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Human Rights in Canada: An Historical Perspective

Promoting Fair Employment in Ontario:

Toronto, Ontario
April 5, 1951

April 5th, 1951 was a big day for human rights in Ontario!

The influence of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is manifest in two new laws: The Fair Employment Practices Act and the Female Employee's Fair Remuneration Act.

The Fair Employment Practices Act has became the model for many human rights codes to come. It targeted discrimination in hiring practices and the work place by establishing fines as well as a procedure for complaints.

The Act does have its shortcomings: It doesn't apply to...

  • domestics employed in private homes
  • non-profit religious, philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social organizations
  • small businesses with less than 5 employees

The legislature also introduced the Female Employee's Fair Remuneration Act. It addresses the common practice of paying women - who were often relegated to " dead-end" jobs - less than their male colleagues. Simply put, the act seeks to provide women with equal pay for work of equal value. The problem was not to be solved overnight, yet the act was a sure step in the right direction.

All in all, April 5th, 1951 turned out to be a glorious day in the development of human rights.

Quotable quote

"Whereas it is contrary to public policy in Ontario to discriminate against men and women in respect of their employment because of race, creed, colour, nationality, ancestry or place of origin whereas it is desirable to enact a measure designed to promote observance of this principle and whereas to do so is in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations."

Preamble to Fair Employment Practices Act

Did you know?

In 1951, the average salary for a female is $1,907. That's just 49.5% of the average male salary. In 1997, the average earnings by a female was $21,167 - or 63.8 % of the average male's earnings.

Want To Know More?

Fair Employment Practices Act, 1951 (S.). 1951, c.24)
Female Employee's Fair Remuneration Act S.O.1951, C. 26