Ontario gets a C in gender wage equality, new report finds

Ontario earned a mediocre C grade in gender wage parity, awarded by the Conference Board of Canada in its latest report card measuring the country's social and economic performance.

Canada ranks 10 out of 16 countries in income inequality, poverty and social cohesion

Canada gets a C when it comes to paying men and women equally. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Ontario earned a mediocre C grade in gender wage parity, awarded by the Conference Board of Canada in its latest report card measuring the country's social and economic performance. 

The board's report card typically compares how Canada fares against 15 other developed countries in terms of its levels of poverty, youth employment rates and the racial wage gap. 

But this year, the board also released how each of the provinces scored — with Ontario sitting in squarely in the middle of the pack, according to the report.

"Ontario overall gets a B rating," said Craig Alexander, the Conference Board of Canada's chief economist. "Where Ontario gets a C is in income inequality, poverty and the gender wage gap."

Canada itself also earned a C grade when it comes to the country's overall gender wage gap, the reason's for which are clearly reflected in the workforce, Alexander said, especially when it comes to the lack of women in positions of power. 

"When we look at female executives in Canadian corporations, the Canadian pool still seems to be dominated by men."

Ontario's annual Sunshine List, released this week, backed up that finding: only one of quarter of the provincial public sector's top 20 earners are women.

How to shrink the gap

Only New Brunswick, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island earned a B grade in gender pay equity in the board's report card.

Shrinking the gender wage gap and improving income equality are key to encouraging a healthy society, Alexander said.

"The political, economic and social costs from high levels of inequality in America had an impact on what's transpiring there," he said. "From the rise of Trump, to the rise of protectionism and nationalism. This is all disconcerting to me as an economist, because this can have deep economic risks."

Norway, Denmark, Sweden get top grades

Norway, Denmark and Sweden rank at the top of the class, all earning A grades.

Canada still outranks the U.S. on the report card, earning an overall B grade, compared to America's D ranking.

"That also reflects the economic model we run. We have stronger social safety nets than in the United States, but our social programs aren't as strong or broad as some of the European countries."

But there's clearly still room for improvement, Alexander said. He said the government should create policy targeting the elimination of child poverty and improved education outcomes in order to improve overall income inequality.

One of Canada's highest grades, an A, pops up in the life satisfaction area, meaning that Canadians are generally happy with where they live.

The territories were not included in the study because of a lack of data.