Pay equity: a strong movement in New Brunswick

Tuesday, March 8 2016

On the eve of International Women’s Day, leaders of the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity reflect on the accomplishments of the provincial movement for pay equity.

“We are constantly working towards our goal – equal pay for work of equal value for everyone in the province.  We’re not all the way there yet, but on the occasion of International Women’s Day we can sit back and look at how far we’ve come, ,” says Vallie Stearns, Chair of the Coalition. “A lot has been accomplished in the past years, starting with the constantly increasing public awareness about the value of female-dominated work and the right to pay equity.”

According to Vallie Stearns, many New Brunswickers and most provincial political leaders now understand what pay equity is, and support its implementation.

“We are proud to say that women and men from all walks of life have contributed to the pay equity movement in New Brunswick and continue to do so. They are workers, community organizers, union and religious leaders, university and college students and professors, philanthropists, politicians at all levels and even employers,” says Johanne Perron, Executive Director of the Coalition.

“Not only have New Brunswickers collectively placed pay equity on the public agenda, but together, we have obtained pay equity legislation for the public sector and leveraged strong support for improved wages in the private care-giving sector,” says Vallie Stearns. “Because of the movement’s strength, Brian Gallant’s government has promised to require pay equity plans from organizations with more than 50 employees doing business with the government. We also contributed to the national movement for federal pay equity legislation and the federal government is now working on developing proactive pay equity measures. These are no small accomplishments!”

Vallie Stearns and Johanne Perron may applaud the advancement of pay equity in New Brunswick, but they are acutely aware that the Coalition’s work is not over. “We will continue to actively advocate for pay equity legislation in the private sector and to monitor current pay equity initiatives,” says Vallie Stearns. “Pay equity is a human right and every New Brunswicker is entitled to it.”

The NB Coalition for Pay Equity will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year.  It built on the contributions of many New Brunswick women and men to the pay equity movement, starting in the late 1970s.  As Johanne Perron points out: “We can’t forget that we are building on the work of previous activists, including nurses, teachers, various unions, the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, the now defunct NB Advisory Council on the Status of Women and Fédération des Dames d’Acadie, as well as the World March of Women 2000, just to name a few.”

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