While the government didn’t denote any dollar amount to support its efforts to promote gender pay equity, the 2018 federal budget did state that legislation would be forthcoming to improve the situations for women in Canada who work in federally regulated workplaces.

The budget, announced Tuesday, illustrated the gender wage gap in two ways: in terms of yearly median income in Canada — $28,120 for women compared with $40,890 for men — and by the fact that for every dollar of full-time hourly wages earned by men, women make 88 cents. Women are also more likely to be working in part-time, temporary and lower-wage jobs, which affects their pensions and retirement savings. As such, women are more likely to suffer from financial difficulties during retirement, especially if they’re single, the budget noted. “Senior women are 1.5 times as likely to live in poverty as senior men,” it states.

Read: Canada’s gender pay gap could close by 2035: study

“If women make career choices or married couples make choices for women to earn less, work less, spend more time raising children, then yes, they’re going to see not only a reduction in their earnings while they’re working, it’s going to roll right through to a reduction to whatever employment pension they are going to have and Canada Pension Plan income they are going to have,” says Joe Nunes, president of Actuarial Solutions Inc.

The legislation forecasted by the budget will start to address the fundamental causes of women being less financially stable before and after retirement, says Wanda Morris, vice-president of advocacy at CARP (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons). “What we recognize is that the face of senior poverty in Canada is overwhelmingly female, and much of the work needed to address that is on the root causes and the systemic issues that give rise to it.”

Morris notes pay equity is just one of the many issues that combine to create less economic security for women and suggests addressing it in tandem with other issues, such as caregiving responsibilities that more often fall to women. “This is a critical recognition, and I applaud the government for looking at this. It is going to take a lot of steps to bring women out of poverty, but any time a government looks beyond Band-Aid solutions and starts to look at root causes, I think, is commendable,” says Morris.

Read: Budget confirms new five-week leave for second parent

When the government moves forward with pay equity legislation, it will “apply to federal employers with 10 or more employees, with pay equity requirements built as much as possible into existing federal compliance regimes,” the budget documents noted. As well, it will create a pay equity process for employers with fewer then 100 employees, timelines for implementation and mandatory reviews of progress.

Further, it will cover all types of employees, including part-time, full-time, seasonal and temporary workers. It will also require evaluating benefits and wages in a gender-neutral fashion.

In the coming months, the government plans to consult with stakeholders, such as employers and unions, on implementing the new legislation.

Read: What is the key to boosting gender equality at work?

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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