Today is equal pay day, which marks how far into 2019 women must work to earn what their male counterparts did in 2018, and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ Pay and Social Equity Committee has encouraged all members and the public to wear red in support of equal pay for Albertans and workers across the globe.
“Since women started earning wages, the same biases that saw their labour undervalued in the home followed them into the workplace,” said Vice President and Chair of the Pay and Social Equity Committee Bonnie Gostola.
To this day, Alberta is the only Canadian province without pay equity legislation or a policy framework on the issue. AUPE has been working hard for decades to change this.
Back in 1954, AUPE asked the Government of Alberta to stop paying women less than men for doing the same job.
In November 2017, the Pay and Social Equity Committee had a petition tabled in the Alberta Legislature with 9,631 signatures, calling for a comprehensive pay equity act for the province that covers public and private sector employers; creates mandatory and proactive job evaluations; describes the minimum requirements for employers to identify and correct gender discrimination; and ensures wages in female dominated job classes are equal to those of comparable male dominated job classes based on skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.
“What people might not realize is that the wage gap also often compounds other inequalities. Wider for racialized women and women with disabilities, it can push a woman and her family even further into the margins,” adds Gostola.
Pay inequity takes many different forms today. A 2017 release by Statistics Canada reported some Canadian women make less than the men in the exact same occupations as them.
The same study also showed Canadian women are more likely than men to work in industries and occupations that reflect traditional gender roles. Women’s work usually involves caring for others, teaching, cleaning and clerical work. And more often than not, these female-dominated jobs earn less than male-dominated ones.
“The wage gap is a huge injustice to all of us because at the heart of women’s work is values we can’t live without,” adds Gostola. “Care, compassion and community don’t prioritize profit – they’re priceless. That’s all the more reason for the people who uphold them in their work to be compensated fairly.”
“Until the government takes real action on fixing this issue, pay inequity remains everyone’s problem.”