Pay Equity

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The Pay Equity Act was passed by Parliament and received royal assent on December 13, 2018. The act came into force on August 31, 2021.

The purpose of the act is to achieve pay equity for employees in jobs that are commonly held by women by addressing gender-based discrimination in the pay practices and systems of employers.

The Government of Canada is committed to creating an inclusive public service where women receive equal pay for work of equal value.

Why we are developing pay equity plans

Historically, work predominantly done by women has been under-compensated in Canada.

The purpose of a pay equity plan is to identify gaps between the compensation of jobs held mostly by women and those held mostly by men that involve work of equal value.

Developing pay equity plans will close pay gaps by increasing compensation for employees who occupy positions in predominantly female job classes.

The act affects approximately 4,600 employers and 1.3 million employees across Canada.

As the employer, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), in conjunction with bargaining agents and non-unionized representatives, is developing 2 pay equity plans:

  1. a plan that encompasses employees in the core public administration (CPA)
  2. a plan that covers members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Separate agencies and federal sector employers must develop their own pay equity plans.

Implementing pay equity

The Pay Equity Act defines a process to develop pay equity plans that all employers must follow. Plans must be developed within 3 years of the coming into force of the act on August 31, 2021. However, employers can apply to the Pay Equity Commissioner for an extension if they believe they need more time.

The process to develop a pay equity plan includes a series of steps that must be agreed on at a pay equity committee with representatives from the employer, the bargaining agents and non-unionized employees. These steps include:

  • identifying the job classes of positions in the workplace
  • determining whether the job classes are predominantly female or male
  • determining the value of the work performed in each predominantly female and male job class
  • comparing the compensation of each predominantly female job classes with predominantly male job classes that involve work of equal or comparable value
  • identifying the wage gaps to ensure that female predominant job classes receive equal pay for work of equal or comparable value

Given the diverse and complex roles of female and male predominant jobs in the core public administration that must be assessed, the pay equity committees will need to work collaboratively in the spirit of the act to uphold the right to equal pay for work of equal value.

With a population of over 250,000 federal public servants, TBS is the largest employer subject to the act, as well as the largest employer in the country. Given the size and scope of the CPA, this brings a high level of complexity to this important exercise.

Roles and responsibilities

The Pay Equity Commissioner

  • administers the Pay Equity Act
  • provides tools and guidance to employers, employees and their representatives
  • resolves disputes
  • ensures compliance with the act

The employer

  • develops a pay equity plan in conjunction with bargaining agents and non-unionized representatives
  • posts a pay equity plan within 3 years
  • pays any increases in compensation
  • reports through annual statements
  • updates the pay equity plan at least every 5 years

The non-unionized representatives

  • represent the interests of all non-unionized employees that fall under the CPA and RCMP plans on their respective pay equity committees. Under the act, non-unionized employees must select their representative to the pay equity committee

The pay equity committee

  • is composed of representatives from the employer, the bargaining agents and non-unionized representatives
  • is responsible for the development of a pay equity plan for the employees in their respective workplaces
  • strives to make decisions by coming to a consensus at each step in the pay equity process
  • makes sure that the process and results are legitimate in the eyes of employees
  • ensures that decisions are based on knowledge of the jobs to reduce the risk of errors and discrimination

The bargaining agents

  • work in conjunction with the employer and non-unionized representatives to develop the pay equity plans as part of the pay equity committee work
  • provide all the relevant information they have (such as job information) to help the committee complete the pay equity plan
  • select a representative to sit on the workplace’s pay equity committee. The following bargaining agents are represented:
    • CPA
      • Association of Canadian Financial Officers
      • Association of Justice Counsel
      • Canadian Air Traffic Control Association Unifor Local 5454
      • Canadian Association of Professional Employees
      • Canadian Federal Pilots Association
      • Canadian Merchant Service Guild
      • Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association
      • Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 104
      • Federal Government Dockyard Chargehands Association
      • Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (East)
      • Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (Esquimalt)
      • Local 2228 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
      • Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers
      • Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
      • Public Service Alliance of Canada
      • Unifor Local 2182
      • Union of Canadian Correctional Officers
    • RCMP
      • Canadian Association of Professional Employees
      • Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 104
      • National Police Federation
      • Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
      • Public Service Alliance of Canada

Key milestones

TBS, along with the 17 bargaining agents that represent employees within the CPA and representatives of non-unionized employees, continues to move forward steadily on the important work of establishing a pay equity plan for the CPA. The RCMP, with their 5 bargaining agents and TBS, also continues to work toward a pay equity plan for members of the RCMP.

January 2024

  • The Request for Proposal for job evaluation services closes.
  • The RCMP pay equity committee meets, continuing the discussion on the determination of gender predominance for job classes within the RCMP.
  • The CPA pay equity committee meets with discussion focused on identifying job classes for the CPA.

December 2023

  • A Request for Proposal is posted on CanadaBuys for the procurement of job evaluation services to support the implementation of pay equity for the CPA and the RCMP.
  • The RCMP and CPA pay equity committees meet, respectively, to continue discussions on the development of the pay equity plans.

November 2023

  • Industry Engagement Activity sessions take place for the CPA pay equity committee in response to the Request for Information that was posted on CanadaBuys in August 2023.
  • The Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner meets with the CPA pay equity committee.
  • The Pay Equity Commissioner authorizes a different pay equity committee composition for the RCMP members’ plan.

October 2023

  • Representatives of non-unionized employees are elected for the CPA pay equity committee.
  • Industry Engagement Activity sessions take place for the RCMP pay equity committee in response to the Request for Information that was posted on CanadaBuys in August 2023.

September 2023

  • Initial meeting of the CPA pay equity committee is held. Meetings of the RCMP committee continue.

August 2023

  • A Request for Information is posted on CanadaBuys for the procurement of job evaluation services to support the implementation of pay equity for the CPA and the RCMP.
  • A list of candidates to represent non-unionized employees on the CPA pay equity committee is prepared.

July 2023

  • Initial meeting of RCMP pay equity committee is held.

June 2023

May 2023

  • Presentations are made to the Multilateral Working Group, composed of bargaining agents representing CPA and RCMP employees, on the value of work assessment approaches and procurement options. Draft Statements of Work that support the procurement process are shared with this group for feedback.

March 2023

  • TBS, on behalf of Treasury Board as the employer, files its reply to the Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner about the workplace parties’ submissions.

February 2023

  • Select representatives for bargaining agents and non-unionized employees file written submissions to the Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner about TBS’s application for multiple plans.

December 2022

  • The Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner holds a case conference with workplace parties about TBS’s application for multiple plans.

September 2022

  • The Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner surveys non-unionized employees in the CPA to determine which non-unionized employees want to be a party to TBS’s application for multiple plans.

June 2022

  • TBS, on behalf of Treasury Board as the employer, applies to the federal Pay Equity Commissioner to establish 3 separate pay equity plans for the CPA.

March–April 2022

  • Pay equity consultations take place with workforce parties, including all bargaining agents representing CPA employees and non-unionized employees.

October 2021

August 31, 2021

  • The Pay Equity Act comes into force.

February 2021

  • First multilateral meeting of the TBS-bargaining agent early engagement working group.

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