All people deserve to be paid fairly. On this, you won’t find much disagreement. Yet, in 2022, many women are still paid less than men.
It’s no secret our gap here in B.C. is too high. On average, women make approximately 20% less than men. The wage gap for Indigenous women, women of colour, immigrant women, as well as Two-Spirit, non-binary and transgender people, is larger still.
The causes are well-known: historic and systemic barriers to some types of employment and higher-paying positions, patriarchal social norms, persistent inequities in unpaid work and workplace cultures, and blatant discrimination.
For anyone who might be quick to attribute the pay gap to career choices, let’s not forget that women are overrepresented in some of the professions most important in our communities but are still paid less than other occupations.
Today, is Equal Pay Day in Canada. As the Canadian Women’s Foundation explains, it’s the day where, at a national level, women have, on average, finally worked enough to make as much money as men did the previous year.
Here in B.C., we are moving toward pay transparency legislation, which is an important tool for addressing discrimination in the workplace and exposing entrenched and outdated workplace norms and cultures.
Transparency and accountability are important tools that experts and community organizations, like West Coast LEAF, have been asking for. They aren’t our only tools, and we must take an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing the gender pay gap in B.C.
Access to affordable, quality child care means that women and all parents can advance their careers and provide for their families without having to make impossible choices about the well-being of their children.
Wage enhancements for early child care educators helps to address the wages of a workforce that is disproportionately women and to properly compensate people for this essential work.
Skills training and opportunities in technology, construction and trades for women and others who are underrepresented in these fields opens new doors to high-paying and in-demand jobs.
Women have been overrepresented among minimum- and liquor-server-wage earners, which means that raising the minimum wage is action on the wage gap. Ensuring food services and housekeeping in our health-care system are recognized as health care and are properly compensated is also action on the wage gap. It is action that disproportionately benefits racialized and immigrant women.
Our government is also working to empower new leaders and ensure diverse voices are heard. Women on public-sector boards, for example, increased to more than 51% at the end of 2020-21, which is a more than 23% increase from 2017-18.
These are important actions that make life better for people and strengthen local communities, which are the foundation of B.C.’s economy. As we build back, we must build an economy that benefits everyone and where the contribution of people of all genders are recognized and all people are fairly paid. We have work to do and I know we can do it together.