The gender wage gap remains a persistent issue in both New Brunswick and Canada more broadly.
Currently, women earn around 93 cents for every dollar earned by men. The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity hopes to introduce legislation to reduce this issue.
In New Brunswick, pay equity legislation only covers the public sector. Private sector and para-public (organizations funded by government but privately run like universities) organizations are currently not covered.
Rachel Richard is the Director of Public Affairs and Communication at the Pay Equity Coalition.
The organization had recent federal funding to look into pay equity in the private sector and para-public sector. “In the last few years there was pay equity legislation on a Federal level and the plan is to work on these issues at the provincial level,” Richard explained.
Richard said that the current Conservative government does not prioritize pay equity legislation, and that the Equity Coalition must be prepared for a change in government and party.
“The Liberal party in 2016 promised to adopt pay equity legislation for businesses with 50+ employee, but they were not successful in the election. The 2020 Liberal party took pay equity off the platform.”
Richard says that having pay equity on the Liberal platform hugely increases the chance of its enactment should the Liberals come into power.
The point of pay equity legislation is to require equal pay for work of equal value.
The Coalition proposes a system in which jobs are valued by four main factors: (1) Skills and qualifications required, (2) responsibilities, (3) effort required, (4) and working conditions.
The piece of legislation would also require employers to demonstrate that they conform to certain requirements. Richard says being proactive like this would increase the effectiveness of the law. While gender discrimination is already illegal under Human Rights legislation, it only provides a remedy after the fact.
“Litigating problems with pay equity takes time. It is more efficient to have legislation laying out the obligations of employers and how to comply.”
Richard says it is important to keep in mind that Pay Equity legislation does not necessarily mean equal pay. It is simply one piece of the puzzle in closing the gender wage gap.
Current pay equity legislation does allow for differences in pay on certain grounds. Someone can be paid more if the difference is based on merit, increased productivity, seniority, and market conditions.
This leaves room for gender wage gaps to persist and Richard says other things need to be considered while closing the gap.
She suggests that universal childcare, paid sick leave, more unionized environments, and other changes would allow women to more fully participate in the workforce.
The Coalition funds its operations largely by donation. More information can be found at https://equite-equity.com/en