The international women’s organization, Women of the World (WoW), of which REAL Women is a member, conducted a survey of Spanish women in 2018-2019 to determine to what extent they experienced discrimination in the workplace because they are mothers.

The reason for the survey was to determine what legislation would be in the best interests of mothers, a reflection of the Spanish culture’s high regard for motherhood.

Similar studies, with a focus on motherhood and maternity, cannot be found in Canada. The only official concern in Canada is to ensure that women continue to work in paid employment before and after pregnancy. This is due to the fact the government regards this as a source of tax revenue and it increases the Gross National Product (GNP).

As a result, generous accommodation for women before and after birth is provided at four levels: application for employment, during employment, during maternity leave, and when the mother returns to work. Pregnancy and child birth discrimination fall under sex and gender discrimination under Canadian law which encourages women to remain in the paid workforce.

Although Canada’s laws rightly attempt to end discrimination based on maternity, this has led to other forms of pressure on mothers who are torn between their employment and family responsibilities. Many women would like official recognition of the importance of their role as mothers as well. The Canadian Human Rights Act only mandates that there be accommodation for the needs of pregnant women in the workplace.

Gender Sameness: A Government Preoccupation

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women, created in 1967, was intended to ensure equality of opportunity for women in all aspects of Canadian life, but that has not occurred. It seems, instead, that women in the workplace is the only concern for the government. To this end, it has become obsessed with equality of outcomes in the workplace, regardless of the fact that men and women have different work patterns and dominate different areas of employment. This obsession is also based on the false assumption that all women are primarily concerned with power advancement in the labour force, the promotion of gender sameness, and elimination of micro-aggressions such as demeaning comments and feeling less included.

Working Mothers as Engines of Economic Growth

In effect, the federal Liberal government regards women only as engines of economic growth. To further this notion, it has applied the recommendations of the McKinsey Global Institute, a global management consulting firm, to form the basis for its policies on women.

The McKinsey Global Institute believes that equality can be achieved by:

  • Increasing women’s labour force participation, already the highest in Canadian history
  • Increasing the number of hours women work [in the labour force]
  • Raising women’s productivity by adding them to high productivity [male] sectors

The institute claims that reducing the gender wage gap could add an enticing $150 billion to Canada’s economy by 2026. Closing the wage gap entirely would add $420 billion.

To justify this agenda, Justin Trudeau’s 2018 feminist budget claimed the male-female wage gap in Canada is 31% but more refined calculations used by Statistics Canada calculates the gap as closer to 6%.

The Government’s Solution to Close the Wage Gap

The government believes that gender sameness (that is, gender equality) can be achieved by the cumbersome and discredited feminist policy of Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value. This policy differs completely from the 1956 Female Employees Equal Pay Act, which provided that women be paid the same wage for doing the same work as men and which prevents discrimination in the workplace. Feminists, however, do not find this sufficient, and demand that their policy called Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value be implemented. Under this policy equal wages would be paid for work carried out in different jobs. This policy is based on the misconception that occupations in which women dominate, such as teaching and nursing, are underpaid but have equal value to the work dominated by men such as in the construction industry. Another area of comparison is secretarial work, which would be regarded as equal to the work carried out by parking attendants. This feminist policy will allow women to be paid for the value of their work. Determining the “value” of different jobs is difficult and is based more on a subjective analysis according to the views of the assessor. Because of this, it is an inaccurate and impractical policy, although enthusiastically adopted by the federal Liberal government.

The latter believes that increasing women’s participation in traditionally male-dominated occupations (higher income) and encouraging men to work in traditionally female-dominated occupations (lower income) will not only lower the perceived wage gap but also increase women’s participation in the workforce and grow the economy.

Maternal Behaviour Confounds Equality [Sameness] Policies

In reality, maternal priorities continue to show through in the Canadian census, and in labour and employment statistics.

Statistics Canada reports that 19% of women who left jobs voluntarily did so for personal and family reasons, compared to 8.9% of men who left for the same reasons.

In 2015, according to Statistics Canada’s Women and Paid Work, of women who received employment benefits when they were out of work, 45.6% did so under the category of maternal, paternal or compassionate care. Only 3% of men who received these benefits fell into this category.

Twenty-five percent of women worked part-time voluntarily because of children compared to 3.3% of men. Overall, 18.9% of women worked part-time compared to 5.5% of men.

Hundreds of millions of tax dollars, therefore, are spent trying to change the work patterns and behaviours of men and women and to track their consistently disappointing results.

A more productive and non-partisan strategy for government would be to acknowledge the contribution that full-time motherhood and volunteer work make to the well-being of society and form policies accordingly. Rather than imposing an egalitarian agenda on Canadian women, such an approach would recognize human nature and the reality that women’s views, like men’s, do not fit neatly into the state’s feminist agenda.