Women Need Pay Equity

Canadian Press

Ad Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights

In 2009, about 8 million women had a paid job in Canada. Women in Canada have made breakthroughs in the working environment. However there is still an issue over valuing women’s work equally with the work of men.

More than 30 years ago, Parliament adopted the Canadian Human Rights Act, that specifically prohibits paying women less than men for work of equal value. Yet all studies show that the gender pay gap has remained basically the same over the years. Today, women working full-time, full-year, earn on average 70.5% of what men earn.

 The International Labour Organization (ILO) the United Nations, the provinces and the federal government have all adopted measures to promote equal pay for equal work, as well as equal pay for work of equal value.

This is what is at stake:

  • Women’s work is not considered as valuable as men’s work, and women’s wages are systemically lower.

  • Economic independence is enhanced by equal pay, and helps women become less vulnerable to violence.

  • Pay equity will increase most women’s wages, and as a consequence it will also increase the value of vacation and overtime pay, and employment insurance benefits.

  • 60% of single parent households are headed by women. These families deserve the economic security that comes from well-paid jobs.

  • Higher pay during women’s working lives means higher pensions and less chance of living in poverty when they retire.

What we need:

After extensive consultations, research and discussion, the federal Pay Equity Task Force concluded in 2004 that the current “complaints-based” system is not working well for pay equity. It recommended that Canada adopt a proactive, stand-alone pay equity law, similar to those in Ontario and in Québec. These recommendations were supported by over 200 women’s groups and trade unions in Québec and in the rest of Canada.

What we got: 

Instead of implementing these recommendations, the Harper Conservatives brought in a special law targeting federal public sector workers. This law removes their right to file pay equity complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and it subjects these workers to a special regime that effectively prevents them from accessing pay equity.

Consider asking your candidate:

Q. If elected, will your party support the elimination of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, 
which deprives public sector workers of their pay equity rights?
Q. If elected, will your party support the immediate implementation of the Pay Equity Task Force recommendations, 
and adopt a proactive federal pay equity law?


Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press