Productive meeting with Federal Pay Equity Commissioner Karen Jensen
On December 11, 2019, I met with Canada’s first Federal Pay Equity Commissioner, Karen Jensen. She was appointed in September 2019 and is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the new Pay Equity Act, which:
“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.”(*)
During our meeting, I emphasized the need for ongoing consultation with all bargaining agents representing federal employees, to ensure the development of appropriate regulations that will effectively support the intent of the Act. The Commissioner seemed very interested in finding ways to engage unions, government and employers around the issue. In this regard, we discussed the best ways to support her work.
I also believe that pay equity plans should be coherent for all public service and federally-regulated sectors of the economy, to avoid a range of applications and interpretations across individual industries or departments. This is particularly important given that thousands of women who will benefit from this legislation are currently working in non-unionised workplaces (for example, in the banking sector).
Pay equity is a fundamental right for all Canadians, so I hope that the Commissioner will show strong leadership on this issue, and use her position to raise awareness of the new law and the responsibilities of both unions and employers.
I look forward to an enduring dialogue with the Commissioner, and I will report back to our members on a regular basis as more information becomes available.
(*) Employment and Social Development Canada news release, September 10, 2019