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Alberta's gender wage gap is Canada's worst

The wage gap in Alberta is the worst in the country.

Troubling numbers are coming from a Parkland Institute Report: an average woman’s income in the province is just 58 per cent of the average man’s total take home pay.

In Calgary, the gap is about the same: the average woman in 2011’s total income was $42,700, while the average man’s was $73,700.

Women also make up two thirds of part-time positions in the province, and do more unpaid work.

Kathleen A. Lahey, Queen’s University Law Professor and author of the report, says one of the things holding women back: inaccessible and unaffordable childcare.

“It costs the average woman 25 per cent of whatever she hopes to earn, if she has children, whether they are single parents, or whether they are in a couple, it’s usually seen as the woman’s job,” she said.

Also to blame for sliding wage equality is Alberta’s single rate taxation system.

“Which has, in a hidden sort of way, prevented women from earning as much as they could,” she explained. “With the single rate of 10 per cent, women are actually paying higher taxes than they should, compared to people who have much higher incomes, who on average tend to be men.”

Lahey says there’s also not much evidence any effort has ever gone into addressing things like pay equity and workplace discrimination in Alberta.

In 1993, women in the province had the highest level of income equality, and they haven’t regained that ground since.

Lahey makes 14 different recommendations in her report, and says the government needs to put together an agenda to address these issues as soon as possible.

“Alberta is having to face the realities on a number of different revenue fronts. Addressing the gender issues at the same time is likely to be a whole lot better for everybody in Alberta, including the economy,” she said.