Gender pension gap can be addressed by higher minimum wage and removing barriers to unionization

TORONTO, Oct. 27, 2021 – Governments and employers must do more to address the gender pay gap and other employment issues to improve retirement outcomes for women, the United Steelworkers union said today, in light of new report that ranked Canada #13 among OECD countries.

Commenting on the latest annual Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index (MCGPI), USW National Director for Canada Ken Neumann said that although pay equity legislation has recently come into effect federally and is already in place in several Canadian provinces, the gender pay gap is persistent, and brings with it a troubling retirement income gap between men and women.

This year’s report – which ranked Canada’s retirement income system overall at 13th place out of 43 countries – had a special focus on the pension income gap at retirement. It found that regardless of the country and the type of pension system plan in place, the average retirement income was higher for men than for women.

The range of the global gender pension gap is very broad, from Japan having a gap of almost 50% to Estonia, where it is less than 5%. Canada’s gender pension gap is recorded at around 22%.

“It is a vicious, unrelenting problem,” Neumann said, remarking that women are more likely to work part time, more likely to earn less than their male equivalents, and more likely to take on caring responsibilities. “Women are usually negatively impacted financially in relationship breakdowns and in general have shorter careers than men and live longer, so require more retirement savings,” he said.

Neumann emphasized that the gender pension income gap cannot be solved by individual women. As a systemic problem, it needs to be addressed by systemic solutions, including increasing the minimum wage; legislating card check certification to ensure fewer barriers in joining a union and expanding and facilitating collective bargaining in female-dominated jobs, including in the service sector; enforcing strong pay equity legislation; and investing in universal and affordable high-quality child care.

“These gendered dynamics have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, where women disproportionately have taken on increased family responsibilities,” said USW researcher Adrie Naylor, referring to feedback received from members across the country over the course of the pandemic.


For further information:

Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), sdevine@usw.ca
Adrie Naylor, USW Research, Public Policy & Bargaining Support, anaylor@usw.ca

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