The Fight for Pay Equity Continues

Column

There has been a lot of talk these days about equality between men and women. The Liberal government brought gender parity to cabinet, while we, the NDP, moved a motion on pay equity. Working the same job for different pay is just not right. Canadian women are still paid on average 23% less than their male colleagues. This wage gap is even worse for First Nations women, visible minorities, and women with disabilities.

Canada is one of the worst countries in the developed world when it comes to pay equity. According to the World Economic Forum, we rank 80th out of the 145 countries it studied.

There is absolutely no reason for women in Canada to earn less than men. It is a form of discrimination that is contributing to the growing problem of economic inequality.  The NPD has been demanding pay equity for decades.

It is time to take meaningful action to achieve equality between men and women.

An organization called Relais-femmes prepared a socio-economic profile of the women of our region for the Regional Conference of Elected Officials of the upper Saint-Lawrence River Valley. Some of its findings are troubling:

  • One in four families is a single-parent family, and three-quarters of those families have a female head of household. The average employment income of women is $32,000 compared to $46,000 for men.
  • The women of the upper Saint-Lawrence River Valley earn on average 30% less than men with equal qualifications.

It is a simple fact: we have a long way to go to achieve equality between men and women. This calls for some serious reflection on things like education and the fight against job insecurity, as pointed out by Jacynthe Dubien of the Centre D’Main de Femmes in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

The lack of sufficient income and discrimination against women are adding a tremendous burden. This translates into additional stress and anxiety about making ends meet. As a result, women are more likely to have increased mental health needs and can more easily be pushed into poverty.

It is now or never in the fight for women’s equality.

We have taken an excellent first step by adopting the motion moved by my NDP colleague Sheila Malcolmson. The NPD succeeded in getting pay equity recognized as a right and called on the federal government to take action immediately. A special committee will be formed shortly and will consult Canadians in order to develop an action plan. 

All of my NDP colleagues and I share your vision of a more just and equal Canada. There is a real desire for change. This represents a first step towards making it happen.