The Issue of Gender Pay Discrimination in Canada

The phenomenon of the gender pay gap is a well-fixed one in modern society: women working at the same time earn only part of men’s salary. Historical flow influenced the aspect of economic equality for females throughout the whole world. It should be noted that the problem of gender pay discrimination is centralized in most countries as one of the basic economic problems requiring governmental regulations. General statistical data show that females earn about 80% of the males’ earnings. Canadian legislation faces this problem as well deciding it through the process of pay equity; gender pay discrimination of this country has undergone certain changes with the historical development of Canadian public policy.

According to the studies conducted in 2005 educated women got only 68% of men’s earnings with the same educational degree. As Barbara Byers announced, executive vice president of CLC, “The gender gap lives in the country”, underlining the unfair situation in Canada. (Brennae, 2008)

Gender pay discrimination in Canada became the part of Human Rights Act of the state being passed in the 1970s. The legislation was named Equal Wages and was concentrated on the wage differences observed between women and men; further on it was recognized as illegal discrimination. The Commission of the Canadian Human Rights enforced the Act rooted from the laws adopted in provinces of the state.

Nevertheless, the adoption of provincial laws concerning gender-based wages in the Canadian workforce caused several problems. The difficulties were merely connected with the gender differentiation of job restrictions introduced within the same occupation for men and women. Jobs comparisons in various occupations appeared to be completely equal to responsibility and skills; taking into account the the fact such comparisons were prohibited. Besides, early provincial legislation demanded the introduction of controversial matters having the form of complaint. As a result, such steps allowed the legislation enforcement phase to remain completely moot till the advancement of discrimination prima facie evidence. (Hakim, 2006)

The federal-level of the Canadian legislation faced the lack of accommodation progress in the sphere of the workforce; problems were closely connected with narrow legislation interpretation and inappropriate rate of enforcement action. It should be noted that the evaluations of advantages and disadvantages connected with the development of the Canadian workforce system and its laws influenced the development of the US legislation. Canadian experience in the gender-based accommodations in the sphere of workforce allowed the US governments to establish certain measures and avoid serious mistakes in the law issues workout. (Grunderson, 2006)

According to the surveys of 1989 conducted by Millspaugh and Kovach, the female earnings in general made only about 60% of the male wages. Taking into account the statistical data provided by Gunderson the occupations within one and the same enterprise being taken by women and men differed by 20% in earnings. With every passing year, the women rate of earnings raised by 7%. The differences predominantly lied in the number of hours worked by the males and females; it is necessary to underline the fact that women worked about 35 hours a week in average, while the number of work hours for male was more than 40. Nevertheless till 1992 the rate of women earnings raised up to 80% of the male wages.

Rapid decline of the gender earning gap is connected with transformations in the state economic structure of Canada. One should underline the fact that nowadays the major concepts used in the Canadian workforce are considered to pay equality and pay equity. According to Canadian legislative jurisdiction pay, equality is strictly required. This aspect means that equal work requires equal pay despite gender discrimination. In case men and women do the same amount of jobs they are to be paid equally under Canadian legislation. As a matter of example, one can analyze the profession of electrician which has always been considered as a pure male job; nevertheless, current female electricians earn the same money as male ones because of the similar work conditions and rate of responsibility performed. (The Global Gender Pay Gap, 2008) Speaking about the second aspect of Canadian legislation, pay equity, one should stress that the state workforce system regards the same payment despite the gender discrimination in case males and females perform the same job within a common employer or company; female-dominated occupations and male-dominated ones are not distinguished per the earnings rate. Such a position is common to that of the USA. It means that the states throughout the whole world have started to perform the women as individuals being completely responsible for the job they perform and taking the important place in the society as skilled and professional employees deserving their right for wages similar to the male’s ones. (Grunderson, 2006)

The pay gap is still the problem for Canada; it should be stressed that most women of the country have secondary qualifications even though nowadays females are more educated; besides, modern women do not strive to have a family too early and have a lot of children. They predominantly try to make a perfect career to become completely independent. The statistical data show that women at the age of 25-40 have few opportunities to take high positions at the companies and the rate of wages is still lower. So, one should stress that the problem of gender pay discrimination is centralized worldwide.

According to the surveys of 2008, women living in Canada are usually employed in low-paid occupations which proves the development of the gender pay gap. As the CLC report stated, “Working women, especially recent immigrant women of color, have suffered most from the failure of governments to maintain adequate minimum wages and employment standards to protect low paid and precarious workers”. (Brennae, 2008) Byers stated that to avoid the problem it is necessary to provide labor laws changes and conduct labor reforms.

Gender pay discrimination still exists in Canada and many other countries. The analysis of the workforce system surveys conducted from the beginning of the 1990s showed that Canada appeared to be referred to the highest level among all industrially developed countries; as a result, the rate of the gender pay gap is considered to be not so vivid in comparison with previous centuries. The country is on the way to problem liquidation through the introduction of various approaches into the legislation system. (Kovach, 1996)

Profound analysis of the problem concerning gender discrimination in the Canadian workforce proved the globalism of the issue; the reports of the previous 2008 year show that the rate of the gender pay gap is about 13% throughout the world. The problem does not remain in a stable position; it may begin growing in case the governments will not take measures and provided workforce approaches aimed at its liquidation. It is necessary to underline the fact that the difficulties and problematic side of the workforce inequality lie in the depth of gender problems rooted from ancient times, though one should consider that times changed and women became as independent and experienced as men being able to perform the same job and having the right to earn the same money for this.


Brennae, Mark. Gender Gap Widening, Study Asserts. Canwest News Service. 2008.

Grunderson, Morley. Male-Female Wage Differentials: How can that be? Department of Economics, University of Toronto. 2006.

Hakim, C. Women, Careers and Work Life Preferences. British Journal Of Marriage and Counseling. 2006.

Kovach, Kenneth. Comparable Worth: The Canadian Legislation – implementation of pay equity laws in Canada. Business Horizons. 1996.

The Global Gender Pay Gap. International Trade Union Confederation. 2008.

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