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Report sets benchmarks for inequality between women and men

gender-inequalityCanadian women still experience inequality in economic well-being, education, employment, health, housing, justice, safety, and political and social inclusion, according to a new benchmark report on gender equality from the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Acting chief human rights commissioner David Langtry writes:

When compared to adult men, Canadian women are earning less across most employment sectors. Women are more likely to be unemployed. More women rely on government transfers as their major source of income and women are more disadvantaged in housing. More women report feeling unsafe in their own neighbourhoods and more women report being victims of physical violence at the hands of former spouses/partners compared to men in Canada.

With respect to employment, the report looks at five indicators:

  1. Status in the labour force;
  2. Relationship between specialization and employment;
  3. Work-related benefits;
  4. Quality of work; and
  5. Access to income support.


  • Women over 24 years old are less likely than men to be employed all year
  • Women 25 and up are also less likely to be in the labour force throughout the whole year
  • Women are underrepresented in construction and manufacturing, and overrepresented in education, health care and social services
  • Women of all ages and in all industries have lower median incomes than men, except women 55 and over in the forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas sector
  • For most industries, men’s median incomes are more than $10,000 higher than women’s, and in some cases the disparity is over $20,000
  • Men are more likely than women to hold non-permanent employment
  • Men are more likely to hold seasonal jobs, while women are more likely to hold casual jobs
  • Women are less likely to work from home, but those who do are more likely to cite family responsibilities as their reason
  • Women are slightly more likely to hold jobs “closely related” to their educational specialization, and slightly less likely to hold jobs “not at all related” to their specialty
  • Women are less likely to have employer-sponsored medical benefits, pensions and life/disability insurance
  • Women are less likely to claim they are “very satisfied” with their jobs, and slightly more likely to claim they are “dissatisfied”
  • Women are less likely to receive employment insurance benefits, but more likely to receive other forms of social assistance
  • Women are less likely to report that work is “not at all stressful” and more likely to report that work is “quite a bit” or “extremely stressful”
  • Women are more likely to miss work because of a chronic condition


The Report on Equality Rights of Women uses information from existing sources and is intended only as a general guide, particularly for baseline measurements in future studies.

Langtry adds:

Canadian women have made important gains on the road to equality over the years. But important gaps remain. We cannot automatically infer discrimination in every area where the data show a difference between women and men. But taken as a whole, despite progress in recent decades, the data show that women in Canada still do not have opportunity equal with men to make the lives of their choosing, free from discrimination.

For more information, visit the Human Rights Commission website.

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Adam Gorley

Adam Gorley is a copywriter, editor and researcher at First Reference. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks, Inside Internal Controls and other First Reference publications. He writes about general HR issues, accessibility, privacy, technology in the workplace, accommodation, violence and harassment, internal controls and more. Read more
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