Skip to content
Collage-style illustration that shows a hand writing with a pen beside a calendar.

Equal Pay Day: Exploring wage disparities in Canada

Listen to this article as an audio recording

Around the world, various countries observe Equal Pay Day to mark the point in the calendar when women’s earnings “catch up to men’s. In 2023, the average wage for women in Canada was 78% of the average wage for men. This means that, on average, women would need to work until April 9, 2024, to match the earnings of men in 2023.

Some key points:

Equal Pay Day in Canada is now 23 days earlier than it was a decade ago. But there are still wide provincial disparities: the day falls as early as February 13 in Prince Edward Island and as late as June 2 in Alberta.

For Canada, Equal Pay Day 2024 takes place in February for occupations in health and natural and applied sciences.

To achieve a more comprehensive understanding of wage disparities, we recommend expanding the scope of Equal Pay Day to include analyses of intersectional factors, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity and disability.

Equal Pay Day is a reminder of the persistence and consequences of the gender wage gap

The United Nations International Equal Pay Day, celebrated on September 18, was created to raise awareness about efforts to achieve equal pay for work of equal value. The day aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote decent work and economic growth and gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

But we clearly have some distance to go. The following statements are all different but equivalent ways of describing Canada’s 2023 wage disparity for income-earning men and women.1

In 2023:

Women earned 78 cents for every dollar a man earned, on average.

Women’s average earnings were 78% of men’s.

The average earnings for women were 22% less than for men.

The average full-time earnings for women were around $15,000 less than for men.

Women would need to work an average of 101 extra days to earn the same as men.

This year, Equal Pay Day is April 9.

Calculating equal pay day is simple if you have the right data

To calculate Equal Pay Day for a subset of the population, all you need is the average annual incomes for the two groups you are comparing. Our data come from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey.2

Using 2023 data, the steps to calculate Equal Pay Day are:

1. Find the difference between the average annual income for the two populations. (If you have weekly earnings, multiply them by 52 to estimate the average annual earnings.)

The average weekly earnings in 2023 for women and men, respectively, were $1,079.92 and $1,379.30. This translates to average annual incomes for women and men of $56,155.84 and $71,723.60, respectively.3 So, the difference is:

Difference in annual income2023 = $71,723.60 - $56,155.84 = $15,567.76

2. Using the difference in step 1 and the average weekly earnings of the target population—women, in this case—calculate the additional weeks needed to make up the income gap. You can multiply the number of weeks by 7 to translate this into days.4

Additional days2023 = ($15,567.76/$1,079.82) x 7 = 101 extra days

This means Equal Pay Day falls on the 101st day of 2024, which is April 9.

What drives the gender wage gap?

Equal Pay Day in Canada has advanced 23 days over the last decade, to April 9 in 2024 from as late as May 3 in 2014. A multitude of factors—such as the increasing share of women holding university degrees and entering professional (higher-paying) occupations, the increasing rate of women’s full-time employment, and longer job tenure—have been cited as narrowing the wage gap since the early 2000s (Baker & Drolet, 2010; Drolet, 2011; Fortin, 2019).   

Still, even after controlling for factors known to affect wages, such as education, experience and job characteristics, part of the gender wage gap remains unexplained.

What is the status of the gender wage gap by province?

So far, we have discussed Equal Pay Day for Canada as a whole, but we can also see how Equal Pay Day varies by region. Table 1 compares Equal Pay Day by province for 2014 and 2024 and shows the changes in each region. Because Equal Pay Day always reflects the wage gap from the year prior, the table includes the average weekly wage for women in 2023. 

 A look at the table tells us that while the wage gap narrowed in all regions over the past decade:

In 2014, the largest wage gap was in Newfoundland and Labrador (with Equal Pay Day falling on July 4), but by 2024, it had improved 42 days, with Equal Pay Day landing on May 22, surpassing Alberta.

Nonetheless, the biggest change was in Saskatchewan, which improved by 45 days, moving up to April 15 from May 31.

The smallest change was in Alberta, which advanced only 12 days, moving up to June 2 from June 15.

The smallest gap continued to be in Prince Edward Island, where Equal Pay Day advanced 22 days to February 13 from March 7.

Table 1: Equal Pay Day by province, 2014 and 2024

Equal Pay Day  2014  Equal Pay Day 2024  Decrease in extra days worked  Women’s average weekly wages, 2023 
Ontario  15-Apr  31-Mar  14   $1,134  
Alberta  15-Jun  02-Jun  12   $1,084  
British Columbia  29-May  02-May  26   $1,081  
Quebec  11-Apr  17-Mar  24   $1,038  
Saskatchewan  31-May  15-Apr  45   $1,026  
Newfoundland and Labrador  04-Jul  22-May  42   $1,020  
Prince Edward Island  07-Mar  13-Feb  22   $985  
New Brunswick  28-Apr  16-Mar  42   $975  
Manitoba  26-Apr  03-Apr  22   $959  
Nova Scotia  07-May  28-Mar  39   $955  
Canada  03-May  09-Apr  23   $1,080  

Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0417-01 (no territory data available); LMIC calculations.

Table 1 shows that relatively higher wages do not necessarily translate to a lower pay gap. While women in provinces with higher average wages may appear to be better off than their counterparts in other regions, they may, in fact, face a wider pay gap.

For example, Alberta has the second-highest average wage for women, behind Ontario, but saw the least improvement over the past decade, resulting in the largest gap in 2023 and the latest 2024 Equal Pay Day (on June 2). Meanwhile, the provinces with the four lowest average wages for women have Equal Pay Days that are better than the provincial average of April 9: Prince Edward Island (February 13), New Brunswick (March 16), Manitoba (April 3) and Nova Scotia (March 28).

The takeaway here is that higher average wages can conceal the persistence of a pay gap within a group (such as a province or occupation).

Does occupation affect pay equality?

Income varies across occupations, as does the representation of women employed in those occupations. Women accounted for nearly 60% of the people employed in low-income occupations, which saw the most significant job losses in 2020 (Feor & Amery, 2022).  

Some people assume that women earn lower wages because they are more likely to work in low-wage jobs—in other words, the overrepresentation of women in lower-paying occupations is the sole reason for the gender wage gap. However, there are also pay disparities within higher-paying occupations. We have selected two higher-income occupations to show that the gender wage gap is not simply a result of women choosing different types of jobs than men.

Table 2: Equal Pay Day for selected occupations, 2013 and 2023

  Natural and applied sciences  Health occupations 
2013  2023  2013  2023 
Share of employment, women   24%  26%  86%  83% 
Weekly wages, women  $1,151.09  $1,541.69  $937.57  $1,185.12 
Weekly wages, men  $1,354.61  $1,780.55  $1,127.40  $1,348.39 
Equal Pay Day   March 5, 2014  February 19, 2024  March 15, 2014  February 25, 2024 

Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0417-01; LMIC calculations.

The two occupations we chose for this example are natural and applied sciences and health occupations (except management). In 2023, women were under-represented in natural and applied sciences (just 26% of workers were women) and over-represented in health occupations (where 83% of workers were women).  

Table 2 shows that the average weekly wages for men were higher than for women in both occupations and both years. The 2024 Equal Pay Days for both occupations land comparatively early—in February and only six days apart.  

Interestingly, in the women-dominated health occupations, the pay disparity is larger than in the male-dominated natural and applied sciences. Of course, the overrepresentation of women in low-paying jobs negatively affects the overall wage gap, but also obscures the extent of gender bias that persists within occupations.

Intersectional perspective on wage disparities

By design, focusing on the average wages across all women masks persistent disparities that exist when individual experiences are not incorporated. An intersectional approach to wage disparities goes beyond comparing the average earnings of men and women.5

For example, a Statistics Canada study, Intersectional perspective on the Canadian gender wage gap, found that in 2022, compared to the average hourly wage for Canadian-born men, women who immigrated as children earned 10.5% less, and women who immigrated as adults earned 20.9% less (Drolet & Amini, 2023).

Indigenous women living off-reserve are closing the wage gap between Indigenous men living off-reserve, but have made little to no progress compared to non-Indigenous women

Table 3 uses data from Statistics Canada to compare the average earnings of Indigenous women to those of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous men. We can also compare the average earnings of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women to highlight the wage disparities that exist where gender intersects with other identities.  

The comparison of average earnings at the intersection of gender and Indigenous status shows that Indigenous women have made progress versus both groups of men. However, the wage gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women widened slightly from 2013 to 2023.

Table 3: Average earnings for Indigenous women compared to Indigenous men, non-Indigenous women, and non-Indigenous men

  2013  2023 
Average hourly wage of Indigenous women as a percentage of the average hourly wage of: 
Non-Indigenous women  90.4%  90.3% 
Indigenous men  84.1%  88.6% 
Non-Indigenous men  77.2%  78.6% 
Average weekly earnings of Indigenous women as a percentage of the average weekly earnings of: 
Non-Indigenous women  90.7%  90.0% 
Indigenous men  71.4%  77.3% 
Non-Indigenous men  67.9%  70.6% 

Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-04180; LMIC calculations.

Women who identify with a racialized group earn significantly less than the average male

The most recent Canadian Census data show that women who identify with a racialized group earn 66.1% (Arab) to 90.1% (Chinese) of what the average male earns.6

In the United States, the American Association of University Women is expanding Equal Pay Day 2024 to recognize the variations in the wage disparities of racialized women. The following Equal Pay Days reflect the wage gaps between the listed groups of racialized women and non-Hispanic white men in the United States.

All women

March 12, 2024

Asian American

April 3, 2024

Black/African America

July 9, 2024

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander

August 28, 2024


November 21, 2024


October 3, 2024

There is greater availability of race-based data in the United States compared to Canada, so we are not able to replicate this exercise for our own Equal Pay Day 2024.

Persons with disabilities have lower wages and are more likely to work part-time, leading to lower average weekly earnings

According to the 2019 Canadian Income Survey, overall, persons with disabilities (aged 16 years and older) earned 21.4% less ($11,500 less) than those without. The pay gap varies by disability type: cognitive (46.4% less), mental health-related (31.0% less), physical (20.7% less) and sensory (12.3% less).

More recently, the 2022 supplement to the Labour Force Survey showed that the median hourly wage for employees with disabilities was 5.5% less than for those without disabilities. The gap was larger for those with more severe disabilities: 16.7% less for men and 7.6% less for women.

Learn more about LMI on persons with disabilities in Canada.

Neurodivergent individuals are more likely to be underemployed, with lower potential earnings versus their neurotypical peers

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough data for a comprehensive understanding of the labour market experiences and outcomes of neurodivergent people, so we cannot calculate an Equal Pay Day for 2024 for this group.

This lack of data needs to be addressed because the research that does exist repeatedly identifies underemployment as a persistent labour market outcome for neurodivergent individuals, and this translates to lower earnings. There are a multitude of barriers that can contribute to the labour market experiences of these individuals.

Our report, Decoding job postings: Improving accessibility for neurodivergent job seekers, delves into how the language used in online job postings can create barriers for neurodivergent applicants. The report makes a series of recommendations for employers to improve job posting language.

An existing report from the Future Skills Centre, Breaking Down Barriers: Improving the Workplace Experience for Neurodivergent Canadians, explores the barriers faced by neurodivergent individuals when it comes to obtaining stable employment, from the interview process through to the work environment (Hutchison, 2023).

A call to action: Equal Pay Day 2025

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is predicated on the principle of “leaving no one behind.” Data are understood as playing a pivotal role in this aspiration. Recognizing this, an intersectional approach to data analysis that identifies disparities within and between groups by considering the intricate interplay of various aspects of individuals' identities is fundamental as Canada moves toward “leaving no one behind.”  

In anticipation of Equal Pay Day 2025, we will consolidate data from various sources about wages and earnings from 2024 to disaggregate the wage disparities by job and worker characteristics. These data will support more intersectional analyses of wage gaps.  

We encourage others in the LMI ecosystem to use this information to start discussions of equal pay in their spaces to promote greater inclusivity under the United Nations principle of equal pay for work of equal value for all.


1 The data are based on average weekly wages for all workers with reported income. 

2 Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0417. 

3 The annual wages are based on the average weekly wages reported in the Labour Force Survey. Actual annual earnings may differ due to unpaid time off or other factors affecting total pay over the year.  

4 Although many people work a traditional five-day week, there are many possible alternative schedules, such as part-time or shift work, making it more appropriate to use the full 7-day week for the calculation.  

5 LMIC’s recent blog post, Women’s economic empowerment and the Canadian labour market, released in recognition of International Women’s Day in 2024, uses an intersectional perspective to explore the labour market outcomes between diverse groups of women, including the gender wage gap.  

6 The 2021 Census offers the most recent income data available by racialized group. These data were collected during 2020. Source: Statistics Canada Table 98-10-059901 

Laura Adkins-Hackett

Laura Adkins-Hackett


Laura Adkins-Hackett contributes to the analysis and development of labour market information in Canada. Laura is passionate about understanding why the economy works the way it does and how to best use labour and other resources to improve the lives of Canadians.

Profile Image - Brittany Feor

Brittany Feor

Research Lead (Acting), Senior Economist

Brittany Feor contributes to the accessibility and analysis of labour market information. She brings expertise in quantitative analysis and macroeconomics. Brittany’s quantitative research covers topics in labour and education, such as employment outcomes of recent Canadian graduates.


Suzanne Spiteri

Research Lead

Dr. Suzanne Spiteri is a sociologist with several years of experience in both qualitative and mixed-methods data analysis. She leads labour-related projects that explore labour market tightness and the labour market outcomes of under-represented groups.


Baker, M., & Drolet M. (2010). A New View of the Male/Female Pay Gap. Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politiques, 36(4), 429–464. 

Drolet, M. (2010). Why has the gender wage gap narrowed?. Perspectives on Labour and Income, Spring 2011, Vol. 23, no. 1.  

Drolet, M., & Amini, M.M. (2023). Intersectional perspective on the Canadian gender wage gap. Studies on Gender and Intersecting Identities. Statistics Canada. Catalogue No. 45-20-0002. 

Feor, B., & Amery, B. (2022). Women in Recovery: COVID-19 and Women’s Labour Market Participation. Ottawa: Labour Market Information Council (LMIC). 

Fortin, N.M. (2019). Increasing earnings inequality and the gender pay gap in Canada: Prospects for convergence. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, 52 : 407-440. 

Spiteri, S. (2024) Decoding job postings: Improving accessibility for neurodivergent job seekers. Ottawa: Labour Market Information Council (LMIC).

Statistics Canada (2023). Labour market characteristics of persons with and without disabilities in 2022: Results from the Labour Force Survey. The Daily. Statistics Canada. 

Statistics Canada (2023). What is the pay gap between persons with and without disabilities? The Daily. Statistics Canada. 

Hutchison, J. (2023). Breaking Down Barriers: Improving the Workplace Experience for Neurodivergent Canadians. The Conference Board of Canada. 

Leave a Comment

Scroll To Top