Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour
Ontario Equal Pay Coalition

Ontario Equal Pay Coalition

April 19, 2016 06:00 ET

Ontario Equal Pay Day, April 19, 2016

Act Now to Close Ontario's Shocking 30% Gender Pay Gap: Because Its 2016

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 19, 2016) - "Ontario's persistent gender pay gap of around 30% means that Ontario women take home approximately $15,000 less a year - with average yearly earnings of $36,000 to men's $51,000. This translates into a shockingly high economic loss for women and their families every year as they wait for governments and businesses to take action to redress this fundamental violation of their human right to economic equality," says Mary Cornish, Chair, Ontario Equal Pay Coalition.

"Governments and businesses are failing to approach this issue with the urgency it deserves - we have been requesting action since our 1976 founding. Labour market discrimination and inequality is systematically delivering less pay to women and jeopardizing the future of Ontario. The labour market is rigged against women. Nothing short of a revolution in thinking and actions is necessary to transform Ontario's labour market operates so that it stops relying on underpaid and undervalued work of women. Since 2008 we have called on the government to take action to get the gender pay gap to 0% by 2025. It is 2016 and Ontario women are still waiting for their human rights to be protected," says Cornish.

Three years has passed since Ontario first officially marked Equal Pay Day and 1 1/2 years since Premier Wynne mandated her Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues to develop a plan and take actions to close the gender pay gap. One year has passed since Ontario announced its Gender Wage Gap Review. Yet Ontario's huge wage gap persists with no government or business plans yet in place to close it. Despite repeated requests by the Coalition since last April, only 18 of 107 MPPs, (all NDP) have signed the Coalition's pledge to be a Pay Equity Champion and work to close the gender pay gap.

A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Report released yesterday, "Every Step You Take: Ontario's Gender Pay Gap Ladder" details the extensive gender pay gaps which face women wherever they work in Ontario's labour market, with greater gaps faced by those with more education and experience and those who suffer from other discrimination based on other factors such as their race, Indigenous, disability, immigrant or LGBQT status.

"Women can't hide from gender pay gaps and discrimination in Ontario's labour market - gender inequality follows them everywhere - in every industry and occupation. In fact, as detailed in the above report, women experience greater pay inequalities as they gain greater education and experience," says Cornish.

While the Coalition is looking forward to strong and transformative recommendations from the Review Committee, it is disappointed that the Government delayed until October, 2015 to launch the public consultations. So instead of announcing the Government's plans to close the gender wage gap at this Equal Pay Day, the Government, (and only after pressure from the Coalition), is releasing today the Committee's summary of its consultation process.

"We are asking the Government to make the Committee's final report due in May, 2016 publicly available at that time and to take immediate action now to start transforming Ontario's labour market. We are asking governments and businesses to immediately embed a 'closing the gender pay gap lens' in all their decision-making and actions and to follow our 12 steps to close the gender pay gap," says Cornish.

"The best way to close the gender wage gap is to tackle inequality from the bottom up," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates. "This year, Ontario is reviewing the province's employment laws and that means working women have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sweeping changes to raise the minimum wage to $15, lift the standards for every worker and remove the barriers to joining a union."

Over the last year in 15 public town halls across the province which were expanded to meet the demand, Ontario women told their stories of pay discrimination to the Government's Wage Review Committee and called for action. The Coalition in its January, 2016 submission to the Ontario Government's Gender Wage Gap Review Committee called for Ontario's gender pay gap to be eliminated in 10 years - 0% gap by 2025. The submission detailed the discriminatory systemic dynamics in Ontario's labour market which contribute to the persistent gender pay gap. It also detailed a vision for an Ontario without a gender pay gap by 2025 - calling for immediate, short term and longer term strategies to get there.

For background, the EPC submission, information on the 12 steps and Equal Pay Day information: www.equalpaycoalition.org. Follow the new campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Twibbon @EqualPayON #EPD2016.

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