A proactive federal pay equity law is overdue

The House of Commons has adopted an NDP motion that could result in creating a new pay equity law that puts the onus on employers to provide pay equity.

“We appreciate the NDP addressing this important issue so early in the new Parliament,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson.

“Our experience with the current complaint process under the Canadian Human Rights Act is that it can take literally decades for women to achieve pay equity and we urge the government to act without delay, said Benson.”

Members of Parliament from all parties, except the Conservative party, voted in favour of the motion that

  • Recognizes pay equity as a right and taking action to close pay inequities between men and women
  • Calls for implementing the recommendations of a 2004 federal Pay Equity Task Force report  to restore the right to pay equity in the public service eliminated by the Conservative government
  • Sets up a multi-party committee to conduct hearings and propose a plan to adopt a proactive pay equity system

A new proactive pay equity law is needed

Set up in 2001, the federal Pay Equity Task Force held extensive consultations with unions, employers, pay equity specialists and academics.

PSAC’s evidence of how long it takes to resolve complaints clearly demonstrated the need for a system that puts the onus on the employers to show they were paying equal pay for work of equal value.

As a result of the consultations, the 2004 Task Force report provided detailed recommendations for the implementation of such a law.

“We trust the multi-party committee studying the issue will rely on the work already carried out by the Task Force and we look forward to them quickly developing a plan to implement a proactive pay equity law”, said Benson.

Conservatives attempted to take away the right to pay equity

The Conservatives’ 2009 omnibus budget bill included the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act that would have denied federal public service workers access to the pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

PSECA would have made it virtually impossible to file a pay equity claim and it prohibited unions from helping members file these claims. However, the law is not in force because the regulations needed to implement PSECA were never adopted.


February 4, 2016