ONA Celebrates Historic Pay Equity Win; A 13-year pursuit for fairness and equity for nursing home Registered Nurses

May 1, 2019

TORONTO, May 1, 2019 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is celebrating a significant win following a 13-year-long battle to maintain pay equity rights for registered nurses (RNs) working in female-dominated professions.

A decision released late yesterday by Ontario’s Divisional Court held that nurses working in private nursing homes without access to male comparators in their workplaces will now have the right to maintain pay equity with continuing reference to a male comparator.

“This case is a historic win for women’s equality rights,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “The Court’s ruling that the Pay Equity Act must be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the values upheld by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will ensure that RNs working in private nursing homes will have their pay equity rights maintained."

The proxy sections of the Pay Equity Act provide a way for women in female-dominated, public-sector organizations to achieve pay equity where there are no male comparators in their workplace. Under the proxy method, public-sector organizations with no male job classes are able to access the job value and pay equity target pay rates from another public-sector organization that has already achieved pay equity in order to complete its own pay equity plan. Under the Act, the proxy employer for nursing homes is the municipal homes for the aged.

McKenna notes that in 1995, ONA and a central group of nursing homes entered into a pay equity plan that provided pay equity adjustments across the nursing home pay scale of varying amounts. By 2005, the pay for RNs working in the municipal homes for the aged had increased, creating a wage gap between RNs working in nursing homes and those working in municipal homes for the aged.

ONA, working with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), had asked the Divisional Court to quash an earlier Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal decision and declare that the Pay Equity Act, properly interpreted, requires that pay equity maintenance in the proxy sector requires ongoing reference to male work.

The Divisional Court has ordered the Tribunal to specify the procedures that should be used to ensure that claimants in the proxy sector have access to a male comparator, and to prevent further delays in the pay equity relief that they have sought for many years.

McKenna says that this has been a “marathon, 13-year pursuit of fairness and equity.”

ONA is the union representing more than 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

For more information:
Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240; shereeb@ona.org


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