The Government of Ontario has introduced legislation that seeks to establish disclosure of compensation of employees and prospective employees. Bill 203, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018, was introduced on March 6, 2018, with the goal of addressing the continuing wage gap between male and female workers in the province. The Bill is in addition to existing obligations under the Pay Equity Act.

The proposed legislation will initially apply to government public service positions, followed by gradual application upon Ontario’s larger private employers. Bill 203 will:

  • Require public job advertisements and recruitment to include a salary rate or range;
  • Prohibit employers from requesting a job applicant’s compensation history;
  • Require certain employers to prepare a “pay transparency report” containing information regarding the employer’s workforce composition and differences in compensation relating to gender and other characteristics. The report would have to be submitted to the Ministry and be posted either online or in at least one conspicuous place in every workplace of the employer for the employees’ attention;
  • Include anti-reprisal measures, to prohibit intimidation or penalizing an employee because the employee has made inquiries about their compensation or disclosed their compensation to another employee, or about a pay transparency report.
  • Any complaints regarding allegations of reprisal could be referred to binding arbitration or to the Ontario Labour Relations Board
  • The Ministry would be entitled to publish or make available to the public the name of companies who have contravened the legislation.

The Bill responds to data demonstrating that women earn approximately 30% less than men, a statistic that has remained static for a decade. It is unclear how Bill 203 will affect those who work in smaller businesses (less than 250 employees), where such disclosure is not yet expected to be required under the proposed legislation.

Bill 203 has passed first reading, but may not be subject to any further debate or committee hearings prior to the legislature being prorogued for the June provincial election. Should the Liberals be re-elected, however, it is likely that the legislation would be reintroduced during the next Ontario Parliament.