Canada is falling short on addressing wage equality

Posted on December 19, 2018 in Equality Delivery System – Opinion/Editorials
Dec. 18, 2018.   By

Fiftieth. That’s the lowly ranking of Canada out of 149 countries when it comes to wage equality for similar work, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2018.

Yes, this country came in behind economies as varied as the United States, Germany, Thailand, Uganda and Ukraine on one of the forum’s key evaluations of the economic, educational, health and political disparities that women experience.

It’s not because political leaders don’t know how to close the wage gap, which has women in Canada earning 31 per cent less than men annually. The solutions have been well-documented in countless studies over the decades.

It’s because they don’t have the political will, even in Ottawa where a supposedly feminist government holds power.

The key to closing the gap boils down to wage transparency and, basically, creating two programs: affordable, accessible child care and generous parental leave policies for men and women. Changing the view that unpaid work is primarily the responsibility of women helps, too.

These are not pie-in-the-sky theories. These programs have been proven to work in Nordic countries like Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, which consistently rank high on all the forum’s gender gap measurements, including for wage equality.

But Canadian politicians continue to ignore the importance of implementing programs that would get women back into the workforce, boost family incomes, reduce child poverty — and shrink the wage gap.

In Ontario, it is even worse. Premier Doug Ford’s government is actually sabotaging efforts under the Liberals to close the gap, by stalling the implementation of legislation aimed at increasing wage transparency in the province.

Instead of seeing it as a boon for women and the economy, the PC government sees it as a “challenge” for businesses.

Talk about backward thinking. As the forum report warned: “The economies that will succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be those that are best able to harness all their available talent.”

So far, Canada is falling far short on that front. And that’s not good for women — or men.

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