Ontario Nurses’ Association demands Ford government drop gender-biased pay equity dispute against nurses

April 7, 2021

TORONTO – For 15 years, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) has been fighting for the pay equity rights of registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers, and dietary, housekeeping, and recreational aides who work in nursing homes. The two stubborn holdouts: for-profit nursing homes and the Ford government.

Last month, ONA was delighted with a decision announced by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled that a previous Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal decision regarding the process for maintaining pay equity for women working in nursing homes is unreasonable. The Court found that the Pay Equity Act is clearly written to ensure ongoing access to male comparators through the proxy method in order to properly maintain pay equity in female-dominated workplaces.

This momentous decision paved the way for this 15-year battle for pay equity to finally end. Unfortunately, the for-profit nursing homes and the Ford government are likely to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We have been fighting for this fundamental issue that is protected under Ontario’s Pay Equity Act as well as through numerous international human rights laws that Canada has ratified,” notes ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “It is time for the Ford government and the for-profit nursing homes to accept the court’s decision and to do the right thing for our tireless nurses and health-care workers. I urge them to drop any thoughts of proceeding with an appeal once and for all.”

This year, Equal Pay Day is on April 7. First recognized in Ontario in 2014, this day shows that women – who earn approximately 30 per cent less on average annually than men – must work longer to earn the same amount that men earned in the previous year.

“Equal Pay Day is an excellent opportunity to tell the Ford government to accept the court’s decision,” says McKenna. “It’s sad to believe that in the year 2021, we are still fighting for pay equity, yet here we are. Rather than accepting the court’s decision which will help to greatly improve female workers’ wages, the Ford government and for-profit homes will spend thousands of dollars in court battling nurses.”

In all areas of health care, ONA has been standing up for workers by challenging employers to maintain pay equity and taking the necessary steps when they do not. In the home care sector, ONA is bringing forward the critical issue in pay equity maintenance negotiations in a case that will be heard by Ontario’s Divisional Court in May.

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the community, clinics and industry.


For more information: 

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240 (cell) shereeb@ona.org