Province must fund child care to tackle gender wage gap, report says

Toronto Star

Ontario must immediately commit to an affordable and publicly funded child-care system if it hopes to eliminate the significant pay gap between men and women, a government-commissioned report says.

The recommendations on reducing wage inequity call for urgent investment in both child care and elder care, arguing that “insufficient options” often force women to shoulder unpaid caregiving roles — sometimes at the expense of paid work.

“While the statistics and the research demonstrate clearly the many barriers to pay equity, what resonated the most was hearing individual stories of the difficulties of coping with multiple jobs, juggling family responsibilities and not realizing a return on their investment in education,” said Emanuela Heyninck, who sat on the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee and is head of the province’s Pay Equity Office.

On average, women’s annual earnings in Ontario are 29 per cent lower than men’s. In 2014, Premier Kathleen Wynne directed the Ministry of Labour to tackle that disparity — and the committee’s report serves as the blueprint for change.

Its top recommendation is immediate investment in child care, suggesting that committing 1 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product to child-care spending as a “useful” benchmark. Currently, Ontario spends 0.6 per cent of GDP on early childhood education, while Quebec dedicates double that amount to its subsidized child-care program that caps daily fees at $20 a day.

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