Pay Equity Laws Provide Patchwork of Remedies

By Robbins, Wendy | Herizons, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Pay Equity Laws Provide Patchwork of Remedies


Robbins, Wendy, Herizons


(MONCTON) Bad news: the wage gap will still exist in 2030.

The prediction comes from Beth Bilson, dean of law at the University of Saskatchewan and chair of the Federal Pay Equity Task Force. She addressed 150 delegates at a February conference on pay equity in Moncton. Delegates heard that the wage gap currently stands at 70 percent (full-time, full-year data, for 1999). The gap is actually greater than it was five years ago, when women earned 73 cents on every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

So, is legislating pay equity effective? According to New Brunswick minister responsible for the status of women Margaret-Ann Blaney, the answer is a firm "no." The Conservative government of Bernard Lord favours education over legislation.

However, Université de Moncton labour law professor Louise Aucoin, a past president of the Coalition for Pay Equity, noted that New Brunswick's wage gap has narrowed only 5 percent in 20 years, and stands at about 70 percent. "Ace rythme, nous ne connaîtrons pas l'égalité, et nos filles non plus. [At this rate we will not reach equality...nor our daughters, either.]"

Pay equity is equal pay for work of equal or comparable value. Pay equity legislation aims to correct wage discrimination, which experts estimate is responsible for about half of the wage gap. Pay equity is not designed to address the half of the wage gap that arises from differences in education, seniority or career paths.

The majority of presenters at the conference, sponsored by the University of Moncton's Faculty of Law, the Canadian Bar Association and the Coalition for Pay Equity in New Brunswick, remained firm that pay equity legislation is an essential tool for reducing the wage gap.

In many Canadian jurisdictions, provincial pay equity legislation covers the provincial civil service and crown corporations. Only three provinces have passed legislation to cover the private sector: B. …

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