Federal Government

1977 Canadian Human Rights Act comes into force; section 11 prohibits wage discrimination between male and female employees performing work of equal value. This section covers federal jurisdiction, including the territories.
1978 Canadian Human Rights Commission issues the Equal Wages Guidelines, 1978 that provide clarification with respect to the factors that need to be considered in assessing the vale of work (e.g. skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions). The Guidelines also set out reasonable factors for justifying wage differences between male and female employees (e.g. performance ratings, seniority, red circling, rehabilitation assignment, demotion pay procedure, phased-in wage reductions, temporary training positions).
1982 Canadian Human Rights commission amends the Equal Wages Guidelines, 1982 to provide for additional defences in maintaining wage differences between male and female employees, including internal labour shortage, and job reclassification.
1984 R.S. Abella releases Equality in Employment: A Royal Commission Report that contains several recommendations concerning pay equity including: “Equal pay for work of equal value should be part of all employment equity programs”.
1985 Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms comes into force which states that “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability”.

1986 Canadian Human Rights Commission makes amendments to the Equal Wages Guidelines, 1986 that provide for further details concerning assessment of the value of work, method of assessment, definition of employee, complaints, and reasonable factors for justifying wage differences, among others.
2001 Government of Canada establishes the Pay Equity Task Force to review pay equity legislation at the federal level with a view to ensuring clarity in the way pay equity is implemented in the modern workplace.

The federal Pay Equity Task Force submits a comprehensive report entitled Pay Equity: A New Approach to a Fundamental Right to the Ministers of Justice and Labour. The Task Force notes that the protections within the Canadian Human Rights Act have been a dismal failure, and that a major overhaul is needed to better protect female workers within the postal services, telecommunications, banks, etc. and other areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. In its report, the Pay Equity Task Force makes 113 recommendations, including:
  • Replacing the current complaint-based model of pay equity with new stand-alone, proactive legislation which would frame pay equity as a fundamental human right;
  • Expanding the coverage of pay equity legislation to cover all federally-regulated employers, including Parliament and federal contractors;
  • Extending pay equity protection to members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities and Aboriginal people; and
  • Requiring all employers to develop and implement a pay equity plan.
2008 During his economic and financial speech (November 27), the minister of finance, James M. Flaherty, announced the government’s intention to adopt a law in which pay equity is an object of collective negotiations and eliminate de possibility of employees going to the tribunal. This goes against the recommendations made by the Pay Equity Task Force (2004), which considered that the employers should be responsible for pay equity.
2009 The federal government introduces the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act as part of the the budget bill. Instead of making sure that predominantly female jobs receive the same pay as predominantly male jobs of the same value, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act would relegate pay equity to bargaining and to the market. It also included up to $50,000 fines for unions which would help or encourage its members to lodge a pay equity complaint.
2009 (June 19)  The Standing Committee on the Status of Women publishes a report named An Analysis of the Effects of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act with the following recommendation: "[T]hat the government repeal the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and replace it with a proactive federal pay equity law, as recommended by the Pay Equity Task Force in its report, Pay Equity: A New Approach to a Fundamental Right." The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act did not come into effect.

February 3, 2016  The House of Commons adopts a motion introduced by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson and creating a committee appointed to conduct hearings on the matter of pay equity and to propose a plan to adopt a proactive federal pay equity regime, both legislative and otherwise. Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld chairs the Special Committee on Pay Equity. Matt DeCourcey, MP for Fredericton, sits on the Committee.
June 9, 2016  The Special Committee on Pay Equity presents the report It's time to act to the House of Commons. It recommends "that the Government of Canada repeal the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act", "draft proactive pay equity legislation within 18 months of the tabling of this report", "accept the overall direction of the 2004 Federal Pay Equity Task Force report and that the majority of the recommendations be adopted". 
October 5, 2016 The Federal Government presents its response to the House of Commons Special Committee and promises to adopt a proactive act on pay equity at the end of 2018. The delay concerns women’s groups and unions considering the vast amount of research and information already available. 
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