B.C. Liberals propose changes that would waive cost to hyphenate last name

Mary Polak is proposing new rules that would waive fees to hyphenate names. Richard Zussman / Global News

The B.C. Liberals are pushing for a legal change that would allow married British Columbians to combine or hyphenate their surnames without cost in the same way they can adopt their spouse’s name.

Langley MLA Mary Polak reintroducing the private members legislation on Wednesday in advance of International Women’s Day on Friday.

“Currently, British Columbians can easily take their spouse’s last name after marriage,” Polak said. “The same is not true for those who wish to combine or hyphenate their names. Instead, they must go through the formal name-change process, which can be time consuming and costly.”

READ MORE: Kelowna woman wants her hyphen back

A name change for an adult in B.C. costs $137. Polak says the legislation has been introduced to modernize an ‘outdated process for name changes that disproportionately impacts women.’

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Ontario’s Change of Name Act permits spouses to take a combined surname at any point of marriage and there is no cost to do so.

“This proposed legislation reflects the realities of modern relationships and family structures in British Columbia,” Polak said. “This is a very small change that can have a significant positive impact and I hope the government will consider adopting it.”

The B.C. Liberals also introduced the Equal Pay Reporting Act. Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux introduced the legislation today that would require businesses that employ 50 or more people to provide an annual breakdown of the mean and medium regular pay and bonuses provided to all male and female employees.

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“Pay inequality is an issue often talked about and infrequently acted on,” Cadieux said. “Unfortunately, these issues affect 50 per cent of the workforce who are not compensated in line with their male counterparts. This bill is designed to bring light to this issue and provide an opportunity for businesses to address inequality head-on.”

Cadieux says the legislation would encourage companies to improve pay equity. The United Kingdom introduced pay equality reporting measures in 2015, requiring employers with more than 250 employees to report the differences of mean and median pay between men and women in the workplace.

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Since then, more than 10,000 employers have regularly filed gender pay gap reports in the U.K., including some voluntary reports for businesses with fewer than 250 employees.

“Being surrounded by so many talented and hard-working women in all aspects of my life is a true blessing, but knowing that we all face an uphill battle for equality is what drove me to introduce this bill,” Cadieux said.

“It’s time for us all to make a difference, for business owners to step up and for British Columbia to champion lasting change.”