Ontario women earn 29% less than men, study finds

Ontario is shortchanging female workers to the tune of $78 million, leaving the province open to another charter challenge on pay equity, a study being released today suggests.

The study, by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said the Liberal government is ignoring its own pay equity legislation by failing to pay the adjustments owed to working women, which could prompt legal action similar to the challenge that forced the previous provincial government to pay up.


Lawyer Mary Cornish, the study’s author, said the Liberals have racked up a comfortable budget surplus on the backs of female child-care and community health workers.

"They continue to rely on discriminatory pay in order to fund public services," she said. "That’s against the law. ... The government currently has a surplus, and part of how it gets that surplus is by not properly paying for public services in a pay-equity compliant way."

Women still earn 29 per cent less than men, Cornish said. Rather than adjust women’s salaries to bring them up to par, Cornish said the province has to be taken to court, where lawyers have unsuccessfully argued Ontario can’t afford the hefty pay adjustments. By 2011, she said the Liberals will owe $467 million in pay equity adjustments if they don’t correct the situation now.

Labour Minister Brad Duguid said the Liberals are proud of how far they’ve come on pay equity, adding the province "continues to support the principles of the Pay Equity Act."

20th anniversary

  • The study comes as the Pay Equity Act marks its 20th anniversary this year. The act was intend- ed to address pay inequity by comparing wages of jobs held by women with the salaries of men with jobs deemed to be similar.

Latest From ...