In November 2001, West Coast LEAF Association, then the British Columbia branch of LEAF, provided a submission to the Task Force on Pay Equity.

This submission to the Task Force on Pay Equity discussed the fundamental reasons why the British Columbia government has an obligation to promote equal pay for work of equal value, particularly in light of Canada’s international obligations under International Labour Organization Convention No. 100 and the Beijing Declaration, adopted by Canada as one of the members of the United Nations in 1995.

Equal pay for work of equal value was the first internationally recognized legal human right – by the International Labour Organization in 1919. Pay equity can be implemented through legislation, litigation or collective bargaining. Ultimately, legislation is broader in scope and less expensive than either of the other two options.

The submission first outlines a number of concepts fundamental to a discussion of the issue of pay equity. The next section briefly outlines the two of Canada’s essential international obligations with regard to women and employment. The third section addresses the only current legislative response to pay equity in B.C. – the B.C. Human Rights Code (“HRC”). The final section encapsulates West Coast LEAF’s main concerns and recommendations with respect to the implementation of a pay equity scheme in British Columbia.

The submission recommends:

  1. The government of British Columbia should make an immediate commitment to Canada’s international obligations regarding pay equity.
  2. The crucial concept of “equal pay for work of equal value” should be incorporated into any legislation that the government enacts. Any such legislative response should not be complaint driven but proactive, with positive obligations placed on employers to ensure pay equity. Pay equity legislation should apply to all workplaces in the province, both
    public and private regardless of the size of the establishment for which a person works.
  3. The government of British Columbia should immediately acknowledge that equal pay for work of equal value is a fundamental right of the women of British Columbia and – in light of this government’s commitment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – it is committed to finding a results-based program to ensure that this right is fulfilled in a
    timely manner.

Download the submission below.