Just the Facts
The Gender Wage Gap and Equal Pay Day, 2018

Release date: November 23, 2018

Since 1981, the gender pay gap—that is, the difference between the earnings of women and men, typically expressed as a proportion of men’s earnings—has decreased by about 21% in Canada, with most of that decrease occurring before 2011. A number of trends occurring in the post-World War II period have contributed to improvements in the gender pay gap. The labour force participation of women has risen significantly, driven simultaneously by an increase in the proportion of employed women and a decrease in the propensity of employed women to withdraw from the workforce upon marriage or motherhood.Note 1Note 2 Women have joined the workforce with more education, as they have made substantial gains in their educational attainment over the past two decades by increasingly acquiring post-secondary education, particularly university degrees at the bachelor’s level or above.Note 3Note 4 Recently, women have also reduced the duration of their family-related work interruptions (e.g., pregnancy, child care, relocating for a spouse or partner’s job, etc.), such that they have more work experience than was the case in the past.Note 5 Social-policy support for women’s employment, in the form of job-protected maternity and parental leave, as well as partial income replacement for that leave has expanded,Note 6 along with legislation addressing unfair treatment in the labour market.

Yet pay inequality between women and men is a persistent phenomenon. According to data from the Labour Force Survey, women in Canada aged 15 and older earned $0.87 for every dollar earned by men in 2017, as measured by average hourly wages.

Equal Pay Day is used in several countries to raise awareness about the gender pay gap. Based on the country’s gender pay gap, Equal Pay Day is the date which symbolizes when women would stop getting paid for the rest of the year in comparison to men. For Canada, the gender pay gap of $0.87 would translate to the equivalent of 47 daysNote 7 women work without pay in 2018, assuming women worked the same number of hours as men in the year. In 2018—taking these 47 days into account—Equal Pay Day in Canada would have been November 15.

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