Canada’s first federal proactive Pay Equity legislation was passed on December 13th, 2018; a step forward for gender equality in Canada. Ms Karen Jensen was appointed as Pay Equity Commissioner, responsible for the implementation of the new Pay Equity Act.
This new law has not yet come into force and we will be updating this website to reflect new developments. In the interim, we already have a team in place that has been working hard to develop the infrastructure and tools necessary to ensure that this new program is successfully implemented and that employers, employees and their representatives are supported.
Until such time as the Pay Equity Act comes into force, the current regime under the Canadian Human Rights Act continues to apply to address pay equity complaints.
The Pay Equity Commissioner’s mandate is to promote women’s equality by ensuring that federal public and private sector organizations value work done by women in the same way they value work done by men.
The Commissioner, supported by the Pay Equity Division, administers and enforces the Pay Equity Act by:
- Providing tools and guidance to employers, employees and their representatives
- Resolving disputes
- Ensuring compliance
Valuing work done by women
What is Pay Equity?
Pay equity is a fundamental human right that has been protected under section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act since 1977.
Pay equity is also known as equal pay for work of equal value. That means if two different jobs contribute equal value to their employer's operations then the employees in those positions should receive equal pay.
What is a Gender Wage Gap?
A gender wage gap is the difference between wages earned by men and those earned by women. The gender wage gap is driven by multiple factors including the undervaluation of work done by women.
In 2019, women in Canada earned 0.88 cents for every dollar a man earned. For example, female employees aged 25 to 54 earned $3.87 (or 12%) less per hour, on average, than their male counterparts Source
The Pay Equity Act requires federally regulated employers with an average of 10 employees or more to take a proactive approach to correct gender wage gaps within their organization.
The Commissioner’s goals are to:
- Reach out to stakeholders to facilitate collaborative relationships
- Develop educational tools and guidelines in collaboration with stakeholders and experts
- Raise awareness of new rights and obligations established by the Pay Equity Act
- Support employers to achieve compliance
As Canada’s Federal Pay Equity Commissioner, I recognize that these extraordinary times require extraordinary efforts. Many Canadian businesses, especially small and medium size companies, are struggling to survive. Unemployment is at a record high and lots of people are having a hard time making ends meet.
There is also wide recognition that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on women, and especially racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low-income, single mothers, LGBTQ2I+ women and women with disabilities or mental health issues.
Together with the Commission’s Pay Equity team, I am working very hard to develop tools and resources that will provide federally regulated employers with extra support to implement the Pay Equity Act, once it comes into effect. The Pay Equity Act ensures that the gender wage gap in federally regulated workplaces resulting from the undervaluation of work traditionally performed by women is closed.
Having come from the private sector myself, I understand the challenges that many Canadian businesses are facing. I am also convinced that pay equity principles can be a tool, rather than an impediment to economic recovery. Pay equity can provide a sound basis for reviewing a company’s compensation practices to ensure that the company attracts and retains good talent, and that the compensation practices reflect the company’s commitment to fairness and gender equality. Experience has taught me that pay equity makes good business sense. It is also the right thing to do. I know that Canadian businesses are committed to doing the right thing, as witnessed by their heroic efforts to retain as many employees as possible during the COVID-19 crisis.
So, as we look ahead to economic recovery, let’s use pay equity as one of the many tools at our disposal to build stronger businesses, governments and economies. The Pay Equity Division of the Canadian Human Rights Commission is here to assist in these efforts. We will soon share educational material and resources to support you in achieving pay equity in your workplaces. We look forward to working with you and sharing our expertise so that all of you, employers and employees, succeed.
Wishing you strength in these challenging times,
- October 29, 2018- Government of Canada introduces proactive pay equity legislation
- December 13, 2018- Pay Equity Act receives Royal Assent
- September 10, 2019 – Government of Canada appoints Canada’s first federal pay equity Commissioner
- October 16, 2019 – Pay Equity Commissioner joins Canadian Human Rights Commission
- 2020 - 2021 – Pay Equity Act expected to come into force