Key budgetary goal to help women enter work force would lift economy: analysis

One of the predominant themes of next week's federal budget will be increasing the work-force participation of women, and recently released internal documents point to big economic benefits for Canada if it can help more women enter the job market.

The Liberal government has said improving the economic success of women and promoting gender equality will be primary objectives of next Tuesday's budget.

Options on the budgetary table include narrowing the pay equity gap, ensuring more gender equality in boardrooms, easing access to capital for female entrepreneurs and opening up more funding opportunities for female scientific researchers.

A briefing note prepared for Finance Minister Bill Morneau estimates that closing the labour-market participation gap between women and men by half over 15 years would raise the country's potential long-term economic growth by an average of 0.25 percentage points per year over that period.

If nothing changes, the memo to Morneau estimates potential growth will ``remain low'' over the next 15 years at 1.7 per cent.

But the analysis says raising the work-force participation rate of women by 4.5 percentage points by 2032 would lift Canada's potential growth to about 1.9 per cent.