This past December, our 1st VP and Treasurer of OPSEU, Patty Rout posted a message on the OPSEU website entitled “Persistent poverty diminishes holiday joy”. It was a fabulous article and thought-provoking. I wanted to share one of her quotes with you.
“We have the tools at hand to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, poverty, but somehow we lack the political will it takes to turn a shared goal into a measurable result.”
A shared goal into a measurable result. It immediately brought to my mind, the issue of Pay Equity. Pay Equity is most certainly one component of any intelligent poverty reduction strategy it seems to me. Pay Equity is designed to eliminate systemic discrimination in the compensation practices for work that is performed primarily by women. We know that there are more women than men at the lower end of the wage distribution scale. Women constitute nearly one half of all workers in Ontario. Dollar for dollar they do not earn the same dollar a man does on an hourly basis. We have a pay gap of approximately 29%. That statistic worsens if you happen to be a disabled woman, a woman of a racial minority or an Aboriginal woman. Retired women in Ontario receive a retirement income just half of that of retired men because of a lifetime of unequal pay and benefits. Part of the Ontario government’s long term strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario is to achieve a 25% reduction in the number of Ontario children living in poverty within five years which should bring us to about December 2013. We affirm the vision that says that every Ontarian has the right to social, economic and cultural development and to participate in a prosperous and healthy Ontario. When their mother’s work is undervalued, children certainly suffer. There are social and health consequences to living in poverty. Pay Equity is a good tool and an effective component of any plan to put poverty in its place and one way of talking back to the 29% gender pay gap.
It is high time to hold the government and the employers of Ontario accountable for compliance in pay equity. It’s the law.
Your Provincial Women’s Committee will be bringing a Pay Equity Resolution to the Convention floor this April and asks that you give thoughtful consideration to supporting it. Pay Equity can make a significant difference in the economic equality of women in Ontario. And that matters.