Do Canadians have salary transparency? It's complicated, say experts

Pay transparency has become an increasingly desirable asset in the job market as more Canadians want an open discussion about their wages as they grapple with the sharply rising cost of living and ongoing pay differentials.

This issue is particularly pertinent to minority workers such as women, as research shows that their earnings are not keeping up with inflation, potentially exacerbating the wage gap in Canada since COVID-19 hit.

A September report from the International Labor Organization found that pay transparency policies can help reveal pay disparities between men and women and pinpoint the underlying causes, and can "reduce broader gender inequalities in the labor market."

New York City recently joined US cities in passing legislation requiring most employers to list a salary range on all job openings, becoming one of the largest job markets in the world to mandate salary transparency for workers.

On the other side of the world, the UK is currently spearheading a voluntary pilot program for employers to disclose their salaries, while the EU's Pay Transparency Directive for large employers to provide salary ranges on job advertisements is likely to be implemented in 2024.


According to data from Indeed Canada, 66 percent of new jobs posted on the platform contained salary information in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to 80 percent globally and 78 percent in the United States.

But Canadian workers' access to paid transparency rights really depends on whether they are federally regulated or provincially regulated employees, Jan Borowy, a Toronto-based labor law attorney, told in a telephone interview on Friday. .

The federal government's Payments Justice Act, which takes effect in January 2021, requires all federally regulated private sector employers, including banks, radio and television broadcasters, telecommunications companies and airlines, to ensure workers receive equal pay for work with of equal value and is intended to help women and other minority workers receive fair compensation for their work.

To achieve this, federally regulated employers are now required to report salary data for all workers "in a manner that exhibits aggregate wage gap information," with the initial compilation and distribution of salary data scheduled for June 2022.

"The laws that now apply to workers that are federally regulated in Canada, with strong pay transparency, are far better than anything New York or any other US city has done," Borowy said.

"However, there are definitely gaps. The largest percentage of workers in Canada are covered by provincial jurisdictions."

Currently, laws mandating salary transparency in the provinces are highly inconsistent. As an example:


Ontario's former Liberal government introduced a law called the Pay Transparency Act in 2018, which requires transparency of pay in job postings, just weeks before Doug Ford of the Progressive Conservatives was elected prime minister. Since then, the action has been suspended.

The measure will apply to all Ontario-based companies with more than 100 employees.

"That's a very, very important first step on the whole road to paying for transparency," Borowy said.

"That includes things like: employers can't inquire about your previous salary, can't take legal action if you start asking questions about your salary, and reports and analyzes are expected to be submitted by employers regarding wage gaps."

The reason why the action was suspended remains unclear, and Premier Ford's office did not immediately respond to CTV News for comment.

Ontario represents one of the largest job markets in Canada. The province added 344,800 jobs in 2021 (up 4.9 percent), the highest annual job increase on record, according to the Statistical Canadian Labor Force Survey.

Borowy said he was optimistic that change could be seen in Ontario through the work of women and the voices of other Intersectional collectives.

"The main thing to remember in Ontario is that there is some kind of strong payment transparency system. It's just behind it.

"If you want to change it, pick up the phone and call Doug Ford's office."


The SM government promised in March that, as a first step, it would begin addressing the issue of the ongoing wage gap between men and women in the province.

Grace Lore, parliamentary secretary for gender equality, made the announcement in the legislature on International Women's Day and said consultations would begin to help develop a new "made SM". payment transparency laws.

"Transparency and accountability are steps to address the salary gap at SM," he said. “The gap is not only about gender, but also racial. This is greater for Indigenous women and girls, those living with disabilities, and new arrivals.”

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