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Private-Sector Experience with Pay Equity in Ontario


  • Judith A. McDonald
  • Robert J. Thornton


Since 1988 Ontario has had the most comprehensive comparable-worth or "pay-equity" policy in North America, if not the world. Ontario's Pay Equity Act is proactive rather than merely complaints-based and covers nearly all employers in the private as well as public sectors. In this paper we analyze the Ontario pay-equity policy and its experience to date. After reviewing the findings of several surveys sponsored by the Ontario Pay Equity Commission, we present the results of our own detailed survey of 27 Toronto firms in which we concentrated on their experiences implementing pay equity. Overall, we find that both the magnitude and the scope of pay-equity adjustments to date have been rather modest. However, most firms reported that pay equity was a significant administrative burden and generated major difficulties and complaints with the process of job evaluation. In addition, we discovered evidence of a fair amount of noncompliance with and manipulation of the requirements of the act.

Suggested Citation

  • Judith A. McDonald & Robert J. Thornton, 1998. "Private-Sector Experience with Pay Equity in Ontario," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 24(2), pages 185-208, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:24:y:1998:i:2:p:185-208

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcotte, M., 1987. "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value," Papers 10, Queen's at Kingston - Sch. of Indus. Relat. Research Essay Series.
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    Cited by:

    1. Morley Gunderson, 2002. "The Evolution and Mechanics of Pay Equity in Ontario," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 117-131, May.
    2. Michael Baker & Nicole M. Fortin, 2000. "Does Comparable Worth Work in a Decentralized Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 7937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chicha, Marie-Thérèse., 2006. "Analyse comparative de la mise en oeuvre du droit à l'égalité de rémunération : modèles et impacts," ILO Working Papers 993920333402676, International Labour Organization.
    4. repec:ilo:ilowps:392033 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Mark Cassidy & Eric Strobl & Robert Thornton, 2002. "Gender Pay Differentials and Equality Legislation in the Republic of Ireland," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 149-169, May.
    6. Nan Weiner, 2002. "Effective Redress of Pay Inequities," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 101-115, May.
    7. Morley Gunderson & Paul Lanoie, 2002. "Program-Evaluation Criteria Applied to Pay Equity in Ontario," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 133-148, May.

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