Pay Equity:

Experiences of Canada and the Province of Ontario

GGD-94-27BR: Published: Nov 2, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 2, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the legal requirements and present status of pay equity in Canada's federal and private sectors.

GAO found that: (1) although legislation mandates pay equity in Canada's public and private sectors, prohibits gender-based discrimination, and requires employers to determine a job's value, the legislation does not address racially-based pay inequities; (2) the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits employers from establishing or maintaining wage differences between genders for work of equal value; (3) Ontario's Pay Equity Act covers about 4.8-million employees, addresses systemic gender discrimination in wages, and requires employers to prepare pay equity plans and meet prescribed plan deadlines; (4) the Canadian government has paid over $500 million in pay equity adjustments to approximately 74,000 workers; (5) the Canadian Treasury Board has begun hearings to resolve pay equity complaints and independently oversees equity pay adjustments, since previous joint management-union initiatives have collapsed because of apparent payment methodology bias; (6) Ontario has implemented two pay equity plans that have increased the annual wages for about 31,220 union and nonunion employees by $372 million; and (7) the total amount of private-sector equity payments could not be determined because private-sector employers are not required to report the amount of their pay equity adjustments.

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