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NDP warns of long delays in equal pay for women in federal rules


OTTAWA — The federal New Democrats say new rules to close a gender wage gap in federally regulated workplaces will take too long to make a difference.

The government’s pay equity regulations require the likes of banks and telecommunications companies to put plans in place to meet the new rules.

The rules would give companies three years to craft and implement plans, and provide more time for those who face a larger hit to their bottom line.

NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen, the critic for women and gender equality, says she is concerned that the wording of the regulations mean some women could be waiting up to a decade before pay equity becomes a reality in their workplace.

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Mathyssen calls the long timeline “unacceptable,” and says she hopes prodding the Liberals in Parliament will push the government to close the gap more quickly.

Legislation passed in 2018

The Liberals passed pay equity legislation in 2018 and wrapped consultations on draft regulations this month.

Labour Minister Filomena Tassi’s office says the government is on track to publish the final regulations before the summer, at which time the government will unveil the exact date the rules will come into force.

The government points to the pandemic as the reason for some uncertainty about the coming-into-force date, but adds the rules should take effect later this year.

The government estimates achieving pay equity will cost federally regulated private sector employers $1.95 billion over 10 years.

On average in Canada, women earn 12 per cent less than men, the third-largest gender pay gap among G7 countries and the seventh largest in the OECD.

Mathyssen says if the Liberals had insisted in 2018 that the regulations should come into effect imminently, “women in federally regulated workplaces now would have pay equity.”

“You can have a bit of time, but these extended periods being so long, some women will have to wait up to eight (years),” she says.

Mathyssen says she worries that the longer it takes for the gap to close, the more it may affect how much women receive in parental and retirement benefits.

Both are based on earnings, so earning less than men now means they’ll receive less in retirement.