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Researchers confirm substantial income disparities among lesbian, gay and bisexual Canadians

Canadian $100 bills are counted in Toronto, Feb. 2, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy) Canadian $100 bills are counted in Toronto, Feb. 2, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)

A new report on the inequities faced by LGBTQ2S+ Canadians has confirmed an economic trend that could make employers re-examine their hiring practices and how they address workplace challenges.

Using 14 years of data from national population-based surveys, researchers from Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, a non-profit research group, found substantial income disparities among lesbian, gay and bisexual Canadians compared to the heterosexual population.

According to the report, people who self-identified as a sexual minority had "significantly lower median annual earnings compared with heterosexual men. In descriptive analyses, heterosexual men were found to earn the most ($55,959), followed by gay men ($50,822), lesbian women ($44,740), bisexual men ($31,776), and bisexual women ($25,290)."

Researchers say the gaps were persistent even when they considered factors like differences in education levels.


Although the study identified industry of employment, mental health and hours worked as key factors that led to earnings differences, researchers say the remaining gaps point to the potential role of discrimination experienced by sexual minorities in the workplace.

"The finding that sexual minorities earn less isn’t new, but the fact that it’s now supported by some of the highest-quality income data available is striking," Basia Pakula, one of the team’s researchers said in a statement. "The suggestion that discrimination works in combination with mental health to foster earnings disadvantages for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people is crucial when thinking of potential policy solutions."

Researchers found that earnings gaps were most pronounced for bisexual men and women.

"Across all areas we explored, outcomes for bisexual-identified people were consistently the poorest. This tells us that we need to avoid treating the LGBTQ2S+ community like a single entity. We need to learn more about how biphobia and bi-specific discriminatory experiences play out in peoples’ day-to-day lives, including in the labour market."


Despite recent efforts by Statistics Canada to collect information on transgender, two-spirit and non-binary people in the 2021 census, that data is not yet available and prevents researchers from knowing the full story.

"Without relevant data, employers have a tough time setting targets, even if they have a strong commitment to inclusion," Colin Druhan, executive director at Pride at Work Canada said in a statement.

"What we are learning from this research is going to help a lot of employers better understand how to make a measurable impact on the challenges we're seeing instead of relying on assumptions and stereotypes, which only exacerbate the situation for queer and trans workers and jobseekers," he added. 



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