|Sub-Category:||GENERAL & EQUAL OPPORTUNITY|
|Club:||Trenton & District and Belleville|
BACKGROUND: Ontario’s gender wage gap (GWG), based on all average annual earnings is 31% or on average women earn 69% of what men earn (Ministry of Labour, 2016). “In 2010, nearly 2.3 million women worked full-time, over 800,000 women working part-time compared to nearly 2.8 million males working full-time and under 500,000 males in part-time employment” (Ministry of Labour, 2015, p. 18). It is estimated that by closing the GWG, increased family incomes would result in $2.6 billion increase to Ontario government’s revenues and a $103 million decrease in social programs spending (Ministry of Labour, 2016). This translates into a reduced number of women receiving social assistance, and fewer women living in poverty while working and in retirement (Ministry of Labour, 2015).
Countries such as Iceland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands believe childcare is, “an essential social infrastructure for economic growth and fund it accordingly” (Ministry of Labour, 2015, p. 22). The Quebec government provides programs to support families with children. The Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) began in 1997 to ensure fathers can take parental leave. By 2012, 80% of fathers took or intended to take parental leave. By 2015, the Quebec subsidized childcare program annually provided the government with taxes and revenue over $200 million, the percentage of female headed households’ employment rates increased to 68%, and poverty rates decreased 20% or 104 000 female headed households were no longer living in poverty (Ministry of Labour, 2015).
The Closing the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee (GWGSC) conducted research which determined the barriers and how Ontario laws are hindering women’s full participation in the labour market, and made recommendations to resolve these issues. The Committee identified the key barriers preventing women from fully participating in the workforce. These barriers fall into five categories: balancing work with caregiving, valuing the work women do, current workplace practices, gender stereotypes and biases, and government policies. By addressing these barriers, society will benefit by increased consumer spending and tax revenue, as well as decreased social spending and health care costs. Not taking action has been, and will continue to be costly for all Ontarians. For example, every public dollar spent on high quality childcare results in $2.47 benefit to the Ontario economy because women are working more and earning more. Change requires a sustained political commitment and resources by all stakeholders (Ministry of Labour, 2016).
The Committee’s “share the care” aim focuses on supporting all families in balancing caregiving and work. “Share the care” is meant broadly: sharing between women and men, within and across households; sharing through the public provision of child care; having employers, unions and employees recognize that business models should take into account the family lives of employees” (Ministry of Labour, 2016, p. 22). When this is realized, women will no longer need to cite family responsibilities as the reason for their absence from work or to work part-time (Ministry of Labour, 2015). Recommendation 1 states the government to develop an early child care system that is “high quality, affordable, accessible, publicly funded and geared to income, with sufficient spaces (Ministry of Labour, 2016, p 23). Recommendation 2 focuses on the gaps in the current childcare system and how the government can: work with municipalities and businesses to address local childcare needs (Ministry of Labour, 2016).
REFERENCES: Ministry of Labour. (2015). Closing the gender wage gap: A background paper. Toronto: Author. Retrieved from https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/about/pdf/gwg_background.pdf
Ministry of Labour. (2016). Final report and recommendations of the gender wage gap strategy steering committee prepared for Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. Toronto: Author. Retrieved from https://files.ontario.ca/7198_mol_gwg_finalreport_eng_wa_08f_v2_1.pdf
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario strongly urges the Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of Labour and the Minister of the Status of Women to implement Recommendations 1 and 2 of the Closing the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee’s Final Report within six months;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of Finance to ensure adequate funding to the implementation of these recommendations.
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