Pay equity laws not a ‘silver bullet’: Status of Women Minister

Click to play video: 'Canadian women still earning less than men'
Canadian women still earning less than men
WATCH: On the eve of International Women’s Day, a new report is painting a disturbing picture of pay inequity in Canada. The report says the wage gap is getting bigger, rather than smaller. Vassy Kapelos looks at why, and what the government plans to do about it – Mar 7, 2016

OTTAWA — Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu says legislation likely wouldn’t be a “silver bullet” to solve pay inequity in Canada.

“It sounds like a simplistic answer to just legislate it, but there are so many factors that go into why women are making less,” Hajdu said.

Hajdu made the comments in response to a new report from Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

READ MORE: Visible minority women more likely to earn a degree than their counterparts

Making Women Count outlines the persistent pay gap in Canada between men and women, despite record levels of education for women in this country.

No matter what way you slice it there’s a significant wage gap,” one of the report’s authors, Brittany, said. “And there’s no way that you can slice it that makes that wage gap go away.”

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Using the most recent data from Statistics Canada for women who work full time, the study shows in 2009 women earned 74.4 cents for every dollar men earned.

Two years later, in 2011, women earned 72 cents for every dollar men earned.


There are many reasons. But one the study highlights is that women are three times more likely than men to work part time and 19 times more likely to cite child care as their reason for working part time.

READ MORE: Status of women at work an ‘economic and social travesty’ says report

Hajdu says the complexity of the problem means legislation can’t be the only solution.

“There’s a number of reasons across the board that live at the provincial level, that live at the organizational level, that live at the private sector level, that result in women making less,” Hajdu said.

“There’s issues around access and… even just responsibilities that women have.”

Still, NDP critic for the Status of Women Sheila Malcolmson insists legislation is a necessary first step.

“We’ve got a lot of good will in the country right now but if it’s not backed up with action it doesn’t mean anything,” Malcolmson said.

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New Democrats used an opposition day motion earlier this year to raise the issue in the House of Commons, and the motion led to the creation of a committee to study the feasibility of pay equity laws, among other things.

The committee meets for the first time this evening, and must submit its recommendations back to Parliament by June.

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