April 12, 2022 is Equal Pay Day in Canada.
What is Equal Pay Day Canada?
Equal Pay Day is the average of how many extra days into the new year that women would have to work in order to earn as much as men did in the previous year. So, April 12 highlights how Canadian women have worked over three months (and twelve days) into the year to earn what men did in 12 months. .“When you add that up over the course of a working career, that's many, many extra years of work to get to the same place,” says Fay Faraday, co-chair for the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition. In fact, she points out, it’s the equivalent of working 13 years in the labour force with no pay. "Without women’s work, our economy doesn’t work, and it’s never been more clear than now," says Faraday.
The pay gap is not just about gender. The gap increases substantially when intersecting with other forms of discrimination such as those experienced by:
● racialized women
● Indigenous women
● immigrant and migrant women
● women with disabilities
● elderly women
● women who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+)
Discrimination in pay is not limited to one career or demographic. Pay discrimination affects women of all ages, races, and education levels – regardless of their family decisions.
Why the Pay Gap
One myth is that “women choose underpaying jobs.” No one chooses to have their work undervalued and underpaid. One of the primary causes of the gender pay gap is that jobs that are associated with ‘women’s work’ are underpaid. Think of any job in the ‘caring industry’ such as nurses, midwives, and personal support workers. It isn’t that women choose jobs that are in lower-paid industries, it is that women-dominated industries become less respected and less well-paid occupations because women do the work.
How has the pandemic affected women and work?
Women are overrepresented in part-time, low-paid, and precarious jobs, which were hit hardest by the pandemic — both on the front lines and as sectors hit hard by closures. Between closures and caregiving responsibilities, women’s employment, overall, plummeted during the pandemic, with women who are Black, Indigenous, or people of colour (BIPOC) disproportionately experiencing job loss.
In April 2020, women’s participation in the labour force dropped from just over 61% to 55% for the first time since the 1980s. And per a report from RBC, 1.5 million Canadian women lost their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic. “The loss of jobs was so great that the rate of women's participation in the paid labour force has declined to levels that existed in the 1980s,” Faraday says. “We've lost two full generations of economic gain in the workplace in the space of a year.”
Pay Equity Legislation across Canada
Six Canadian provinces–Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Quebec–have enacted specific pay equity legislation. Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and British Columbia have not enacted pay equity laws but have developed policy frameworks for negotiating pay equity with some specific public sector employees. ○ Only Alberta has neither passed pay equity legislation nor developed a pay equity negotiation framework.
All of Canada’s provinces and territories also have human rights legislation which prohibits discrimination in employment generally and which, in the absence of or in addition to pay equity legislation, can be a tool for addressing discrimination at pay.
More Information on legislation: Equal Pay Coalition
How can I get involved?
Women in Leadership is looking for all perspectives on how to address harmful gender bias with an intent of supporting policy changes. ○ Complete the 15 minute Bridge to Gender Equality General Survey and/or ○ Sign up for one of the Focus groups ○More info on this federally funded pan-Canadian project at: Womeninleadership.ca/genderequality
Article written by Denise Young, CEO/Founder/Consultant: Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group. Reach out to Denise (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you or your organization is interested in Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership or Communication workshops, Keynotes or Facilitation Services.
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LinkedIN: Denise Young