Persistent inequality in Ontario’s labour market along racial, gender lines largely unchanged since 2006

December 11, 2018

TORONTO—Ontario’s labour market shows stubborn patterns of employment and income inequality along racial and gender lines, according to new research from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario (CCPA-ON) office.

The report, Persistent Inequality: Ontario’s Colour-coded Labour Market, presents a portrait of the province’s racialized labour market as of 2016 (the latest data available), and compares it to similar data from 2006. The study finds that racialized workers in Ontario continue to experience higher unemployment rates and significant wage gaps compared to non-racialized workers.

“Our findings show there has been little progress in reducing racialized labour market inequality in Ontario. The gaps between racialized and non-racialized workers remain firmly in place,” says Sheila Block, report co-author and CCPA-ON senior economist. “The repeal of Bill 148, which included raising the minimum wage and pay equity provisions that would help close these gaps, will further exacerbate this inequality.”

This inequality impacts a growing number of Ontario workers. In 2016, 29 per cent of Ontario’s population was racialized, an increase from 23 per cent in 2006.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Racialized women were most likely to be in lowest-paying occupations, and racialized men were also more likely than non-racialized men to be in these lowest-paying occupations. These patterns reverse for the highest paying occupations;

  • Labour market discrimination remains gendered and racialized: In 2015, racialized men earned 76 cents for every dollar non-racialized men earned; racialized women earned a staggering 58 cents for every dollar non-racialized men earned;

  • Data indicate that differences in immigrants’ labour market outcomes are not based only on education and language skills, but also on racialization: prime aged (25-54 years old) racialized male and female immigrants earned 70 and 78 cents, respectively, for every dollar non racialized immigrants earned, and gaps continued into and beyond the second generation.

“We are still waiting for bold new policies to close the persistent gap between racialized and non-racialized Ontario workers,” adds study co-author Grace-Edward Galabuzi, professor in the department of politics and public administration at Ryerson University. “Until we tackle barriers to employment equity and decent work, these gaps are unlikely to go away.”


Persistent Inequality: Ontario’s Colour-coded Labour Market is available for download on the CCPA website. For more information or to arrange interviews contact: Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer, at 613-563-1341 x 307, cell 343-998-7575 or