Walking the Talk on Gender-Based Analysis Plus

Kelly Poffenroth – Regulatory Policy Team and Market Analyst

Before 2020 and the ongoing pandemic, Kelly loved to travel. She is looking forward to travelling again when it is safe to do so and wishes the same for her colleagues. In this photo, Kelly is looking out to the stunning view of Mont-Saint-Michel in France, which was taken during a backpacking trip.

All people experience the world through their own lens. Assumptions, conscious and unconscious biases and unique interpretations of events colour how we perceive reality. This is why it’s important for the Regulatory Policy team to review CER regulatory policies and regulations with a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) lens.

GBA Plus is an analytical tool used by the federal government to examine the impacts of a policy, program, or initiative on gender and other intersecting identifying factors, such as age, sexual orientation, education, language, geography, culture, and income.

A market analyst with the Regulatory Policy team, Kelly Poffenroth has been conducting research, attending workshops, and consolidating materials to help the team understand the concept and application of GBA Plus. She first worked with the CER as a student but officially joined the team in August of 2020 after graduating with a degree in Policy Studies from Mount Royal University in June of 2020.

Kelly considers her involvement in GBA Plus one of the highlights of her work. "My work has been focused on understanding how to conduct a GBA Plus, to use and to make connections between GBA Plus and its application to regulation development, and to help build tools to enable the analysis to occur.”

If you’re wondering why this analysis is so important, it’s because sometimes our biases and assumptions, if unchecked, can lead to unintended consequences. For example, clinical research is an area where GBA Plus is critical; during the 1990s, 8 of the 10 medications withdrawn from the market caused severe side effects, and even death, in women only.

The Government of Canada considers GBA Plus a key competency in developing effective programs and policies for Canadians. Through the systematic use of GBA Plus, we can improve our work by including diverse perspectives.

"The GBA Plus is a new initiative and there are many opportunities for the organization to succeed and learn with each application of this tool. The CER is building awareness of GBA Plus internally through presentations, the iWeb page, and the GBA Plus Community of Practice. In the spirit of continual improvement, we know there is work to do to integrate GBA Plus into our regulatory processes, but we are excited to further our understanding and develop the skills to implement effective policies and regulations that consider the perspectives of all Canadians.”

The Government of Canada continues to build on the GBA Plus concept and its application. Kelly would like to see more educational workshops, more accessible and enhanced data analytics for departments/agencies to use in a GBA Plus, and more information sharing across departments and agencies. She is optimistic about the work underway, such as the development of a dedicated Indigenous section in the “Gender Based Analysis Step-by-Step Guide Compendium” on the GCpedia website. This section speaks to how the federal government departments are supporting Indigenous organizations to develop their own culturally competent and distinctions-based GBA Plus resources and tools.

With the commitment of employees like Kelly, GBA Plus moves beyond the philosophical. It's a practical, functional approach that ensures CER policies and programs are inclusive and equitable.

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