The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution, implementation and effectiveness of the Pay Equity Act in Ontario, Canada. Given that this Act is considered by many as the world's most progressive equal pay for work of equal value legislation, there are important implications for policy globally.
Through a review of relevant documents and the literature, the paper examines the need for the Pay Equity Act in Ontario, its origins, and with two decades of experience, analyze its effectiveness. A case study is also used to assess related procedures and effects of the law.
In spite of its limitations and the wide pay gap that still exists between men and women, many female workers have benefited from Ontario's progressive Pay Equity Act. In targeting the discriminatory aspect of women's work evaluations, the Act has resulted in pay increases for thousands of women, especially in the public sector.
There are many practical and social implications for jurisdictions across the globe, as they try to grapple with gender pay equities. Policy makers can learn from the successes and challenges experienced in Ontario. Pay equity legislation will unlikely achieve any significant progress in reducing the wage gap if it relies on workers to complain about the inequity in their pay. A proactive pay equity law, such as that in Ontario, will force employers to make more focused efforts to deal with gender pay discrimination. Ontario's bold “experiment” with pay equity holds valuable lessons for jurisdictions globally.
While there has been some research on the Ontario Pay Equity Act, there is a paucity of scholarly work that examines the details of the pay system that the Act has spawned. There is also little work in assessing the effectiveness of the legislation.
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