The gender wage gap persists in Ontario, no matter how it is measured.
The hourly wage gap has narrowed six percentage points since 1998 to 13 percent in 2022 when looking at average hourly wages.
This means, on an hourly basis, women make 87 cents on average for every dollar made by a man.
The gender wage gap is larger for racialized women, women who are newcomers, women with disabilities, Indigenous women, and trans women.
Research shows that factors such as education, job tenure, part-time vs. full time work, public vs. private sector work, firm size, unionization rates, occupation, industry, and demographics, can only explain about 30 percent of the gap in Ontario. Seventy percent of the gap remains unexplained. This unexplained portion may be due in part to factors such as gender discrimination and societal expectations and constraints.
The gender wage gap is the difference between wages earned by men and wages earned by women. The gap can be measured using different metrics, including average hourly wages, median hourly wages, average annual earnings, and median annual earnings.
Using average hourly wages, Statistics Canada data from the Labour Force Survey reveals that female employees in Ontario earned $0.87 for every dollar earned by men in 2022. In other words, the gender wage gap in Ontario was 13%. The average hourly wage gap in Ontario has narrowed by 6 percentage points since 1998, when women earned $0.81 for every dollar earned by men.
Using median hourly wages, the gender wage gap in Ontario was 16% in 2022.
Using average annual earnings, Statistics Canada data from the Canadian Income Survey indicates that female employees in Ontario earned $0.75 for every dollar earned by men in 2020, or the gender wage gap was 25%. The average annual earnings gap in Ontario has narrowed by twelve percentage points since 1998, when women earned $0.63 for every dollar earned by men.
Using median annual earnings, the gender wage gap in Ontario was 27% in 2020.
As women tend to work fewer hours and are also less likely than men to receive performance-based pay, the gap calculated with the average or median annual earnings measure is greater than the gap calculated with the average or median hourly wages measure.
The impacts of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or COVID-19 more broadly on the gender wage gap are not yet fully understood. Statistics Canada research shows that women were more likely to receive the CERB then men.
Both the average and median hourly wages and average and median annual earnings measures include both waged and salaried workers. The main differences between the two measures are as follows:
The annual earnings measure includes all employment income including performance-based pay (e.g., commissions and bonuses), while the hourly wages measure does not.
The annual earnings measure does not account for differences in hours worked in a given year, which is significant because women are more likely to work part-time (i.e. fewer hours).
*Statistics Canada defines “visible minorities” as persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour. NOTE: Statistics Canada uses the terms “visible minority” and “racialized population” somewhat interchangeably. Statistics Canada’s data tables use the term “visible minority” and their communications products use “racialized population”. To be consistent with Statistics Canada, the Pay Equity Office has adopted the same practice.
**Statistics Canada defines “women+” as women and/or girls, as well as some non-binary persons.
Note re difference in data sources between Figures 1, 2 and 4: The average annual gender wage gap of all Ontario women+ in Figure 2 differs somewhat from Figure 1. The PEO has to rely on different data sources to report on intersectional data and not all data sources can be disaggregated by racialized populations or Indigenous identity. The longitudinal trend data presented in Figure 1 draws from the Canadian Income Survey and Labour Force Survey, whereas the data in Figure 2 leverages 2021 Census Data. The gender wage gap data for Indigenous women+ is also presented separately in Figure 4 as Statistics Canada collects data on Indigenous women via another distinct survey instrument.
When looking at total average annual employment income of Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Ontario, Indigenous women+ earn on average $24,850 CAD less per year than non-Indigenous men+. This translates to a 39% gap. Hourly wage gap data is not available.
When looking at total average annual employment income of individuals living with disabilities in Canada, women living with disabilities earn on average $25,900 CAD less per year than men living without disabilities. This translates to an average annual gender wage gap of 43%. Neither Ontario specific, nor hourly wage gap data are available.
Past studies on the gender wage gap have often used average annual earnings as a measure of compensation. However, average hourly wages more accurately captures the price of labour.
The average hourly wages measure is less affected by the gender differences in work hours, so offers a closer comparison between men’s and women’s pay. The average annual earnings measure better reflects the full scope of the financial implications of female earners and their economic well-being, since it includes performance-based earnings. Therefore, researchers now tend to use both measures.
Considerations when using average or median
Takes into account the earnings of every worker.
Can be skewed by a small number of people who earn extremely high or low salaries.
A commonly used and understood measure.
Methods of data analysis typically used to examine the gender wage gap are based on the average.
Accounts for extremely high or low salaries as it is the numerical value separating the higher half of a data sample from the lower half.
May not reflect the overrepresentation of women in lower pay positions and underrepresentation of women in higher pay positions as well as the average.
Gender wage gap can be affected by several considerations, such as when women:
Choose or need to leave and re-enter the workforce in order to meet family care-giving responsibilities, resulting in a loss of seniority, advancement opportunities and wages or because they are more likely than men to work part-time due to these responsibilities;
Encounter occupational segregation through clustering in historically undervalued and low-paying jobs, such as childcare and clerical work, where female-dominated jobs are valued less even when they involve the same (or greater) skills;
Were historically considered to have lower levels of education resulting in lower wages. This is becoming less of a factor as more women graduate from all levels of education, although the gender wage gap exists even for women with higher levels of education;
Are less likely to work in unionized environments;
Are often underrepresented in leadership positions; and
Encounter discrimination or unconscious bias in the hiring, promotion and compensation practices of their workplace.
However, Statistics Canada 2019 research shows that factors such as education, job tenure, part-time vs. full time work, public vs. private sector work, firm size, unionization rates, occupation, industry, and demographics, can only explain about 30 percent of the gap in Ontario. Seventy percent of the gap remains unexplained.
The unexplained portion of the gap captures two kinds of effects: measurable and unobservable wage-related characteristics.
Measurable effects could include total work experience, the higher prevalence of work interruptions among women which are strongly linked to caregiving responsibilities, and field of study which may help to explain the impacts of education level on occupation.
Unobservable wage-related characteristics could include gender differences in behaviours (e.g., wage negotiation), societal expectations, constrained choices resulting from gender roles in paid work, as well as the impact of explicit or implicit gender-based wage discrimination.
How does Ontario’s gender wage gap compare to the other provinces?
Out of the ten provinces with available data on the hourly average gender wage gap, Ontario came in sixth (13% gap) similar to Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, behind Prince Edward Island (4%), New Brunswick (8%), Nova Scotia (8%), Quebec (10%), and Manitoba (11%). The gender wage gap was the highest in Alberta and British Columbia (17%). In 2022, the hourly average gender wage gap across Canada was 13%.
Pay equity is the law in Ontario, Quebec and for federally regulated employers. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI have pay equity legislation for the public sector, but not private, while Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia have no specific legislation on pay equity, but address pay discrimination through human rights legislation.
How does Canada’s gender wage gap compare to other countries?
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022, which tracks progress on relative gaps between women and men on economic participation, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment, Canada ranked 25th out of the 146 countries tracked. Based on current trends, the report predicts that the overall global gender gap could be closed in 132 years.
If education has been an historical factor, has women’s increased educational attainment helped to narrow the gap?
Women’s increased educational attainment has been one of the key factors contributing to the reduction in the gender wage gap. Statistics Canada research found that from 1998-2018, the relative increase in women’s educational attainment accounted for 12.7% of the decrease in the median annual gender wage gap that occurred over that period.
In comparing the earnings of male and female graduates after graduation, research suggests that the gender gap was smaller at higher levels of education (except for those with Master’s degrees).
For 2015 post-secondary graduates, two years after graduation, the difference in median annual earnings between men and women ranged from 3% for those with a professional degree ($84,800 for men versus $82,100 for women) to 22% among graduates with a career, technical, or professional training certificate ($36,300 for men, compared with $28,200 for women).
For all qualifications (with the exception of doctoral degrees), the gap in earnings between women and men widened between two and five years after graduation.
By 2019, or five years after graduation, the median annual gap between men and women’s salaries ranged from 10% for those with a doctoral degree to 30% for those with a career, technical, or professional training certificate.
The largest increase of the gender wage gap is experienced by graduates with professional degrees as the gap jumps from 3% at two years post-graduation to 12% at five years post-graduation.
If occupational segregation has been an historical factor, have changing career choices helped to narrow the gap?
Changes in the distribution of men and women across occupations has also been one of the key factors contributing to the reduction of the gender wage gap, as women have increased their representation in higher-earning occupations.
The occupations with the largest gains in closing the gender wage gap over the last decade in Ontario are: natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations (by ten per cent); management occupations (by nine per cent); and occupations in manufacturing and utilities (by six per cent).
From 2010-2022, the gender wage gap widened by four per cent in natural and applied sciences and related occupations; and by two per cent in occupations in education, law and social, community and government services.
As of 2022, the gender wage gap was the largest in trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations ($0.78 for every dollar earned hourly by men). The gender wage gap was smallest in health occupations ($0.99 for every dollar earned hourly by men).