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It is no accident that women earn lower wages in Canada. There are important historic and social reasons that the wage gap persists.

For starters, it was once legal and an expected practice in Canada to pay women half of what men earned for the same work. Laws promoted inequality between women and men in the labour force. Today, the legacy of those laws is that more than 70% of women in the paid labour force are still concentrated in a few sectors very much related to traditional female roles: health, clerical, sales, services and education.1

h Another reason: while Canadians generally support the idea of economic justice, as a society we still don|t place proper value on women|s work. For example, child care workers provide one of the most important services in our society, yet the wages of this female-dominated group have been consistently undervalued. In fact on average, child care workers earn wages comparable to those of parking lot attendants!

h Employers benefits from the wage gap too. Public and private employers alike often view women as a source of cheap labour. This is another reason there has been so much reluctance to properly address the economic inequality that women suffer.

Economic inequality has a far-reaching impact on women. Closing the wage gap and improving women|s wages are about opening all the doors for women so that they can attain economic justice and true equality X in every sense of the word.

1 Status of Women Canada, The Changing Nature of Home Care and its Impact on Women|s Vulnerability to Poverty, (various authors), 1999.