Ontario’s gender wage gap summary report, published Tuesday, says employers play a key role in addressing the issue and that changes in the workplace around flexibility, family-friendly policies and pay transparency are needed.

The summary, which contains ideas and recommendations collected by the province’s Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee, highlights feedback from the public, businesses and other stakeholders on how to tackle the issue of unequal pay.

“It’s an important issue to discuss,” says Justin Trottier, director of the Canadian Association for Equality. “One of the big things that we deal with is breaking down the barriers in the workplace.”

Read: Mental health in women linked to gender pay gap

According to the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition, the province’s gender gap is roughly 30%, meaning that women take home approximately $15,000 less a year than men.

“It’s sobering in this day and age that we still need to bring attention to the fact that women, on average, earn less than men throughout their working lives,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, in a news release from the province.

“We must close the gender wage gap for the well-being of Ontario, we must do it for women and their families, and we must do it for future generations so that they can continue to build a prosperous and equitable province.”

Between October 2015 and February 2016, about 2,205 people took part in consultations through online surveys, written responses, public town hall sessions and meetings.

Read: Create gender diversity in the workplace

The themes raised by these consultations included the need for:

  • Workplaces to be flexible with schedules, work arrangements and leaves;
  • Family-friendly policies that address care-giving needs, including paid leaves for second parents, childcare and public awareness campaigns to dispel gender stereotypical attitudes about career paths;
  • Greater transparency in pay and other workforce practices;
  • Pay equity and other workplace anti-discrimination laws need to work together, and be easy to access; and
  • Government to show the way by being a model employer for workplace gender diversity, and by embedding gender analysis in policy development, program funding and legislative processes

“I support all these efforts to give men and women more options,” says Trottier. “If you give men the option of paternity leave, that frees up families to make their own arrangement, for women to stay at their jobs and pursue professional development.”

Read: Federal pay equity motion adopted

“I really applaud the attention that’s given to the root causes of the gender pay gap,” adds Sheila Malcolmson, the federal NDP critic for status of women. “I was really encouraged that they cited the lack of affordable childcare, the fact that women take a disproportionate load of looking after aging parents and that Canada does not have enough home support for families.”

Malcolmson also says that the federal governments will be looking closely at what Ontario hits and misses as it implements pay equity legislation. “What worked and didn’t work in Ontario will inform our studies that are happening here on Parliament Hill,” she adds.

The steering committee will make recommendations in a final report at the end of May. Its proposed changes will help shape the provincial government’s strategy for addressing the gender wage gap.

 Read: Ontario Budget: Gender wage gap committee to report in May

Read the full report.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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