On­tario Seeks to Close Wage Gap

Herizons - - Arts & Culture Columns - By Penni Mitchell

(TORONTO) An On­tario work­ing group held pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions in No­vem­ber to so­licit ideas on how to re­duce the wage gap be­tween male and fe­male work­ers in the prov­ince.The work­ing group’s re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions will be sub­mit­ted to On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynne later this year.

Women make up the ma­jor­ity of work­ers in low-pay­ing oc­cu­pa­tions and in­dus­tries in Canada’s largest prov­ince, in­clud­ing those in min­i­mum-wage and part-time jobs. Fe­male work­ers are un­der-rep­re­sented in some higher-pay­ing sec­tors, although even in high-pay­ing jobs they are rou­tinely paid less than equally qual­i­fied men.

In On­tario’s pub­lic sec­tor, uni­ver­si­tye­d­u­cated women’s av­er­age earn­ings are 82 per­cent of univer­sity-ed­u­cated men’s earn­ings (an 18-per­cent wage gap). In the pri­vate sec­tor, univer­sity-ed­u­cated fe­male-earn­ings are 73 per­cent (a 27 per­cent gap).

Over­all in Canada, fe­male work­ers earn 74.64 per­cent of men’s earn­ings, ac­cord­ing to the 2014 Global Gen­der Gap Re­port re­leased by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in No­vem­ber 2015.It ranked Canada’s wage gap 19th out of 142 coun­tries. Back in 2006, Canada ranked 14th, a place­ment that sug­gests we haven’t kept pace with other coun­tries.The 2014 re­port places Canada be­hind coun­tries such as Ger­many, France, Switzer­land and New Zealand. Ice­land, Fin­land, Nor­way, Swe­den and Den­mark had the smallest wage gaps.The U.S. came in just be­hind Canada at 74.63 cents for women on each dol­lar of male earn­ings, while women in the United King­dom were paid 73.8 per­cent of men’s earn­ings. Women in Saudi Ara­bia, mean­while, were paid 60.59 per­cent as much as their male coun­ter­parts. Women in Pak­istan, who are paid on av­er­age 55 per­cent as much as men, face a 45- per­cent wage gap.

The On­tario work­ing group is ex­am­in­ing women’s em­ploy­ment and re­mu­ner­a­tion to as­sess how gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and labour or­ga­ni­za­tions can ad­dress the bar­ri­ers that con­trib­ute to the wage gap.

“Re­duc­ing the wage gap would im­prove women’s earn­ings dur­ing their life­times and lower the like­li­hood of poverty dur­ing their work­ing years and in re­tire­ment.It may also help to lower the num­ber of women on so­cial as­sis­tance,” ac­cord­ing to the On­tario Depart­ment of Labour’s Clos­ing the Gen­der Wage Gap back­ground pa­per.

In 2005, the Royal Bank es­ti­mated that if women in Canada had the same labour mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties and pay as men their per­sonal in­come would col­lec­tively rise by $168 bil­lion each year.The Clos­ing the Gen­der Gap pa­per fur­ther noted that “a fail­ure to ad­dress this gap could un­der­mine the com­pet­i­tive­ness of On­tario busi­nesses and the prov­ince’s po­ten­tial for eco­nomic growth.”

One part of the wage gap re­lates to the lower re­mu­ner­a­tion paid to work­ers in fields of work com­monly cho­sen by women.In On­tario, fe­male em­ploy­ees make up 82.6 per­cent of the health care and so­cial as­sis­tance sec­tor, while male work­ers make up 88.4 per­cent of the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

The wage gap is even larger for Aboriginal women, who earn, on av­er­age, 36 per­cent less than non-Aboriginal male work­ers.

On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynne struck a work­ing group to hold con­sul­ta­tions on the prov­ince’s gen­der wage gap.

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