Thanks, Madam Chair.
Good morning. It's fantastic to see each and every one of you. I want to begin by thanking you for the work you are doing.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging that I am participating from the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe people, within the territory covered by the Upper Canada treaties as well as the Dish With One Spoon wampum agreement.
Madam Chair and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to appear today to speak about the progress we are making with respect to the implementation of the Pay Equity Act.
As you know, we introduced the Pay Equity Act as part of Bill C-86 in 2018.
The act represents a big step forward in our efforts to address the portion of the gender wage gap that is due to the undervaluation of women's work. Since it received royal assent in December 2018, we have been working hard to implement it.
As part of this process, we are developing the supporting regulations required to bring the act into force.
The draft pay equity regulations were pre-published in part I of the Canada Gazette in November 2020 for a 60-day comment period. The typical comment period is 30 days. The government opted to extend the comment period so that stakeholders had ample time, given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, to review the proposed regulations and to submit their feedback.
Pay equity is a legacy we will leave to future generations. We are being very careful to get it right.
Stakeholders were keen to provide comments on the proposed regulations. In fact, we received over 30 submissions from employers, unions, advocacy groups and individuals. At this time, we are carefully considering all the comments received in order to finalize the regulations. We should be seeing the new proactive pay equity regime come into force later this year.
Once it is in force, an employer will have three years to develop a pay equity plan and determine if employees are owed pay increases. This means that pay equity plans would be in place in 2024 in workplaces that become subject to the act the day it comes into force. Employees would immediately be owed any increases in compensation at that time as well.
I understand that at first glance three years may seem like a long time; however, I want to make a couple of points on this.
First and foremost, let us note that Canada is taking a leadership role in implementing this legislation. We firmly believe that this transformational legislation is the right thing to do as well as the smart thing to do.
Second, we must appreciate that this requires employers to understand assessments and compare the value of work, which includes factors such as skills, effort, responsibility and work conditions. This cannot be done overnight. This takes time if we want to get it right.
Third, given the current circumstances that we are in the midst of a pandemic, and businesses are shifting resources and priorities to address pressing needs, a little bit more time is required for them to adapt to the new requirements. This time will enable employers to establish their plans and put in the required time to get this right and to implement pay equity properly.
Moving forward with pay equity is a key priority for the Government of Canada. Pay equity is a significant change in how people are compensated for their work, and we all know that it's long overdue. The Pay Equity Act will help reduce the gender wage gap and bring our country a step closer to gender equality. However, achieving pay equity is a complex issue, and we must take the necessary steps to get it right.
I can assure you that while Canada continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, pay equity is a priority and a foundation stone for building back better. We are working together to create an economy where everyone can fulfill their full potential. Workers, employers and the Canadian economy will all benefit when women are paid for the full value of their work.
It would be my pleasure to answer any questions the committee may have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.