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House Statement
by the Honourable Kevin Flynn
Minister of Labour
on Equal Pay Day

  • Issued: April 20, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: April 2015

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Speaker,

I rise in the Legislature today to recognize April 20 as Equal Pay Day in Ontario.

This is the day that is calculated each year in countries around the world to mark the extra time it takes a woman to earn as much as a man.

I want to acknowledge the advocates, community leaders and those who work each and every day to end wage disparity.

I’d particularly like to recognize the leadership of Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario’s Pay Equity Commissioner, and extend a thank you from the people of Ontario to her and her staff at the Pay Equity Office.

Speaker, today we recognize the critical role that women play in our economy, while reflecting on the sombre reality that women continue to earn less on average than men.

Equal Pay Day is a reminder that we must dedicate ourselves to ending this discrimination and ensuring that the great contributions women make to our economy and the Province of Ontario are fully valued and recognized.

That’s why, in the Premier’s mandate letter to me, she asked that I work with the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Tracy MacCharles, to lead the development of a wage gap strategy that will close the gap between men and women in the context of the 21st Century economy.

That is an important task, and it’s one that Minister MacCharles and I look forward to tackling.

Over the past several years, our government has taken many steps to improve the lives of women across Ontario.

For example, The Ontario Women’s Directorate created a Microlending for Women in Ontario Program, which has helped more than 900 low-income women build and grow their own businesses.

We’re also paying particular attention to supporting low-income women:

As a result of initiatives undertaken through the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the child poverty rate in single mother-led families dropped from 44 per cent to 36 per cent in just two years.

In addition, as of July 2014, the Ontario Child Benefit was increased to a maximum of $1,310 per child per year, more than double the maximum benefit in 2009.

Ontario has invested significantly in child care and continues to implement Full-Day Kindergarten. This helps women participate in the workforce, knowing their children are well cared for.

And we have increased the minimum wage 8 times since 2003, with the ninth increase coming into effect on October 1. This will help low-income women, who are the majority of minimum wage earners in Ontario.

Since 2003, more than 2,200 women have participated in training through the Women in Skilled Trades and Information Technology training program. This program gives low-income women the training they need to get better-paying jobs.

And last month, Premier Wynne and Minister MacCharles released the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan for Ontario.

The plan will be implemented through numerous ministries, including mine, and the goal is to combat and raise awareness of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination, and improve support for survivors in Ontario.

Like closing the wage gap, these initiatives are steps toward increased fairness…

Because we know fairness for women in Ontario is about more than just money…

It’s about freedom from harassment and abuse, and it’s about equality of opportunity.

We’re not there yet, Speaker, but we are making progress.

And today we are taking another step in the right direction.

Today, my ministry is announcing that we have appointed two outstanding Ontarians as external advisors to this government’s new Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee.

Linda Davis is Past-President of the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of Ontario, of which she is currently an Executive Board Member, as well as the Board’s Equal Pay Coalition representative

Dr. Parbudyal Singh is a Professor of Human Resource Management at York University here in Toronto. Dr. Singh’s research covers emerging issues in human resources management and labour relations.

Ms. Davis and Dr. Singh will join Ontario’s Pay Equity Commissioner and my ministry’s executive lead, who are ex-officio members of the committee.

Speaker, the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee will conduct provincial consultation sessions in 2015 and develop recommendations to help create a strategy aimed at closing the gender wage gap through the actions of business, government, labour and all Ontarians.

Our Government is committed to women’s equality in Ontario. We have increased women's economic opportunities and removed barriers preventing full participation by women in the labour force. The Gender Wage Gap Strategy that the Steering Committee will draft will build on the progress we’ve made and will significantly improve the economic outcomes for Ontario women and of the province as a whole.

I look forward to receiving the committee’s recommendations in Spring 2016, after consultations have been completed.

By acknowledging this day, Speaker, 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.

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

Yet, as long as there is a wage gap, we have more work to do.

The truth is, Speaker — Equal Pay Day is a day that shouldn’t have to exist.

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

Our goal is an Ontario where men and women have equal opportunity to achieve their full potential within a modern workplace, thus contributing to Ontario’s economic growth.

Closing the gender wage gap is a necessary part of this goal.

Thank you, Speaker.