Pay equity not a reality in Ontario, says group

Advocates for women's rights say the provincial government is failing women on the pay equity front.

Advocates for women's rights say the provincial government is failing women on the pay equity front.

January will mark the 20th anniversary of the province's Pay Equity Act but little progress has been made, says the head of the Equal Pay Coalition.

"Regardless of their occupation or education, most Ontario women continue to be paid less than men because they do women's work. Women on average still earn only 71 per cent of what men earn, leaving a 29 per cent pay gap. This is the best evidence that pay equity in Ontario is far from being achieved nor has it been maintained as the act requires,"Mary Cornish, a lawyer and chair of the Equal Pay Coalition, said in a news release.

The issue lies in getting a fair wage for jobs that are held predominantly by women.Pay for important jobs in sectors like child care and nursing have fallen way behind the times and are unreasonably low, the coalition says.

Theaverage child care educator, for example,has a two-year college diploma but makes about $23,000 a year.

"Many child care workers and early childhood educators live in poverty because this government has failed to live up to its commitment to fund pay equity. If the McGuinty Liberals are serious about reducing poverty, meeting their legislated pay equity obligations is a good start," said Fred Hahn,Ontario secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.