Women in this town no longer forced to wear high heels at work

PHOTO: The Straits Times

MONTREAL - Believe it or not, some companies in Canada's British-Columbia province can force women to wear high heels at work. But not any more.

The premier of the province, Christy Clark, announced Friday that companies can no longer impose such a rule.

"In some workplaces in our province, women are required to wear high heels on the job. Like most British Columbians, our government thinks this is wrong," Clark said Friday.

Clark, who belongs to the Liberal Party, called the practice dangerous and discriminatory.

Don't let high heels be your Achilles' heel

  • The party season is almost synonymous with stilettos and the like.
  • Keeping your heels strapped for extended periods of time can wreak havoc on your body, from high forefoot pressure to Achilles pain
  • Podiatrists do not recommend anything with a heel pitch (the difference between the heel height and forefoot height) of more than 1cm.
  • The bigger the heel pitch, the more pressure is exerted on the ball of your foot.
  • The most common problem associated with prolonged heel wearing is forefoot pain due to high pressure in the ball of your foot.
  • Skin complications such as calluses and corns can also develop due to high forefoot pressure.
  • The more serious problems include bruised or detached toenails from narrow or pointy shoes, short calf muscles and Achilles pain.
  • A bunion is a bony growth at the joint at the base of the big toe. It makes the toes turn at an angle, causing an unnatural pointing of the other toes and pain.
  • While a short calf muscle does not pose problems when the heel is propped up, it can be uncomfortable when standing or walking around in flats as the muscle and tendon are stretched beyond their normal range of movement.
  • The hidden cost of adding that few extra inches to your body extends to the lower back.
  • Stilettos place your heels unnaturally above the toes and throw your posture out of alignment.
  • But if you cannot imagine stepping out of your high heels for something more comfortable, opt for wedges instead of stilettos, or shoes with a forefoot platform to reduce heel pitch.
  • Avoid pointed toe boxes and consider wider and round toe boxes.
  • Wear lower heels when a lot of walking is anticipated.
  • Stretch your calves daily.

"There is a risk of physical injury from slipping or falling, as well as possible damage to the feet, legs and back from prolonged wearing of high heels while at work," she added in a statement Friday, co-signed by the province's labour minister, Shirley Bond.

"I expect employers to recognise this very clear signal that forcing someone to wear high heels at work is unacceptable," said Bond.

Clark has thus endorsed a Green party bill aimed at changing workplace laws so that safety regulations -- including those involving footwear -- are the same for men and women.

A month ago, 25 restaurant chains in Ontario stopped forcing female employees to wear heels and short skirts as part of their uniform.

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