Government of Canada appoints Canada’s first federal Pay Equity Commissioner

News release

September 10, 2019              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

When Canadians can count on equal pay for work of equal value, our economy grows stronger, families prosper and communities thrive. That is why the Government of Canada introduced and passed proactive pay equity legislation for the federal jurisdiction.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced the appointment of Karen Jensen as Canada’s first-ever federal Pay Equity Commissioner. Ms. Jensen will provide leadership and direction for the administration and enforcement of the new Pay Equity Act.

As Canada’s Pay Equity Commissioner, Ms. Jensen will play both education and enforcement roles with regard to the new legislation, which sets out clear steps for employers to proactively achieve pay equity in their workplace. Working within the Canadian Human Rights Commission and supported by a unit of subject-matter experts, she will be responsible for assisting individuals in understanding their rights and obligations under the Act and facilitating the resolution of disputes related to pay equity.

Ms. Jensen will have dedicated funding and a range of compliance and enforcement tools, including the power to initiate audits, conduct investigations and issue orders and administrative monetary penalties.

Ms. Jensen is an experienced litigator who has represented clients in human rights, constitutional, administrative and employment/labour law matters for over 25 years. She represents clients in both official languages before the courts and tribunals.

As the Pay Equity Act is expected to come into force in 2020, and given the significant amount of work required to establish the new Pay Equity Division, she will be appointed to the Canadian Human Rights Commission effective October 16, 2019 for a term that will end September 30, 2020 or the day of the legislation coming into force.


“Proactive pay equity isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do, because when people are treated fairly and given an equal opportunity to succeed, we all win. As Canada’s first federal Pay Equity Commissioner, Karen Jensen will play a key role in advancing gender equality in this country by ensuring that the Pay Equity Act is applied fairly and effectively in our federal workplaces.
–The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Quick facts

  • The Pay Equity Act (An Act to Establish a Proactive Pay Equity Regime within the Federal Public and Private Sectors) creates a proactive pay equity regime that will ensure that women and men working in federally regulated workplaces, including the federal public and private sectors, parliamentary workplaces and the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ offices, receive equal pay for work of equal value. Introduced on October 28, 2018, the legislation received Royal assent on December 13, 2018 and is expected to come into force in 2020.

  • The Pay Equity Act will reduce the portion of the gender wage gap in federally regulated workplaces that is due to the undervaluation of work traditionally performed by women.

  • The Government is committed to open, transparent and merit-based processes for selecting Governor in Council (GIC) appointees. GIC appointees play a fundamental role in our democracy as they serve on commissions, boards, Crown corporations, agencies and tribunals across the country.

Associated links


For media enquiries, please contact:
Véronique Simard
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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