The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity Wants Clear Benchmarks for the Provincial Action PlanWednesday, July 28 2010
January 26, 2006: The hourly wage gap between New Brunswick women and men is now 14.3%, a reduction of 1.1% compared to 2004, according to statistics issued yesterday by Statistics Canada.
Anne-Marie Gammon, Chair of the Coalition for Pay Equity, welcomes the news, while warning that around 80% of this gap is attributable to discrimination against women (Akbari 2004). “This is still too much! It is essential that the government shows it will take serious measures to eliminate this gap,” she says.
Almost eight month after unveiling the Action Plan on the Wage Gap, the province still has not established clear benchmarks to evaluate its progress.
The minister responsible for the Status of Women, Margaret-Ann Blaney, said that the government will legislate pay equity if the action plan doesn’t reach its objectives. However, women’s groups and unions are concerned about the fact that clear targets are still not available.
“How can we evaluate the efficiency of this public program and the government’s commitment towards pay equity? It would be too easy, four and a half years from now, to say that the objectives have been reached if the benchmarks have never been public!” said Anne-Marie Gammon.
For instance, the action plan states that the “government will monitor the number of employees paid according to equitable pay systems in New Brunswick” as an indicator of its progress towards pay equity. But…
- How many employees are presently being paid according to equitable pay systems?
- What the number does the government want to reach?
- How will the government ensure that employers won’t reduce men’s wages instead of increasing that of women – a choice which would be impossible with pay equity legislation but which is not excluded with voluntary measures?
Another example: the action plan said the government will monitor the wage gap between predominantly female jobs and predominantly male jobs.
- What is the wage gap between male and female jobs now?
- What level does the government aim to reach?
Anne-Marie Gammon said the minister had many occasions to answer these questions. The Coalition and unions have asked for information on benchmarks ever since the action plan was released, in June 2005. Carmel Robichaud, MLA and official opposition critic for areas of interest relating to the status of women, also questioned the minister on the baselines and benchmarks for the action plan at the Legislative Assembly (June 9 and December 23, 2005). However all these requests have remained without answers so far.
“New Brunswick women and men have the right to know what the minister considers acceptable progress,” concluded Anne-Marie Gammon.
Wages for New Brunswick male and female employees, 15 years and over
Wages1 Sex 2005
Average hourly wage rate Males16.84 Females14.43
Source: Statistics Canada; CANSIM, table 282-0072