Liberal Pay Equity Commitment Needs to Be Turned into New Law

OTTAWA – Liberal Cabinet Ministers who have expressed their support for pay equity will be under scrutiny in the upcoming weeks to see if they make good on their commitment.

Responding to ongoing lobbying by the Pay Equity Network, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, and Labour Minister Joe Fontana have publicly confirmed their government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the federal Pay Equity Task Force Report.

“We are pleased that Ministers Fontana and Cotler have reiterated that pay equity is a fundamental human right,” says Canadian Labour Congress Vice-President Marie Clarke Walker, “and confirmed their commitment to implementing the Task Force Report recommendations in a timely manner.”

“We are eager for the government to produce some concrete details soon including a timeline for the introduction of proactive pay legislation based on the Task Force recommendations,” says Andrée Côté, Director of Legislation and Law Reform with the National Association of Women and the Law, in response to statements by Fontana that the government is currently reviewing its options in this regard.

“The possibility of a spring election should not stop the government from putting in place a process to prepare new and much needed pay equity law,” says Clarke Walker.

It has been almost four years since the Task Force was established and exactly one year since the Task Force issued its Report. “We’ve waited long enough for a new law and we will be reminding the Ministers regularly in the upcoming weeks that action needs to be taken now,” says Côté.

The Ministers’ statements were made at a May 4 event hosted by Liza Frulla, Heritage Minister and Minister responsible for Status of Women in honour of the World March of Women. The event was attended by representatives of the Pay Equity Network, a coalition of unions and women’s organizations formed to promote and achieve equal pay for work of equal value. The event capped a day spent by Network representatives lobbying Members of Parliament and party caucuses.