Ontario owes women workers $78.1 million in pay

March 7, 2008

TORONTO— Twenty years after Ontario introduced pay equity, a new study finds the practice is dying on the vine – starving from years of government neglect.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ study, Putting Fairness Back Into Women’s Pay, shows most Ontario employers ignore their obligation to pay women fairly; and the government is failing to fully fund the pay equity adjustments owed working women.

“With a $2.3 billion provincial surplus this year, it’s clear that the money is there to fairly pay Ontario’s working women,” says the study’s author and lawyer Mary Cornish.

“In fact, the surplus was created in part by not paying women who deliver public services the money they are owed to close discriminatory pay gaps.”

The study finds that the Liberal government has reinforced the Mike Harris government’s practice of ignoring pay equity. It has failed to deliver approximately $78.1 million in pay equity adjustments owing to women for 2006-07. A further $467.9 million is owed from 2008-11. As a result, the government is now open to another Charter challenge (the last challenge forced the Harris government to pay up).

In addition, the Pay Equity Commission and Tribunal had their funding slashed from $6.8 million in 1992-03 to just $3.4 million in 2006-07. As a result, they have been unable to effectively carry out their enforcement mandate, making Ontario’s 20-year-old Pay Equity Act law in name only.

“Pay discrimination affects Ontario women of all ages, races, and education levels,” says Cornish. “These women provide valuable public services and yet are not fairly paid for it. “And Ontario’s economy is paying the price: women and their families are suffering, businesses and communities are missing out on the positive impacts of fair pay.”

The study calls on the government to strengthen and revitalize pay equity enforcement in its upcoming budget by fully funding the pay equity adjustments to agencies it funds to provide needed public services and restoring funding for the Commission and Tribunal.


Putting Fairness Back Into Women’s Pay: The Case for Pay Equity in Ontario is a product of the Ontario Alternative Budget. It is available at http://www.policyalternatives.ca.

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.