It’s hard to believe that a gender wage gap still exists in 2015. But the numbers tell us very clearly that the gap is alive, present and large. The average annual earnings of women in Ontario are 31.5% lower than those of men. The numbers are even worse for racialized women, immigrant women, women with disabilities and Aboriginal women. The Ontario government is holding a gender wage gap consultation this fall. Please make your voice heard! There are many factors that have contributed to the wage gap. Deeply-rooted patterns of inequality continue to exist in our society. Occupations in which women make up the bulk of workers are generally paid less than those where men are the majority. Women also face barriers to accessing higher paid jobs in fields where men predominate.
No way! She makes 31.5% less than a man?
The penalty of caring
Social services, health care and education workers ensure the young, the elderly, the sick, people with disabilities and the vulnerable and marginalized are cared for, safe and supported. By caring, helping and teaching people, these workers ensure our societies can function. But these front-line workers face an additional barrier when it comes to the wage gap. They not only face a wage penalty because the majority of workers are women, but also because the care work they do was traditionally done by women for little or no pay. In one study, the ‘care penalty’ in Canada was found to be almost 10 per cent.[i] That’s why it’s especially important for CUPE members to understand this issue and take action.
How to close the gap?
Closing the wage gap will require many different changes when it comes to our laws, regulations, policies and practices. It will require a genuine commitment from our political leaders.
The government funds the broader public sector including social services, education and health care and largely sets wages through that funding. One of the key things workers need is a dedicated government funding stream to support pay equity obligations and help close the wage gap. With government funding to many broader public sector agencies flat-lined for years, many workers have not seen pay equity adjustments owed to them under Ontario’s laws.
Unions like CUPE are at the forefront of closing the wage gap:
- We bargain collective agreements with better and more equal wages and that include equality boosters like parental, family and sick leaves;
- We bargain job evaluation processes and pay equity plans;
- We advocate for equality boosters like affordable and accessible child care, a higher minimum wage and strong public services.
Make your voice heard!
We want to make sure CUPE members have a chance to share their stories and push for real change during the gender wage gap consultation.