Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks on the Budget 2018 Pay Equity plan in Barrie, Ontario
Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for being here today in beautiful Barrie. It’s a pleasure to be here alongside the President of Georgian College, Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, as well as the Mayor of Barrie, Jeff Lehman.
Earlier today I had a great discussion with students enrolled in a number of programs here at Georgian College. These women and men are preparing for a range of promising careers, including in the tourism industry and in environmental technology as aviation managers, computer systems technicians, and civil engineers. We chatted about our government’s recent investments in skills training and the importance of getting more women into the workforce. And that last point isn’t a new one. Canadians know that this is an issue I’m particularly passionate about. A few months ago, I was at the World Economic Forum, and amidst a sea of political and business leaders, I issued a challenge; I asked each and every one of those leaders to make a conscious effort to hire, promote, and retain more women.
We know that the benefits are tremendous. Stronger economies, better decision-making, and more equitable societies. To achieve this objective and support women in the workplace, we have proposed, among other things, the implementation of measures promoting pay equity. I fundamentally believe that when women and men do the same work, they should be paid the same. After working hard at school and investing in their education, women like the students I talked to this morning should know that gender-based discrimination is not going to be part of their day-to-day experience when they enter the workforce. It seems obvious—simple even—but our economy is still today having trouble integrating that principle.
For every dollar of hourly wages a man working full-time earns in Canada, a woman working full time earns about $0.88. Canada ranks 15th out of 29 OECD countries based on the hourly gender wage gap. This disparity persists despite the fact that pay equity is a human right entrenched in law. So making pay equity proactive rather than complaints-based has been long called for by workers groups and families, women and men alike. So our government chose to listen carefully and then we got to work.
A few days ago, our Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, tabled Budget 2018, an ambitious plan for the future of all Canadians. Our ultimate goal is equality and growth for the middle class, and people working hard to join it. And since that’s our goal, budget 2018 will see us moving forward with proactive pay equity legislation. This policy means that women and men doing work of equal value will, on average, be paid the same. And that’s why we chose to visit Georgian College today; students in the environmental technology program, for example, often end up working for the federal government in departments like Environment and Climate Change Canada, or Natural Resources Canada. The men and women enrolled in this program are learning the same material, being trained the same way, and if they end up working for the federal government, they should be paid the same for work of equal value. And thanks to this new policy, they will be.
And they’re not alone, women working at the local bank branch, for airlines, at telecomm companies, or for any other federally-regulated employer, will all soon be covered by robust, proactive, pay equity legislation too. In total, 1.2 million Canadians will be covered by this new regime.
Let’s be clear, this is a big step in the right direction. A big step towards gender equality in Canada that we are proud to be taking. That said, it does not mean that the job is done; it’s a first step and there’s a lot still to accomplish at the provincial level and in the private sector. But for our part, the federal government has chosen to lead by example, and we’re challenging our partners to follow us. Women in the workplace have been underappreciated and underpaid long enough. As a society, we cannot move forward if one half of our citizens are victims of gender-based discrimination when they receive their paycheques. But fortunately, change is coming.
Together, we can take the necessary steps towards closing the gender wage gap, and increasing the participation of women in the workforce. And in doing so, our economies will be more resilient, and our communities will be stronger.