The gender pay gap has decreased, but women still earn $4.13 less per hour

By: Lisa Coxon on October 8, 2019

Statistics Canada data released yesterday revealed that the wage gap between the sexes has narrowed to 13.3%, with women now earning $4.13 less per hour than men.

That’s a five-and-a-half percentage point improvement since 1998. 

Women in their “core working ages” (between 25 and 54) earned $0.87 for every dollar a man earned in 2018, according to the report. The average hourly wage for men in 2018 was $31.05, and $26.92 for women. 

Reasons for the decrease in the gap, Statistics Canada said, include changes in the distribution of women and men across occupations, an increase in women’s educational attainment, and a decrease in the number of men working unionized jobs.

“The increase in women’s educational attainment, relative to men’s, was the second most important determinant of the decrease in the gender wage gap between 1998 and 2018,” the report stated.

“While equivalent proportions of women and men had a university degree at the bachelor level or above in 1998 (21.6% and 21.5%, respectively), the proportion of women with at least a bachelor’s degree increased to a greater extent in the following 20 years than did the equivalent proportion of men (+19.6 percentage points vs. +10.8 percentage points).”

The number of men covered by a union or collective agreement decreased by 8.7 percentage points between 1998 and 2019 (from 38.2% to 29.5%). 

“The gender wage gap has narrowed over time, both in Canada and elsewhere,” the report stated. “However, given that women in Canada have surpassed men in educational attainment, diversified their fields of study at post-secondary institutions, and increased their representation in higher-status occupations, the persistence of gender-based wage inequality warrants continued attention.”

Researchers said the remaining gap can largely be attributed to the distribution of women and men across industries (particularly the high-paying and male-dominated construction sector) and the overrepresentation of women in part-time work.

The 13.3% gap is an improvement, but nearly two-thirds of the gap in 2018 remains unexplained, according to the report, and one expert says we still have a long way to go.

“We, along with a lot of the other developed economies, seem to be stuck right around that number and have had a hard time moving beyond it,” Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, told the Toronto Star.

“Until we either get a lot more supports such as universal child care that’s affordable or men sharing equally in the care responsibilities, I don’t think we’re going to move beyond this.”