Under the legislation, federally regulated workplaces will be required to “examine their compensation practices and ensure that women and men… receive equal pay for work of equal value,” Employment and Social Development Canada said in a press release.
The federal private sector, federal public service, Parliamentary workplaces and Minister’s offices will all need to abide by the pay equity regime. They will have three years to implement the requirements.
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The government said it will appoint a pay equity commissioner, who will work under the auspices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The commissioner will be responsible for educating employers and workers about the new law, helping to resolve pay disputes, carry out audits and investigations, and impose penalties for pay equity violations.
The new law, announced by Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef and Treasury Board President Scott Brison on Monday, comes four days after the government released a report titled “Proactive Pay Equity: What We Heard,” which incorporated input and feedback from employers, workers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders.
In 2017, Canadian women earned 88.5 cents on the dollar compared to men as measured in hourly wages for full-time workers, the Liberals said in a fact sheet. Comparing on an annual basis, women earned only 69 cents on the dollar compared to men.
“Proactive pay equity is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” Hajdu said. “The bottom line is that when people are treated fairly and are given an equal opportunity to succeed and to reach their full potential, we all benefit.”
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Monsef said the measure will “increase women’s financial security, grow the middle class and strengthen our economy so that all Canadians benefit.”
Brison hailed the legislation as “historic” and said the Canadian government was obliged to take the lead in ensuring equal opportunities and pay for men and women.