More than 20 per cent of Canadians are racialized, or “visible minority” as reported in the 2016 Census, up from less than five per cent in 1981. Despite this growth, being racialized in Canada still comes with a hefty price in terms of lower incomes and wages, as well as other forms of discrimination.

On average, both racialized (non-white, non-Indigenous) and Indigenous workers in Canada had an average income of just $25,500, about 30 per cent less than the $36,500 average of white Canadians. Some of this wage gap may be due to other factors such as age and education, but as Andrew Jackson of the Broadbent Institute reports, average incomes are still significantly lower for racialized Canadians in the key working age group of 25-54 who were born and educated in Canada.

On average, these second-generation racialized Canadians had incomes 12 per cent lower than white Canadians, a pay gap of over $6,100 annually. The racial pay gap is worse for second-generation working-age Black Canadians, who had average incomes 28 per cent or $14,000 lower than white Canadians in the same category.

CUPE’s 2014 membership survey found that racialized workers and women are more likely to be employed in precarious jobs. CUPE also has a lower share of racialized workers in its membership, just 15 per cent compared to a national average of 20 per cent. This reflects lower rates of employment of racialized workers in the public sector.

To eliminate inequality, we need employment equity legislation, representative workforce policies, and employment equity language in our collective agreements so our workplaces represent the diversity of our communities. But we also need to confront other discriminatory practices and attitudes in our workplaces and communities at an individual level. CUPE’s equality branch provides resources and support to help members achieve this.