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Pay equity: a story of tradition

In Quebec, women historically stayed home to care for their family, and men worked to provide for them. Then, as women began to enter the workforce, the salaries they were paid were considered as secondary income and it was socially acceptable for this income to be lower than that earned by men. Women usually worked in the service sector, where wages are generally lower, since they were entering a labour market already occupied by men. As well, some occupations or professions called for skills that were seen as inherently female (listening, attention to detail, diplomacy, etc.) and when determining wages, these personal qualities were not taken into account

Pay equity is not a “feminist issue” per se. It is a way of righting a wrong that was overlooked in the past.

The Pay Equity Act, which came into effect in 1997, is aimed at redressing the automatic discrimination with regard jobs that are traditionally or predominantly done by women. Its goal is to rectify the wage gap between employees at the same company who hold positions in categories dominated by women.

The positions must be compared and evaluated on the basis on four factors:

- qualifications (education, experience);
- responsibilities;
- effort required (mental and physical);
- working conditions.

This evaluation gives a better understanding of the jobs within a company and to compensate employees for the fair value of the work they perform and recognize their contribution. AGF is one of 10,000 companies that must comply with this and update its job categories on an annual basis.

Do you know the difference between pay equity, equal pay and employment equity? The difference is simple but not always easy to explain.

Pay equity: equivalent value

Pay equity means an equal salary is paid for work of equal of equivalent value. It is a question of recognizing the value of jobs held traditionally or predominantly by women.
For example: We could compare the salary of a secretary with that of a technician. If their respective work is of equal value, then they must receive equal pay.

Equal pay: a relationship of equals

Equal pay means when two people are doing the same job, they are paid the same salary. Its goal is to allow a relationship of equals between men and women who work in the same field.
For example: A male and a female nurse must be paid the same salary.

Employment equity: eliminating discrimination

Employment equity is aimed at guaranteeing a representative labour force in which no one is refused access to employment if he or she has the capabilities required to do the job. Employment equity is aimed at eliminating discrimination against members of designated groups such as the First Nations, visibility minorities, the disabled and women.