Ontario First Province in Canada to Introduce Pay Transparency Legislation
Ontario today becomes the first province to tackle pay transparency as part of a broad new strategy to advance women’s economic empowerment and build fairer, better workplaces.Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, which includes the introduction of legislation to increase pay transparency by requiring certain employers to track and publish information about compensation in their organizations.
The multifaceted strategy will help remove long-standing barriers that have kept women from benefiting equally in Ontario’s rapidly changing economy. The strategy includes the introduction of standalone legislation to increase transparency in hiring processes and give women more information when negotiating fairer compensation that is equal to their male peers — making Ontario the first province in Canada to do so.
If passed, the legislation introduced today would help ensure compensation is based on a job’s requirements and the candidate’s qualifications. Specifically, it would:
- Require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range
- Bar employers from asking a job candidate about their past compensation
- Prohibit reprisals against employees who discuss or disclose compensation
- Establish a framework to require larger employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics, to be determined through consultation. Once fully implemented, these measures would require employers to publicly post that data within their own workplaces, in addition to reporting them to the province.
The proposed legislation is the central piece of Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, which also includes up to $50 million in funding over three years.
The strategy will also:
- Advocate for further enhancements to parental benefit entitlements
- Expand and strengthen women’s centres, which provide skills training and a variety of supports to women — including immigrant, racialized and women experiencing, or at risk of, violence
- Reinforce measures to promote women in corporate leadership
- Increase women’s access to training and mentorship opportunities
- Better support women entrepreneurs — including helping young women develop an entrepreneurial mindset, and creating the Ontario Women’s Entrepreneurship Association
- Launch a social awareness campaign to break down gender stereotypes and promote gender equality at work, at home and in communities.
Making wages fairer for everyone is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students , easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment builds on existing government efforts to create fairness and opportunity for women, including a $15 minimum wage in 2019, new workplace leave of up to 17 weeks for survivors of domestic or sexual violence, a $242 million investment in It’s Never Okay: Ontario’s Gender-Based Violence Strategy and our government’s plan to build 100,000 new child care spaces.
- Improving gender equality in workplaces and society could add as much as $60 billion to Ontario’s GDP over the next decade.
- The gender wage gap in Ontario has remained stagnant for the last decade, with women earning around 30 per cent less than men.
- Ontario’s pay transparency legislation was informed by other jurisdictions with similar laws in place, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.
- The strategy plans to leverage Ontario’s buying power to encourage gender equity when selecting vendors for government work.
- The province’s pay transparency disclosure measures will begin with the Ontario Public Service. Then, following consultation, the proposed new rules will then apply to employers with more than 500 employees, and later will extend to those with more than 250 employees. Exactly which prescribed characteristics — in addition to gender — employers will be required to record and report will be determined through consultation.
“It’s been more than 30 years since Ontario first passed pay equity legislation, but we are still working to close the gap. We know that too many women still face systemic barriers to economic advancement. When women face increased harassment, violence, poverty and discrimination, it hurts our society and our economy. It’s time for change. Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment shines a spotlight on compensation and improves conditions for everyone in Ontario applying for a job. Thanks to this first-of-its-kind strategy, we’re building a fairer, more dynamic, forward-thinking and prosperous Ontario –– for everyone.”
— Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
“By taking immediate and meaningful steps, Ontario stands out as a true leader when it comes to ending income inequality. Our government is committed to breaking down barriers to employment, closing the gender wage gap and helping to support all women in the economy.”
— Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour
“Equality is the hallmark of a fair and just Ontario, yet equality is still out of reach for many women, especially racialized, Indigenous and newcomer women. Ontario is changing that by being a leader in Canada and investing in women’s futures at all economic levels.”
— Harinder Malhi, Minister of the Status of Women