“We want to see significant progress made toward pay equity in the private sector.”-David Coon
Article by: SARAH SEELEY Times & Transcript
Two days before International Women’s Day, unions and community organizations launched a push for pay equity to be included in political platforms for the upcoming provincial election.
Fourteen organizations are part of Coalition for Pay Equity, including the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, United Way of Greater Moncton and YWCA Moncton. John Gagnon, the first-vice president of the labour federation, said there have been gains in the past few years to create equal pay in the province, but there is more work to be done to evaluate jobs and compare wages between men and women.
“It makes no sense that women today are not getting equal pay for equal value,” he said. Gagnon said the labour federation has a women’s committee developing a platform of ideas for public and political parties to shed light on the pay equity issue while the parties are finalizing their campaign platforms. “We are seeing the fruit of what we have done so far and we have to do the same thing in the private sector,” he said.
New Brunswick’s Pay Equity Act was introduced in 2009 for the public sector.Vallie Stearns-Anderson, the coalition’s anglophone vice-chair, said pay equity in the private sector is a “key issue” for women in New Brunswick. She said close to 70 per cent of New Brunswick women work in the private sector.
“We have a distance to go to make sure all private sector workers have pay equity,” she said. “We need that legislation to cover everybody.”
Keiller Zed, the executive director of the New Brunswick Liberal Party, said in a statement the party is committed to gender equality “in all forms,” including pay equity for the public and private sector.He said the government is on track to have every Crown Corporation in compliance with the Pay Equity Act by the end of March. David Coon, the Green Party leader, said his party has also included pay equity in its platform.
“We want to see significant progress made toward pay equity in the private sector.” Tory MLA Dorothy Shepherd said in an email the Conservative platform will not be released until closer to the election, but she said in the past, the party has made efforts to close the pay gap.”We will do everything we can in government to turn our principles into laws that make the lives of all New Brunswickers, men and women, better.”The NDP and People’s Alliance did not respond to the Times & Transcript’s request for comment by press time.
Debrah Westerburg, the coordinator for New Brunswick Central Transitional House, said she sees the evidence of pay inequality on a daily basis with the women she works with in transitional housing.Many of them do not earn as much as their male counterparts, said Westerburg. “Those are the women I have been working with for over 30 years, so of course I want them to have more choices and more justice,” she said.