A pay-equity motion by Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson passed Wednesday, Feb. 3, in the House of Commons.
The motion demanded government action to close the gap in pay between men and women. It’s an issue Malcolmson said wasn’t on the government’s agenda.
“It did not appear in the Liberal election platform and it didn’t appear in any of the mandate letters to any of the ministers, despite the prime minister’s avowed commitment to feminism and gender equality,” Malcolmson said.
“So we saw that we really would need to act early to get this on the parliamentary agenda and that’s just what happened … We’re delighted with the support.”
Liberal minister Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board, responded positively to Malcolmson’s motion.
“Even the Conservatives sounded like they wanted to find a way to vote in favour of this, but in the end they voted against,” Malcolmson said.
“I think there’s a broad intent across all parties that we actually move on legislating pay equity at the federal level and it’s long overdue.”
Her motion calls on the government to recognize pay equity as a right and strike a committee to set about adopting it across the public sector.
Already in Canada, various businesses, school boards and public unions have pay-equity models and there are varying provincial strategies. It’s patchwork, said Malcolmson, which is why a national framework is needed.
She said legislation would affect not only government employees, but also areas of the private sector that are federally regulated such as banks, telecommunications companies and airports.
The first steps will be to form the committee, which will then set its own terms of reference.
Malcolmson expects to put her name forward, but mostly she hopes the work will start soon, “because there’s all this great momentum and goodwill.”