An uneven path for pay equity in Ontario

Compliance and maintenance still an issue as Pay Equity Act marks its 20th year
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/21/2008

Though Ontario’s Pay Equity Act will mark its 20th anniversary next month, there is still plenty of work to do to ensure greater equality for women in the province. Statistics show that, regardless of occupation or education, women earn, on average, dramatically less than men, many are still fighting for equal pay promised years ago and plenty of employers still have not complied with the legislation.

“It’s just not palatable in Ontario that we treat women like this,” said Irene Harris, secretary treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) in Toronto which, along with other members of the Equal Pay Coalition, is calling for greater government support in a new campaign.

The act compares the value of jobs usually done by women to the value of jobs usually done by men based on four factors: skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. (It does not cover employees in sectors under federal jurisdictions, students working during vacation and employers with fewer than 10 employees.) However, the wage gap between men and women is still wide, having gone from 36 per cent in 1987 to 29 per cent in 2007.