Ontario’s equal pay for equal work legislation comes into effect this month, part-time, casual and seasonal employees have to be paid the same rate with their full-time colleagues if they perform the “same work”.
Darrly Bedford is the president of OPESU Local 110, the Union representing all Full-Time and Partial-Load Professors, Counsellors and Librarians at Fanshawe College.
He said, “It will be very interesting to see how employers implement this because they will have to look at the part time employees and figure out how they compare to the full-time employees doing that same kind of work.”
Reactions among part-time teachers are quite positive. “I think their reactions are very positive, although there will be some hiccups. A lot of them are being told that their paying may not be finalized right away.” Said Bedford.
In the Ontario college system, about 70 per cent of the funding is done by contractors or non-fulltime faculty. They are not being paid the same rate as the full-time staff, which is why public colleges across Ontario went on faculty strike last year. That strike lasted five weeks.
To follow the new bylaw, another big concern is lack of provincial funding.
The president added, “Colleges will need help, they will need provincial funding. A college such as Fanshawe, provincial funding only makes up 30 per cent of its budget. That is how little provincial funding is so if Ontario funded its colleges like other provinces funded their colleges, there wouldn’t be an issue.”
Meanwhile, the upcoming provincial election adds some uncertainty, Bedford said, “We have a provincial election coming up, we don’t know how the law might be changed by future government of any stripe. A concern would be if some of these improvements were undone or changed.”
“The government has put one time injection of money into the college system but they will need to do more on an ongoing basis.”
How to make sure the bylaw is perfectly followed?
The president said, “First of all to recognize the progress that has been made through Bill 148, but also through our collective bargaining and what Unions have managed to achieve in advancing this issue but also to encourage activists to keep going.”
He added for non-union part-time teachers, they are welcomed to seek support from the Union to make sure they are being paid correctly.
The new bylaw makes the first in North America to require equal pay for part-time worker, although the changes will not apply if employer can prove the payment gap is because of merit or seniority.
In addition, students younger than 18 and who works less than 28 hours per week are not covered.