Wednesday, April 7 is Equal Pay Day in Ontario; an opportunity to raise awareness of the widespread gender wage gap in Ontario and discuss solutions to finally put a stop to this inequality.
A 2016 Canada Census showed that the wage gap between women and their male colleagues is 56 per cent for women with disabilities, 55 per cent for immigrant women, 45 per cent for Indigenous women, and 40 per cent for racialized women. This crisis has not improved since this census. In fact, women, Indigenous, and Black and other racialized people have been the hardest hit groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past year, we have all relied heavily on our front-line essential workers to keep us healthy and keep our essential services going. Many of these workers are women who work multiple precarious jobs to make ends meet and were forced to choose only one job because of the pandemic. The pandemic pay which the government offered to some front-line workers showed recognition for the fact that the wages for these jobs are too low; these workers deserve more.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work, and the right to a decent living wage. Gender inequality has been allowed to exist in our society for too long. In addition to hurting women, it hurts our families, our communities, and our economy. The gender wage gap severely affects the financial empowerment of women and those who depend on them.
As we rebuild and recover from this pandemic, we must demand better. We must demand equality, because women are essential to a fair and just economic recovery.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Dianne Clarabut, OPSEU/SEFPO Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) Chair