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Equal Pay Day in Ontario

​​​​What ​​is Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay Day is used to demonstrate that women – who generally earn less than men – must work longer to earn the same amount that men earned in the previous year.

Why is Equal Pay Day importa​nt?

Equal Pay Day brings attention to issues of inequality and may help stimulate discussions and bring forward solutions to narrow the gender wage gap in Ontario.

Equal Pay Day reminds us that many individuals are affected by the gender wage gap and highlights an area where more research and innovative thinking and action is needed.

How is the ​​date of Equal Pay Day set?

Equal Pay Day may be an annual day, a day arrived at by discussions with stakeholders and interested groups, or it may be set in relation to the gender wage gap.

Various stakeholders and community groups schedule activities across the province to mark the day.

Equal Pay Day is often set in relation to the gender wage gap. There are various ways to examine the gender wage gap, and while it varies by factors such as occupation, hours worked, disability status, and racial background to name a few, it is important to remember that a gender wage gap persists in Ontario. For detailed information about the various ways to measure the gender wage gap​ (see Statistics Canada data: earnings ra​tio report​).

Equal Pay Day 2017 is April 11th. In 2017, the Pay Equity Commission will mark Equal Pay Day with numerous activities.


April 3 and 4, 2017, the Commission was a sponsor of the UN Global Compact Network Conference. This Gender Equality Forum 2017 allowed participants to network with leaders in business, government, UN agencies, and explore opportunities for partnership and collective action. The Forum included women entrepreneurs and youth – who are challenging stereotypes and breaking down barriers to gender equality. 

April 11, 2017, the Pay Equity Office officially launched its fourth consecutive Gender Wage Gap Grant Program 2017-18. The Gender Wage Gap Grant Program is intended to advance the promotion of equality between women and men that support efforts to close Ontario’s gender wage gap.

April 12, 2017, the Commission participates in a Webinar on Equal Pay Day organized by Catalyst. This webinar will allow participants to hear about tools and best practices available to help their organizations redefine leadership and end the pay gap. Speakers at this session include Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario’s Pay Equity Commissioner; R. Fenimore Fisher, Chief Citywide Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, New York City; and Susan Coskey, Director, City of Seattle, Seattle Department of Human Resources.

April 18, 2017, the Commission participates in a Speaker Series organized by Rotman’s Institute for Gender and the Economy. The theme is Gender, Equity and Prosperity - A Discussion on Equal Pay Day. Panel members include Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario’s Pay Equity Commissioner; Victoria Budson, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Jamison Steeve, Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity and Martin Prosperity Institute. Discussions include policy insights from the Pay Equity Commission, and research on prosperity from the Institute of Competitiveness & Prosperity. Areas of focus: gender wage gap, childcare, parental leave (maternity and paternity), education and skills development and business norms and practices.

Previous Equal Pay Day Events


To call attention to the issue of the gender wage gap, Ontario recognized April 19, 2016 as Equal Pay Day. The Pay Equity Office was pleased to present educational materials available for teachers, librarians, camp counsellors, and to other leaders of children and youth groups to mark the day. The educational materials are available on the PEO website, to frame discussions with children and youth on gender, equal pay, pay equity, and related concepts and ideas.


Closing the gender wage gap is a step towards increased fairness for women in Ontario.​

For Equal Pay Day 2015, the day was set in conversations with stakeholders in order to recognize that the gender wage gap persists in Ontario. Equal Pay Day 2015 was April 20th.

On April 16, 2015, to support Equal Pay Day, the Pay Equity Office partnered with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, to hold an event that examined the gender wage gap and its impacts on various communities of women. A summary of this event was shared with the Minister of Labour, the Minister Responsible for Women's Issues and all participants.

In April 2015, the appointed Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee developed proposals for a gender wage gap strategy. The Steering Committee released a Background Paper and two Consultation Papers to guide the consultations.

Between October 2015 and February 2016, the Committee consulted with diverse groups across the province and reported on what they heard.
The Pay Equity Commissioner, Emanuela Heyninck was a member of the Steering Committee, along with Executive Lead Nancy Austin and External Advisors Linda Davis and Dr. Parbudyal Singh. The Steering Committee was supported by PEO staff.

​The Steering Committee heard quite a bit about the need for awareness and educational materials for children in the early years at elementary schools, to begin learning about gender issues and equal pay components in their early years.


For Equal Pay Day 2014, data from Statistics Canada for annual average earnings for all earners was used, placing that measure of the gender wage gap at approximately 31% for Ontario. The Pay Equity Commission has been asked by the government to dialogue with stakeholders to discuss ideas for a broader wage gap strategy for Ontario.