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Pay Equity Day: How would you like to work for free over a month per year?

2014-11-28

That is what wage discrimination against women amounts to, according to the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity. “It is as though women worked for free starting after November 28 and these are conservative estimates”, says Johanne Perron, Executive Director of the Coalition.

The 2013 hourly wage gap between women and men in New Brunswick was $2.50. The Coalition estimates that 80% of this gap is due to wage discrimination, based on an economist’s analysis[1] financed by the defunct Advisory Council on the Status of Women a few years ago. This represents 9% of the average hourly male wages. Losing 9% of wages is like working 9% of the year for free. In other words, November 28 would be the last paid day for NB women.

According to Johanne Perron, a major form of wage discrimination is pay inequity: the lower pay associated with jobs predominantly held by women compared to predominantly-male jobs of the same value.

In some cases, the discrimination is very costly to women. The Coalition’s Executive Director cites the example of home support workers now earning $12.54 per hour. A 2014 analysis[2] by economist and pay equity expert Ruth Rose showed that they would be earning $19.93 per hour, if they received the same wages as male-dominated jobs of the same value. This represents a difference of 37%.

“It is as though home support workers were working for free starting on August 19,” says Johanne Perron. “It is high time to take action and correct pay inequity so that everyone’s contribution to the province economic development is rewarded fairly.”

The Liberals promised to improve the way the government evaluates pay equity for care-giving private sector employees such as home support workers, to require pay equity plans from employers who do business with the government and to apply Pay Equity Act, 2009 in the public sector. The Coalition supports these initiatives while emphasizing that pay equity legislation for the whole private sector is necessary.

The NB Coalition for Pay Equity now finances all its advocacy work through donations. Its 2014-2015 campaign has reached $75,000 and aims for a total of $90,000. Donations can be made on the Coalition’s website (www.equite-equity.com) or by cheque. “We invite people who want real change - at the root of the problem - to donate. Some female workers make so little money that they and their families practically live in poverty. They want to be paid fairly, they don’t want charity,” concludes Johanne Perron.



[1] The Gender Wage Gap in New Brunswick. A study prepared for GPI Atlantic by Ather H. Akbari, Department of Economics, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, N.-S. 2004. http://www.equite-equity.com/userfiles/file/Akbari%20FINAL%20REPORT%20ENGL.pdf

[2] The salary structure in care-giving services in seven Canadian provinces: Benchmarks for pay equity exercises in New Brunswick. Report prepared for the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, by Ruth Rose, adjunct professor of economics, Université du Québec à Montréal. 2014. http://www.equite-equity.com/userfiles/file/SOMMAIRE%20Report-RuthRose%20June%202014.pdf

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