Pay equity gap narrowing rapidly for some
Research shows women currently make 85 cents for every dollar a man makes
In the 25 years after Ontario passed pay equity legislation, men still generally make more than women — but the size of that gap is still the subject of some debate.
Sandy Cameron said she was thrilled to be hired as a receptionist at Union Gas in Sudbury in the early 1990s.
"It was like the dream job, because there were benefits," she said.
"When you're a single parent and you have children, you need benefits. So I had benefits and now I'm getting a really good wage? It was perfect for me."
It got even better a year later, when she received a $2,000 cheque to compensate her for being paid less than male co-workers.
Cameron would go on to be a union leader and fight for more pay equity settlements in the coming years.
Retirement closing pay equity gap
The subject of pay equity doesn't come up very often these days, but that doesn't mean the problem is solved — or ever will be, Cameron noted.
"Will my granddaughter be sitting here having a conversation with the next person about pay equity? Probably," Cameron said.
Some economists believe the gender pay gap no longer exists, while others say it's wider than ever.
Marie Drolet, a senior economist at Statistics Canada, said the gap is narrowing rapidly — partially because the men and women entering the workforce are much closer in pay than those who are retiring.
"The overall wage gap declined simply because the gap is smaller and remained smaller in new cohorts than those that preceded them."
Drolet said her research shows women currently make 85 cents for every dollar a man makes, or eight cents more than when pay equity laws were passed 25 years ago.
Waiting for back pay
Some female workers in northern Ontario are still waiting for their piece of one of the biggest pay equity settlements in Canadian history.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that Canada Post owed millions of dollars to thousands of female clerical workers, who weren't paid as much as their male counterparts.
One of them is Betty Vezina, who worked at the North Bay post office for 22 years, from 1956 to 1985.
The 85-year-old now lives in Sudbury and has pancreatic cancer.
"My daughter said, ‘what would you do if you got your back pay? I said, well I might get another hearing aid," Vezina said.
"Maybe I could go out west and visit my children. Or, you know, just have an extra $1.50 in [my] pocket."
Canada Post has hired 60 new workers to go through records and determine exactly which former employees are entitled to some of the pay equity compensation.