Ontario passes pay transparency legislation

Ontario passed pay transparency legislation on Thursday, making it the first province to do so.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the province will require all job postings advertised publicly to include salary rate or range information, prohibit employers from asking candidates about past compensation and ban reprisals against workers who discuss or disclose their pay, according to a press release from the government.

Read: Ontario sets out pay transparency legislation

The province will also establish a framework mandating larger employers to track and report gaps in compensation based on gender and diversity. Employers will have to post the information in their workplaces and submit it to the province.

The pay disclosure rules will begin with the province’s public service. Following a consultation, it will apply to employers with more than 250 workers in 2020 and more than 100 employees in 2021.

“This new legislation is part of our overall commitment to fairness in Ontario’s workplaces and will help ensure that women and other groups are treated equitably,” said Kevin Flynn, Ontario’s minister of labour. Flynn added that the Pay Transparency Act would help narrow the wage gap.

Read: Canadian firms have work to do on reducing gender pay gap, says U.K. report

According to the government, the gender wage gap has remained stagnant for a decade, with women earning about 30 per cent less than their male counterparts. Indigenous women, meanwhile earn 25 per cent less than Indigenous men, with the gap rising to 43 per cent in comparison to non-Indigenous men.

“Pay transparency legislation will not only highlight pay inequities, it will help shift attitudes and biases that prevent women from achieving equal pay for equal work,” said Harinder Malhi, minister of the status of women. 

The province noted that jurisdictions such as Australia, Britain and Germany have similar laws and suggested that improving gender equality in workplaces and society more generally could add as much as $60 billion to the Ontario’s gross domestic product over the next 10 years.