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Equal Pay Day is a call for economic justice

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Equal Pay Day marks how far into the next year a woman has to work, on average, to earn the same amount a man made in the previous year. This year, Equal Pay Day is April 11, 2017.

The Ontario gender wage gap is now 31.5 per cent – one of the biggest reported gaps in the world. This means that the average annual income of female workers in Ontario is 31.5 per cent less than the average annual income of men.

Of particular concern is that racialized, immigrant, and Indigenous women, and women with disabilities, are disproportionately impacted by the gender pay gap.

The Equal Pay Coalition has estimated that the gender pay gap for Indigenous women is a staggering 57 per cent. Immigrant women earn 39 per cent less than non-immigrant men and racialized women earn 37 per cent less than non-racialized men. The gap is sustained by systemic discrimination that is built into the labour market.

Also, no matter what the measure – wages, annual earnings, income—the wage gap is everywhere. The gap exists across all occupational categories, at every age and educational level. And the causes of the gender wage gap are dynamic and complex.

First, women’s work is grossly undervalued. That means work performed and dominated by women is seen to be of less worth than that performed by men. These female-dominated jobs tend to be low-pay, precarious, and offer little or no benefits or workplace protections.

Women participate in the labour market at lower rates than men and are over-represented among part-time workers.  In 2013, more than 70 per cent of minimum-wage, part-time workers were women — a proportion that has not changed in more than 30 years. Often, women do not work fewer hours because they want to, but because the industries women work in offer only precarious and part-time work.

The gender wage gap is not a choice.

Over a lifetime, the gender wage gap leads to a huge wage penalty for women. The gap means that women receive lower pensions when they retire and are at higher risk of poverty at old age.

Privatization and years of economic austerity have also meant that women’s paid employment is undermined. Too often, work that was formerly paid public sector work is now unpaid work performed in private, and a disproportionate amount of unpaid caregiving responsibilities are taken up by women. This means women have to take more and more time to care for their sick family members, children, and extended family members, like grandparents and siblings.

The gender pay gap contributes to poverty, poor living conditions, and adverse health outcomes for women and their families.

Without union protections, and benefits like paid family and medical leave, women are increasingly penalized when they are unable to balance family responsibilities and their jobs.

Equal Pay Day is a call for economic justice. Closing the gender pay gap is an equity-promoting tool that will benefit everyone.

Action you can take

Equal Pay Day is an international day of action. Every year, the OPSEU Provincial Women’s Committee joins equal pay coalitions and labour organizations around the world to mark Equal Pay Day and to take actions to close the gender pay gap. We invite you to take action:

  • Join Equal Pay Day marches and rallies across Ontario (see below)
  • Wear red to show that discriminatory pay gaps keep women in the red
  • Follow the Equal Pay Coalition on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Like, share, and comment to help our messages reach more people.
  • Sign up to our Thunderclap campaign. If we reach our goal, Thunderclap will post a one-time message on Equal Pay Day. It’s a simple, 2-click way to support equal pay.
  • Add an Equal Pay Day-branded Twibbon to your social media profiles. It’s a free and easy way to show you care about this issue.

For more ideas, and to see all Equal Pay Day actions, check the Equal Pay Coalition site

Equal Pay Day Marches and Rallies across Ontario

Toronto Equal Pay Day

Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: College Street and University Avenue, Toronto

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1219945191458665/

Ottawa Equal Pay Day

Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi's Office, 109 Catherine Street

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1847585912153794/

London Equal Pay Day

Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 10:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: Fanshawe College in F hallway
Join us at the gender pay gap awareness table!

Kingston Equal Pay Day

Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 10:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: Stauffer Library on the corner of University Avenue and Union Street