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Nov 29, 2013 | Article

Where to go for Pay Equity: Canadian Remedies for Gender Pay Discrimination

The right of women to equal pay for work of equal value and equal treatment in pay and employment opportunities are internationally recognized human rights and labour standards.2 Laws securing these rights are necessary because gender pay gaps are one of the most enduring features of world labour markets and continue to be regularly documented in Canada.

As of the latest Statistic Canada data available for 2011, based on average annual earnings, Canadian women earn about 66.7% of what Canadian men earn.3 When a full time full year measure is used, the gap is 72%.4 Disconcertingly, both of these gaps grew from the previous years. The hourly gap for 2013 is 86%,5 however this figure obscures the fact that more than seven out of 10 part-time workers are women, and are thus are in more precarious work situations.6

As highlighted by the 2004 Federal Pay Equity Task Force report, “Pay Equity: A Fundamental Human Right”, racialized women, immigrant women, Aboriginal women and women with disabilities suffer from substantially higher pay gaps.7 For example, racialized women in Ontario were short-changed 53.4 cents for every dollar non-racialized men got paid for work in 2005.8


2 Pay equity is guaranteed by Convention 100 of the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).For more information see: International Labour Organization’s “Promoting Equity: Gender-Neutral Job Evaluation for Equal Pay: A Step-By-Step Guide” (International Labour Office, Geneva, 2008) (“ILO Guide”)< http://www.ilo.org/declaration/info/publications/eliminationofdiscrimination/WCMS_122372/lang--en/index.htm>

3 Statistics Canada, CANSIM Table 202-0102 1, 4 Average female and male earnings, and female-to-male earnings ratio, by work activity, 2011 constant dollars. We used a custom table to obtain this data. To recreate this table, go to the “Add/Remove Data” tab on this table, and then check off the box titled “Full-year full-time workers.” This table can be recreated for any province and some metropolitan census areas, but not for the territories. < http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/pick-choisir?lang=eng&p2=33&id=2020102>

4 Ibid.

5 Statistics Canada “Average hourly wages of employees by selected characteristics and occupation, unadjusted data, by province (monthly),” <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/labr69a-eng.htm> In 2013, the hourly average wage for women is $22.58. The hourly average wage for men in 2013 is $26.14. This represents a female to male wage ratio of 86%.

6 See http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-503-x/2010001/article/11387-eng.pdf.

72004 Federal Pay Equity Task Force report : Pay Equity: A New Approach to a Fundamental Right, <http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/webarchives/20071121061932/www.justice.gc.ca/en/payeqsal/6000.html>

8 Block, Sheila “With Two Women Leaders, Can We Build A Gender Balanced Budget?” See http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/news/with-2-women-leaders-can-we-build-a-gender-balanced-budget.



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