From December 1, Quebec women work “for free”

In Quebec, wage inequalities between women and men are decreasing, but persist. Despite the belief that these inequalities are a thing of the past, the average hourly compensation of women is still 8.1% lower than that of men, notes the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS) in a new study.

On average, in 2020, a woman was paid $ 26.98 per hour in Quebec. A man, meanwhile, received hourly wages of $ 29.36. Reported over one year, this pay gap between the two sexes means that from the 1is December, at 10:26 am, and until the end of the year, Quebec women “work for free” compared to their male counterparts, says IRIS.

In 1997, the percentage gap between female and male pay was twice as large as it is today – a sign that progress has been made. “Things are improving, but they are improving very slowly,” observes Anne Plourde, co-author of the study and researcher at IRIS. “At the current rate, if nothing is done to speed things up, it will take 50 years before achieving equality between men and women,” she underlines.

And the gap to be closed is even larger when it comes to average annual income, due to the fact that women are overrepresented in part-time jobs. In Quebec, the total income of women ($ 39,800) was 23.8% lower than that of men ($ 52,200) in 2019, according to the report.

“What we found in our study is that the pay gap is observed regardless of the variable studied,” says Mme Plourde. “We cannot explain this gap, for example, by the fact that women are less well educated or that they work more in a certain type of job. Because, for equivalent levels of education, for the same employment status [permanent ou temporaire] or for the same industries, women are in all cases underpaid compared to men, ”adds the researcher.

Notably, however, union presence seems to have a significant effect on the pay gap. So much so that in 2020, the pay gap between women and men working in unionized positions was almost non-existent, according to the study.

For equivalent levels of education, for the same employment status [permanent ou temporaire] or for the same industries, women are in all cases underpaid compared to men

Quebec in a better position than Canada

While equal pay has still not been achieved in Quebec, the province still performs better than its neighbor Ontario, or even Canada as a whole – where the hourly pay differentials between women and men men are 11.5% and 11.3% respectively. This amounts to saying that in 2020, it is “from November 18 and 19 that women [de l’Ontario et du Canada] started working for plums, ”the report notes.

So what are the factors in which Quebec stands out in order to obtain a better record? “We can make several assumptions,” says Anne Plourde. “In Quebec, in particular, we have implemented structuring public policies in recent years that may have improved things. We have the Equal Pay Act, a network of daycare centers that promotes the participation of women in the labor market, a Quebec parental insurance plan, stronger unionization than in the rest of North America, etc. », Emphasizes the researcher.

“So that’s the good news: we realize that, when we make this type of collective choice, it can improve things with regard to equality between men and women. And we must continue to do more, ”she concludes.

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