Debating Pay Transparency vs. Pay Equity

May 19, 2023 | 42-4, Bills, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Sessions, Video | 0 comments

In March, the House debated Bill 13, the Pay Transparency Act. While important, the legislation does not go far enough. What B.C. needs is pay equity. The following exchange took place during committee stage, where I introduced several amendments in an attempt to make this bill more meaningful and bring our province closer to achieving real gender equity.


A. Olsen:
I’m reflecting on this bill and reflecting on how I want to approach what has been offered. I provided my second reading remarks some days ago. I’m not sure which one it was now, but it was a while ago.

I think it’s important to first acknowledge that there is a step being taken. It doesn’t, in my opinion, go far enough.

I have both a son and a daughter. I was thinking about this over the spring break. My partner and I have raised our kids to be equitable — equity between our two children. There aren’t those traditional divides in our family. The boys go with the dad, and the girls go with…. There isn’t that.

I see my children as equal in my eyes. They both have their own strengths. They both have their own weaknesses. They’re individuals. But they’re equal in my mind.

My children are going to have remarkably different experiences because one of them is identified as my son and one of them is identified as my daughter. That’s just the world that they are going into. As we navigate this pay transparency legislation…. To me, it’s very challenging to think that we are only taking a moderate step forward to be able to say to my daughter that she’s not going to expect to earn less than her brother in her life.

The other thing, too, that is interesting is, as we’ve watched and listened to the debates that have come from this bill…. I think I should frame this, as well, in a conversation that I had yesterday with the B.C. Nurses Union. We were talking about all sorts of things around employment.

If my daughter chooses to be working in what is seen as traditionally women’s work — nurses, ECEs, teachers…. She can also expect to have a more expensive education than if her brother chooses, for example — or even if she chooses, for that matter — to become a welder, a plumber or an electrician, traditionally seen as men’s work.

We have two completely different systems. An apprentice for a plumber can get paid while they go to school, and they go to school for a much shorter period of time. An ECE, which we need many, many thousands of in this province, can expect to be paying to go to school. A nurse, when they’re at the end, as a fourth-year nurse, will pay to work.

I think that as we are looking at equity or transparency in this bill but equity, in general…. We still have a long way to go in this province to ensure that this world is equitable, truly inclusive.

I’m just wondering what it was…. To the minister, why was the choice to go with pay transparency legislation, not pay equity legislation or not what many jurisdictions in the province have? That is two companion bills, which have pay equity and pay transparency.

Hon. K. Conroy:
I want to thank the member for the question. I understand where he’s coming from. I have four kids and nine grandkids.

I was very proud that my oldest granddaughter went to work in the shutdowns at Teck Cominco and the pulp mill in the last couple of years, jobs that are not seen as typically for young women. She held her own, and she came home very proud to let me know that there were quite a number of young women that were working the shutdowns in what would have been seen as traditionally male jobs. She also has a grandmother who was one of B.C.’s first female power engineers. So I know what it’s like to work in a sector that’s traditionally seen as so-called men’s work.

I also know that I made the same wages as men did when I worked, and she makes the same wages as men do when she works. They were large companies, large companies that were making sure that happened.

I hope that by the time the member’s children go to work in the industry, this bill will finally be fully implemented. This bill is the first step in pay equity. It’s to ensure pay equity across all sectors.

It’s important work to advance pay equity in B.C. It strikes a good balance between the interests of advocates, employers and employees. It will be a critical new tool in our work, which our government is doing, to address the pay equity gap. It has also been shown in other jurisdictions that have very similar legislation that it is helping with the pay equity gap, and that is another reason why we’re moving forward with this first very important step.

A. Olsen:
There are many hazards just to even having this conversation. I don’t want to assume that there…. There are the traditional roles and the traditional views, and that’s, I think, the frame that I asked that question in, recognizing, of course, that there is a choice to work in any industry and, in fact, encouraged to. So I appreciate the response from the minister.

After so many months, after so many years of this being put in front of this government, why is it that this government chose to take a modest step forward rather than just delivering what I think you see other jurisdictions in this country delivering — both pay transparency and pay equity?

Hon. K. Conroy:
This is a first important step. A key goal of this legislation is to shed light on the pay gap and to empower job seekers and employees in their job search and in the pay negotiation process, enhancing the transparency of employer pay practices. It can expose wage discrimination, and this can empower employees to demand equal pay at the workplace and nudge employers to do more to ensure that their pay practices are free of discrimination.

Addressing the pay gap requires an all-of-government approach. We are already making progress in narrowing the pay gap through investments in training, education and child care and through our increases to the minimum wage. I mean, 75 percent of the people that entered the workforce last year were women, and that was directly attributed to our child care programs. Pay transparency legislation is going to be another critical tool that we can use to shine a light on that gap and decrease it.

A. Olsen:
Why not, along with pay transparency legislation, include pay equity legislation?

Hon. K. Conroy:
This is the first step. We’re taking this all under consideration, working with employers and employees as we transition to stage 4, and this is the first step.

A. Olsen:
The reality is that when this legislation came out, there was quite a lot said about it. The fact that this government hasn’t brought forward pay equity legislation for us, but has instead taken, as the minister frames it, a first step that doesn’t include pay equity but does include pay transparency, puts the burden back on the worker, to an extent.

I’m going to table an amendment to clause 1.

[CLAUSE 1, by adding the underlined text as shown and deleting the text shown as struck out:

1 (1) In this Act:
“annual report” means a report under section 8;
“director” means the individual designated under section 10 as the director of pay equity and transparency;
“Indigenous governing entity” has the same meaning as in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
“Indigenous peoples” has the same meaning as in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act;
“pay” means, subject to any prescribed exceptions, the following:
(a) a salary, wage or commission that is paid or payable by an employer to an employee for labour or services provided by the employee;
(b) money that is paid or payable by an employer to an employee as an incentive in relation to hours of work, production or efficiency;
(c) money that
(i) is paid or payable by an employer to an employee at the discretion of the employer, and
(ii) is not related to hours of work, production or efficiency;
(d) compensation, including all payments and benefits paid or provided to or for the benefit of a person who performs functions that entitle the person to be paid a fixed or ascertainable amount;
“pay transparency report” means a report prepared by a reporting employer under section 5;
“personal information” has the same meaning as in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
“publicly advertised job opportunity” means a specific job opportunity that an employer advertises to the public in any manner;
“reporting employer” means an employer referred to in subsection (2) or (3).
(2) The following are reporting employers:
(a) the government;
(b) British Columbia Housing Management Commission;
(c) British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority;
(d) British Columbia Lottery Corporation;
(e) British Columbia Transit;
(f) Insurance Corporation of British Columbia;
(g) Workers’ Compensation Board.
(3) Unless exempted by regulation, an employer that has the following number of employees on January 1 of the applicable year is a reporting employer:
(a) for 2024, 1 000500 or more;
(b) for 2025, 30050 or more;
(c) for 2026, 50 or more;for 2026, more than the lesser of 49 and any prescribed number.
(d) for a year after 2026, more than the lesser of 49 and any prescribed number.]

On the amendment.

A. Olsen:
This amendment adds pay equity to the list of the director’s responsibilities. It expands the definition of “pay” and changes the time frame for reporting. Stakeholders have called for this change. An open letter from over 125 individuals and organizations stated that “the legislation should require transparency of total annual compensation, including all bonuses and non-monetary benefits and perks. This information should be tied to job titles and descriptions of core duties.”

Understanding total compensation is necessary to en­sure pay equity, and that’s the reason why I’m moving the amendment to these definitions. Pay needs to be broadened to include compensation other than wage and salary, including benefits, pensions and other items that cannot be captured through a simple definition of “pay.”

It would be better to use the word “compensation,” which you will see is being done in the definition under pay, section (d): “compensation, including all payments and benefits paid or provided to or for the benefit of a person who performs functions that entitle the person to be paid a fixed or ascertainable amount.”

I also move the change to the time frames for reporting. The current time frame is very long for such slight legislation. Experts and stakeholders called for this legislation to apply broadly across the economy. They state that pay transparency should be mandatory for all employers with ten or more employees across all sectors. Pay equity is needed in organizations of all sizes.

The Chair:
My ruling is that the amendment is in order. We’ll take a short recess to ensure that everyone has a copy, and then we’ll come back into committee.

The Chair:
I call the committee back to order.

A. Olsen:
First, I would want to just make sure that I use the correct language — that I am moving the amendment that has now been shared with the Clerk and the Clerk’s table.

Second, I seek leave to make an introduction.

A. Olsen:
I have no idea who is sitting in the gallery this afternoon, but there are a whole bunch of people that showed up in our gallery.

I just wanted to welcome you here while we’re debating Bill 13. This is the Pay Transparency Act. We are in the committee stage of the debate. This is where we go through clause by clause of this bill and where we understand what the intention of the government and the minister is and where the members of the opposition, which you see sitting from here on, go through each clause to ask questions about the intention of it.

Welcome to our House. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.

Maybe we can all make them feel welcome.

Hon. K. Conroy:
I thank the member for the amendment, but we will not be supporting this amendment. It too quickly accelerates the implementation of the reporting, and it will place an undue burden on small businesses, especially, to adapt to this new model that is being proposed. We’ve heard very clearly from small businesses that they need some time to carry forward with what we are proposing. We want to make sure that we support everyone so that it gets done in the right way.

A. Olsen:
I hear the minister’s response. I do think it needs to be put on the record that women in this province, in particular, have been waiting for this for a long time, and to think that this amendment would speed it up….

This process for this legislation, at least for this first step of the legislation, has been in the process for six years, perhaps. It is a remarkable step back from what the predecessors of this B.C. NDP government — the previous version back in the 1990s, early 2000s — had implemented with pay equity legislation. I recognize the impact that this has on business, but to think that that….

We’re essentially saying that the burden, then, should be carried by women in this society. So I don’t accept the reason why the government will not vote for this. Of course, I support it, and it’s disappointing that the government’s view of this is that we’re moving too quickly. Because I think, in the grand scheme of things, when you look at the fact that this is a process that started….

I mentioned in my second reading debate speech a number of former B.C. NDP MLAs and cabinet ministers that were talking about that process 22 years ago, starting 25 years in advance. So this is not a fast process. This is painfully slow.

R. Merrifield:
I’ll just take a couple of seconds. I need a little bit more time to digest as to whether or not I will consider support, but I do want to make a couple of comments to what I’m hearing from my other opposition colleague from the Third Party, and that is that women have been waiting.

As a woman, I can tell you that women have been waiting. They have been waiting for as long as I have been an adult, which is about 25 years. I could go back and give a history lesson on all of the things that we have come and have been able to do over the course of my lifetime and the measures that have been put into place in my lifetime. I know that I would not be where I am today without the pioneers who went before me. And what I want in this bill and what I see in this bill is another step, another measure, another amount forward for women.

As I have researched these measures over the course of the last 15 years, I know that there are some dangers with pay equity acts and measures and laws. The dangers come from things like pay compression, which can happen when laws aren’t thoughtfully and carefully measured out in accordance with how it should be.

I want to talk just briefly, because I know that we’ve been speaking about what happened in 2001 and the measures that were brought forward and then not. I’m actually very happy that they were not brought forward in 2001, that those measures were taken away, because as I reviewed what was passed back in 2000 and 2001, I actually called them, like, the tattletale bill. It was this bill where you as a female would have to go and then prove that you had been unduly treated and that your pay was not equal. There were so many flaws with that.

I actually celebrate that this is going to be phased in. I liked the minister’s answer that there is going to be an iterative process on the regulations and that there will be lessons learned from the biggest companies who have the easiest time in terms of reporting and data and making sure that all of those tweaks and nuances are there.

I do think that there are some things that could be improved upon. I’m appreciative of the process, and I like that during this committee phase we’re going to be drilling down into some of those aspects. But I think where we ended up in terms of the phase is not too long.

I do believe that already, I’ve been getting emails from businesses who are like: how do I do this? Where do I report? There’s an eagerness, but there’s also a fear and trepidation — how do I do this? What do I report? — and companies that are going to struggle with the capacity to actually report.

I like the approach that we’re taking today. I need time to consider whether or not we support the amendment, but I did want to just say that pay transparency and pay transparency legislation is the mechanism to get to pay equity as a concept. It has been proven, through jurisdictions that have already got pay transparency legislation in place, that that gap narrows, and it narrows significantly — by almost 40 percent.

I don’t necessarily agree with my colleague from the Third Party, and I do think that this is a measured step that balances both the end goal, as well as the disruption and the positive disruption that this will create.

The Chair:
Seeing no further speakers to the amendment, the motion is approval of the amendment.

Amendment negatived on division.

The Chair:
We’re back on clause 1.

A. Olsen:
Thank you for the opportunity.

I think we’re achieving what we need to achieve here, which is a discussion about this and the choices that were made and, clearly, the options that are in front of this government. I think we are moving through this process as we should, and it’s nice to hear the responses from the official opposition and from the government.

I am going to move a second amendment to clause 1. This is, in part, because one of the challenges is that as Bill 13 is currently, it doesn’t have a purpose of the act. That’s what the amendment that I’ve just shared with the table accomplishes. Stakeholders have called for a purpose to be identified in the act.

[CLAUSE 1.1, by adding clause 1.1:
1.1 The purposes of this Act are as follows:
(a) to promote equality in employment through increased trans­parency of pay and workforce composition;
(b) to work toward pay equity legislation;
(c) to support open dialogue and workplace consultation be­tween employers and employees on issues concerning employ­ment compensation.]

On the amendment.

A. Olsen:
Basically, what this amendment outlines is that the purpose of the act is to promote equality and employment through increased transparency of pay and workforce composition, to work toward pay equity legislation and to support open dialogue and workplace consultation between employers and employees on issues concerning employment compensation.

Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Humera Jabir have noted how important it is to understand what the act intends to accomplish and to have an idea of what would be the basis for the five-year review that is in this act. These objectives reflect the government’s reported reasoning for doing it, and that’s the reason why I moved this amendment.

The Chair:
I’m going to call a short recess in order to distribute the amendment.

The Chair:
I’ll call the committee back to order.

The amendment is in order. We are not actually amending clause 1; we’re adding clause 1.1.

On the amendment, are there speakers?

A. Olsen:
I appreciate the nuanced correction. Thank you for that. It’s adding section 1.1.

I’ve stated what it is that I would like to see in the bill that’s in front of us, and I don’t have anything further to say.

R. Merrifield:
I was just over, while we were photocopying the amendments, chastising the House Leader for the Third Party for not getting the amendments faster. I could have reviewed them and, possibly, lobbied, through my caucus, to try and rally some support.

Unfortunately, I’m getting these kind of at the eleventh hour, so I won’t be able to support them on behalf of my caucus at this point.

Hon. K. Conroy:
I think it’s very clear, upon reading the act, that it has been written to address the pay gap through a pay transparency report.

As I said, this is an important first step. We need to ensure that due diligence is in this legislation so that we can ensure that we move forward in a good way. The ultimate goal is to ensure pay transparency and to work that through in a four-year stage.

Amendment negatived on division.

Clause 1 approved.

On clause 2.

A. Olsen:
Just a question. Can the minister give an example of a situation exempt from regulation? This clause opens with “Unless exempted by regulation.” What is considered in that?

Hon. K. Conroy:
While the ministry doesn’t anticipate needing to grant many exemptions, this was created as a regulatory pathway to allow this in case an employer or a class of employers is able to clearly demonstrate that the requirement poses a significant burden or obstacle in the recruitment process or business operations. But we don’t anticipate needing to grant many exemptions, if any.

A. Olsen:
We might not…. We do consider that, because it’s in this legislation: “Unless exempted by regulation.” So we have actually considered it. We just don’t have any clear understanding of what would be considered.

Can the minister provide clarity on what is considered in this? In order to write this, you have to have, I think, some idea of what might be considered to be exempted from regulation. What are those things?

When I say “you,” I mean the minister, of course. Sorry.

The Chair:
I appreciate it.

Hon. K. Conroy:
When this was written…. The member is right. Exemptions would be introduced through regulation. But we took into consideration that there could be possible hardship, that we needed to just keep that in mind and that regulations would be developed to address that.

A. Olsen:
Can the minister outline what types of hardships might be considered and what the process is to consider those hardships in an open and transparent way? This is pay transparency legislation. What’s the transparency around that decision-making process?

Hon. K. Conroy:
Again, we will consider developing regulations if a need presents itself. We look forward to continuing discussions with employers as we implement the legislation.

A. Olsen:
We’ve got a situation here, in 2023, where we’re trying to ensure that people are not going to be paid based on their gender, their status, underpaid for work of equal value. We’ve got…. I mean, I’ve already raised the points and the concerns that I have with respect to the fact that I don’t believe that this legislation goes far enough, and now what we have is rather vague.

I understand why these are in lots of the bills that we put. But until there’s, I think, an example of what it is that might be exempted…. Basically, what we’re doing here is saying that we’re going to continue to perpetuate…. We’re creating pay transparency legislation. We’re going to continue to perpetuate a scenario in which it’s acceptable for employers to make an argument that….

There might be a perfectly good example of this, and that’s what I’m looking for here. What is the perfectly good example where, in 2023, it’s acceptable for a class of employers to come up and say: “You know what? We’re going to continue to hide the payment, the compensation that we pay for different employees”?

What I’m seeking from the minister is an example. Otherwise, to me, it seems like we should be making sure that all classes of employers are required to follow this to ensure that there isn’t disparity and inequity in our society.

Hon. K. Conroy:
Again, the ministry doesn’t anticipate the need to grant any exceptions. It just allows an opportunity for the discussion to happen if it is requested.

A. Olsen:
Can the minister outline what that discussion would look like and what the decision-making process would be in order to draft a regulation? What parameters would be considered, and what level of transparency would there be for the public — which is, ultimately, who this is for — to ensure that the inequities that are in our society don’t continue to persist? There’s been no clarity on what the decision-making process of this is. It’s just a completely blank canvas.

Hon. K. Conroy:
That’s a process that will be developed through regulations.

A. Olsen:
I’m going to move on. I’m not going to get any more clarity on this, it seems.

I’m wondering if I heard correctly early on in the questions from the member from the official opposition asking about compliance and enforcement of this. Just to be clear, there is no enforcement or penalties for not complying with this clause in this bill. Is that correct?

Hon. K. Conroy:
This is part of the legislation, and we are taking an approach of positive enforcement and education.

A. Olsen:
Positive enforcement meaning what? What would examples of positive enforcement look like?

Hon. K. Conroy:
The director will be responsible for providing support to employers to meet their obligations under the act. The support will include providing information on the act through the website information as well as responding to employer information. If they’re contacted, they’ll be providing the information to the employers.

A. Olsen:
I’m just going to read this into the record, and then we can move on. I just want to go back to the morning sitting of March 22, 2001, when Graeme Bowbrick tabled the former version of legislation brought in by the former B.C. NDP government.

“For those who say that legislation isn’t required and that pay equity can be achieved voluntarily, I guess the question is: how much longer will it take? Are there any estimates? Do those who argue for a voluntary approach have an answer for the women of this province? Can they go out to those women and say: `Hold on. Legislation isn’t required because we estimate, at the current rate, that in ten years there’ll be pay equity in this province’? I haven’t heard that. If that can be added to this debate, I think it would be a useful thing.”

Clause 2 approved.

On clause 3.

A. Olsen:
As it’s turning out, there are no real enforcements. What happens if a reminded employer continues to ignore the reminders?

Hon. K. Conroy:
Again, this is a first step. This will be a process of education, public education, making sure that we can bring employers along who will happily want to engage in this process.

There have been discussions and consultations had with small, medium and large employers. We’re starting with the biggest employers and the Crown agencies to make sure that we’re moving this in the right direction.

It’s a first step. We want to make sure that this is done right. We want to make sure that there’s due diligence done when we’re developing the regulations, that we’re having those conversations with employers, with employees, and the reports will be public every year. The reports would be publicly posted so that people can see.

I think employers will use this as an opportunity to attract employees to their worksites.

A. Olsen:
I find that kind of an interesting argument to use to defend the first step, that this is going to be a tool that employers are going to use to attract.

Employers that are already operating on the equity ethic are already paying their employees equal pay for equal work. That’s already happening, and they will already be able to be doing that. It doesn’t need pay transparency legislation in order for the employers who are operating from this ethic already to be able to….

Other than maybe a report at the end of the year to show it, without any enforcement of this, this bill is for those that are not. I agree that this is one extremely modest step. This is simply saying: “Make a report, and then, if you’re not in compliance, we’ll give you a call. If you’re not in compliance, we’ll give you another call.”

There’s nothing in here that requires their…. It’s required to be transparent, but there are no enforcement mechanisms in this, just phone calls.

Hon. K. Conroy:
This is the first step. It has been proven to work in other jurisdictions, and there’s reputational risk for employers that don’t comply.

Clause 3 approved.

On clause 4.

A. Olsen:
Why wouldn’t this be a good opportunity to use the “unless exempted by regulation” type of clause and give the opportunity for some kind of a penalty to be put in place through regulation if we see this being exploited?

Hon. K. Conroy:
As I’ve been saying, this is the first step with this legislation, and we are going to continue to consult with employers and have input from employees as the four stages are rolled out with the various-sized employers.

A. Olsen:
On clause 4, I just want to ask a similar question that I’ve asked. If those who are not meeting the obligations under this act fail to meet the obligations under this act and continue to fail to meet the obligations under this act, there’s no penalty for them to do that? That includes if an employer knowingly disadvantages an employee who speaks out and asks about pay wages and pay transparency reports. There are no mechanisms to enforce this legislation. Is that correct?

Hon. K. Conroy:
Again, this is a first step. The employees can make sure that their complaints are heard with the director of wage transparency. The wage transparency director, or the unit, will reach out to employers and ensure that they are following their obligations under this legislation.

A. Olsen:
If the employers continue to not follow their obligations under this legislation, what recourse does that director have to seek compliance?

Hon. K. Conroy:
There will be an annual report by the director where they will publicly report their findings of any complaints that they have received, and there will be a formal review of the act within five years to determine its effectiveness and if there are changes that need to be made.

Clause 4 approved.

On clause 5.

A. Olsen:
Looking at clause 5, I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise to the minister that my feeling with respect to the reporting mechanism that’s been put in place here in this legislation is it simply doesn’t go far enough.

With that, I’m going to propose an amendment to clause 5 and add subsection (2).

[CLAUSE 5, by renumbering the proposed clause 5 as clause 5 (1) and by adding the following subsection:
(2) If the pay transparency report of a reporting employer in a year demonstrates pay gaps for any group larger than the provincial average, the employer must
(a) prepare a plan for addressing and eliminating the identified pay gaps, and
(b) submit the plan to the minister, on or before November 1 of the year.]

On the amendment.

A. Olsen:
Simply submitting a report will do little to change employer pay traditions. Therefore, it’s important to require that the employer’s actions change, something that I’ve been repeating, I think, with each section that I’ve spoken to. If an employer has pay gaps for any groups larger than exists as the provincial average, a plan for eliminating this gap will be submitted to the government under this amendment.

The Chair:
Thank you, Member. We’ll just take a quick look at the amendment to consider if it is in order, and then we will ensure it gets out to all members if it is, indeed, in order.

Thank you, Members. The Chair agrees that this motion is in order, and we will ensure that it gets out to all members for their consideration. We’re going to take a brief recess so that we can consider that amendment and get this to everybody so that they can discuss it.

The committee will be in recess until we can get it out to everyone.

The Chair:
All right, Members. I’d like to call the committee back to order. Of course, we are now considering a proposed amendment moved by the member for Saanich North and the Islands.

Are there any speakers to this proposed amendment, aside from the mover?

Seeing no further speakers, I guess we’ll call the vote on the proposed amendment.

Amendment negatived on division.

The Chair:
Thank you, Members. We are back to clause 5.

A. Olsen:
I can imagine that the response that my amendment would have got from the government would be something along the lines of it being incrementalism at its finest, decades in the making. This is just a modest step forward, an initial step forward from a place that, frankly, this provincial government was standing in two decades ago.

I just want to read something into the record here at this point, from the Hon. Joan Smallwood, going back to April 10, 2001.

“I’d like to speak briefly about the history of the journey women have undertaken, both in this province and much further afield, to get us to this point in history, and I’d like to frame that on the comments from the member for Richmond-Steveston, who says that this is a goofball idea. It’s pretty clear that dinosaurs way back in 1915 were raising the same kind of concerns, and I would be surprised if they were not using the same language. While it has been a long journey, there have been some improvements. But it’s very clear that there has to be the political will to bring about the real changes that women need to be able to stand as equals in our society.

“Back in 1915 Helena Gutteridge convinced the Vancouver Labour Council that they should include in their constitution a reference to equal pay for work of equal value. Helena continued to work and in 1919 brought women in labour together with women’s groups. That culminated in the very first minimum wage act in British Columbia.”

This has been a long, long journey, one that…. The pace of incrementalism that we’re dealing with on this, the idea that we can’t amend this legislation to include stronger reporting requirements, to include any kind of enforcement whatsoever in this legislation…. That’s not included in the incrementalism.

Evelyn Gillespie said: “The undervaluation of women’s work has gone on so long that it seems as if it is a truism.” That’s what it feels like in here today. We’re protecting some kind of truism. She continues: “It reminds me of that saying that if you tell a lie long enough, it starts to become the truth. At this point in the game, who would be willing to eliminate a good and dependable pool of cheap labour?”

Where does that leave us? It leaves us…. It leaves government with the obligation to act.

This is not new legislation. Our friends at the federal level have introduced pay equity legislation. Ontario has introduced pay equity legislation. Quebec has introduced pay equity legislation which covers both the public and the private sectors. There’s a lot to learn from those provinces in the same country.

What’s the excuse not to act? Well, there is no excuse. It’s time to act. It’s time to correct the wrongs of the past. Just give women what belongs to them and what’s rightfully theirs.

The fact that this amendment failed…. It simply increases reporting requirements and requires businesses, if they are not able to achieve the pay transparency which is required under this act, to put in place a plan to move it forward. It’s inexplicable to me (a) that there was not even a response and (b) that it was not even given consideration by this government.


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