In 1987, the Ontario government passed The Pay Equity Act, the first legislation in Canada providing for equal pay for work of equal value. This law followed ten years of extensive organizing and advocacy by the Equal Pay Coalition of Ontario. The Coalition was formed in 1976 by feminists active in women’s organizations and trade unions.
The new Ontario law addressed systemic gender discrimination in compensation by requiring employers to value and compare jobs usually done by women to those usually done by men based on the objective factors of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. The compensation received by those in a female job class had to be at least equal to what someone in a male job class of equal or comparable value was being paid. Ontario’s Pay Equity Act also established the Pay Equity Commission, which includes both the Pay Equity Office and the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal.
Over the years, the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition has continued its work on ending the gender pay gap. In 2016, Mary Cornish, Chair of the Equal Pay Coalition for many years, was named to the Order of Canada for her advocacy work.