Ontario NDP Demands Immediate Action of Minimum Wage and Pay Equity

PAY EQUITY

Ms. Peggy Sattler: My question is to the Acting Premier. Speaker, 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of pay equity legislation in Ontario. After 30 years, however, the lack of active enforcement of pay equity laws has contributed to a gender wage gap that is stuck at 30%, a gap that is significantly wider for immigrant and indigenous women and women with disabilities. The closing the gender wage gap steering committee called for amendments to the Pay Equity Act in its final report last August. More than six months after the release of that report, nothing has happened.

Can the Acting Premier explain why she is dragging her heels on the immediate actions, like amending the Pay Equity Act, that would make a huge difference to close the gender wage gap for women in Ontario?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Labour.

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you to the member for that excellent and timely question. There’s no doubt—I think all members in this House will agree—that the gender wage gap still disadvantages women across Ontario and across every jurisdiction, and we need to deal with it. Other parties in the past have said they would deal with it, but they haven’t. We haven’t made the progress that needs to be made. The conversation that is taking place right now in the province of Ontario involves some very real work that was done by the gender wage gap working group. They worked on behalf of government. They came from business; they came from labour; they came from the civil service. They brought us their best advice. We’re moving that on now.We’ve got a group together of some of the best minds in this province, some of the best minds on this issue. Their first meeting is scheduled for April 13.

I want Ontario to be a leader in this. We should all want Ontario to be a leader in this. The level of tolerance for the gender wage gap simply has expired in this province, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary? The member from Welland.

Ms. Cindy Forster: This government has had 14 years. When the non-unionized auto manufacturers recently sought changes to workers’ personal leave, the Premier changed the law for them overnight through quiet regulation. When large construction firms like EllisDon sought reforms that negatively impacted workers, you quickly changed the laws for them.

What are you going to do today for the majority of low-paid workers in this province—almost 60% of them women—to have decent, secure work that pays at least a $15-an-hour minimum wage?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you again to the member. As I said, this is a very timely question, Speaker.

I’m proud to stand in this House. With the Changing Workplaces Review, with the Gender Wage Gap Strategy, we’re confronting issues where the solution has escaped previous governments. We’re taking concrete action. When the advice came forward from the gender wage gap working group, there was work to be done in the future but they told us there are things you can do right now and we acted upon that, Speaker.

Gender-based analysis is used by this government. It’s required. When we’re passing any policy that relates to this government, it needs to go through a gender-wage-gap lens. That wasn’t done in the past. It should have been. Under this government it is being done.

We’re moving ahead on this issue. We’re determined to put an end to the gender wage gap in Ontario.