Our Mission: 
Closing the Gender Wage Gap

Addressing women’s wage inequity is an economic opportunity to foster a prosperous and fair economy in Ontario. 

​​The gender wage gap is the difference between wages earned by men and wages earned by women.

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Persistence of the gender wage gap leads to less income and opportunity for women in retirement.

The​​​​​​​ Act:

  • ​Requires employers to assess all jobs in an organization by conducting an unbiased comparison of the work done by women to the work done by men in order to determine whether the women are being compensated equitably. For example, the receptionist for a company may be as valuable to the organization as the warehouse shipper-receiver. The Act requires an employer to compensate work done by female job class(es)* at least equally to work done by comparable male job class(es).
  • Requires employers to keep pay equity plans up-to-date (often referred to as “maintenance”).
  • Sets out a self-managed process for organizations. In other words, the Pay Equity Office does not prepare pay equity plans.
  • Creates a safe forum for any party (employer, employee, union) to file a complaint with the Pay Equity Office if someone believes that the Act has been contravened.
  • Allows any party to appeal a Pay Equity Office decision to the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal.
  • Allows the Pay Equity Office to refer a matter to the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal. ​
*“Job class” is a group of positions in an organization that have similar duties and responsibilities, require similar qualifications, are filled by similar recruiting procedures, and have the same compensation. A job class can consist of a single position (usually in small organizations).

Part I of the Act applies to all provincial and provincially-funded* public sector organizations in Ontario, and to provincially regulated** private sector***  organizations with 10 or more employees.

Part II of the Act applies to companies that had:
100+ employees on January 1, 1988
10-99 employees on January 1, 1988 and posted a pay equity plan by December 31, 1993

Part II of the Act applies to public sector organizations that:
Had one or more employees on January 1, 1988
Had no employees on January 1, 1988 but had at least one employee by July 1, 1993

*”Provincially-funded* includes 

  • Municipalities
  • School boards
  • Universities and colleges of applied arts and technology
  • Hospitals and health boards
  • The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Legislature, and all Offices of the Legislature
  • Additional bodies listed in the Schedule to the Act

**Ontario regulates all industries that are not regulated by the federal government. Click here to access the list of federally regulated workplaces.

***The Pay Equity Act considers the “private sector” to include the not-for-profit sector.

Important note about Part III.2:
In 1996, the Legislature repealed the proxy provisions of the Act (S.O. 1996, c.1, schedule J, s.1.). The Service Employees International Union challenged the repeal before the Ontario Divisional Court on the basis that it contravened sections 15 and 28 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court agreed with the Union and ruled that the repeal was unconstitutional and of no force and effect. (SEIU, Local 201 v. Ontario (Attorney-General) (1997), 35 O.R. (3d) 508).

​While the Court’s ruling restored the proxy provisions to full effect, the Act has not been amended to reintroduce the repealed sections into the statute.  The missing provisions of the Pay Equity Act, which the Pay Equity Office (PEO) is required to enforce, are reproduced on the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal’s website.  A downloadable pdf version can be accesse​d here​​.​

​This reproduction is provided for your assistance and convenience only. Please refer to the Pay Equity Amendment Act, 1993 (S.O.1993, c.4)​ which remains the official version.​

Visit Level the Paying Field where we explore issues related to economics, equity, women, work and money.  This series of conversations explores topics impacting women working in Ontario and is published by Ontario’s Pay Equity Office.