April 4, 2024 is Equal Pay Day in Manitoba

April 4, 2024

Equal Pay Coalition Manitoba calls on government to help close the gender pay gap.

Winnipeg – Today is Equal Pay Day in Manitoba, a day that symbolizes how far into the next year the average woman must work in order to have earned as much as the average man did in the previous calendar year. On average, women in Manitoba have to work for 460 days to earn the same amount as men do in 365 days. This means women have to work an extra three months just to catch up to men.

Women in Manitoba earn 71 cents for every dollar men earn, according to census data presented in a recent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba Report, Tired of Waiting: Rectifying Manitoba’s Pay Gap. The pay gap is worse for women who face additional forms of discrimination, such as colonialism, racism and discrimination against persons with disabilities. In Manitoba, the pay gap is especially severe for Indigenous women as well as for black women and women of colour – 58 and 59 cents, respectively.

Women continue to face significant barriers to achieving economic equality, including gender-based discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay. While women tend to have higher levels of education than men, they still earn less. There’s also a significant gender pay gap across all types of occupations and industries, as well as all age groups and income levels.

“The gender pay gap means that women continue to fall behind men and it serves as a major factor in our province’s abysmal child poverty rates,” said Molly McCracken on behalf of the coalition. “All Manitobans have struggled with the rising costs of groceries and housing over the last few years, but these struggles have been even harder for women and racialized workers.”

McCracken added that women’s unequal earnings are a major driver of Manitoba’s last place ranking among all provinces when it comes to gender equality, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in a report using a 17-indicator Gender Gap Index, Still in Recovery: Assessing the Pandemic’s Impact on Women.

“Unions have heard loud and clear that women are done waiting for economic equality,” said coalition member Kevin Rebeck. “Pay discrimination is a violation of women’s human rights, and we need the government to take bold action to eliminate the gender pay gap.”

Rebeck added that closing the gender pay gap will require the provincial government to introduce strong legislation on pay equity to put into effect the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. While Manitoba was the first province to bring in pay equity legislation in 1986 under former Deputy Premier, Muriel Smith, this law has not been

substantively updated in decades and excludes private sector employers.

According to a recent poll conducted by Probe Research, 78% per cent of Manitobans support tougher pay equity laws to make sure women are paid the same as men for work of equal value.

New pay equity legislation should be part of a comprehensive plan to close the gender pay gap, along with affordable and accessible childcare, raising the minimum wage to a living wage level, expanded education and training opportunities, and measures to put an end to harassment and violence in the workplace.

The gender pay gap is not solely a binary issue between women and men, but current government data sources are deficient in information about two spirit, gender diverse and non-binary people. The coalition urges data collection agencies to reframe their questions to be gender inclusive.