Unfair pay and workload continues for Canadian moms

Despite all the progress the women’s movement has made in closing earnings gaps and fighting for equality, working mothers continue to face in equalities at home and in the work place.

Statistics show women outperform men while in school – graduating from university in higher numbers than men and often take on the primary breadwinner role in their families. Despite this unparalleled ambition and success, Statistics Canada notes that women still earn an average of 25 to 31 per cent less than men in the same field. They also take on the majority of child care and housework, meaning the gap is even wider than it seems.

Mothers in Canada make up a large part of the workplace with 73 per cent of mothers with kids under the age of 16 holding down jobs in 2009. (This number has jumped from 39 per cent three decades ago.) This proportion is higher than in most other countries, and some experts attribute this difference to the fact that it’s difficult to raise a family on one income in Canada.

There is also wage discrimination between women who do have children and women who don’t: women who don’t have children earn from 12 to 20 per cent more than mothers.

It doesn’t matter what the profession is, the gender inequality spans most careers with wage discrepancies found in all industries including sales, business, health, finance and services. In most professions, women earned 57 per cent as much as their male colleagues. The least discriminating fields when it comes to wage equality include the arts, culture, natural sciences, teaching and recreation – where women earn 83 per cent of what a man earns for the same job.

This inequality led to Canada being ranked 19th (behind countries like Portugal, Estonia, and Slovenia) among countries evaluated as a good place to be a mom, according to the State of the World’s Mothers Report (pdf) for 2012.

Wage inequality is a big problem – but add on top of that Statistics Canada’s report that women still spend twice as much time as men on caring for the kids for no wage at all. In 2009, only 30 per cent of men who were eligible for paternal leave took the time off to help take care of their children.

Statistics Canada also shows women take on more of the housework, clocking in 13.5 hours a week compared to men at 8.3 hours.


In order for change to happen, experts say both employers and the government need to provide flexible work arrangements and affordable child care. The current Child Care Benefit in Canada is $100 a month, which doesn’t come close to covering the cost of childcare.

Sources: Statistics Canada, Makers, Save The Children, CBC, Toronto Star

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Loretta Hostettler