Framework Conditions in Ontario

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Pay Equity Act

The Pay Equity Act has been drafted and adopted in 1990. The latest modification has been made in 2015.

The Pay Equity Act covers not only the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender, but also enlists methods for detecting wage discrimination, procedures after detection, monitoring and fines in case of discrimination. Thereby, the act is an all-embracing act, which can be found in this quality only in Canada. Yet, the gender pay gap stays at a comparativel high level in Canada - mainly due to both horizontal and vertical segregation in the labour market.

Pay Equity Commission

The Pay Equity Commission is responsible for the Pay Equity Office and the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal:

- "The Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal is in charge for adjudicating disputes that arise under the Pay Equity Act. The Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to determine all questions of fact or law that arise in any matter before it. The decisions of the Tribunal are final and conclusive for all purposes."[1]

- "The Pay Equity Office administers the Pay Equity Act. Thereby, it focusses both on the implementation of the Pay Equity Act as well as education and communication. Implementation of the act covers investigation on complaints in case of unequal pay, dispute settlement and monitoring activities."[2]

Employer Responsibilities

"All employers are required to show that pay equity has been achieved and maintained in their workplace. To meet the minimum requirements of the Act, all employers must carry out the following activities for each of their establishments:

- Determine job classes, including gender and job rate of job classes.

- Determine the value of job classes based on legislative requirements of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions using a gender neutral comparison tool.

- Conduct job comparison for all female job classes using job-to-job and/or proportional value method of comparison.

- Identify and adjust the compensation of underpaid female job classes so that they are paid at least as much as an equal or comparable male job class or classes. All retroactive payment must include interest.

- Provide payroll summary and proof of payment as required.

When an Employer receives a letter from the Pay Equity Office or a telephone call from a Review Officer, the Employer is required to submit key information (including information listed above). Failure to comply with information requests may result in the issuance of Orders and the file may be referred to the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal for enforcement.

If, after an appropriately thorough review, there is no pay equity wage gap, the file will be closed.

The closing of the file does not prevent current or former employees from filing a complaint or preclude an investigation in the future. The Pay Equity Office will investigate any complaint regarding the achievement or maintenance of pay equity.

Once pay equity is achieved in the workplace, employers are required to maintain pay equity such that employees in female job classes are continued to be paid at least equal to comparable male job class or classes."[3]

Gender Wage Gap Strategy

The Ministry of Labour in Ontario started the Gender Wage Gap Strategy in April 2015. Major aim of this strategy is to analyse the causes of the gender wage gap in Ontario. Thereby, the strategy entails a provincial public consultation phase, in which companies, Ontarions and other relevant stakeholders are asked about their experiences with the wage gap and related causes.

The Gender Wage Gap Strategy is executed by a Steering Committee, in which also the Pay Equity Commission Ontario is represented. The final report has been published in 2016. Central points are:

- "There are insufficient options for child care and elder care, resulting in women doing more unpaid caregiving and having less time for paid work.

- The sectors and jobs where women and men work are differently valued, with work done by women being undervalued; and,

- There is gender bias and discrimination (intentional or unintentional) in business practices that can prevent women from achieving their full economic potential."[4]

The central recommendation on how to close the wage gap are:

1. Balancing work and caregiving, especially by providing childcare facilities for early childcare and assessing the parental leave schemes;

2. Valuing women's work higher, working together with employees' and employers' representations;

3. Workplace practices, especially introducing guidelines for public procurement and corrective action to close the wage gap; and,

4. Challenging gender stereotypes, especially within the education systems and through awareness rising.[5]


  1. Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal
  2. Pay Equity Office
  3. Pay Equity Office: Employer Responsibilities
  4. Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee: Final Report
  5. Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee: Final Report


Pay Equity Act

The Pay Equity Commission

Pay Equity Commission: Resources and Publications

Pay Equity Commission: Pay Equity and Equal Pay - What is the difference?

Pay Equity Commission: E-Learning Tools

Gender Wage Gap Strategy

Moyser, M. (2017). Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report