Raising Awareness of Ontario’s Growing Gender Wage Gap Through Equal Pay Day 2016
April 19th, 2016 marks a day we’d rather not celebrate; it’s Equal Pay Day in Ontario.
Equal Pay Day is the day of the year when women in Ontario have worked enough to earn what men earned by the end of 2015. In other words, at a 31.5% gender pay gap, women have to work for 15.5 months to equal what men make in 12 (that’s an additional 3.5 months). The gender pay gap is even greater for women who are racialized, Indigenous, immigrants or temporary migrants, disabled, or LGBTQ.
Equal Pay Day in Canada
Across Canada, six provinces–Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Quebec–have enacted specific pay equity legislation while Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and British Columbia have developed policy frameworks for negotiating pay equity. All provinces and Territories across Canada have human rights legislation which prohibits discrimination in employment. Federally, Canada’s first pay equity legislation was enacted in the federal jurisdiction in 1977 under section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). In 2004, a federal Task Force released a report with key recommendations including a new stand-alone equal pay legislation, but no such law has been developed.
Meanwhile, in Ontario…
In Ontario, the gender wage gap in 2011 (the most recent year of available data) was 31.5% and up from 28% in 2010. That means women made 68.5 cents to every dollar a man made in 2011, down from 72 cents in 2010. For that same period, men’s average annual earnings in Ontario rose by $200, while women’s average annual earnings decreased by $1,400. The wage gap is highest for women ages 35-44 (38.5%), while women who are racialized, first generation immigrants, or aboriginal fair worse than their male counterparts (24%, 27%, and 40% fewer earnings respectively). Taken over a lifetime, this means that women must work an extra 14 years and retire at 79 to retire with the same income as would a man at the standard retirement age of 65!
Wearing Red, and Other Awareness-raising Activities
In April 2014, the Ontario government agreed to hold Equal Pay Day on an annual basis to draw attention to the gender wage gap crisis in Ontario. Since 2013, Equal Pay Day has come exceedingly later, from April 9th, to the 16th in 2014, and now the 19th this year. There are many Equal Pay Day activities happening across Ontario and online. Supporters are encouraged to wear red to demonstrate that discriminatory pay gaps keep women “in the red,” and to share the hashtag #EPD2016 on social media.
In Ottawa, supporters will be gathering at the corner of Albert and Metcalfe Streets at 4:30pm - 5:30pm to hand out stickers and buttons. Further details about Equal Pay Day and the gender wage gap in Ontario can be found at http://equalpaycoalition.org/