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Pay Transparency Act Enacted in Ontario: A National Trend is Emerging

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Labour, Employment and Human Rights Bulletin

On May 7, 2018, Bill 3, An Act Respecting Transparency of Pay in Employment (the Pay Transparency Act) received Royal Assent. This legislation is a central piece of the provincial government’s broader strategy called Then Now Next: Ontario Strategy for Women's Economic Empowerment aiming at advancing women's economic equality in Ontario. The Act will require employers with more than 100 employees to collect information and prepare pay transparency reports. These reports may be published on the Internet by the Ministry of Labour. Also of note: information identifying contraveners and the penalties received may also be published on the Internet by the Ministry.

The purposes of the Pay Transparency Act are clearly set out in the Act itself and include:

  • Promoting equality of compensation between women and men through increased transparency of pay and workforce composition;
  • Promoting the elimination of gender biases in hiring and pay practices; and
  • Supporting open dialogue between employers and employees on issues concerning employment, compensation and equal opportunities.

The Act forces the disclosure of information about the compensation of employees, imposes requirements on all publicly advertised job postings, and forbids employers from asking certain questions to a job applicant.

No Compensation History Information

As of January 1, 2019, it will be forbidden to ask a job applicant about his or her compensation history, whether personally or through an agent. An applicant will still be allowed to voluntarily (that is, without prompting) disclose this information.

Publicly Advertised Job Posting Requirements

All publicly advertised job postings will be required to include information about the expected compensation or the range of the expected compensation for the position.

Pay Transparency Reports

Employers with 100 or more employees will be required to collect prescribed information pertaining to their workforce composition and the differences in compensation among their employees with respect to gender and other characteristics. This transparency report will be posted online or in a conspicuous place in the workplace by the employer. The report will also be submitted to the Ministry of Labour, who may publish it online.

Employers with more than 100 employees but fewer than 250 will be required to submit their first pay transparency report no later than May 15, 2021, whereas employers with 250 or more employees will be required to submit their first report no later than May 15, 2020.

No Reprisal

As of January 1, 2019, it will be forbidden to intimidate, dismiss or otherwise penalize an employee (or threaten to do so) because he or she has, among other things, (i) enquired about the compensation of employees of the organization, (ii) enquired about the transparency plan of the organization, or (iii) disclosed his or her compensation to another employee. Where a collective agreement is in force, reprisal allegations will be dealt with through arbitration. Otherwise, an employee will be able to file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The burden of proof will be reversed for such complaints and the employer will therefore have to prove that it did not take reprisal measures against an employee.

Compliance Audits

Compliance officers will be appointed under the Act. They will have the power to conduct compliance audits and, for that purpose, compliance officers will have the right to enter and inspect any place in order to investigate a possible contravention to the Act or perform an inspection. They will be able to issue notices of contravention and impose penalties. Fines will be determined in accordance with regulations to come.

Contraventions to the Act Made Public

The Ministry of Labour may publish information online pertaining to contraventions to the Act including the name of the person who contravened the Act, the date of the contravention, and the penalty imposed.

Coming Into Force

Most of the new rules, except those pertaining to pay transparency reports, will come into force on January 1, 2019.

National Trend Emerging

This new piece of legislation in Ontario is part of an emerging Canada-wide trend reflecting increasing efforts to improve pay equity and more generally, equality in the workplace.

At the Federal Level

There is no equivalent to the Pay transparency Act at the federal level, but the 2018 budget included a promise to introduce "historic proactive pay equity legislation that will reduce the gender wage gap (…)".


As is the case in Ontario, the Pay Equity Act ensures that male and female job class of equal or comparable value receive comparable compensation. However, there is no equivalent to the Pay Transparency Act in Quebec.


Rachel Notley's government had promised shortly after its election that it would work on addressing gender gaps across Alberta, but no similar legislation has been tabled yet. 

British Columbia

The Pay Transparency Act does not currently have an equivalent in British Columbia, but on March 5, 2018, a Private Members' Motion was made regarding acknowledging the importance of gender equity in British Columbia.

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