Equal Pay Coalition

Equal Pay Coalition

April 20, 2015 07:00 ET

Urgent Action Needed as Women in Ontario's Regions Face Large Gender Pay Gaps

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 20, 2015) - April 20, 2015 is Equal Pay Day in Ontario, yet Ontario women have not seen any real progress over the last year towards closing the large gender pay gaps they face. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives document to be released on Equal Pay Day using average annual earnings shows that gender pay gaps in Ontario's regions range from 25% in Oshawa to a shocking 40% in Windsor.

"Toronto women earn 28% less than Toronto men - $37,500 compared to the male earnings of $52,500 - a difference of $14,700. It is time to end this persistent economic inequality which women face in Ontario's labour market," says Mary Cornish, Chair, Ontario's Equal Pay Coalition.

"The Coalition's recent video, 'Race to Retirement,' highlights the barriers that women face with these pay gaps meaning women have to work well into their late 70s or early 80s to earn what men earn by age 65," says Cornish.

"We also need to prioritize remedying the higher gender pay gaps experienced by racialized women, Aboriginal women, women with disabilities and women who are often trapped in low paying vulnerable work," says Heather McGregor, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Toronto.

Following up on an election promise to the Coalition, Premier Wynne issued a mandate in September, 2014 to her Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues to develop a plan to close Ontario's gender pay gap and to apply a gender lens to all government actions to make visible and take action to change women's unequal economic circumstances.

"We are very concerned the Government has been slow off the mark to implement the Premier's Mandates. 7 months later we understand the Government is about to announce its Wage Gap Review Panel. We have the asked the Government to ensure that Panel is an independent one which is able to make recommendations free of Government pressures. No action has yet been taken to implement a gender lens. We have called on the Premier to develop plans which will close the gender pay gap by 2025. This is only 10 years away. We can't afford to lose any more years where substantial progress is not made," says Mary Cornish, Chair, Ontario Equal Pay Coalition.

So the Equal Pay Coalition has gone directly to MPPs to ask them to commit to bringing a "gender lens" to their daily work as an MPP which will focus on identifying laws and policies that will help to close and not widen the gender pay gap. MPPs have been signing the pledge and they will be recognized by the Coalition on Equal Pay Day at the Legislature. In the absence of government action, the Coalition also took the lead and conducted its own Lunch and Learn on March 27, 2015 attended by over 80 Government staff to get the ball rolling on implementing the Premier's Mandates.

"Part of the reason for the delays by the Ontario Government in taking effective action on this issue over the last 20 years is that it depends on undervalued women's work to provide important public services. The time has come for the Government to start paying the real value that those services deserve by making the necessary funding available to ensure those doing public sector women's work get the pay equity adjustments they are owed," says Cornish.

"We need to see the Ontario Government treat this issue with the high priority it deserves. This means measures such as enforcing and expanding pay equity laws; bringing in employment equity obligations, easier access to collective bargaining, fairer labour laws for vulnerable workers, affordable child care and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. All of these measures together will help to bring women out of lower paying, often poverty level jobs," says Nancy Hutchison, OFL Secretary Treasurer.

For background and Equal Pay Day information: www.equalpaycoalition.org.

Follow the new campaign on Facebook and Twitter @EqualPayON.

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