The Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced that it is creating a new working group to provide the government with advice and feedback on how to address the gender wage gap in Ontario. The working group will be comprised of members of the business, labour and human resources communities, as well as representatives of women’s advocacy groups. The working groups are expected to focus on how the government can better leverage tools such as the Pay Equity Act and parental leaves to address gendered wage disparity in the workplace. The Ontario government estimates that Ontario’s gender wage gap ranges from 14% to 26%.
One of the potential initiatives noted in the announcement is the development of a “gender workplace analysis tool.” As our readers may recall, recent amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA) included the new power for Employment Standards Officers to order that employers perform self-audits to assess their compliance with the ESA. Section 42 of the ESA prohibits employers from paying employees of one sex a lesser rate than similarly situated employees of the other sex. It is certainly possible that any gender workplace analysis tool developed by the Ministry of Labour could be rolled out in connection with greater use of the Ministry-directed self-audit.
We will continue to monitor this initiative and report on any new developments. For more information on the province’s efforts to combat the gender wage gap, click here.