"Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder of these longstanding gaps and inequities, and that we must not let up the fight for pay equity. On this day, and every day, NUPGE is committed to fighting for equal pay for equal work for our members across the country." — Bert Blundon, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (07 April 2021) — Equal Pay Day brings attention to the gender pay gap, also known as the gender wage gap or pay inequity.
"Pay inequity is, simply put, unacceptable," said Bert Blundon, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "On Equal Pay Day, we unite our voices to demand pay equity and gender justice for all."
Doing the math
Started in the United States, Equal Pay Day represents how far into the calendar year that women need to work in order to earn what men earned in the previous calendar year. In other words, women, on average, need to work over 15 months to make what men, on average, earn in 12 months.
It starkly illustrates the gendered gap in earnings by showing that women are, effectively, having to work months longer to reach the same earnings levels as men. It also shows how impossible it is to ever “catch up.”
In Canada, the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition marks Equal Pay Day on April 7. Looking at average annual earnings, they calculate the gender pay gap in Ontario to be roughly 30%. This means that, on average, women earn 70 cents for every $1 that men earn.
Multiple pay gaps
The exact size of the pay gap varies depending on how you calculate it.
But it also varies depending on which gap we’re talking about. The pay gap is wider for BIPOC women, immigrant and migrant women, women with disabilities, and LGBTQI2S women and gender diverse people.
These pay gaps are a result of intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression that devalue certain workers and types of work.
Undervaluing work and workers
On this day last year, NUPGE released a pay equity fact sheet that outlined how these factors contribute to pay inequity—through not only explicit discrimination in the workplace but also occupational segregation, underemployment or precarious employment, or unbalanced caregiving responsibilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed numerous gaps and inequities. As NUPGE has reported, women and gender diverse people — especially those who are BIPOC, migrants, people living with low incomes, or people precariously employed — are those who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They are front-line workers experiencing higher rates of exposure, suffering higher rates of job loss, taking on unpaid caregiving, and facing heightened risk of gender-based violence.
"Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder of these long-standing gaps and inequities, and that we must not let up the fight for pay equity," said Blundon. "On this day, and every day, NUPGE is committed to fighting for equal pay for equal work for our members across the country."
Join the conversation
On April 7, the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition is promoting their online campaign. It is a campaign to #DemandBetter because women and gender diverse people's work (paid and unpaid), lives, and equality are #AlwaysEssential.
Join the conversation on social media by using these hashtags.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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