Pay transparency legislation one step forward—123,410 steps back

Publish date: Tuesday, March 06, 2018 update

The Ontario government's announcement of a Women's Economic Empowerment Strategy is a welcome advance in the fight for pay equity—with one big loophole, says AMAPCEO, a union representing 14,000 professional public servants.

The announcement indicates that the new legislation would, among other steps, bar employers from asking a job candidate about their past compensation.

That's just fine for the private sector, the union says, but what of the 123,410 public sector employees on the most recent Public Sector Salary Disclosure—the so-called Sunshine List?

"The Premier is right: women still face systemic barriers to economic advancement," said AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer. "Which is all the more reason we're surprised that the Premier would effectively exempt her own employees from these protections. All a potential employer would need to circumvent this legislation is a simple Google search."

The union is calling on the government to remove the names of individual employees from the Sunshine List (while still identifying job titles and salaries) to close this loophole specifically, and to provide privacy and personal safety in general.

"A significant majority—62%—of AMAPCEO members are women," said Bulmer. "We believe they should have access to the same protections for pay equity as women working in the private sector."

Because the government already collects data on the gender identity of its employees, anonymizing the Sunshine List would have no effect on pay equity analysis within the OPS.

AMAPCEO also pointed out that the government could make improvements to Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) to more fundamentally address the gender wage gap. A return to card-check certification, which was the norm in Ontario for more than 40 years, would make it easier for women—across all sectors—to unionize and in turn, help close the wage gap.

"Women who are members of unions are paid more fairly," said AMAPCEO Vice-President Cynthia Watt. "In fact, the wage gap is $135 a week smaller for women with a union. That's an extra $135 a week that goes directly to families."

AMAPCEO has been pushing for a return to card-check certification and for an end to the current professional exclusions on who may unionize for years as ways to address the gender wage gap. The union's 2016 submission to the Ministry of Labour's special advisory panel focussed on unionization as a key lever available to promote pay equity.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in eleven cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth; Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; Public Health Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council and the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner.

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