On International Women’s Day, the province announced it is moving to begin consultations on a new pay transparency legislation aimed at ending the gender pay gap in B.C. workplaces.
“In B.C., women continue to make less, on average, than men,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Indigenous women, women of colour, immigrant women, and Two-Spirit, non-binary and transgender people also face barriers that others do not. We want to hear from a variety of groups and individuals so that we can build made-in-B.C. pay transparency legislation that will help us address pay inequity and move toward equality.”
Lore will lead the work on the legislation and will be supported by labour minister Harry Bains.
Consultations for the new legislation will begin in the spring. Indigenous organizations, public and private-sector employer groups, businesses and union organizations, equity-seeking organizations and groups that work to create equal opportunity for women will all be consulted, as well as employers who have already established pay transparency policies.
In a news release, the province noted the legislation comes amid “historic” investments in child care, increased housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence, as well as raising the minimum wage and liquor-server wages.
Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee criticized the NDP for what he said was “politicizing” International Women’s Day. He noted that Surrey South MLA and Gender Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion critic Stephanie Cadieux has tried numerous times since 2018 to bring forward a private member’s bill called the Equal Pay Reporting Act to address the gender pay gap, but the NDP have not brought it forward.
“We’re talking about gender-based discrimination when the private members bill that the member from Surrey South has brought in this house repeatedly — session after session after session after session — and I’m faced here by the members opposite pontificating about how they believe in the equal rights of women in our province, yet they’ve denied bringing that bill on the floor of this house.”
“If [the Premier] believes in the equality of women in this province he will ensure the house leader for the government calls the bill in this session because this is the time to be doing that,” Lee added.
Cadieux’s bill, if passed, would require employers to report pay discrepancies between genders.
B.C. is one of only four provinces without either pay transparency or pay equity legislation, along with Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. B.C. also has the dubious distinction of having one of the largest gender pay gaps in Canada with women making an average of 20 per cent less than men.