Wage Gaps and Unfair Pay

Wage Gaps and Unfair Pay

by Susan Huebert

Suppose that you and a classmate worked on a project together, but your friend got a better mark than you did. How would you feel about that? Would you find it unfair? That kind of unfairness can continue into adulthood. Wage gaps between men and women and other types of unfair pay can make life difficult for many people.

It would make sense for men and women to receive the same pay for the same type of work. That sometimes happens, but often men still get paid more for the same work that women do. For years, the gap was decreasing, but that progress slowed down in 2011. Many women still earned only eighty-seven cents for every dollar that men earned in 2017, and the situation is worse for immigrants, Indigenous women, and others who may be considered a minority in society.

Part of the issue is that many women take time away from their work to take care of children. Even if they go back to work when their children are old enough for daycare or school, it can take them a long time to catch up. Women who are childless can also have a hard time keeping jobs when the economy is doing badly.

Sometimes, unfair pay has little to do with the gap between men and women. In 2018, a food delivery driver for a company called Skip the Dishes in Winnipeg sued her employer because drivers like her were not receiving the wages and other benefits they needed to earn a living. Instead of being treated like regular employees, they were treated like outside workers so that the company would not have to give them benefits like dental care.

Not every example of unfair pay is as bad as the case in Winnipeg. Still, many people receive lower wages than they should while others receive more. In Canada, many leaders, often called chief executive officers or CEOs, earn about one hundred and fifty times the average worker’s salary. In other countries, the difference in pay is even larger.

These types of unfair pay can cause many problems. The rich often have far more money than they can use, and they leave the money in banks instead of using it to build up their businesses. Poorer people often have to work at two or three jobs just to be able to earn enough money to pay for food and housing, and sometimes they become homeless.

Anyone who has tried to live on low pay and unfair wages knows how difficult it can be. People in this situation often work long hours. They might not be able to afford good housing or cars. Some people are unable to afford to buy good food, and they need to get help from food banks or from family and friends. Sometimes, low-income people are unable to afford medication when they get sick, and they can struggle in many other ways.

Ending wage gaps and unfair might seem impossible, but you can make a difference. Whether you become an employer or an employee, you can help to bring greater equality to the world.


Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Canada’s Pay Gap.” https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/canadas-pay-gap.

Canadian Women’s Foundation. “The Facts About the Gender Pay Gap in Canada.” https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/the-gender-pay-gap/.

Ligaya, Armina. “Canada’s Gender Wage Gap Narrows: Women Earn $4.13 Less than Men Per Hour.” https://globalnews.ca/news/6001276/gender-wage-gap-women-canada/.

MacLean, Cameron. “Skip the Dishes Could Face Class-Action Lawsuit over Treatment of Couriers.”


Pay Equity Commission. “Advancing Women’s Economic Equality.” http://www.payequity.gov.on.ca/en/AboutUs/Pages/the_difference.aspx

Statistica.com. “Ratio between CEO and average worker pay in 2018, by country.” https://www.statista.com/statistics/424159/pay-gap-between-ceos-and-average-workers-in-world-by-country/.

Statistics Canada. “The Gender Wage Gap and Equal Pay Day, 2018.” https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-28-0001/2018001/article/00010-eng.htm

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