The province has tabled a new bill pledging to reduce the gender pay gap in B.C. – but not everyone agrees it is taking the issue far enough.
Finance Minister Katrine Conroy said the tabled gender-pay transparency legislation will address what she called “systemic discrimination” in the workplace by requiring all public, private and non-profit employers with 50 or more employees to post pay transparency reports by Nov. 1, 2026.
The provincial government says it will phase in the reporting requirement. Starting Nov. 1, provincial public service agencies and Crown corporations with more than 1,000 employees will be required to issue reports. Meanwhile, all private employers with 1,000 employees or more will have to start reporting on Nov. 1, 2024, and all employers with 300 employees or more will have to start reporting Nov. 1, 2025.
The ministry of finance will publish an annual report that will serve as centralized reporting of gender pay in British Columbia each year on June 1 under the new legislation.
The bill is also prohibiting other practices that contribute to the gender-pay gap, Conroy said.
Beginning in November, all employers must include pay or pay range information on their public job postings, making B.C. one of the first Canadian province to implement this requirement.
“Employers will also no longer be permitted to ask job applicants for their pay history when negotiating salaries, or punish employees who disclose what they earn to their co-workers,” she said.
According to Statistics Canada, women in B.C. earned 17 per cent less than men in 2022. Average hourly wages for men were $35.50 while women earned an average of $29.53.
The bill was brought forward Tuesday (March 7), one day before International Women’s Day and comes after 128 individuals and organizations signed a letter addressed to Premier David Eby and several ministers to legislate pay equity and close the gender gap.
The provincial bill does not directly address that request. Critics of the government have already lamented that pay transparency legislation does not go far enough.
“British Columbia needs an intersectional Pay Equity Act that enshrines in law the responsibility of all employers to identify and close gaps in pay for work of equal value,” it reads.
The letter acknowledges the role of pay transparency legislation in promoting equity, but finds it insufficient. “(Your) legislation will take no direct action to protect and advance the right to equitable pay,” it reads.
“Instead, it will continue to tacitly place the burden on women and other equity-deserving groups to contend with their employers for basic fairness.”