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Nothing comes of Ontario’s Equal Pay Day

Ontario’s Equal Pay Day came and went without much fuss.

Women working full-time in the province only earn about 73.5 cents to every dollar a man makes. And this is in 2016.

April 19 marked Equal Pay Day in Ontario — the day in which a woman’s yearly earnings will catch up to the average salary of a man. In essence, it takes four extra months of work for a woman to make the same as a man.

Despite the fact that half of Canada’s cabinet are women and that our Prime Minister self-identifies as a feminist, there hasn’t been much done to ensure equality in the workplace. Ontario’s gender gap continues to grow. It’s gotten to the point where women in the United States are making on average five cents more than women in Ontario.

What’s even more surprising was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne did not make a speech or even release a statement about Equal Pay Day. Instead, a press release was sent out early Tuesday morning regarding the results of consultations conducted by Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee. The report was the product of 18 weeks of surveys and in-person conversation.

The women who participated in the consultation said they often felt as if they have to prove themselves in the workplace and that some fields, especially early childhood education, should be presented as a gender-equal profession. At the same time, schools should be encouraging women to get involved in STEM fields or skilled trades at a young age.

The press release also provided an overview of everything the Ontario government has done over the last year to help reduce this gender gap. Some of these initiatives include the following:

  • A regulation that requires company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange to report on their approach to increase the number of women in management positions.
  • Increase wages by $2 an hour (including benefits) for early childhood educators and child care professionals.
  • Increase hourly wages of personal support workers
  • Invest $120 million over three years for new licensed child care spaces in schools
  • Implementing a number of training programs for skilled trades, information technology, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.

These are all beneficial programs and regulations that will no doubt encourage more women to aim for managerial positions, but it isn’t nearly enough. Many of these regulations involve increasing wages of typically female jobs like child care worker or a personal support worker, instead of putting the onus on businesses to hire women in positions of power.

Regulations and programs are great, but a change in mentality is necessary to actually reduce the gender gap. How does this start? It begins by rewarding companies that hire using equal opportunity, encouraging more women to apply for managerial or board positions, and addressing the stigmas that are so obviously engrained in the hiring process.

Three years ago Ontario announced Equal Pay Day. It remains the only province to have done so. In a country that prides itself on equality, its shocking that more governments aren’t following suit and bringing awareness to the startling inequality that exists within the workplace.