Ontario launches 6-part pay equity webinar series

'The economic impact to be derived from women's participation in the labour market with wage equity is large and measurable'

Ontario launches 6-part pay equity webinar series

The Ontario Pay Equity Office is launching a six-part web series to let stakeholders learn more about the issues surrounding pay equity in Canada.

Titled “Level the Paying Field,” the series will explore topics related to economics, equity, women, work and wage equity.

"We wanted to know more about gender and pay equity's resurgence as an imperative to post-COVID economic recovery," says Kadie Ward, commissioner and chief administrative officer of Ontario's Pay Equity Commission.

The first episode of the series launched on Sept. 15 and is available here. Additional episodes will be launched weekly on Wednesdays through Oct. 20.

The revised federal Pay Equity Act came into effect Aug. 31 this year.

The pre-pandemic gender wage gap in Ontario was 12.2 per cent, with women making 88 cents for every dollar men make, according to Statistics Canada (StatCan). The gap is even wider for Indigenous women in Canada (who earn 65 cents on the dollar), racialized women (who earn 67 cents) and newcomer women (who earn 71 cents).

And the pandemic may have made it worse, with 1.5 million women in Canada losing their jobs in the first two months of the health crisis. In April 2020, women's employment dropped to 55 percent, the lowest it has been since the 1980s.

"Over the past year we have coined the terms, 'she-cession', 'she-covery' with governments and agencies globally talking about a ‘feminist post-COVID recovery,’'" says Ward. "This is not surprising… given that the economic impact to be derived from women's participation in the labour market with wage equity is large and measurable."

Based on self-reported numbers, women earned an average pre-tax salary of $51,352 in 2019, while men reported an average pre-tax salary of $67,704, marking a 24 per cent gap, according to an ADP Canada report. Another study found that in Canada the pay gap will not be gone until almost 100 years from 2029.

Last year, a Vancouver tech company encouraged employers to “take a pledge” to prioritize pay equity.

Here are ways that government can eliminate the gender wage gap, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada:

  • Make closing the gender gap a human rights priority
  • Legislate card check & promote access to collective bargaining
  • Enforce and expand pay equity
  • Increase the minimum wage
  • Legislate equity compliance for workplaces and businesses
  • Provide affordable, high-quality, universal child care
  • End violence and harassment of women
  • Table Pay Transparency legislation

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