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When you think of provincial governments, politicians might come to mind. But the people really running the show work in the civil service. These are the employees running the pandemic response, executing health care policy, and in some cases running hospitals. They oversee post-secondary institutions and draft your children’s curriculum. They’re checking if your drinking water is safe, deciding which roads need repairs, and funding art projects. Provincial governments deal with agriculture, the environment, municipalities, natural resources, prisons and the justice system. Crown attorneys and judges work for the province. The tens of thousands of provincial civil servants in Canada are the people researching, writing and executing the policies that affect your day-to-day life. (They’re also the branch of government that can arguably do the most to improve workplace equality.)

Only high-income earners are included in public sector salary disclosures. In most cases, these disclosures apply to employees who earn $100,000 or more. In provinces with a lower threshold, The Globe removed the employees below that six-figure bar. Alberta is the only province that sets a higher threshold. In 2017, that number was $107,071. The province of Manitoba’s disclosure did not include the first names of employees, so it could not be included in this analysis. The federal government, territories, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island do not have public sector salary legislation, although some jurisdictions (like New Brunswick) release salary range information. (Universities and government owned corporations have a higher threshold.) The Globe’s data comes from the 2017 or 2017/2018, depending on how the organization handles its fiscal year. (Read more about our methodology.)

The Power Gap

Provincial governments were the most evenly split of all the four pillars in terms of compensation. This was true overall and among senior-level positions. (When calculating the gender divide among “power positions,” the Globe included the president in the overall representation number, but not the average salary.)

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Male illustration

Overall gender representation

61%
male
vs. 39%
female

Overall average salary

$131,137
male
vs. $131,763
female

Overall gender representation
in "power position" decision-making roles

56%
male
vs. 44%
female

Overall average salary
in "power position" decision-making roles

$175,150
male
vs. $170,878
female
Female illustration

Breaking down the Power Gap

To better understand where women are in the workplace, the Globe assessed each entity’s gender representation at individual salary levels. Large entities — those with 100 or more six-figure earners — were examined with 10 bands. Smaller ones with five. Overall, men working for provincial governments outnumbered women at every echelon, but compared to other entities, the gap was smaller.

Gender representation legend

The top 1 percentile

For each province, The Globe analyzed the top 1 percentile of earners. On average, women were outnumbered about two to one at this level. Of the 98 women in this category where the Globe could determine race, 10 are women of colour.

Provincial government departments are heavily segregated

On the surface, provincial governments appeared to be a relatively equal work force compared to other pillars. It’s only when you dig into specific departments that the gender divide shows up. The Globe broke out 12 common ministries: advanced education, agriculture and fisheries, culture, education, energy, environment, finance, health, infrastructure, justice, municipal affairs and transportation. Men dominated departments such as agriculture, energy, environment, finance, infrastructure and transportation. Women, meanwhile, did better in areas that are traditionally viewed as female-friendly sectors: education, health and culture. (British Columbia’s disclosure data did not include department information, so it could not be included in this analysis.)

Gender split by major provincial

governments departments

(%)

B.C. overall

Men

41

59

Women

Alta.

Sask.

Ont.

43

57

Overall

38

62

42

58

20

Transportation

80

N/A

33

67

30

Infrastructure

70

45

18

55

82

27

Energy

73

N/A

35

65

27

73

Environment

41

59

15

85

Municipal

Affairs

29

71

N/A

49

51

Agriculture

and Fisheries

35

65

49

51

40

60

42

Culture

58

62

38

36

64

Advanced

Education

44

56

59

41

39

61

47

53

Finance

48

52

37

63

47

53

Justice

54

46

42

58

55

Education

45

60

40

55

45

57

Health

43

55

45

63

37

N.S.

N.L.

Overall

47

53

45

55

Transportation

and

Infrastructure

Transportation

33

67

Infrastructure

15

85

N/A

Energy

N/A

36

64

Environment

and Municipal

Affairs

Environment

53

47

Municipal

Affairs

32

68

35

65

Agriculture

and Fisheries

30

70

38

62

Culture

75

50

25

50

Advanced

Education

60

40

56

44

Finance

37

63

39

61

Justice

54

46

46

54

*Data omitted due to the low number of individuals.

Education

63

37

Health

44

66

56

34

Gender split by major provincial

governments departments

(%)

B.C. overall

Men

41

59

Women

Alta.

Sask.

Ont.

43

57

Overall

38

62

42

58

20

Transportation

80

N/A

33

67

30

Infrastructure

70

45

18

55

82

27

Energy

73

N/A

35

65

27

73

Environment

41

59

15

85

Municipal

Affairs

29

71

N/A

49

51

Agriculture

and Fisheries

35

65

49

51

40

60

42

Culture

58

62

38

36

64

Advanced

Education

44

56

59

41

39

61

47

53

Finance

48

52

37

63

47

53

Justice

54

46

42

58

55

Education

45

60

40

55

45

57

Health

43

55

45

63

37

N.S.

N.L.

Overall

47

53

45

55

Transportation

and

Infrastructure

Transportation

33

67

Infrastructure

15

85

N/A

Energy

N/A

36

64

Environment

and Municipal

Affairs

Environment

53

47

Municipal

Affairs

32

68

35

65

Agriculture

and Fisheries

30

70

38

62

Culture

75

50

25

50

Advanced

Education

60

40

56

44

Finance

37

63

39

61

Justice

54

46

46

54

*Data omitted due to the low number of individuals.

Education

63

37

Health

44

66

56

34

Gender split by major provincial governments departments

(%)

B.C. overall

Men

41

59

Women

Alta.

Sask.

Ont.

N.S.

N.L.

43

57

Overall

47

53

45

55

38

62

42

58

Transportation

and

Infrastructure

20

Transportation

80

33

67

N/A

33

67

30

Infrastructure

70

15

85

45

N/A

18

55

82

27

Energy

73

N/A

N/A

36

64

35

65

Environment

and Municipal

Affairs

27

73

Environment

53

41

47

59

15

85

Municipal

Affairs

29

71

32

68

35

65

N/A

49

51

Agriculture

and Fisheries

35

65

30

70

38

62

49

51

40

60

42

Culture

58

75

50

25

50

62

38

36

64

Advanced

Education

44

60

56

40

56

44

59

41

39

61

47

53

Finance

37

63

39

61

48

52

37

63

47

53

Justice

54

46

46

54

54

46

42

58

*Data omitted due to the low number of individuals.

55

Education

45

63

37

60

40

55

45

57

Health

43

44

66

56

55

34

45

63

37

The names of government ministries are constantly changing, amalgamating and rarely line up perfectly. The Globe has grouped ministries with overlapping titles together. For example, Alberta’s “Culture and Tourism,” Ontario’s “Tourism, Culture and Sport” and Nova Scotia’s “Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage” are all under “Culture.”)

Digging deeper

Below, you can explore the gender breakdown by individual provinces and within specific ministries. The Globe also broke out 12 ministries that were common across the country. It is at this level that the gender divide is most apparent. Men dominated departments such as Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Finance, Infrastructure and Transportation, while women typically outnumbered men in ministries responsible for education, health and culture.

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The Power Gap on leadership teams

The Globe used job titles to identify employees at the most senior levels: the deputy ministers, associate and assistant deputy ministers, as well as sous‐ministre, sous‐ministre associée, and sous‐ministre adjointe. By far, provincial governments were the most equitable when it came to“power positions” – the people in senior leadership roles.

Female representation in positions of power by entity

Below you can explore the gender breakdown among power positions in individual provinces and within specific ministries.

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With reporting and research from Andrew Saikali, Stephanie Chambers, Tavia Grant, Denise Balkissoon and Tu Thanh Ha.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS

  • Story editing: Dawn Calleja
  • Design and art direction: Ming Wong
  • Web design and development: Christopher Manza
  • Illustration and graphics: Murat Yükselir
  • Photo editing: Theresa Suzuki
  • Data science consulting and verification: Lola Abduvaitova
  • Data science consulting: Shengqing Wu
  • Data verification: Tom Cardoso
  • Michael Pereira also contributed to the project

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