Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Gender Pay Equity Strategy Likely to Stop Short of Iceland's: Experts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Gender Pay Equity Strategy Likely to Stop Short of Iceland's: Experts

Article excerpt

Gender experts call for pay equity budget measures

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TORONTO - Gender equity and business experts have their fingers crossed that the forthcoming federal budget will deliver long-awaited legislation to make the workforce more equitable for women, but few expect the Canadian government to come close to a bold move made by Iceland earlier this year-- fining businesses who fail to institute pay equity measures.

The Liberal government has signalled that next Tuesday's budget will include initiatives to improve the economic success of women and promote gender equality, potentially through narrowing the pay equity gap, ensuring more gender equality in boardrooms and easing access to capital for female entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month that his government will introduce legislation this year to ensure equal pay for work of equal value in federal jobs. Canada has long struggled to tackle the wage gap, with the most recent numbers showing women on average earn 87 cents for every dollar made by a man.

And yet, even as the government gets ready to table a federal budget that applies gender-based analysis to its policies, women in business advocacy groups are skeptical that the Canadian government will do anything as bold as Iceland. The nordic country is believed to be the first to require both public and private companies with more than 25 employees to reach pay parity.

"I think we need to take a more aggressive stance, but I don't anticipate that we will see anything like Iceland," said Tanya van Biesen, the executive director of Catalyst Canada, a non-profit organization advocating for women's advancement in the workplace.

The groundbreaking law, which came into effect in January, forces companies to seek certification every three years from an auditor that will verify that their efforts have been successful and that any pay disparities have been based on fair terms, including education, performance or skill. Companies that fail to attain certification face fines of up to 50,000 ISK (CA$630) a day. …

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