[Canada] Pay equity legislation only the first step

[Canada] Pay equity legislation only the first step
21 Jul 2021

One of the many serious repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic is that women have experienced the brunt of job losses during the ensuing financial crisis, The Hamilton Spectator reports.

Nearly 500,000 people, mainly women, were unemployed as a result of the global pandemic and analysis by RBC revealed that nearly 100,000 working-age Canadian women have completely left the workforce since the pandemic started. Their number is more than 10 times greater than for men.

The statistics should not come as a surprise since women reportedly make up the majority of the workforce in the hardest-hit sectors like hospitality, retail, food, and health care. Women are often forced to accept part-time hours when they need full-time, are less likely to be promoted to senior levels and most often bear the responsibility of child care.

As the economy reopens, some jobs may disappear for good, with workers replaced by technology. Women are not only working harder but are still more vulnerable; according to Statistics Canada, a woman earns 89 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

The wage gap remains despite human rights laws in every province and decades of work to eliminate it.

Canada’s government has finally recognised that the disparity has to be addressed, it recently announced that pay equity legislation will become law on August 31, three years after it was first introduced.

But does the legislation go far enough for women who have grown tired of struggling for so long?

One of the issues with the new legislation is it only covers about 1.3 million federally regulated employees or about six per cent of the workforce. Ontario and Quebec already have pay-equity legislation ensuring that women and men receive the same pay for equal work. Where does this leave the vast majority of female workers in sectors without federal oversight?

Under the new legislation, employers are required to identify job classes, evaluate work, compare compensation associated with jobs dominated by men and women respectively and examine their compensation practices to ensure women and men in the workplaces receive equal pay for work of equal value. However, the legislation is moving slowly.

Once the act does come into effect employers with 10 or more staff will have three years to implement pay equity plans. And employers can ask for extensions to implement those plans.

A new commissioner has the power to levy $30,000 fines for employers with up to 99 staff that fail to comply and $50,000 in fines for those with larger workforces.

Pay-equity legislation is only one part of the much larger strategy necessary for meaningful change. The Liberals have indicated other tools they plan to use, including a $30-billion plan over five years to create a national childcare plan, similar to that already in place in Quebec. A revision of the Employment Equity Act was also recently announced.


Source: The Hamilton Spectator

One of the many serious repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic is that women have experienced the brunt of job losses during the ensuing financial crisis, The Hamilton Spectator reports.

Nearly 500,000 people, mainly women, were unemployed as a result of the global pandemic and analysis by RBC revealed that nearly 100,000 working-age Canadian women have completely left the workforce since the pandemic started. Their number is more than 10 times greater than for men.

The statistics should not come as a surprise since women reportedly make up the majority of the workforce in the hardest-hit sectors like hospitality, retail, food, and health care. Women are often forced to accept part-time hours when they need full-time, are less likely to be promoted to senior levels and most often bear the responsibility of child care.

As the economy reopens, some jobs may disappear for good, with workers replaced by technology. Women are not only working harder but are still more vulnerable; according to Statistics Canada, a woman earns 89 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

The wage gap remains despite human rights laws in every province and decades of work to eliminate it.

Canada’s government has finally recognised that the disparity has to be addressed, it recently announced that pay equity legislation will become law on August 31, three years after it was first introduced.

But does the legislation go far enough for women who have grown tired of struggling for so long?

One of the issues with the new legislation is it only covers about 1.3 million federally regulated employees or about six per cent of the workforce. Ontario and Quebec already have pay-equity legislation ensuring that women and men receive the same pay for equal work. Where does this leave the vast majority of female workers in sectors without federal oversight?

Under the new legislation, employers are required to identify job classes, evaluate work, compare compensation associated with jobs dominated by men and women respectively and examine their compensation practices to ensure women and men in the workplaces receive equal pay for work of equal value. However, the legislation is moving slowly.

Once the act does come into effect employers with 10 or more staff will have three years to implement pay equity plans. And employers can ask for extensions to implement those plans.

A new commissioner has the power to levy $30,000 fines for employers with up to 99 staff that fail to comply and $50,000 in fines for those with larger workforces.

Pay-equity legislation is only one part of the much larger strategy necessary for meaningful change. The Liberals have indicated other tools they plan to use, including a $30-billion plan over five years to create a national childcare plan, similar to that already in place in Quebec. A revision of the Employment Equity Act was also recently announced.


Source: The Hamilton Spectator

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