Feds Prefer Proactive Approach to Pay Equity Legislation, Memo Suggests

By Joanna Smith and Jordan Press | The Canadian Press, August 8, 2016 | Go to article overview

Feds Prefer Proactive Approach to Pay Equity Legislation, Memo Suggests


Joanna Smith and Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Feds prefer proactive take on pay equity: doc

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OTTAWA - The federal government would prefer a proactive approach to ensuring that men and women get equal pay for work of equal value, a newly released memo suggests, but officials expressed some caution over how much it could accomplish.

"The proactive approach is generally considered to be more effective at addressing systemic wage discrimination," said a backgrounder on pay equity legislation provided to Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk on Feb. 1.

"It is less adversarial than a complaints-based approach, with the focus being on assisting employers to comply with the law rather than placing the burden on a complainant to build a case of discrimination," said the memo from the deputy minister.

"However, a proactive approach can only bring about minor change unless compliance levels are high."

The Canadian Press obtained the document through access-to-information legislation.

The document was prepared ahead of an NDP motion that called on the House of Commons to strike a special committee on pay equity to come up with a plan to adopt a proactive pay equity regime, rather than leaving individual women who believe they are being treated unfairly to file complaints.

The motion passed with support from the Liberals and the committee released its report in June.

The report recommended doing away with the controversial Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act brought in by the previous Conservative government.

It also called on the government draft proactive pay equity legislation within 18 months -- with the NDP asking for it by the end of this year.

It also urged the government to accept the overall direction -- and majority of recommendations -- from the 2004 report of the federal Pay Equity Task Force.

Neither Mihychuk nor anyone from the Department of Employment and Social Development was available Monday for an interview.

In an emailed statement, departmental spokesman Josh Bueckert pointed to what the minister said during her May 3 appearance before the committee: "Our government's goal is to stop this discrimination related to the undervaluation of work traditionally performed by women. …

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