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Op-ed: Gift that keeps on giving

This Christmas I'm asking Santa for something that could improve the lives of New Brunswickers.

I'm talking about pay equity legislation for the private sector, where more than two-thirds of women with paid employment work.  That includes all businesses, but also municipalities, universities, nursing homes and other publicly funded but privately managed community care services. Our existing law protects only government employees.

The law needs to send a message that is loud and clear:  work traditionally done by women matters.  Most women still work in the 5 c’s: caring, clerical, catering, cashiering and cleaning.  Salaries are low in many of these female-dominated jobs.  Pay equity is about taking action to ensure that jobs are paid according to their measurable value, based on the skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions required.

Pay equity is in fact an internationally recognized human right.  How can we continue to allow gender-based wage discrimination for some workers but not for others?

That is why we need pay equity now!

And consider this: equal pay for work of equal value is also the gift that keeps on giving. Higher wages help families and women throughout their lifespan (think about pensions), boost our economy, increase tax revenues and improve the health and well-being of New Brunswickers.

For all these reasons, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is standing with the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity and other community partners to call for Pay Equity Now!. Follow the campaign through #nowNB on social media!

Wendy Johnston
Fredericton

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