Supreme Court deems Quebec pay equity law unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Quebec’s pay equity law is unconstitutional.

The top court looked at two cases centred on women’s access to equal pay, based on Quebec’s pay equity legislation

In one case — Quebec (Attorney General) vs. Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la sante et des services sociaux — the Supreme Court dismissed the Quebec government’s appeal, finding that Quebec’s pay equity law was unconstitutional.

The law was intended to remove the pay gap between men and women by requiring employers with 10 or more employers to implement pay equity, but the Supreme Court has found that the law, passed in 1996 and amended by the provincial Liberals in 2009, violates the Charter.

The 2009 amendment made it so employers had to review what they pay employees every five years, but workers unions and women’s organizations argued that the changes to the law lead to delaying equal pay between the five year audit periods, and therefore ongoing pay discrimination against women.

The Court found that that delay violated women’s equal rights and placed the burden on women, for their employers’ non-compliance.

In the second case — Centrale des syndicats du Quebec vs. Quebec (Attorney General) — the Court found that the law was discriminatory, as it delayed pay equity for women in female-dominated workplaces.

The Canadian government has pledged to bring forward its own version of pay equity legislation for federally-regulated workplaces by the end of 2018.

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