Related Resources:

Want to know more about the history of women in Canada?
This timeline by PSAC gives you an idea of some of the challenges and important events involving women in Canada
When were women allowed to vote? This is a complicated question! Find out more
White women gained the vote federally in 1918. Indigenous women and women of colour did not obtain the right to vote until much later.
The increase of women employed by the province (AB) was significant in the 1960s
Check out some actual numbers showing this growth
Click here

In 1957 there were 2,371 women employed by the province. This represented just 23.7 per cent of the 10,000 full time employees. Because of employer animosity to married women in the workforce, only one third (881) of these women were married. Fourteen years later, there were 8,275 women in the general service (direct employees of the provincial government) representing 48.7 per cent of the total workforce of 16,979.

This increase of women into public employment in Alberta mirrored the increase in the number of women in workplaces across Canada in the 1960s.

Did you know that pay equity is still a concern if you are a unionized worker?
Hear what AUPE's Pay and Social Equity Committee has to say
More questions about Pay Equity?
AUPE has compiled some frequently asked questions on the issue.
Click here


Q: What is Pay Equity?

A: Pay equity is:

  • Equal Pay for work of Equal Value and an inherent right set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act – Section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act includes a provision that establishes the right of equal pay for work of equal value, and
  • Not law in Alberta, and
  • In Alberta the Human Rights and Multiculturalism Act provides for equal pay for equal work, meaning that if a man and woman are doing the same job, they must be paid the same wages.

Q: There’s an attitude of “That’s Women’s Work” – What is with that?

A: Historically women tended to work in nursing, clerical, child care, social work, etc. Typically they were thought of as temporary workers and not career minded – a holdover from the days when women were expected to leave the workforce upon marriage or childbearing. The jobs women chose were seen to reflect qualities displayed in the home, such as nurturing, healing and caring. The greater the proportion of women in an occupation, the lower the relative pay.

For example – Why are the cleaning staff in hospitals called housekeepers? They aren’t keeping house. They are keeping an institution clean healthy and safe for patients and staff. Why are the cleaning staff in schools called janitors and not housekeepers? After all they are performing comparable work only in a different institution, keeping schools clean, healthy and safe for students and staff. And why do janitors earn more than housekeepers? Traditionally janitorial work was considered male work and it’s occupation male dominated while housekeeping was considered female work and female dominated.

Unequal pay for similar work when the difference is based only on gender difference is pure discrimination.

Q: What can Pay Inequity lead to?

A: Pay Inequity leads to increased levels of poverty, which leads to increased health care costs AND leads to increased costs for shelters and housing AND leads to increased community services costs…

Even More on Pay Equity (also referred to as Wage Equity)

Here are some statistics from 2016 and 2017:

  • In 469 out of 500 occupations nationally, women are paid less than men
  • Indigenous women, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and racialized women are affected by wage inequity at a higher rate
  • 66% of of workers who were making $15 or less (in 2016 and 2017) were women
  • Edmonton women who are seniors are twice as likely to live in poverty than senior men

Pay equity is not just a women's issue. Men who are in jobs that are traditionally seen as "women's jobs" are affected by pay inequity.