Are you seeing red today? If so, that’s a good thing!
Equal Pay Day marks the date that represents how far into this calendar year women must work to earn what men did in the last year. When you account for the gender wage gap, a woman in Ontario would have to work 15.5 months to earn what men earn in 12 months. That brings us to early April.
The work year drags on into May or June for women who are Indigenous, racialized, immigrant or disabled, because the wage gap is even wider for these groups.
But you still might be thinking that the issue of equal pay doesn’t really affect your life. That it’s someone else’s problem: “I make a decent salary and pay my bills. It’s not THAT big a difference.”
If so, here are three big reasons why Equal Pay Day should matter to you and to all Canadians.
1. The wage gap goes far beyond a few cents.
In Canada, full-time working women earn 74 cents for every dollar earned by men, based on 2014 data from Statistics Canada. While that might sound like a relatively small difference, consider how it adds up over time. Women with the same work experience, socio-economic and demographic background as men earn an estimated $7,200 less per year than their male counterparts, found Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Strategy and Steering Committee.
Over the course of a lifetime, the disparity continues to grow, short-changing women’s ability to save, support their families, and plan for retirement. Considering that women live longer than men, the wage gap threatens their long-term financial stability. It’s also a contributing factor to women’s poverty.
2. Addressing the gender wage gap benefits the entire economy, not just women.
Various studies have shown that closing the gender wage gap and increasing women’s economic opportunities will boost economic growth. It has been estimated by Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Strategy and Steering Committee that the wage gap costs the province $18 billion annually in income for women, which works out to 2.5% of the province’s GDP. The Committee also suggests that eliminating the wage gap could boost tax revenue by $2.6 billion and decrease government spending on social assistance, tax credits, and child benefits by $103 million.
3. Men also stand to gain from closing the gender wage gap.
This goes out to men who work in professions including nursing, teaching, and caregiving. The Equal Pay Coalition points out that “men who work in occupations dominated by women will only see their pay and value rise as we recognize the worth of work traditionally done by women.” In the words of Michael Kimmel, a long-time advocate for equality and expert on masculinity, when we address gender inequality, “the pie gets bigger, and everybody benefits, not just women.”
So we hope you do see red on Equal Pay Day – because the gender wage gap affects us all.
Here’s a list of Equal Pay Day actions and events happening in Ontario.