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EQUALITY, FAIRNESS AND TRANSPARENCY IN ONTARIO WORKPLACES

This submission to the Changing Workplace Review was prepared by Mary Cornish and Janet Borowy

September 2015


 

Overview

  1. The Equal Pay Coalition is an organization of over 30 women’s groups, trade unions, community groups and business organizations formed in 1976 with the goal to eradicate the gender wage gap.
  2. Despite years of efforts to end pay discrimination for women in Ontario, their average annual earnings in Ontario are still 31.5% less than that what men earn. Women who are Aboriginal, racialized, immigrant, and disabled face much larger wage gaps. The gender wage gap is further intensified by the fact women make up the majority of workers in precarious employment relationships.
  3. This gender wage gap is a human rights crisis where women are paid inferior wages and their work is not valued. While there are many causes to the problem, it is clear that Ontario’s labour and employment laws are an important part of the problem and need to be fixed. The gender wage gap continues to reflect a deep systemic discriminatory failure in the province’s current legislative framework to protect women workers and ensure that they have a true voice in the conditions of their work.  Training and education will not close the gender wage gap.  In fact, as the data demonstrates below, equally educated young women face a gender pay gap from day one in the labour market.
  4. The mandate of the Changing Workplace Review (“The Review”) is to gather the experience of employees and employers about workplace changes and to provide advice on changes to employment and labour legislation. The Review is the first opportunity in over twenty years to conduct a detailed analysis of both the Employment Standards Act, a regime of statutory minimums, and the Labour Relations Act, 1995, a regime of procedures to secure union representation and collective bargaining.
  5. For the Review to be successful, the Equal Pay Coalition submits that you need to bring a gender lens to your analysis. Both statutes, the Employment Standards Act  (“ESA“) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995, (“LRA“) are, even in their current form, critical to providing the statutory employment minimums and access to collective bargaining for women.  The ESA and the LRA are critical legislative tools in the labour market which can be invoked to start closing the gender way gap.
  6. However, for many years, women’s organizations have recognized that both regimes have been unsuccessful in securing a robust improvement the wages and working conditions of workers in the most vulnerable sectors of the economy, who are overwhelmingly women and particularly racialized and immigrant women. Effective statutory sectoral regulation, effective enforcement and a regime of broader-based bargaining are required to fully protect women in the Ontario labour market.
  7. The need for reform is even more urgent as the structural changes in the economy, work organization and the employment relationships over the past thirty years have left women more vulnerable in Ontario’s labour market.

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