Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2009

CAUT Calls Tory Plan for Pay Equity ‘Discrimination’

CAUT called on the leaders of the opposition parties last month to block attempts by the Conserva­tives to impose a new pay equity act that will make it almost impos­sible for women in the federal public sector and their unions to fight for, and win, equal pay for work of equal value.

The Public Sector Equitable Com­pensation Act, introduced as part of the recently tabled budgetary mea­sures, ignores recommendations from a 2004 federal task force on pay equity, removes pay equity’s status as a human right and opens it up to market forces.

CAUT president Penni Stewart said the pay equity issues in the PSCE Act have grave implications for women’s rights and are morally offensive to modern Canadian society.

“Bill C-10, the Budget Implemen­­tation Act, and the introduction of ‘equitable compensation’ through the PSEC Act embedded in this legislation will effectively legislate and maintain systemic gender-based wage discrimination and wage inequity among federal employees,” Stewart said in a letter delivered to the leaders Feb. 19. “To support Bill C-10 is to approve of a federal plan that profits from the discrimination against women working in the federal public sector.”

Not only do the processes set out in the act for seeking equitable com­pensation eliminate existing rights, they effectively eliminate women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints by forcing them to file complaints as individuals if they believe their compensation is not “equitable.” Unions will be fined $50,000 if they assist any woman to make a complaint.

“This leaves women in the position of fighting alone against well-resourced employers, which is clearly a one-sided fight,” Stewart said.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which has been at the forefront of the fight for pay equity in Canada, says the new legislation undermines pay equity by transforming it into a compensation issue to be negotiated between employers and unions.

The legislation also changes the definition of a female dominated group as one in which 70 per cent of the workers are women; only these groups can seek “equitable compensation,” and also redefines the criteria used to evaluate the federal public service’s compensation practices for female dominated job groups by comparing them with pay assigned to these jobs in the market — reinforcing sex-discrimination, not eliminating it.

“The government’s budget fails women on many fronts, but to deny employees in the federal public sector equal pay for work of equal value is to endorse economic inequality,” Stewart said.