Women make up nearly half of Ontario’s workforce. The number of women entrepreneurs, small-business owners, community workers, educators, health sector workers, and corporate leaders continues to rise, which contributes to the growth of our economy.

But not everyone has been able to benefit from progress made in recent years. From a young age, many girls face gender discrimination and stereotyping.

This can impact their health, well-being, education, career options, and other life goals. We also know that one in three women in Canada experiences sexual violence at some point in their lives. These women are especially vulnerable to poverty and economic insecurity.

Women face extra barriers

In the workplace, women:

  • often have to work in part-time, low-paid and precarious jobs
  • take home about 26% less than men in annual wages (for Indigenous and newcomer women, the wage gap is even wider)
  • are underrepresented on public and private sector boards

In their communities, women have limited access to:

  • safe and affordable housing, which impacts women fleeing domestic violence
  • transportation and work opportunities in rural and remote communities
  • quality, affordable childcare

In their homes, women face greater risks of:

  • violence and poverty if they are newcomers, have a disability, are a single mom, Indigenous, transgender and/or racialized

The goal of economic empowerment

Our goal is for all women and girls to access and benefit from economic and social opportunities, have diverse leadership roles and be able to participate fully in society.

This means:

  • providing equal access to education, skills development, entrepreneurship and employment
  • promoting opportunities for women and girls through public institutions, such as schools
  • removing barriers that limit women and girls from reaching their full potential

But we can’t do it alone. Women’s economic empowerment must be achieved through partnerships between business, government, public institutions and communities.

About the consultation

Over the last year, we have been having conversations with people across the province. We’ve heard about the barriers preventing women from entering the workforce, such as the need for affordable, quality childcare and the importance of equipping students, workers and job seekers with the skills they need to meet the demands of our workforce.

To continue the conversation, we’ve developed a discussion paper and want your:

  • ideas on how to economically empower women and girls in Ontario
  • feedback on our proposed vision and framework for action

The paper focuses on four key areas that we think all sectors in Ontario need to focus on to support women’s economic empowerment:

  1. empowering youth
  2. promoting economic opportunities for women
  3. encouraging women and girls to take leadership positions
  4. shifting social attitudes to promote gender equity

This consultation supports work already underway to help improve the lives of women across the province, including:

  • developing a strategy to close the gender wage gap
  • launching a pilot project to measure whether giving people a basic income can improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes
  • introducing legislation that would, if passed:
    • raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour on January 1st, 2019
    • make sure part-time workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers
    • expand personal emergency leave to include a minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers
    • step up enforcement of employment laws
  • increasing wages for Early Childhood Educators and other child care workers, roles which are mainly filled by women
  • helping low-income women:
    • learn new skills, change careers and secure better paying jobs through our Women in Skilled Trades and Information Technology Training program
    • get entrepreneurship and financial literacy training to start and grow their own businesses through government micro-lending programs
  • helping 100,000 more children, aged 0 to 4 access licensed child care over the next five years
  • creating an action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment, which included our award-winning #WhoWillYouHelp and #ItsNeverOkay campaigns

Your privacy matters

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