BY LEAH MORROW
An iconic Canadian woman will be featured on Canadian currency come 2018.
This long overdue decision made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a step in the right direction for gender equality, but also sparks a discussion on pay discrimination between genders.
If we are so eager to put a woman on the face of a Canadian bill, should we not also be paying them the same as men for their contributions to the workforce?
According to the Equal Pay Coalition, an organization that was formed in Ontario in 1976 to seek equal pay for work of equal value, even though women make up almost half of the workforce in Ontario, the annual wage gap between men and women is 31.5 per cent. The website said this is one of the highest reported gaps in the world.
On March 8, 2001– International Women’s Day – about 150 labourers gathered outside of Saskatchewan’s legislature. What did they want? Equal pay for equal work. The Canadian Union of Public Employees said women at that time received 70 cents for every dollar that a man earned.
Statistics Canada’s most recent study shows that not much has changed since then. On average women in Canada earn about 72 per cent of what men make. This is down from 74.4 per cent in 2009. The 2011 National Household Survey shows that there are many factors at work when it comes to pay discrimination in Canada, although none have to do with a lack of education.
We believe that closing the gender pay gap between men and women will benefit everyone. Paying people equally will create a stronger and more united workforce. It is in no way about undervaluing men, it is about equality for all.
The Equal Pay coalition says, “Nobody chooses to have their work undervalued and underpaid.”
We could not agree more.
The coalition also states on its website that the elimination of pay discrimination can be linked closely to the eradication of poverty.
Although we have come a long way since the Ontario government passed the Pay Equity Act in 1987 and, yes, giving women a place on our currency is a step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go.