Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Gender Pay Gap In Canada Decreases

  • Kristina Evans
  • Mar 14, 2017 10:42AM

Canada’s data agency released a fitting report in time for International Women’s Day: for every dollar a man makes, women earn over $0.10 less.

Canada is full of nerds. When Statistics Canada (Stats Can) released their long-form census for the first time in over a decade last year, Canadians were so excited to fill out the information they crashed the data agency’s website. Now the numbers are rolling in for 2015, resulting in an update to the pay gap between Canuck men and women.

The findings are taken from Women and Paid Work, a chapter of Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report released by Stats Can in time to celebrate International Women’s Day. Focused on people aged 25 to 52, the report provides sweeping summaries of the Canadian labor market with some minimal exploration of its development compared to the past few decades.

Since WWII, the labor force participation of women in Canada has increased dramatically, while the participation of men has fallen. However, Stats Can notes that women continue to have a higher level of unemployment: in 2015, 85.3% of men were employed versus 77.5% of women. Women were also more likely than men to work part-time jobs, with Stats Can claiming that this was directly related to child care. It translates to women working 5.6 fewer hours per week than men, at 35.5 hours versus 41.1 hours.

Women who did work full-time were more likely than their male colleagues to be interrupted. 30% of women and only 23.9% of men were away from work sometimes during the labor force survey week, with 38.4% of women being absent for more than a week as opposed to the 24.8% of men. The reason for these absences were quite different. Women were more likely to cite involuntary reasons like illness, disability, personal or family reason (i.e. maternity leave) at 47.9%, whereas 27.6% of men were more likely to be away from work for other reasons, such as vacations.

And then comes the one statistic everyone will argue about for the next year, if not the next decade. Stats Can reported that in 2015, women earned an average of $26.11 per hour, while men earned an average of $29.86. That translates to a corresponding wage ratio of 0.87, meaning women earn an average of $0.87 for every dollar earned by a man. Stats Can notes that the difference between wages may result from the trend of women being employed in low-paying occupations.

Over half of women surveyed were employed in what is viewed as traditionally female roles. 56.1% of women reported being in teaching, nursing and related health occupations, social work, clerical and administrative roles, along with sales and related service. Only 17.1% of men claimed the same. As noted in the report, this reflects similar results from 1987, when 59.2% of women and 15.7% of men were employed in traditionally female occupations.

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m clearly biased. I have witnessed many women being treated unfairly based on their gender in the workplace, but I personally think there are more factors at play than just identified sex when it comes to the pay gap. Sarah Kaplan, the director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto, told CTV News some preliminary thoughts on that front.

“Some of it is about the jobs that people go into, but some of it is that we’re literally not valuing women’s contributions in exactly the same jobs,” she said. Kaplan also suggested that societal expectations for women, such as having flexible schedules for parental duties, often dissuades them from pursuing certain careers.

“If we make the higher-paid professions that are male-dominated unpleasant for women to work in, if we structure them in ways that make it hard for them to also take care of their family responsibilities, then they’re going to be less likely to go into those higher-paid professions,” Kaplan explained.