Today Premier Wynne was in Toronto to celebrate Equal Pay Day, an important day that recognizes how far women must work to earn the same amount as men. The Premier highlighted the government"s plan to create free preschool child care as part of a strategy to promote women"s economic empowerment and close the gender wage gap.
“The single most effective thing we can do as a government is increase access to child care,” said Premier Wynne. “So we are creating free preschool child care. That will make it easier for women to go back to work when they choose.”
Ontario"s plan will provide free licensed preschool child care for children between the ages of two-and-a-half until they are eligible to start kindergarten. This will give mothers more options when it comes to returning to work and advancing their careers. It will also relieve financial pressures on families with young children and give more kids the best possible start in their education.
The government has also committed to increasing pay transparency. The Pay Transparency Act, if passed, will help ensure people have equal opportunity to negotiate fair wages and have equal opportunities to advance in their careers. It will also require employers to record and report on pay gaps based on gender and diversity. The act will also prohibit employers from asking applicants about their prior salary, require employers to indicate a pay rate for all publicly advertised vacancies, and ensure that employees are protected from reprisal if they want to discuss their pay with coworkers or their employer.
Currently, the majority of workers in Ontario earning less than $15 per hour are women (nearly 60 per cent). The government plans to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019.
Closing the wage gap is part of the government"s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicine in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and easier access to affordable child care.