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Give up pay-equity challenge: Picco

Iqaluit MLA Ed Picco says endless court appeals over allegations of past discrimination won’t stop the invevitable.


The territorial government should lick its wounds and settle a dispute over pay equity out of court, Iqaluit MLA Ed Picco told the Legislative Assembly last week.

“We can continue to duck and dive, appeal or whatever legal route we take to put this off,” Picco said, “but is it not about time someone took the bull by the horns and dealt with this situation we find ourselves in?”

The Union of Northern Workers and the territorial government have been battling it out over gender parity since 1989, when the Public Service Alliance of Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging the GNWT was discriminating against women workers.

PSAC, acting on behalf of the UNW, won the latest court battle when Justice Marceau of the Court of Appeal in Ottawa ruled in its favor. At the same time, Justice Marceau dismissed an appeal and cross-appeal by the GNWT.

“Why does the government not sit down with our partner, the UNW, and try and reach a compromise or find some other alternative?” Picco asked.

“Would it not have been prudent management to have set up a continuance fund for possible pay out? This was not done and now the only recourse we have is to appeal and stall.”

Hundreds of female public-service employees and former employees could be eligible for compensation dating back ten years. UNW President Jackie Simpson said that figure may exceed $70 million.

Picco suggested that the government has dragged the issue out long enough.

“I remember when the issue was first brought to the courts as a former local present,” Picco said. “Never in my wildest imagination did I think that eight or nine years later, I would be a member of a government still trying to shuffle it off.”

Picco also criticized the government for refusing to respond to the court decision.

“At the end of the day when this is finally settled, the taxpayers of the Northwest Territories may be on the hook for several million dollars,” he said. “By saying nothing, by using legal delaying tactics, we seem to be putting off onerous eventuality. That is not acceptable.”

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