Ontario Seeks to Close Wage Gap
(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.