TORONTO (CP) - A movement in Ontario to make it a human rights violation to charge women more than men for haircuts, toiletries and dry cleaning picked up steam Thursday.I was surprised, yet not surprised, to see that New York, Miami and California have similar laws. But do they consider this a "human rights" issue? On a par with racial discrimination? Is there truly no other way to explain the price differences?
The legislature approved in principle a Canadian first: a bill that would fine merchants up to $5,000 for asking more to trim women's hair than men's or more to dry clean a blouse than a shirt.
"It's something that makes common sense, to charge the same price to women or to men for the same good or service," said Lorenzo Berardinetti, a Liberal government backbencher who proposed a private member's bill he says mirrors laws in New York, Miami and California.
Private member's bills rarely make it into law. But Berardinetti's passed second reading Thursday and will be sent to a legislative committee for public hearings.
Berardinetti, a rookie politician, is also a rookie husband. He says he did not realize the extent of the differing prices for men and women until he went shopping for cologne and clothing with his new wife, Michelle.
"I soon learned what gender tax was all about," he said.
"It's my wife, it's her fault."
Michelle Berardinetti told reporters Thursday she too quickly tired of watching her husband pay less for everything from deodorant to suits and haircuts.
"When it's brought to your attention, it's like 'Wow, that's amazing, I can't believe that,' " she said.
"It's the same as a racial issue or something. When it's brought in your face, then you start to realize it."
April 18, 2005
Ontario takes bold action on a human rights outrage
Canadian Press, April 14 (excerpt; emphasis added):