Six years after an initial access to information request, the Toronto Star has revealed Canada Post spent an exorbitant sum of $21 million in legal fees to fight a pay equity case that stretched over decades.
A human rights complaint was first issued in 1983 by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Canada’s largest public sector union was tasked with representing 2,300 clerical workers implicated at the cases beginning.
The complaint cited significant disparities between the payment of largely male mail-sorters and letter-carriers, and mainly female clerical workers working for Canada Post. It would eventually get the backing of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which found Canada Post owed its workers $150 million in damages.
Canada Post was willing to fight the union in a forty year legal dispute that culminated in a unanimous 2011 Supreme Court decision that favoured the case brought forward by the workers.
Canada Post “fought every step of the way,” Helen Barry, a legal officer with PSAC, told the Star.
Indeed, when 2011 rolled around, many of the workers involved at the cases onset had died. Nonetheless, many current employees and 12,500 former employees have been compensated to the tune of 50 percent of what they had loss due to pay inequity.
Canada Post’s spending on legal fees has only been divulged after an access to information request dating back to 2013. At first, Canada Post did not release the desired information, claiming it fell under solicitor-client privilege while the crown corporation continued to settle its financial affairs with PSAC.
Eventually, the Star got the figures they were looking for this past June. It appears, between 2000 and 2013, Canada Post spent just over $11.5 million in the late stages of the legal dispute. From 1989 to 2000, the company invested nearly $9.5 million.
The figure of $21 million for legal fees would likely be higher, however, Canada Post lacks relevant records on legal spending prior to 1989.
This is not the first time Canada Post has been taken to task for pay inequities. In 2016, the crown corporation was forced to raise wages by %25 for a majority female rural and suburban mail carriers, who were receiving less than a largely male group that worked in urban areas.