Gender wage gap consultation summary released

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On April 19, 2016, the provincial government released a summary of the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee’s consultations. This Steering Committee was established last spring and tasked with developing recommendations for the creation of a strategy to close the gender wage gap in Ontario. A series of province wide consultations was the first step in this process. OCUFA participated in the consultation process by submitting a written brief and meeting with the Steering Committee.

The report provided a straightforward summary of the consultations, outlining where the committee traveled, how the consultation process worked, who participated, and what was heard.

In the overview of what was heard, the report highlighted several clusters of issues that were raised. It noted the effect on women’s earnings of moving in and out of the workforce to raise families. It also highlighted the persistence of a care penalty, whereby jobs in the caring professions such as nursing or midwifery tend to be undervalued. The availability of high quality and affordable public childcare was highlighted at multiple points throughout the consultation summary as a centrally important tool for addressing the gender wage gap.

Increasing the transparency in pay within organizations was suggested as a potential way of making the salary negotiation process more equitable. Protection from workplace discrimination was raised as a potential issue of concern, and there was recognition of the particular challenges faced by racialized women, low income women, and women with disabilities when it comes to pay equity.

The consultation summary also highlighted that some employers did not want to see additional legislation or regulations to close the gender wage gap. Instead, it was suggested that government should establish incentives for addressing pay equity.
Changes to labour and employment law were outside the scope of these consultations and will be referred to the Changing Workplaces Review process.

The summary of what was heard provides a preview of the kinds of policy solutions the Steering Committee will eventually propose, but at this stage no recommendations were made. Recommendations to the Minister of Labour on how to address the gender wage gap in Ontario will be outlined in the Steering Committee’s final report, which is expected to be released sometime in June.


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