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House Statement
by the Honourable Kevin Flynn
Minister of Labour
and the Honourable Teresa Piruzza
Minister Responsible for Women's Issues
on Equal Pay Day

  • Issued: April 8, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: April 2014

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Minister Flynn

It is an honour to rise in the Legislature to recognize April 16 as Equal Pay Day with community groups across Ontario. I also want to acknowledge the advocates, community leaders and those working to end wage discrimination every day, including the leadership of Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario's Pay Equity Commissioner and the Pay Equity Office.

We recognize the critical role that women play in our economy, while reflecting on the sombre reality that women earn less on average than men.

We must recommit ourselves to ending this discrimination and celebrating the amazing contributions women make to our economy, while ensuring that the contributions of our daughters and granddaughters are fully valued and recognized.

By acknowledging this day, Ontario joins others around the world in recognizing that while we've made significant progress, this inequality still exists and we still have more work to do.

Women make up a central part of the workforce, the majority of post-secondary graduates, and a growing number of leaders in our economy and our society.

Ontario women are innovators and scientists, teachers and CEOs, and, I'm incredibly proud to say, the Premier of Ontario.

However, on average, women still do not make the same income as men, and this gap increases among racialized women and those women living with a disability.

And as long as there is a wage gap, Ontario's economic engine is failing to fire on all cylinders.

That's why we have asked the province's Pay Equity Commission to hold a roundtable to discuss ways to address the gender wage gap in Ontario.

It was our government under Premier Peterson that passed the Pay Equity Act. Today, it is still recognized as one of the most progressive pay equity statutes in the world.

In 2012, we provided nearly $1.5 million in funding to support women in the skilled trades.

We've also launched the Second Career program and helped more than 38,000 women retrain for a new career.

We recognize that 58 per cent of minimum wage earners are women. Our government is increasing the minimum wage to $11 on June 1.

And we have introduced legislation that would, if passed, tie future annual minimum wage increases to Ontario's Consumer Price Index, to make it easier for women and all workers to put food on the table, a roof over their head, and help their kids get ahead.

This will put more money in the pockets of hard working women and their families.

The truth is, Mr. Speaker – Equal Pay Day is a day that shouldn't exist.

Recognizing the value of the work that women do contributes to a more equal, just and prosperous society.

So I call on all Ontarians to recommit themselves to closing the gender wage gap so we can achieve fairness in pay.

I now ask the Honourable Teresa Piruzza, Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, to continue with her words on this important issue.

Thank you.

Minister Piruzza

Mr. Speaker, I rise to join my colleague the Minister of Labour in recognizing April 16th as Equal Pay Day.

I share the Minister's and our government's belief in the importance of this day.

It is particularly important to the women of Ontario.

Today, half of Ontario's workforce are women and more than half of our post-secondary graduates are female.

Professionally, women have broken through in every field.

Almost 50 per cent of Canada's small and medium-sized businesses are owned or partially-owned by women.

Across Canada, women-owned small businesses generate a massive $18 billion annually and provide 1.7 million jobs.

Yet for all our successes — there are challenges.

The fact that the gender wage gap exists means that women's economic potential is not fully utilized — shortchanging women in the labour market means shortchanging Ontario's families.

We know that helping women achieve gender equality is vital to Ontario's economic prosperity.

We also understand the challenges some women face in the labour market.

My colleague Minister Flynn mentioned the important steps taken by the Ministry of Labour to increase the minimum wage and strengthen workplace rights for vulnerable workers.

I am very encouraged by these measures because we know that they will particularly benefit women.

Our government is also investing significantly in child care and full-day kindergarten.

These investments help women return to the workforce or take training to upgrade their skills, knowing their children are well cared for.

Through the Ontario Women's Directorate, we are also investing in training programs for women to help them secure better-paying jobs in the skilled trades and the information technology sector.

We also continue to support the advancement of women in business and in senior leadership positions.

We know that today women account for just 15.9 per cent of board members in the Financial Post 500 companies.

This past summer our government asked the Ontario Securities Commission to undertake a review and public consultation on a "comply or explain" approach to corporate governance.

We did this because there remains a stigma in the corporate world that we must work hard to change.

We have seen that when other countries have adopted a "comply or explain" approach there has been an increase in female corporate leadership.

As a government and as female role models we must continue to work hard to break down barriers.

For the women of today and the leaders of tomorrow.

So let's join together to recognize Equal Pay Day to promote the equality of women.

We must close the gender gap for all Ontario women.

Whether ensuring a decent wage for frontline service providers, breaking the corporate glass ceiling for senior business leaders, or overcoming an equality barrier faced by women in the skilled trades.

Because it's good for our economy and it's the right thing do.

Strong women mean a strong Ontario.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.