Ontario’s Pay Equity Commissioner shares best practices and lessons learned at UN Commission on the Status of Women Side Event
21 Mar 2022
21 Mar 2022
Creating legislative tools and strong institutions for gender equality has proven to be an effective way to foster social change. As one of the first jurisdictions globally to pass a Pay Equity Act in 1987, Ontario’s gender pay gap was reduced from 18% in 1997 to 11% in 2021. This was partially due to Ontario’s strong legislative framework and institutional mechanisms. As such, Ontario’s Pay Equity Commission was invited to share insights on best practices and lessons learned at CSW66’s “Institutional Mechanisms for Efficient Gender Pay Gap Reduction” side event organized by the Czech Republic Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer, Kadie Ward, was part of an esteemed panel that discussed effective strategies and structures in narrowing the pay gap. Panelists included:
• Tryggvi Hallgrímsson, Special Advisor at the Directorate of Equality, Iceland
• Sylvie Dürrer, Director of the Federal Office for Gender Equality, Switzerland
• Henrike von Platen, CEO and Founder, FPI Fair Pay Innovation Lab gGmbH, Germany
• Lenka Simerská, Head of GPG Reduction Portfolio at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic
• Martina Štěpánková, Deputy Minister for European Funds and International Cooperation (Moderator)
Organized by the Czech Republic, the event introduced different models of institutional mechanisms and discussed their designs, management, feasibility, efficiency, costs, and enforceability. Commissioner Ward discussed the Commission’s organizational structure and operations, features of the Pay Equity Act, and future challenges. For example, Commissioner Ward was proud to report that the Commission was able to recover over $3 million CAD (approximately €2 million) in pay equity adjustments in the past fiscal year, with 1801 employees receiving these adjustments. This was achieved through the work of the Review Services Unit, which investigates complaints from employees or employers and can proactively monitor employers for compliance. If a party objects to the Review Officer’s decision, they can appeal their case to the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal. Through its investigations and monitoring campaigns, the Pay Equity Office (PEO) has found that it has not had to issue many Orders to bring employers into compliance with the act.
Commissioner Ward also discussed the technical and gender-neutral job evaluation process, which looks at the skills, effort, responsibilities, and working conditions of different jobs in a workplace, assigning value to them, and comparing those jobs primarily held by women and those primarily held by men. If those jobs have equal value but are paid differently, employers must make adjustments to pay female employees retroactively and to create a pay equity plan to be maintained moving forward.
Other than CSW66, Commissioner Ward has been keeping busy by presenting at events organized by the International Labour Organization’s Academy on Fundamental Principles and Rights At Work, Canadian Urban Institute, Lean In Canada, just to name a few. To keep up to date with PEO’s activities, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit https://www.payequity.gov.on.ca and https://www.levelthepayingfield.ca for more information.