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Pay Equity at the Question Period today

Today, in the Legislative Assembly, Opposition Leader and critic of Women's Issues, Brian Gallant, asked questions about the application of the Pay Equity Act, 2009. The Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Marie-Claude Blais, stated that pay equity adjustments would be retroactive to April 2012 and that a progress report would be released after the budget estimates for Women's Issues. She did not specify a date. Here is the transcript of today's exchange."

ORAL QUESTIONS 30 QUESTIONS ORALES
May 9, 2013 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 9 mai 2013

Hansard

 Pay Equity

Mr. Gallant: I hope I will get some less political answers to these questions. The previous government instituted and passed the Pay Equity Act, 2009. It is the current government that eliminated the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Obviously, with these facts, this is another very legitimate question. We are wondering about the Pay Equity Act, 2009, which provided that public sector jobs were to be evaluated and that pay equity adjustments were to commence by 2012. We are simply wondering why we missed that deadline and what roadblocks created that missed opportunity.

Hon. Mrs. Blais: It is my pleasure to stand in the House today to talk about issues of equality for women in this province. I am very proud to stand and talk about this.

Our government has a plan, and, let me tell you, when it comes to pay equity, it is a million dollar plan. Yes, it is. We have millions of dollars invested in pay equity. We are working. We have been working, through governments. We started under the Bernard Lord government to bring forward a plan, to bring forward a bill. It is important to the women of this province that they have capacity and can earn money. We know that most women who work in this province reinvest in their communities, reinvest in their children, and reinvest in their families. The David Alward government has a $1-million plan for pay equity.

Mr. Gallant: I simply asked why the deadline of 2012 was missed. Obviously, there were some roadblocks, and we would like to understand what they are. Of course, if we are able to help in any way, it would be our pleasure. The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity has publicly expressed concerns about a lack of information coming from the government on this issue. The coalition has asked for a general progress report. Will the Premier or the minister please let us know if the people of New Brunswick can expect a progress report to see exactly where we are on this issue? Thank you.

Hon. Mrs. Blais: I met with members of the pay equity group last week to talk about . . . I understand their efforts. They have a mandate, and they want to see pay equity for women in New Brunswick. I think that all the members in this House want to see pay equity for women in this province. Payments, as the law states, will be retroactive to April 2012. We have made that public. We have talked to women. We have talked to the pay equity groups to tell them that, as a government, we want the same thing that they want. We do not want the money in the coffers of the province. We want the money in the pockets of the women of New Brunswick. It is important to us, and we are continuing down that road. The process is complicated, as you know. There needs to be analysis of every group. As a province—in this government, previously—we have taken on a difficult task, but we are going through it, and all payments will be retroactive to April 1 . . .

Mr. Speaker: Time, minister.

Mr. Gallant: We understand that this is a complex issue. We did miss a deadline. I think it is important that we get a progress report, not only for the group with whom the minister would have met. This side of the House, all New Brunswickers, and all women would like to see this report, I am sure. Can the government assure us that we will have a progress report that will say which jobs have been evaluated, which ones still need to be evaluated, and the methodology behind the evaluation? Obviously, to get a good progress report, this information would be very helpful. Will the government provide this to us? If so, when?

Hon. Mrs. Blais: We have committed to women to bring forward a report. We want to do our estimates first, and then we will provide the report. During estimates, we will be very forthcoming with all the work that has been done by the Women’s Issues Branch. When you talk about child care, we have worked with women who worked in child care. When you talk about all the sectors, we have worked with those sectors one-on-one—employers, employees, and unions.

This is a breakthrough. This is a breakthrough, and New Brunswick is the perfect example to follow when it comes to pay equity. Governments, no matter which colour, have followed that step, and I am proud to be the minister responsible. We will make the first pay equity payment, and we will do so as soon possible. We need to let the process take its course, and I can assure this House that it will be done.

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