Premier Kathleen Wynne image from Ottawa Citizen

Premier Kathleen Wynne has said that “It’s been more than 30 years since Ontario first passed pay equity legislation, but we are still working to close the gap. We know that too many women still face systemic barriers to economic advancement. When women face increased harassment, violence, poverty and discrimination, it hurts our society and our economy. It’s time for change. Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment shines a spotlight on compensation and improves conditions for everyone in Ontario applying for a job. Thanks to this first-of-its-kind strategy, we’re building a fairer, more dynamic, forward-thinking and prosperous Ontario — for everyone.”

Ontario today becomes the first province to tackle pay transparency as part of a broad new strategy to advance women’s economic empowerment and build fairer, better workplaces.

Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, which includes the introduction of legislation to increase pay transparency by requiring certain employers to track and publish information about compensation in their organizations.

The multifaceted strategy will help remove long-standing barriers that have kept women from benefiting equally in Ontario’s rapidly changing economy. The strategy includes the introduction of standalone legislation to increase transparency in hiring processes and give women more information when negotiating fairer compensation that is equal to their male peers — making Ontario the first province in Canada to do so.

If passed, the legislation introduced today would help ensure compensation is based on a job’s requirements and the candidate’s qualifications. Specifically, it would:

  • Require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range
  • Bar employers from asking a job candidate about their past compensation
  • Prohibit reprisals against employees who discuss or disclose compensation
  • Establish a framework to require larger employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics, to be determined through consultation. Once fully implemented, these measures would require employers to publicly post that data within their own workplaces, in addition to reporting them to the province.

The proposed legislation is the central piece of Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, which also includes up to $50 million in funding over three years.

The strategy will also:

  • Advocate for further enhancements to parental benefit entitlements
  • Expand and strengthen women’s centres, which provide skills training and a variety of supports to women — including immigrant, racialized and women experiencing, or at risk of, violence
  • Reinforce measures to promote women in corporate leadership
  • Increase women’s access to training and mentorship opportunities
  • Better support women entrepreneurs — including helping young women develop an entrepreneurial mindset, and creating the Ontario Women’s Entrepreneurship Association
  • Launch a social awareness campaign to break down gender stereotypes and promote gender equality at work, at home and in communities.

Making wages fairer for everyone is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.