Looking at Pay Transparency Across Canada

Dive deep into this crucial topic and unlock invaluable insights from leading voices in the field.

Updated February 28, 2024

Over the past year, significant developments in pay transparency legislation have occurred in various Canadian provinces:

British Columbia

British Columbia successfully implemented its Pay Transparency Act, which immediately prohibited employers from asking job applicants how much they were paid in their previous positions.

In addition, the province of British Columbia is progressively implementing a policy that mandates employers to submit and display pay transparency reports regarding their employees in BC. The deadline for specific employers to submit and display annual transparency reports is as follows:

  • As of Nov. 1, 2023: the BC government, BC Hydro, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corp., BC Transit, ICBC, and Work Safe BC.
  • As of Nov. 1, 2024: employers with 1,000 or more employees.
  • As of Nov. 1, 2025: employers with 300 or more employees.
  • And as of Nov. 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees.


In 2018, Ontario introduced the Pay Transparency Act, 2018. But, the legislation never came into effect due to a change in government. In November 2023, Ontario proposed Bill 149, also known as the “Working for Workers Four Act, 2023,” which includes pay transparency provisions. The proposed provisions would require employers to disclose the expected compensation or compensation range for public job postings.

Prince Edward Island

In June 2022, Prince Edward Island updated its employment standards legislation. According to the new rules, employers are now required to mention the expected pay or salary range in their public job postings. They are also prohibited from asking job applicants about their previous salary. In addition, employers cannot discipline or dismiss employees for sharing their pay information with their colleagues, asking about pay policies, requesting compliance with pay transparency provisions, or providing information about an employer’s pay transparency compliance to an Employment Standards Inspector.

Newfoundland and Labrador

In 2022, Newfoundland and Labrador passed Bill P-3.02, and although the pay equity provisions have been implemented, the pay transparency provisions are yet to come into effect. When the pay transparency provisions come into effect, employers will be required to include pay scales in publicly advertised job postings. Employers will also be prohibited from asking job applicants about their pay history and retaliating against employees who discuss their pay information with colleagues. Additionally, employers will be required to prepare pay transparency reports, and they will not be allowed to take any action against employees who inquire about such reports. It is worth noting that Newfoundland and Labrador will join Prince Edward Island and British Columbia in enforcing these regulations.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, it is against the Labour Standards Code for employers to inquire about the pay history of job applicants or current employees. Furthermore, it is also illegal for employers to punish employees who share their pay information with their colleagues.

In October 2023, the Pay Equity and Pay Transparency Act was proposed in Nova Scotia. If implemented, the Act would require employers to include expected pay or salary ranges in job postings that are made public. Additionally, employers would be required to produce pay transparency reports. The Act would also prohibit employers from disciplining or terminating employees who inquire about their pay or the company’s pay policies.


There have been two attempts to introduce the Pay Transparency Act in Manitoba’s legislature, but it has not been adopted yet. Despite its failure, the fact that the legislation has been proposed repeatedly indicates that there is a demand for such provisions in the province. As more Canadian provinces and territories implement similar laws, this demand may continue to increase.

Insights for Canadian Employers

From the perks and pitfalls to practical strategies for implementation and crafting top-notch employee retention tactics, dive deep into the ever-evolving landscape of pay transparency in Canada and unlock invaluable insights from these leading voices in the field!



Created to address the “E” in “DEI” (diversity, equity, & inclusion), pay transparency is a policy where businesses provide pay-related information (wages or wage ranges) to their employees. Although many of us remember a time when employees were discouraged from sharing pay-related information, pay transparency can also include a communications policy that allows or encourages employees to share this information with each other.

While it is largely not legally required across Canada & the USA, it is in some, and it could be coming to more. This raises a lot of questions:

  • Do we want more government involvement in private businesses?
  • Will there be fines?
  • Should there be fines?
  • Is there a better way to advance and support equity?

Last year, the federal government passed the Pay Equity Act, which will eventually require all federally regulated workplaces with 100 employees or more to publicly disclose wage gap data for women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. And of course, public companies have always had to report to their stakeholders on pay rates.


Beyond simply showing pay ranges, pay transparency is about understanding the elements that make up a position, knowing which of those are compensable, helping employees understand how pay decisions are made, and providing equal opportunity of available promotions.

Globally, pay transparency is a hot topic. Not only are companies moving towards voluntarily providing pay-related information to employees, but legislation is also requiring organizations to share more around compensation.

While transparency is a powerful practice that builds trust with employees and can narrow the gender pay gap, it cannot exist well without a solid foundation of clear compensation philosophy and guidelines on how pay decisions are made.

Pay transparency isn’t about statistics, but rather the emotions around equal opportunity, transparency around pay practices, making equitable decisions, and inclusion.

Left image: woman interviewing someone. Left image: three people sitting in a row preparing for an interview



Many do it for the optics and the PR, because, of course, most of us do want to promote equity. While pay transparency can certainly help companies improve equity, it can also have unintended consequences, particularly for SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises).

For example, it could make it harder for them to compete, because it can eliminate communication before it happens. If a small business is offering wages between $25 to $35 an hour, and someone wants $36, they may not apply. As a result, the employer never gets to have a conversation with them about what makes their business a great choice as an employer. Also, it can make it much easier for bigger firms to headhunt from SMEs, as they will know exactly what to offer.

From our point of view as a staffing agency, it limits our ability to negotiate and educate. We have conversations with our clients (employers) all the time about fair and equitable pay. We suggest reasonable pay rates for a position, and then it’s up to them to negotiate with the potential employee.


Companies are taking part due to the shift in expectations of employees, the ability to retain top talent, and increased pressure from a legislative standpoint. The PTA legislation requires employers to disclose pay information in the hiring process and restricts the information you can ask prospective hires during the hiring process to eliminate forms of gender bias.




During the pandemic, more than half of people said they would switch jobs for more pay transparency and many CEOs I talk to say their biggest challenge is recruitment and retention.

Pay transparency:

  • Inspires a more thoughtful hiring process.
  • Helps candidates self-eliminate themselves from the running, saving businesses valuable time and energy in the hiring process.
  • Can make employers more attractive to potential hires.
  • Increases trust, openness, and honesty between employers and employees—according to Tara Jansen of Beqom, 36% of employees don’t trust that their company pays employees fairly.
  • Supports DEI.
  • Removes pay stress from the acquisition process.
  • Shows value in your workforce.

In addition, there are some concerns. Namely:

  • Some think it will lower wages overall as closing the gaps will be too economically hard for some employers.
  • Some feel they lose the bargaining power in the hiring process around salary negotiation.
  • Your competition can use your information against you to get a leg up on your candidates.

I haven’t seen a lot of benefits, especially for SMEs, but what I do recommend is undertaking internal wage audits every year. Look at what the market is paying, how your employees are performing, what value they are bringing, and make decisions based on that. Employers should always be re-evaluating wages to make sure they are fair and reasonable.

black and white image of two business people shaking hands


  • Create a pay philosophy and roadmap—what does this look like in your organization?
  • Reflect on the impacts and potential reactions—uncover biases and being them to light ahead of time.
  • Communicate your pay equity plans honestly, consistently, and with full transparency.
  • Share market research and benchmarking information—a third party benchmarking service adds to your credibility.
  • Simplify pay structure data so employees can understand.
  • Be available and approachable to answer questions that arise.
  • There is a lot of work that goes into adopting pay transparency policies. Ensure you have a dedicated person or team to create, manage, and enforce the practice.
  • Pay transparency could create a glass ceiling as once someone is in a wage range, that’s often where they stay.
  • Consider how you will communicate these new policies and be prepared that not everyone might be happy about them or could have opinions on the pay ranges you implement. It can be a source of contention with both current and potential staff members.
three women looking at and signing a contract



  1. Flexibility
  2. Educational opportunities.
  3. Mental health initiatives.
  4. Employees need to be appreciated for their individual work, cultural differences, values, and needs.
  5. Ask yourself: how can you, as an employer, offer stability in a world full of personal, professional, and global instability? This can be as simple as offering ongoing communication. Here at About Staffing, we have weekly Friday staff meetings where we communicate and find out what’s happening. We never miss them, and everyone can count on them.
  1. Flexibility (locations and hours).
  2. Trust in the company’s values.
  3. Fair and competitive pay.
  4. Diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.
  5. Positive brand reputation.
  6. Mental health initiatives. With half of Canadians saying their mental health has been impacted since the pandemic began and employee engagement rates at an all-time low, many employers need to go beyond traditional benefits and EAP programs. Think: proactive wellbeing supports, work-life integration supports, flexible work arrangements, and hybrid working. According to the exit interviews I do with clients and data on employee engagement, the #1 cause of people leaving work is lack of work life integration supports.
  7. Training and development. Beyond typical leadership development programs, the topics I have been asked to teach on the most are: understanding and supporting mental health for leaders & employees, developing resiliency skills, and coaching for leaders.

With the introduction of pay transparency legislation in several provinces, it is essential for employers to stay informed about this evolving area of law and ensure that they fulfill their obligations and adhere to the restrictions imposed by such legislation in each province and territory. The rules regarding what is permitted, prohibited, or required vary by jurisdiction. Therefore, employers who advertise and hire employees across Canada must pay close attention to comply with any pay transparency rules in each jurisdiction that has such provisions.


Sharlene Massie
Sharlene MassieFounder of About Staffing & Jobshift.com, author, relationship connector, employment expert, negotiator and retention leader. “Hire the best and keep them” strategies expert.
Sharlene Massie is a leader whose motto is built on transparency, accountability, and compassion. She believes in supporting and developing her people through her four core values of enthusiasm, stability, sincerity and loyalty. Sharlene is a serial entrepreneur that thrives on supporting others, paying it forward, and energizing those around her. She is driven to succeed in all aspects of her life and continually strives for excellence, passion and a bit of humour. She is described as the energizer bunny who never stops. Sharlene is a leader who constantly ideating and percolating on ways to improve, grow and become more resilient.
Laura Gale
Laura GaleExecutive Officer & Founder, Compensation & Total Rewards
Laura is a compensation & global rewards expert with experience in design, delivery and HR technology implementation. She started her career building and leading rewards programs for local and multinational technology, retail and consulting corporations. Laura’s leadership and influence have been instrumental in driving cross-functional partnerships locally and internationally to build and deliver programs on performance, recognition, salary structure development, local labour law, retention, bonus plan design, equity programs and change management. Laura has her Master of Industrial Relations degree from Queen’s University.
Debbie Lang Pearmain
Debbie Lang PearmainHR Consultant, Employee Engagement, Leadership and Employee Development, Healthy Cultures, Speaker, Advocate, ACC Coach, Certified Eqi-2.0 and 360 and Hardiness Resilience Guage assessments
Debbie brings over 25 years of extensive experience as a Human Resources Consultant and Coach. Within One Stop HR, Debbie offers specialized assistance in conducting HR Audits, designing and executing Leadership Development programs, facilitating Employee Training sessions, administering Employee Engagement surveys, providing personalized Coaching services, managing Performance appraisals, overseeing Change initiatives, and promoting Mental Health and Resiliency in the workplace.