Pay Equity: 20 years after the Bilson Report

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the Pay Equity Task Force’s report ‘Pay Equity: A new approach to a fundamental right’, also known as the Bilson Report. The task force, mandated by the Government of Canada, made a series of recommendations to advance pay equity in the federally regulated sector.  

PSAC’s fight for pay equity 

Canada’s progress toward achieving pay equity has been painfully slow. In the 20 years since the Bilson report was tabled in Parliament, PSAC has continuously advocated for women’s right to receive equal pay for work of equal value and has pushed the federal government to adopt proactive pay equity legislation in line with the Bilson Report.  

But PSAC’s advocacy on pay equity did not start with the Bilson report. In 1983, we filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging the federal government was violating its own human rights laws by denying equal pay for work of equal value to its workers — mainly women — employed in a wide range of clerical positions. In 1999, we won that battle and it resulted in retroactive pay and interest payouts to some 230,000 PSAC members and former members totaling $3 billion.  

The Pay Equity Act 

In a country where women earn 89 cents for every dollar earned by men for work of equal value, and where Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities earn even less, having pay equity plans is a crucial step in advancing gender equality. 

The implementation of the Pay Equity Act in 2021, which included many of the Bilson Report’s recommendations, was a pivotal moment for pay equity in Canada. Under the Act, federally regulated employers with 10 or more employees – in both the public and private sector – were given three years to establish a pay equity plan to identify and remedy gender-based discrimination in their compensation systems and practices.  

The deadline of September 2024 is fast approaching, and it appears many federal employers will not meet the deadline. The government has not adequately funded the Pay Equity Commission, which is responsible for fulfilling the Act's statutory requirements. PSAC’s 2024 federal budget submission recommended additional resources to the Commission but the government has disregarded these recommendations. We have written to the Minister of Labour and Seniors to convey our concerns and will continue to put pressure on the government to meet their obligations.  


May 7, 2024