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Statement from Minister Kevin Flynn on Equal Pay Day

  • Issued: April 10, 2018
  • Content last reviewed: April 2018

We recognize today as Equal Pay Day in the Province of Ontario.

On this day, we recognize the paramount role that women play in our economy.

But on this day, we also recognize the concerning reality that women on average earn less than men.

The gender wage gap in Ontario has remained stagnant for the last decade, with women earning around 30 per cent less than men.

By acknowledging this day, Ontario joins other countries in recognizing that this inequality still exists.

And that it needs to end.

That’s not to say that we haven’t made some important strides over the years.

Women make up half of the workforce as innovators and scientists, teachers and police officers, CEOs and small business owners.

But even with all this progress, women on average have to work longer to make the same amount of money that a man makes.

It takes women in Ontario about 15.5 months to earn what men earn in a year.

It’s simply not fair – it’s not fair to our daughters, to our sisters, to our mothers.

There should be no reason why women continue to experience inequality in business, the workplace or society.

Not only is there a moral imperative to eliminating the gender wage gap, there’s an economic one as well.

By advancing workplace gender equality, Ontario could add an extra $60 billion in GDP by 2026, or up to an additional 9 per cent in GDP.

That’s why our government has made gender equality a priority, and made some significant advances.

We became the first province in Canada to introduce pay transparency legislation as part of a broad new strategy to advance women’s economic empowerment and build fairer, better workplaces.

Last month, the Premier unveiled Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, which includes the introduction of legislation to help address biases in hiring and pay setting, and to promote fairer compensation practices.

The proposed legislation, Bill 3, Pay Transparency Act, 2018 would help ensure that all Ontarians – including women and other groups who have been disadvantaged in the workplace – enjoy equal opportunity to negotiate fair wages and progress in their career based on merit.

If passed, it would increase pay transparency in the hiring process, prohibit reprisals against employees discussing their pay and bar employers from asking a job candidate about their past compensation.

It would also require larger employers to report to government on their workforce composition and aggregate pay gaps by gender and other diversity characteristics.

And Equal Pay Day will also be established as an official day of recognition in the Province of Ontario as part of this historic piece of legislation.

It will stand as a clear reminder that gender inequality is a reality in Ontario.

Our Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment is a multifaceted strategy, which includes investments of up to $50 million over three years.

It will help remove long-standing barriers that have kept women from benefiting equally in our rapidly changing economy.

Ontario is the first province in Canada to have a strategy of this kind.

It would also include expanding and strengthening women’s centres, which provide skills training and a variety of supports to women who are rebuilding their lives, such as women who have experienced violence, as well as immigrant and racialized women.

We will continue to reinforce measures to promote women in corporate leadership, increase women’s access to training and mentorship, and better support women entrepreneurs.

Ontario will also work with the federal government to advocate for changes to parental leave and benefits to support greater sharing of care between parents and promote women’s attachment to the labour market.

We’ve also taken action through the province’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017– the largest update to Ontario’s labour laws in a generation.

This past January, we increased the minimum wage to $14 an hour, and will further increase it to $15 on January 1, 2019.

You hear stories like the mother making the previous minimum wage who had to work the overnight shift on call to support her two children.

After paying for food, rent and babysitting, there’s nothing left over.

A significant proportion of low-wage earners are women, so our increase to the minimum wage will help close the gap by putting hard-earned money in the pockets of hard-working Ontarians.

This month, Ontario also became the first jurisdiction in North America to mandate equal pay for equal work between casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers, and full-time or permanent workers.

Women are twice as likely to work part-time than men.

So this will go a long way in supporting fairer pay for women.

Our province also began providing a new job-protected leave in the event an employee – or an employee’s child – has experienced domestic or sexual violence, or has been threatened with such violence.

Spousal violence has been consistently identified as one of the most common forms of violence against women in Canada.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of sexual assault victims in Canada – 87 per cent – are women.

When these deplorable incidents occur, the last thing someone needs to worry about is whether they can take time off work without jeopardizing their job.

We’ve also expanded personal emergency leave and leave for the crime-related disappearance of a child, and brought forward an expanded leave in the event of the death of a child.

And, as of January 1, 2019, we will be making employee scheduling fairer, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start time.

For years, many workers, including many women, have had little to no control over the hours that they work, with many of them receiving their schedules with little advance notice.

Last-minute changes or cancellations are often made, which often leads to uncertainty over balancing paid work and family responsibilities, such as finding proper child care.

The new scheduling rules will help provide more predictability for them.

These measures will support women in the economy and, ultimately, will help close the gender wage gap.

They also build on other recent government actions that support women’s economic well-being, including investments in affordable and accessible child care, reducing poverty and ending violence against women.

It’s been 30 years since pay equity legislation was passed in this province.

The Pay Equity Office plays a very important role in closing the gender wage gap.

Various stakeholders, including women’s advocacy groups, have told us they’d like to see this organization strengthened.

That’s why, as part of this new strategy, it will be strengthened with an increase of 25 per cent to its budget.

I’m proud to be part of a government that is closing the gender wage gap.

The truth is – Equal Pay Day is a day that shouldn’t even exist.

It’s 2018. There shouldn’t be a reason why women continue to experience inequality in business, in the workplace and in society.

No one should be paid less than another person for doing the same job or a job that is of equal value.

No matter who you are.

No matter what you look like.

So let’s work together to create a more equal society.

A more just society.

A society that we can look back at and say that we’ve done all that we can to ensure that all our children are treated equally.