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Keywords:

  • Comparable Worth;
  • Nurses Work Pay Equity;
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits;
  • Socio-Economic Welfare;
  • Wages;
  • Women’s Work

Abstract

‘Nurses have never been compensated in accordance with their central role in health care’ ( Schreiber 1994), reflecting the generalized and well-documented under-valuing of the work of women ( Schreiber 1993). Pay equity legislation, passed in Ontario, Canada in 1987, designed to correct gender wage discrimination, created great optimism that the under-valuing of nurses’ work might be ending. Nonetheless, this has not been the case, as the social, political, and economic climate has not kept pace with the speed and enormity of social change necessary to enact the intent of the legislation. Indeed, gains in nurses’ wages have been directly offset by significant lay-offs. In this paper, we examine the issues surrounding the implementation of pay equity legislation in Ontario, Canada, along with analysis and implications of these issues, drawn from 10 years of experience. In addition, we highlight lessons that can be learned from the Ontario experience.