Two-in-Five Canadians Want More Action to Improve Gender Equality

Many Canadians, and a majority of women, would like the federal government to take action in order to advance gender equality in the country, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,005 Canadian adults—released in advance of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada—43 per cent of respondents say the federal government should be doing more to improve gender equality in the country. Women (51%) and respondents over the age of 55 (46%) are more likely to believe that the federal government should be doing more on this particular area.

Gender Quotas

More than half of respondents support establishing quotas so that a minimum mandatory number of women occupy seats in the House of Commons and the Senate (52%) and also on corporate boards (also 52%). Respondents in the Prairies are more likely to oppose quotas, while Quebecers are definitely in favour of them.

Dealing with Existing Problems

When asked about specific policies that could serve to protect battered women in Canada, a large proportion of respondents believe it would be helpful to fund short-term safe houses and transition houses for women and children escaping violence (93%), to pursue the prosecution of violent men (92%), and to provide legal support for child custody/access disputes (82%).

Four-in-five Canadians (80%) believe the failures of the criminal justice system are a contributing factor in the frequency of sexual assaults against women in Canada. Fewer respondents believe women’s inequality (40%) and social pressure on men (29%) are contributing factors.

A sizeable proportion of Canadians believe providing more education opportunities (85%), more detox and addiction recovery services (83%) and more employment opportunities (80%) would help women involved in prostitution who want to exit the sex trade.

Nine-in-ten Canadians think making sure that men and women get equal pay for equal work (91%) would advance equality in Canada, and four-in-five (81%) feel the same way about ending violence against women. About three-in-five respondents also think it would be helpful to enact a universal childcare system (61%) and ensure that equal numbers of women and men are included in decision-making institutions (57%).


Across the country, women and respondents over the age of 55 are more likely to believe that the government should be doing more to improve gender equality in Canada. The notion of quotas for political office and corporate boards is divisive. Although a majority of Canadians would like to see these policies implemented, they are currently supported by just over a third of men.

When asked about causes and solutions, Canadians are clear in some of the policies they would like to see. On the funding side, safe houses for battered women are definitely supported. Many respondents also believe that the prostitution question could be answered by providing more education, recovery and employment opportunities. However, an increase in social assistance is not regarded as a particularly positive solution.

The survey also outlines a loss of trust in the legal system when it comes to women, with four-in-five thinking its failures are a contributing factor to sexual assaults. The low level of confidence in the legal system is also exemplified in the high support for pursuing the prosecution of violent men and providing legal support for domestic disputes.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From November 30 to December 1, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,005 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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