"This kind of wage discrimination is not an accident, it is firmly rooted in society. The only way we can stop the growing income inequality is to ensure that women's work is fairly paid, equal and valued." — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (20 Oct. 2016) — Women are working harder, have more access to the workforce, and are better educated yet they are still facing wage discrimination across the country, says a new report released by the anti-poverty organization Oxfam.
Women's world: Low pay, part-time, precarious work
The report, Shortchanged: Make work paid, equal and valued makes it clear that "women living in poverty are subsidizing the global economy with labour that is either free, cheap and undervalued." Oxfam says that "women in Canada are 3 times more likely than men are to work part-time, and that's not generally by choice but rather "because family care responsibilities fall to them."
Women are still the primary caregivers of children, ailing family members and the elderly.
In fact, according to Statistics Canada, the typical Canadian woman does 3.9 hours' worth of unpaid care work per day while men do 2.4 hours. Oxfam says that if women in Canada were paid for those unpaid hours, they would earn an estimated $192 billion per year.
Federal government must take action to reduce inequality
"This kind of wage discrimination is not an accident, it is firmly rooted in society," says Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "The only way we can stop the growing income inequality is to ensure that women's work is fairly paid, equal and valued."
"Our federal government has an obligation to put in place measures that will ensure women can fully participate in the workforce, and in society," said Ballermann. "We expect this government to take immediate steps to implement policies that help women, such as a national child care program, pay equity legislation and good jobs with fair wages. We'v waited long enough."
To complement the report, Oxfam is encouraging people to sign its petition asking the government to put an end to inequality. Add your name to the list!
The report includes a number of recommendations that governments globally, and here at home, can embrace to bring women out of poverty.
- Enact legislation for a federal minimum wage of $15/hour and begin moving towards living wages for all workers;
- Follow through on the federal government's commitment to introduce proactive pay equity legislation, with particular attention to the greater pay equity gap for racialized, Aboriginal and immigrant women;
- Sign and ratify ILO Convention 189, the Domestic Workers Convention, and stand up for domestic workers globally by expanding the scope of legislation, policy and programs that allow domestic workers to enjoy the same rights as other categories of workers;
- Promote universal, high quality, affordable childcare across Canada. The federal government must follow through on its promise to build a National Framework on Early Learning and Child Care in 2016 including significant annual investments increasing to $2.6 billion by 2019/202;
- Support women’s movements in developing countries that are working to level the playing field for women. The federal government must make women’s rights a stand-alone thematic priority for international assistance, allocating 20 percent of that assistance to programs that specifically aim to advance women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and ensuring that at least $100 million annually flows directly to women’s rights organizations.
Oxfam Report: Shortchanged: Make work paid, equal and valued
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE