In the fight for equal pay, which has spanned from the legal stage to the center stage, one Canadian company has decided to address the pay gap, at least temporarily, through dueling magazine cover prices.

Maclean’s, a popular monthly Canadian news magazine that reports on current political affairs and pop culture, is asking men to pay 26 percent more for its February 2018 issue than women. According to MacLean’s, the difference in prices reflects the 26 percent gender pay gap that exists in Canada. The content for both magazines is exactly the same – but one cover charges men $8.81, while women are charged $6.99.  Readers can choose to pay whichever price they want.  The extra $1.82 per issue from those who choose to pay more will be donated to “those for whom the pay gap is most extreme.” Maclean’s Editor in Chief does not expect this to spur radical change overnight.  The objective is to stir conversations about wage disparities between full-time male and female employees in Canada.

Canada has a history of addressing pay inequities in ways more prominent than dueling magazine cover prices. For example, in 2001, the Canadian government created an independent Pay Equity Task Force (the Bilson Task Force) to review the Canadian Human Rights Act and make recommendations for the improvement of the federal pay equity legislative framework.  More recently, in 2016, the Special Committee on Pay Equity addressed the need for proactive pay equity legislation in a special report to Parliament called It’s Time to Act. However, and as highlighted in Maclean’s feature article, women continue to earn less than men, regardless of the employment sector, the position of the employee, or the number of hours worked.  The most recent statistics show that on average, the earnings gap between men and women is about 26 to 31 percent.

The Maclean’s article notes that in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, employee salaries are being placed in the spotlight in an effort to address disparities, despite the uptick of recent legislative efforts to prohibit disclosure of salary information. However, with the government’s promises of new federal legislation addressing pay equity, Canadians are hopeful that change may be on the horizon.

As such issues continue to take center stage both nationally and internationally, our Pay Equity Resource Group attorneys are available to provide strategic advice on these and similar pay equity issues. We will keep you updated with any developments.