Pay Equity

More than 25 years after the adoption of the Canadian Human Rights Act, women working full-time still earn 71% of men’s salaries, regardless of our age, occupation or education.

The Problem

More than 25 years the adoption of the Canadian Human Rights Act, women working full-time still earn 71% of men’s salaries, regardless of our age, occupation or education.

For women of colour, Aboriginal women and women with a disability, the wage gap is even greater.

The pay equity provisions in the Canada Human Rights Act are just not working! And the government has shelved the comprehensive Task Force report that tells them what to do about it.

Pay Equity Info Sheet (rtf) (pdf)

The Pay Equity Task Force Report

The federal government appointed a Pay Equity Task Force that issued its Report in the May 2004. The Report recommends adopting a new, stand-alone pay equity law that will cover women, as well as workers of colour, Aboriginal workers and workers with disabilities.

Although the Task Force recommendations are good news for women, they have not yet been implemented.

NAWL's Brief to The Pay Equity Task Force (doc)

NAWL's Recommendations on Pay Equity (doc) (pdf)

Pay Equity Task Force Report


Pay Equity Network Campaign

In 2005, a number of women’s organizations, provincial pay equity coalitions and the Canadian Labour Congress have formed a Network to pressure the federal government to take steps towards implementing this report. More than 200 women’s groups, labour unions and community organizations signed on to the Network’s Call to Action on Pay Equity.

On February 14th 2005, NAWL and the Pay Equity Network sent a Valentine’s Day card to every MP and Senator to remind them that Pay Equity is at the Heart of Equality

Members of the Pay Equity Network (rft)

Call to Action 2005: The Time for Pay Equity is Now! (rtf)

Signatories of the Call to Action (doc)

Valentine’s Day Card to MP’s (pdf)

Workshop on Pay Equity

In the spring of 2005, NAWL began a series of popular legal education workshops around women’s equality in the workforce and the federal pay equity system. Our goal: to share information with women’s organizations about the current pay equity framework, to learn from women’s experiences, and to mobilize different communities to lobby the federal government.


Supreme Court Decision on NAPE

On October 24, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that because of an alleged impending ‘fiscal crisis’, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador had the right to back out of an agreement to correct discriminatory wages for women health care workers.

This amounts to a special tax on Newfoundland women!

NAWL, in collaboration with the Newfoundland Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) initiated a pan-Canadian campaign to protest. We urged then Prime Minister Paul Martin and Premier Danny Williams to pay back $80 million that is owed to women health care workers.

More than a 100 women’s groups, trade unions and other equality-seeking groups signed on to letters to then Prime Minister Paul Martin and Premier Danny Williams. The letters were delivered on December 10, 2004, the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

NAPE Information sheet (doc)

Letter to PM Paul Martin (doc)

Letter to Premier Danny Williams (doc)

Status report on pay equity in Canada

NAWL, in collaboration with the Canadian Labour Congress, organized a meeting of the Pay Equity Network (PEN) in Ottawa on May 2nd, 2007. Approximately 40 representatives of the labour movement and of women’s groups from Québec and the rest of Canada met in Ottawa to discuss recent developments in their respective regions. Representatives of Bell Canada, Canada Post, Air Canada and Radio-Canada presented the current struggles in virtue of the regime established under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Their experiences spoke eloquently to the urgency for reforms to the federal pay equity regime.

After discussing recent developments within Canadian law and after taking stock of the recent report on pay equity produced by the International Labour Office, participants analysed the weaknesses of the proposals put forth by the current Conservative government in Ottawa. Finally, we took advantage of this opportunity to consolidate a network of activists in favour of a federal law on pay equity and refined our strategies in favour of legislative reform in this area.

On May 3, 2007, the NAWL and other members of the Pay Equity Network formed teams to meet with the three leaders of the opposition parties. Leaders Stéphane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, and Jack Layton each expressed their support for pro-active pay equity legislation at the federal level based on the recommendations of the Working Group on Pay Equity submitted in May 2004. This meeting was followed by a press conference whereat the Status of Women Critics from the three opposition parties, namely, Nicole Demers and Johanne Deschamps (BQ), Irene Mathyssen (NDP), Maria Minna (LIB), made statements on this issue. Director of Legislation and Law Reform for NAWL, Andrée Côté represented the Pay Equity Network. The Press Release issued by the PEN is available here.

On May 30, 2007, a delegation composed of representatives of the NAWL, CIAFT, PSAC and the FTQ was supposed to meet with Minister Blackburn in order to convey our frustrations regarding the inaction of the federal government on the issue of pay equity. The Minister failed to turn up due to a last minute change… consequently, we presented our recommendations to his political assistant and we met with a civil servant from the Ministry of Labour.


Press Releases about Pay Equity

December 21, 2005
Fa La La La La: Carollers to Herald Pay Equity

May 6, 2005 (Pay Equity Network)
Liberal Cabinet Ministers who have expressed their support for pay equity will be under scrutiny in the upcoming weeks…

May 5, 2005 (NAWL)
The Federal government must act now and adopt legislation to guarantee pay equity for all women…

February 14, 2005
A Valentine’s Day message to Parliament: show us you care!


Jurisfemme Articles

Winter 2006
”Government Inaction on Pay Equity”, by Andrée Côté

Spring 2005
“Balancing Budgets on the backs of women: Pay Equity Post-NAPE”, by Suzanne Bouclin

Spring 2005
“At the heart of human rights: the campaign for a pay equity law”, by Patricia Harewood

Fall 2004
“Pay Attention to Pay Inequity”, by Patricia Harewood

Fall 2002
“Pay Equity: Required Changes in Federal Jurisdictions”, by Louise Aucoin

Summer 2002
“The Struggle for Pay Equity in New Brunswick”, by Louise Aucoin (speaking notes)