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Coalition members join forces for legislation for the private sector in NB

2018-06-02

 "It's time to act! The efforts of workers in predominantly female fields have long been undervalued and even forgotten." Those were the words spoken by Frances LeBlanc, Chair of the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, at the "Pay Equity Now! » forum held at the Wu Conference Centre in Fredericton, on June 2, 2018.

About sixty members of the Coalition, including a dozen organizations and unions, were present in an effort to mobilize for the upcoming provincial elections.

The Coalition demands of all political parties pay equity legislation for the private sector and investments in the wages and working conditions of community care workers. "For too long, our province has been relying upon the efforts and care of thousands of women without recognizing the fair value of their work and paying them accordingly," said Frances LeBlanc.

During the forum, Thérèse Duguay, Cody MacDonald, Debrah Westerburg and Lisa Watters shared their experience of working in female-dominated jobs and the injustice of pay inequity, while recognizing the challenges of rectifying the situation.

Four presentations followed by extensive discussions highlighted the issues the Coalition is confronted to in New Brunswick: the lack of provincial legislation for the private sector, the unique set of challenges of pay equity in the community care sector, the needed improvements to the Pay Equity Act, 2009, which applies to the public sector, and new developments regarding pay equity at the federal level.

The Coalition Chair is aiming for provincial pay equity legislation for the private sector by 2020. She is counting on the ever-growing support for pay equity, the momentum created by the progress in New Brunswick’s public sector, and on the upcoming legislation for federally regulated sectors.

"Workers, community organizations and unions were loud and clear: all are calling for pay equity now," says LeBlanc. "It's a human right and all political parties have a duty to enforce it. New Brunswick is ready!"

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Opening remarks by Chair Frances LeBlanc at the "Pay Equity Now!" forum

The time is now! Far too long have workers in female-dominated jobs been under-valued and even forgotten. Far too long has our province relied on the efforts and care of thousands of women without their efforts being recognized and paid for its true value.

Due to the tremendous efforts of many, pay equity has now become part of public and political discourse. Over a number of years, we have seen the implementation of proactive measures and investments made in key vulnerable sectors. However, even with these efforts, we remain far from achieving pay equity for all workers. Particularly, without a law to ensure equal pay for work of equal value for the private sector, thousands of New Brunswickers have no protection against systemic and entrenched biases that result in undervaluing their work.

Yet, we have seen a tremendous demonstration of support and solidarity over the past years with several of our partners working together to advance pay equity in NB. Voices of workers, community partners and unions have been heard loud and clear – we need pay equity now! Notably, in November we launched the “Pay Equity Now!” campaign, which aims to create true urgency for the need for pay equity legislation for the private sector. In addition, in March 14 partner organizations and unions joined us to share why pay equity matters to them, and to join in our collective call to action.

The Coalition remains committed to ensuring the successful implementation of pay equity legislation for the private sector. But more so, the Coalition is steadfast in providing a platform for workers’ voices to be heard across our province, including those of indigenous, racialized and immigrant workers. Together, we can achieve equal and fair pay!

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