Gender wage gap smaller in public sector than private sector: Report

More work needs to be done to close the wage gap, says CCPA

Gender wage gap smaller in public sector than private sector: Report

The public sector is further along compared to the private sector when it comes to closing the gender wage gap, according to a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Overall, women in the private sector are earning far less compared to men in both sectors, and even compared to women in the public sector, judging by data from 2023.

Men in the private sector are paid 9.7% more than women there, according to the report.

In the public sector, men earn 9.3% more and women earn 4.2% more compared to women in the private sector.

Also, women working in the public sector made 4.2% more than women with similar characteristics who are working in the private sector.

Source: CCPA

Women with children in the private sector are also earning far less compared with women in the public sector, and men in both sectors.

Source: CCPA

Immigrants are also on the short end of the wage gap, according to the CCPA report.

Compared to non-immigrants in the private sector, immigrants who came to Canada less than 10 years ago receive 7.9% less in pay in the public sector, and 3.1% less in pay in the private sector. 

Non-immigrants in the public sector earn 1.8% more than non-immigrants in the private sector.

Workers with disabilities are also generally paid less compared with those without disabilities, according to a report from Statistics Canada (StatCan).

Wage gaps: Public vs private sector

The public sector is showing the way for the private sector when it comes to addressing wage gaps, note David Macdonald, CCPA senior economist and author of the report titled How the public sector is fighting income inequality (and why it's still not enough).

“The public sector hasn’t erased discrimination and ensured gender equality, but it performs better on this measure than the private sector. While there is still work to be done to eliminate the gender pay gap, the public sector is further along than the private sector, where the pay gap is twice as big as the public sector,” he said in the report.

“So certainly, if we look at the data, I think there’s a good argument that the private sector should look to the public sector for how they could reduce income inequality,” Macdonald said in a Global News report.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done to close wage gaps, said Macdonald.

“While the public sector is paid more, on average, it’s being paid more because women who are discriminated against for being women in the private sector are still being discriminated against in the public sector, just by a smaller amount.”

Wage discrimination is a current problem, Macdonald said.

“What’s clear, even in 2023, is that wage discrimination is alive and well in Canada, but that wage discrimination is a lot smaller in the public sector, even though it still exists,” he said.

“It’s a very unusual circumstance for women to be paid the same as men in Canada and we see that in the public sector in that wage range of $20 to $30 an hour,” Macdonald said.

Earlier this month, Ottawa launched a new pay transparency website in an effort to highlight the barriers to equity experienced by women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities in federally regulated private sector industries.

Pay transparency legislation is becoming more prevalent in Canada and elsewhere around the world as governments are attempting to address pay gaps due to gender and other factors. But the legislation has “no teeth,” say opponents to the laws, as they don’t actually enforce pay equity, according to a previous report.

Recent articles & video

Employee-employer trust gap widening – here’s what HR can do

Alberta launches new compensation model for doctors

Court orders city government to lift ‘nasty and wrong’ ban on contractor

Canadian military doctors, nurses set to work in Yukon hospitals

Most Read Articles

Quebec teacher fired for joining ‘Survivor’ reality series

Why is Ontario’s gender pay gap ‘stuck’ at 32%?

Nearly three-quarters of middle managers in Canada experiencing burnout: survey