On May 28, 2009, the Act to amend the Pay Equity Act[1] came into force. The Pay Equity Act, which was passed in 1996, was intended to correct wage discrepancies resulting from systemic gender-based discrimination in predominantly female job categories.

Ten years after that Act came into force, the Ministry of Labour reported that one out of every two enterprises had not yet completed or even begun its pay equity exercise. To correct this situation, the Act to amend the Pay Equity Act was adopted. The main amendments made to the Pay Equity Act are:

  • Making all enterprises with an average of 10 or more employees in the calendar year subject to the Pay Equity Act, thus rendering 10,500 enterprises not formerly subject to that Act accountable (these enterprises will have a period of four years to complete their first pay equity exercise)
  • An obligation for accountable enterprises to complete the first pay equity exercise by December 31, 2010, if not already completed
  • An obligation for employers to complete a periodic audit of ongoing equity every five years
  • An increase in the annual budget of the Commission de l’équité salariale to provide better support to employees and enterprises

The adoption of the Act to amend the Pay Equity Act came after extensive hearings by a Parliamentary Commission in February 2008 that demonstrated the need for those amendments.