Decisive Action Needed to Eliminate Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap: Steelworkers

TORONTO – Ontario must expand publicly funded child care and take other decisive action to eliminate the province’s shameful gender pay gap, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“After 13 years of Liberal government, the pay gap between men and women in Ontario remains over 30%. The wage gap is even worse for racialized women, who earn 36% less than men, for Aboriginal women, who earn 44% less, and for women with disabilities and LGBTQ women,” said Marty Warren, the USW’s Ontario Director.

“The time for promises and half-measures is over. It’s time for bold, meaningful action, with clear and binding timelines to implement the policies needed to eliminate the gender wage gap,” Warren said.

The USW welcomes the final report of Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee, as a good first step towards addressing the gender pay gap. The province must adopt the committee’s recommendations, but also take broader action to eliminate the gender gap, the USW says.

“The report makes several important recommendations that, if properly implemented, will serve to diminish the wage gap,” said USW National director Ken Neumann.

“The report acknowledges the significant impact on women’s paid employment due to the lack of accessible, affordable child care in Ontario, as well as the consequences of the disproportionate share of care work taken on by women,” Neumann said.

“If this government is serious about eliminating the substantial pay gap between men and women, it will commit to an affordable, accessible, publicly funded child-care system in Ontario,” he said.

The USW is concerned that the gender wage gap committee’s final report does not recommend immediate action on measures that could have substantial short-term impacts, nor does the report call for a clear action plan and timeframe for implementation of its recommendations.

“The report omitted numerous recommendations that had widespread support during the committee’s public consultation process, particularly measures to directly address women’s over-representation in low-wage, part-time and insecure work,” noted Carol Kavanaugh, a USW member in Kingston working on job evaluation and pay equity issues.

“The province can take immediate action, such as raising the minimum wage and mandating equal pay for equal work to help alleviate lower pay for contract and temporary workers. Women – particularly racialized women – are over-represented in minimum-wage, low-wage and contract work,” Kavanaugh said.

“The Pay Equity Act’s enforcement and compliance mechanisms have been gutted over the years, allowing for many employers to avoid fulfilling their legally required pay equity obligations,” she said.

The wage gap committee’s report includes significant information on the clear link between unionization and reducing such inequality. However, the report does not make recommendations on the issue, leaving action on that front to “other government initiatives,” such as the Changing Workplaces Review studying Ontario’s employment and labour relations laws.

“The government can expand coverage under the Employment Standards Act, better protect leave provisions and amend our labour laws to facilitate unionization and protect successor rights,” Warren said.

“This is the type of meaningful action this government can take to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the wage gap for women across Ontario,” he said.

Read the complete USW response to the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee Report.


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434 2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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