On International Women’s Day, the AFL calls on UCP government to ‘break the bias’ against women workers – AFL

UCP legislation and cuts contribute to Alberta’s highest gender pay gap in Canada

EDMONTON – This year’s International Women’s Day theme “break the bias” stands in contrast to the Kenney UCP government’s gender-biased and discriminatory actions over the last three years, says the Alberta Federation of Labour. Alberta has the highest gender pay gap in Canada and the AFL points to UCP funding cuts to public care work in health care, social services and education, and the fact that Alberta does not have pay equity legislation, as contributing factors. The UCP government also passed discriminatory legislation against GSAs and time will tell if it will honour its commitment to the federal government child care program.

“This March 8, we recognize the past year has been very challenging. The pandemic has exposed large gaps in our systems and much inequity still remains,” says Karen Kuprys, Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer. “As COVID-19 public health measures are lifted we must take stock of the fundamental reasons why these inequities exist and recommit to fighting for a more just society.”

“‘Break the Bias’ is a timely theme. For many, the burden and unfairness of stereotypes and discrimination persist and the Kenney UCP government is perpetuating these biases. Striving for equality demands us to question how we are complicit in supporting outdated beliefs and power paradigms. We must be deliberate in our actions to stomp out bias in our communities,” says Kuprys.

We need to recognize that for women in Alberta, COVID-19 has meant they are being left behind because of existing gender inequalities. This is true for other equity-seeking groups, such non-binary people, people with disabilities, ethnically diverse and Indigenous people, as well as new immigrants, who all have characteristics that intersect with gender to experience greater inequities. When we analyze UCP legislation with a gendered lens, it is obvious that the Kenney UCP government is continuing this gender bias. Women still are responsible for the majority of unpaid care, so not only are they the ones in public care work roles affected by cuts, they are also the ones who pay the price when our public health, education and social services are underfunded. Alberta also remains one of a minority of provinces without pay equity legislation to require employers to give equal pay to women and men for equal work.

The federal government’s child care program will be an important step towards gender equity but it remains to be seen if the Kenney UCP government will provide enough funding. Women with children without access to affordable high-quality centre-based child care are often forced to turn down promotions or take part-time jobs. Some women have no choice but to leave the workforce, which hurts their economic security, career development and lifetime earnings. If the UCP government cuts funding for this program, it will undermine the ability for women in Alberta to work and continue to add to the fact that Alberta has the highest gender pay gap in Canada.


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL