Pay equity legislation coming in House of Assembly's fall sitting, says Furey

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Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says the provincial government will move on pay equity legislation this fall. (Garrett Barry/CBC - image credit)
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says the provincial government will move on pay equity legislation this fall. (Garrett Barry/CBC - image credit)
Garrett Barry/CBC
Garrett Barry/CBC

After five years of delay, the provincial government will move forward with pay equity legislation during the fall sitting of the House of Assembly, said Premier Andrew Furey on Tuesday.

Furey didn't say what the legislation will contain, telling reporters to "stay tuned."

"It's a priority for us and we are pushing for it with something in the fall," he said.

Both Furey and Women and Gender Equality Minister Pam Parsons had previously avoided stamping a timeline on the legislation.

In July, CBC News obtained a document through an access-to-information request that revealed the provincial government's pay equity committee had gone nearly three years without meeting.

On March 21 the committee met for the first time since June 19, 2019. March's meeting came just six days after the PCs' women and gender equality critic, Helen Conway Ottenheimer, asked about the legislation in the House of Assembly. Parsons told CBC News the meeting was unrelated to Conway Ottenheimer's question.

Parsons said work on pay equity legislation was "ongoing," but didn't say when it would finally come.

No further delay: Furey

On Monday, the St. John's Status of Women's Council released an 18-page report examining the gender wage gap in Newfoundland and Labrador, and condemning the provincial government's delay in introducing legislation.

In 2017, the provincial legislature unanimously voted in favour of a private members bill, put forward by then NDP MHA Gerry Rogers, to introduce pay equity legislation. Five years later, the government has not introduced pay equity legislation.

"To further deny or delay proactive pay equity legislation is to infringe on the human rights of many women and marginalized workers in Newfoundland and Labrador," reads the conclusion of the SJSWC's report.

On Tuesday, in response to questions by The Telegram, Furey wouldn't say if he agreed with the statement or why the province hasn't moved forward with the legislation since 2017, but said there wouldn't be any further delay.

"It's an ongoing discussion. I've told you it's a priority. It is a priority. And we hope it's a piece of progressive legislation that we can all be proud of."

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