons Minister Responsible for Women and Gender Equality - Newfoundland and Labrador
The Honourable Caroline Wawzonek Minister of Finance; Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment; Minister Responsible for the Status of Women - Northwest Territories
The Honourable Karla MacFarlane Minister of Community Services; Minister of L'nu Affairs; Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act – Nova Scotia
The Honourable Margaret Nakashuk Minister of Human Resources; Minister of Family Services; Minister responsible for Workers Safety and Compensation Commission; Minister responsible for Status of Women; Minister responsible for Homelessness; Minister responsible for Poverty Reduction – Nunavut
The Honourable Charmaine Williams Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity - Ontario
The Honourable Natalie Jameson Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning; Minister responsible for the Status of Women - Prince Edward Island
Mme. Isabelle Charest Minister responsible for the Status of Women; Minister of Education - Quebec
The Honourable Laura Ross Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport; Minister Responsible for the Status of Women - Saskatchewan
The Honourable Jeanie McLean Minister of Education; Minister responsible for the Women and Gender Equity Directorate - Yukon

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