Today is Equal Pay Day.

Equal Pay Day raises awareness of the gender pay gap and acknowledges how far into the year the average woman must work to earn what the average man earned in the previous year.  In Canada, Equal Pay Day is on April 12th symbolizing that on average, a woman must work 15 and a half months to earn what a man earns in 12 months.

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap describes the average difference between the wages for women and men who are working. Women earning less than men is a pattern that is seen globally.  The global gender pay gap is estimated at around 20%, meaning women earn 77 cents to every dollar men earn for equal value of work.[i] At this rate, it will take between 135 – 202 years to close the gender wage gap globally.[ii]

Canada ranks 24th out of 156 countries in the gender pay gap.[iii] In Canada, women earn on average .89 cents to every dollar a man earns. Ontario reflects this national average as well. When compared with other provinces, Ontario ranks 6th for its gender wage gap.[iv]

Does the gender pay gap impact all women equally?

It is important to note that the gender pay gap impacts women differently based on race, age, gender identity, and disability. For example, racialized women in Canada earned .59 cents to every dollar a man makes compared to non-racialized women who made .67 cents in 2015.[v] The average annual income for LGBTQ women in Canada is significantly lower than heterosexual men[vi] and women living with disabilities make an average annual income of $3,630 less than women living without disabilities.[vii]

What causes the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is caused by a number of factors.  Women are more likely to be in part-time employment and take time away from employment for childcare responsibilities industries.  Women are also more likely to be pushed into certain industries and occupations through discriminatory practices. Women often excluded from occupations that are seen as more lucrative, such as STEM industries. Instead, women are over-represented in occupations that are traditionally seen as women’s occupations such as the care economy.[viii] Work in male dominated industries is seen as valued at a higher rate compared to work in female dominated industries. According to the ILO, in addition to these factors, the gender wage gap is further caused by the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions.[ix]

It is calculated that these factors account for one third of the gender pay gap.[x] The rest of the gender pay gap is generally attributed to discrimination.[xi] This reinforces the point that the gender pay gap is very much an active form of oppression.

Why does the pay gap matter?

The gender pay gap has significant impacts on women’s economic wellbeing, especially for those women most marginalized. The long-term consequences of pay inequity mean that by the time women retire, they can be in a precarious economic position with limited pensions, or living in poverty.

For Canada, closing the pay gap could earn .6% incremental GDP growth to Canada, and between +0.4–0.9% for each province annually.[xii] We are currently losing on a large part of our labour market and potential for growth.

The gender pay gap also has an impact on women’s safety. Poverty can increase women’s risk of victimization and also trap women in violent situations. The lack of access to income and housing is the key barrier to women leaving abusive relationships. Having access to financial resources can significantly improve women’s access to housing, health care and legal supports.

What is the social cost?

The gender pay gap is an intentional form of discrimination and oppression against women. It is a visible sign of the value we place on women’s work and time. Ultimately, the gender pay gap perpetuates gender inequality, which is the root cause for gender-based violence.

What can be done? The Equal Pay Coalition works around the year to close the gender pay gap. The Coalition has 4 easy actions that you can take to help tackle Ontario’s gender wage gap.

[i] United Nations Women. ‘Equal pay for work of equal value’. https://www.un.org/en/observances/equal-pay-day

[ii] World Economic Forum (2021). ‘Global Gender Gap Report 2021’. https://www.weforum.org/repo`rts/global-gender-gap-report-2021

[iii] OECD (2022). Gender wage gap https://data.oecd.org/earnwage/gender-wage-gap.htm

[iv] Statistics Canada (2022). Average and median gender wage ratio

[v] Block, S., Galabuzi, G., and Tranjan, R. (2019). ‘Canada’s Colour Coded Income Inequality’. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/canadas-colour-coded-income-inequality

[vi] Lourenco, D. ‘Researchers confirm substantial income disparities among lesbian, gay and bisexual Canadians’. Published Aug. 13, 2021. https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/researchers-confirm-substantial-income-disparities-among-lesbian-gay-and-bisexual-canadians-1.5546857

[vii] Burlock, A. (2017). ‘Women with Disabilities’. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-503-x/2015001/article/14695-eng.htm

[viii] Moyser, M. 2019. ‘Studies on Gender and Intersecting Identities: Measuring and Analyzing the Gender Pay Gap: A Conceptual and Methodological Overview’. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-20-0002/452000022019001-eng.htm

[ix] ILO. (2019). ‘Understanding the gender pay gap’. https://www.ilo.org/actemp/publications/WCMS_735949/lang–en/index.htm

[x] Pay Equity Office Ontario. The Gender Wage Gap: It’s More Than You Think. https://www.payequity.gov.on.ca/en/LearnMore/GWG/Pages/default.aspx#fn1

[xi] ILO, 2019

[xii] McKinsey Global Institute. (2017). ‘The power of parity: advancing women’s equality in Canada.’ https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/the-power-of-parity-advancing-womens-equality-in-canada

“I was left with two options that didn’t work for me and I had to choose the lesser evil, instead of having to think about what would really work for me and what would facilitate healing.”

This quote tells a story we’ve heard from survivors again and again: there is something missing from the housing options that we offer women experiencing violence.

In 2021, WomanACT conducted research with 74 survivors of intimate partner violence to better understand their housing experiences and preferences when separating from an abusive relationship. We explored the housing options currently available to survivors, what the ideal housing situation would look like when leaving violence, and what survivors would want in place to feel safe and comfortable in independent housing. Across our research, one message became abundantly clear: it’s time to change our expectations about women leaving home in order to be safe.

We know that housing instability when leaving an abusive relationship is a common experience. Survivors often find themselves moving between precarious housing options that don’t meet their needs. The participants in our research were no different. 80% of the survivors we surveyed relocated from their housing when fleeing violence – most often to shelters or staying with family or friends – and 58% reported a loss of control over their housing options at that time.

That’s where Safe at Home programs come in. As a housing model already used in countries around the world, Safe at Home enables survivors to remain in their home with the perpetrator removed or move directly to independent housing through a range of supports that reduce risk and maintain tenancies. Program components include legal orders, home security measures, and service referrals.

Armed with this program blueprint, we set out to learn more: Would this housing model address the gaps we were hearing from survivors? If so, how could this program be designed to best support their needs?

We asked and survivors delivered. We heard that Safe at Home would allow them to stay in a place already suited to their needs and community connections. That Safe at Home would prevent disruptions to their everyday lives. That with the right supports, it would have been their preferred housing option at time of separating from their abusive partner. Justice, control, security, stability. These were just some of the words used to describe the feelings that Safe at Home could provide.

But the housing model wasn’t without concerns. There was the risk of harm from their partner when living alone, having access to only short-term supports when they had long-term needs, and the limited justice system responses that had failed them before. And the biggest concern of all? Affordability. It was no surprise that safe, stable, independent housing simply had too high a price tag for survivors.

Where some see barriers, our participants saw opportunities. We worked with survivors to envision the design of an ideal Safe at Home program, one that could take their concerns and turn them into solutions. The ideas were endless: easily accessible emergency funds, a case manager to coordinate all their needs, trauma-informed housing providers, new home décor to limit reminders of the abuse, education on the right to housing, the list goes on. This told us that with the right supports in place, Safe at Home could be the answer to survivors’ calls for safe and affordable housing. That’s why 86% of participants who did not have Safe at Home available to them would have wanted it as an option to choose from when leaving violence.

WomanACT is ready to bring these ideas into action. Over the next two years, we’ll be working to assess and strengthen the foundation of public policies, funding streams, and social norms that are needed to make Safe at Home a reality.

It’s time to shift our expectations about survivors leaving home to reach safety. It’s time for bold, rights-based solutions that put survivors first. It’s time for Safe at Home.

The Safe at Home project conducted community-based research into policies, programs and practices that support women to remain in their own home or independent accommodation when leaving a violent relationship. You can read our full set of findings in our research report “A Place of My Own”: Survivors’ Perspectives on the Safe at Home Housing Model

WomanACT is proud to partner with Uber Canada as part of Uber’s Driving Change initiative, a global commitment to support and partner with leading sexual assault and domestic violence organizations to prevent, address, and respond to gender based violence and advance women’s equity around the world.

In 2021, Uber announced $2.6 million (USD) for organizations working to end gender-based violence. This included $190 thousand (USD) for Canadian organizations.

Working alongside national and local partners, Uber’s Driving Change initiative will build tools, policies, develop innovative safety features, support programs, and educational materials for drivers, riders, and customer support agents to promote awareness and stop assault, harassment, and violence against women.

WomanACT works collaboratively to eradicate violence against women through community mobilization, coordination, research, policy and education. We are committed to working across sectors to create systemic change. We believe that raising awareness and engaging in national conversations on violence against women is key to getting at the root of the issue. 

Together, WomanACT and Uber Canada, have the opportunity to reach millions of drivers and riders across Canada to raise awareness, prevent gender-based violence, and promote safety within the rideshare community and throughout Canada. 

In January 2021, the Canadian government announced a commitment to develop a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Leading up to the development of the Plan, WomanACT undertook consultations with community organizations and survivors on what they wanted to see in the Plan. The consultation process was supported by Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) and YWCA Canada.

WomanACT held 4 consultations in February 2021 and engaged over 100 survivors and 50 community organizations. The key themes we heard across the consultations included the need to improve the pathways to justice for survivors, the lack of housing and income supports for survivors and the need for greater support and investment into the prevention of gender-based violence. The need to rethink our justice system, including creating alternative community-led responses to violence and developing new and restorative justice models was a key point of discussion.

Survivors and community organizations were asked their views on the priorities and opportunities for the Plan. Participants shared a range of ideas and solutions including:

Participants across the consultations shared the need for the Plan to address systemic issues and be paired with substantial investments into prevention and response strategies. The need for accountability and evaluation measures was also a common theme across the consultations. Participants asked that survivors are given decision-making and leadership roles in the development and implementation plan.

You can review our full What we Heard report here

In 2019, Canada committed to supporting the most vulnerable communities in accessing affordable and quality housing through the National Housing Strategy. The strategy identified women and children fleeing intimate partner violence as a priority community.

Over the last six months, and in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of safe and affordable housing for women and children fleeing violence has become a front-facing issue. The “stay home” protocol implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, meant that victims of intimate partner violence were confined with their abusers and had dwindled access to resources and supports for safety. Women and children fleeing violence continue to face unique barriers in accessing safe, affordable and quality housing and the current global pandemic has exacerbated the urgency for action.

On September 21, 2020, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen announced new Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to help address the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by rapidly creating new affordable housing. This strategy is described as a step forward in stimulating the economy, and supporting vulnerable communities. WomanACT applauds the minister on this announcement, and on the development of this new initiative.

To remain in alignment with Canada’s National Housing Strategy, we recommend that the Rapid Housing Initiative adopts a gender equity perspective including:


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the housing challenges and crisis that exists. Housing remains one of the top barriers faced by women experiencing violence and the services that support them. Violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness and housing instability among women and their dependent children. It can lead to devastating impacts on a woman’s economic security, preventing them from leaving abusive situations because they are unable to secure safe and affordable housing. The Violence against Women sector in Toronto has experienced an increase in demand in the needs for services and supports by survivors during the pandemic.  

We strongly believe that pandemic recovery housing strategies must adopt an intersectional gender approach. We also need to see collaboration across all three levels of government in addressing the housing needs. We support the City of Toronto’s Housing and People Action Plan and the COVID-19 Interim Shelter Recovery Strategy and want to see long term, affordable and permanent housing solutions for women fleeing violence across the City.

We also welcome the recommendation that SSHA and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services collaborate to coordinate approaches to serving women and their children fleeing domestic violence, including coordination between the VAW system and the City-operated housing opportunities. Over the last 6 months, the violence against women sector has collectively and rapidly mobilized to adapt to emerging issues and needs. We have embraced change and used this time to reflect on how we can do things differently and better serve women experiencing violence from diverse communities with housing insecurity. We must start implementing measures and solutions that address women’s housing needs in the long term to provide safety and stability. 


Today we celebrated International Women’s Day at the Keele Community Hub with our York South-Weston Community.

Caring for our Communities, Caring for Ourselves focused on the importance of non-profits in our community. The event was kicked off by local MP Ahmed Hussen who welcomed everyone to the event and spoke to the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day as well as further advancing policy and programs that support women in our communities.

We then hosted a panel discussion on decent work for women in non-profits with speakers discussing the importance of workers’ rights, diversity on boards and valuing women’s work.

The event had a turn out of over 50 local agencies and community members from across York South-Weston.

Yesterday the Violence against Women Coordinating Committee held a training event on how to become a trauma informed organization.

The event welcomed 62 participants representing 38 organizations from across the city of Toronto.

The event heard from Dr. Ramona Allagia, from Factor-Interwash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and Dr. Sarah Morton, Director of Matter of Focus and Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Sarah Morton spoke to the challenges of capturing outcomes across our sector and telling stories and having numbers to share impact. Dr Morton also shared information on OutNav, software to help organizations manage their evaluation and outcomes and demonstrate impact.

The event also welcomed speakers from Elizabeth Fry Toronto, YWCA Toronto, Toronto Harbour Light and the Child Development Institute.

We are excited to share that our research partners at the University of Guelph have won the The SciShops Pitch Challenge for our community-based approach to our financial abuse research!

The SciShops Pitch Challenge competition invited projects from from Europe and across the globe to develop a short video on their research project. The contest was looking at projects that demonstrated community need, partnership and impact.  

Our two community-based researchers, Brianna Wilson and Sonia Zawitkowski, were selected as winners for their work on our Financial Abuse as a form of Intimate Partner Violence project. Brianna and Sonia are MA students at the Research Facility for Women’s Health and Wellbeing in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph. WomanACT worked closely with Brianna, Sonia and Dr. Paula Barata to design, develop and implement a community-based research project in 2018.

Sonia and Brianna won a trip to the SciShops Symposium on 30th – 31st of January to present their video and discuss our community-based research project with fellow participants. The Symposium is an opportunity for researchers to come together and share knowledge and information on community-based participatory research.

Read the announcement here

WomanACT is excited to share that we have received funding from The Law Foundation of Ontario to undertake research to explore how women experiencing violence use technology to access legal help and support.  

The research base into technology as a means to perpetrate violence against women has grown, however, there is a scarcity of information on how technology supports women experiencing violence. Online resources and supports have popped up across sectors including public legal education. As part of developing a more accessible justice system, it is important to understand if and how technology supports survivors.

The project will conduct a literature review to explore the existing knowledge base on violence against women, technology and access to justice. The project will also conduct community-based research with survivors to better understand their experiences and ideas for how technology to help women find legal information, help and support. Using the knowledge gained, we will bring together survivors and key stakeholders – including anti-violence agencies, public legal education providers, lawyers, tech developers – to develop potential solutions and create recommendations to address barriers to justice.

Learn more about the project here.