Future Look |

Canadian Organizations Ahead on Pay Equity, But Considering More Options

As total rewards leaders in the United States set their sights on solving for increased automation, job displacement and pay equity, the preparations are similar for our neighbors up north.


However, while the U.S. is in process of working toward more equitable pay — doing so increasingly on a state-by-state basis — parts of Canada have been in front of the issue. Ontario passed the Pay Equity Act in 1987, and all jurisdictions in Canada have some form of equal pay legislation while certain jurisdictions also have pay equity legislation. Ontario, the nation’s most populous province, added to its pay equity efforts by passing the Pay Transparency Act in 2018, which requires employers to report their pay practices beginning in 2020.

“Pay equity has always been something from a legal perspective and regulatory-wise that they’ve had to look at in Canada,” said Catherine Hartmann, North American rewards leader at Willis Towers Watson. “They’re just continuing to build upon that and I think what I’m seeing with a lot of companies that have operations in the U.S. and Canada is their U.S. brethren are learning how to utilize those programs and those processes that their Canadian teams have already had well established in terms of looking at pay equity.”

When looking at the full total rewards picture in Canada, Hartmann identified the race differentiate as a key trend developing. Employers are reevaluating their purpose, mission and vision and refocusing their recruitment efforts to align with that, she said. One example of this is how Canadian organizations are going about their pay practices.

Hartmann said employers have identified three populations in the workplace — high-potential individuals, top performers and people who have a skillset that is in high demand in the marketplace — and are taking measures to assuage them.

“What they’re doing is coming up with more frequent increases and they’re measuring the marketplace on a more frequent basis,” Hartmann said. “They’re doing an annual salary review, but on top of that doing these mini-market reviews. They’re providing those folks with differentiated incentives, especially if they’re in a particular business.”

Employees identified under the three-population umbrella tend to have skills that align with forthcoming automaton and artificial intelligence (AI) efforts, Hartmann said. These skills include cyber security, machine learning, cloud computing, e-commerce and end-user experience.

“All of those particular functions are very hard to find and have a premium in the marketplace,” she said.

A Difference in Benefits

While student loan debt repayment programs are an emerging benefit in the U.S., it’s less of a push in Canada, Hartmann said. However, one trend that’s developing and could become commonplace at Canadian organizations in the next five years is employee choice in pay design. This would allow an employee to structure their compensation packages to their risk tolerance.

“The total cost would be the same to the organization, but the employee would have the flexibility to determine what their payments would look like,” Hartmann said. “That’s how I could see the future going for a lot of companies — true choice within total rewards. That could also apply to benefits and well-being programs.”



Federal Reforms Coming

There are several changes coming this fall to a federal workplace near you in Canada, writes Lori Sterling, John Gilmore and John C. Batzel of Mondaq. The authors detail the areas where change is coming in Canada, which include the elimination of unpaid interns as well as a host of new employment standards. 

Opportunity Exists for CHROs

Organizations such as the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum are playing leading roles in championing research and discussion about the future of work, writes Brian Daly of the Canadian HR Reporter. In reaction to attending a future of work conference, Daly explains how there is a real opportunity and need for CHROs to become more engaged in discussions centered around the evolving nature of work.

Labor Shortage Concerns

There were 429,000 jobs that went unfilled in the second quarter of 2019 in Canada and a business association is calling on the federal government to improve immigration programs to address the need for talent, writes Shelby Thevenot of CIC News. Thevenot outlines a few Canadian immigration programs that would help fill the job market.

Future of Work

Kristen Smalley attended a leadership workshop hosted by the MaRS about the future of work and wrote about her biggest takeaways in this article for Randstad Canada. Smalley’s impressions touched on disruption, job shifting, the importance of soft skills and the era of employee empowerment. A key statistic Smalley noted in the article was that approximately 20% of Canadians are working from home to some degree, double the level seen 10 years ago.

Canadian Trends

There are seven surprising things that could change the job market by 2030, writes Brandie Weikle of CBC News. Weikle’s article comes based off a report from the Toronto-based Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which highlights creativity as a mandatory skill for the future of work.

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

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