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Equal pay, management roles remain elusive for working women: report

New study from Ontario's Financial Accountability Office shows motherhood has significant impact on trajectory of woman's work life

Despite advancements made in the last 45 years, women still face challenges in the labour market, according to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO).

On May 16, the FAO released what it calls a “first-of-its-kind” report that examines the achievements made and ongoing challenges for women in Ontario’s workforce.

Called Women in Ontario’s Labour Market, the study found that women have benefitted from education attainment, opportunities in the service sector, flexible work arrangements, and family-friendly government policies.

But women are disproportionately represented in part-time jobs, take more time off for family responsibilities, and are underrepresented in management positions, the study found.

And while the gender wage gap steadily improved between 1997 and 2010, it’s remained largely stagnant for the last decade — in 2022, women earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by men.

“Participation in the labour market is significantly impacted by motherhood, with many women taking time away from employment and facing earnings losses following childbirth,” according to an FAO news release.

“Using new data, the FAO finds that after having a child, Ontario mothers’ earnings are cut in half and it can take up to four years to return to their pre-childbirth earnings level.”

The FAO suggests the proposed Ontario-Canada agreement for $10-a-day child care could help.

Once implemented, it could increase the participation of core age women (aged 25 to 54) from 84 per cent in 2022 to between 85.6 per cent and 87.1 per cent by 2027, adding an estimated 50,900 to 98,600 more women to Ontario’s workforce.

The FAO provides independent analysis on the state of the province’s finances, trends in the provincial economy, and related matters important to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.