Information on the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards

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Federal labour standards have remained largely unchanged since the 1960s, when Canadians often worked stable, 9 to 5 jobs with benefits and decent wages. Over 50 years later, ever-increasing global competition, rapid technological changes and socio-demographic shifts have fundamentally altered the way businesses operate and the way Canadians work. Federal labour standards have not kept up.

As a first step towards modernizing federal labour standards, Part III of the Canada Labour Code (the Code) was amended in 2017 to establish a right to request flexible work arrangements, create new unpaid leaves, and place limits on unpaid internships.

Between May 2017 and March 2018, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and Labour Program officials held extensive consultations on what a robust and modern set of federal labour standards should include. As noted in an August 2018 What we heard report, the consultations identified a number of areas, such as scheduling, eligibility periods, personal leave, equal treatment, misclassification and termination of employment, where there was enough evidence and consensus to move forward with more updates to the Code. These changes were included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which received Royal Assent in December 2018 and will come into force in waves over the coming months.

The consultations also pointed to five issues that would benefit from further study, namely:

  • Federal minimum wage;
  • Labour standards protections for non-standard workers;
  • Disconnecting from work-related e-communications outside of work hours (sometimes known as the “right to disconnect”);
  • Access and portability of benefits; and
  • Collective voice for non-unionized workers

The Minister has created the independent Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards to study, consult on and provide her with advice on these issues by June 30, 2019.

About the Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards has a mandate to study, consult on and provide advice on the five issues. If you would like to consult the Terms of Reference, please contact:

The Expert Panel on  Modern Federal Labour Standards

Chaired by Sunil Johal, Policy Director at The Mowat Centre, the Expert Panel consists of:

  • Richard Dixon
  • Mary Gellatly
  • Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau
  • Kathryn A. Raymond, Q.C.
  • W. Craig Riddell
  • Rosa B. Walker

Collectively, members have a wide range of knowledge and experience in areas such as labour policy, law and economics.

Sunil Johal (Chair)

Sunil Johal is Policy Director at The Mowat Centre, a public policy think tank at the University of Toronto. He leads the centre’s research activities, manages the policy team and teaches a variety of executive education courses. He is frequently invited to advise governments and international organizations about disruptive technologies and regulatory and policy issues.

Sunil has contributed expert commentary and advice on policy issues to a range of organizations and media outlets, including the G20, World Economic Forum, Brookings Institution, The Globe and MailThe Toronto Star, CBC, The Washington PostThe Guardian, the National Governors Association, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), senior elected and bureaucratic officials from all three levels of government in Canada, and many domestic and international private sector firms.

Sunil is a member of Service Canada’s Service Advisory Committee, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Future of Work in the Global South initiative, the Climate Blueprints Advisory Committee of the Metcalf Foundation, and has served in an advisory capacity on projects for organizations including the Public Policy Forum and Brookfield Institute. He has been a member of the board of directors of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council since 2015.

Before joining the University of Toronto in 2012, Sunil was a director with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation where he led the government’s efforts to modernize services to business and its regulatory environment. He has also held senior executive and policy roles with Ontario’s Cabinet Office and Ministry of Finance and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Sunil has been a lecturer with Ryerson University’s Department of Politics and Public Administration since 2009 and is a faculty member of the Maytree Policy School. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics, Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Western Ontario.

Richard Dixon

Richard Dixon is a retired senior human resources and labour relations executive with over 35 years’ experience. He held VP roles at Nav Canada, CN Rail and Unisource Canada as well as senior roles at Abitibi-Price. In these roles, he has been able to travel all across our great country.

He has his Honours BA from King’s University College, University of Western Ontario and his Master of Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto. He also completed his Institute of Corporate Directors designation. He has served on a multitude of different groups, including being the Chair of the Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications (FETCO), a member and past chair of the Ashbury College Board of Governors, Director at the Newfoundland Teachers Pension Plan Corporation (Chair of Governance and Human Resources Committee). He has also been an adjunct professor at Queen’s University’s Master of Industrial Relations Program (teaching mental health in the workplace and strategic bargaining).

Richard’s experience includes general human resources issues, innovation in benefit programs, creative pension plan designs, effective training and development initiatives, and building progressive and respectful labour management relations. He also had responsibility for managing legislative compliance under the Canada Labour Code for CN Rail and Nav Canada.

Over the years, Richard’s interest in mental health in the workplace has produced award winning programs. His knowledge was built from his time on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Workforce Advisory Committee as well on the board of Peer Accreditation Canada.

Lastly, Richard prides himself on getting teams to work creatively on solutions that focus on the interests of all the parties in order to maximize their effectiveness.

Mary Gellatly

Mary Gellatly is community legal worker in the Workers’ Rights Division at Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) in Toronto. Mary is a clinical instructor in employment law for the PCLS intensive law program in partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School. She has over 25 years of experience in the area of workers’ rights and migrant workers’ rights. She was one of the co-founders of the Workers’ Action Centre.

Mary conducts community action research with the Workers’ Action Centre and develops labour policy. She has also published several articles and policy reports, including, “Still Working on the Edge: Building Decent Jobs from the Ground Up” (Workers’ Action Centre, 2015); “Unpaid Wages, Unprotected Workers: A Survey of Employment Standards Violations” (Workers’ Action Centre, 2011); and “Working on the Edge” (Workers’ Action Centre, 2007). She has also co-authored research reports on labour standards, including “New Approaches to Enforcement and Compliance with Labour Regulatory Standards” (Law Commission of Ontario, 2011).

Mary is co-lead of Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap: Improving Protections for People in Precarious Jobs, a collaborative research initiative of 16 cross-sectoral partner organizations, including researchers from seven Ontario universities. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this five-year project seeks to inform effective employment standards policies in Ontario.

Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau

Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau is a member of the Québec Bar, a professor with the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and a researcher with the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work (CRIMT). Recipient of the Association Henri Capitant award for best doctoral dissertation as well as the prize for the best thesis in the social sciences at the Université de Montréal, Dalia is interested in public labour policy and the conditions surrounding access to law and justice. From 2005 to 2012, Dalia practised labour law with the Legal Affairs Branch of Québec’s Labour Standards Commission (now the Labour Standards, Equity and Occupational Health and Safety Commission) and represented non-unionized employees. She litigated landmark cases in front of Quebec’s Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Her current research focuses on the architecture of labour laws and institutions and the application of labour law to workers occupying atypical jobs. Dalia also leads a hub on the human and financial costs of access to justice through the Accessing Law and Justice (ADAJ) consortium. Among other things, her recent publications focus on the realities of temporary foreign workers, labour inspection and work time boundaries.

Kathryn A. Raymond, Q.C.

Kathryn A. Raymond, Q.C. is a senior partner with BoyneClarke LLP in Dartmouth, N.S. She graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1985. Kathryn has a comprehensive legal practice in employment and administrative law, in which she represents the interests of employers and employees in both the public and private sectors. She has extensive practical experience in applying and interpreting labour standards legislation as a vice-chair of the Nova Scotia Labour Board.

Kathryn brings a fair, balanced and collaborative approach, having resolved or decided workplace-related disputes as a labour relations arbitrator/mediator, as a workplace investigator and through various adjudicative appointments, including as a Nova Scotia Human Rights Board of Inquiry and a member of the Nova Scotia Minister of Labour’s List of Arbitrators. Kathryn is sensitive to the differing perspectives to be considered among stakeholders in developing legislation and policy, having been involved in statutory and regulatory development in Nova Scotia and policy development with both the Nova Scotia and Ontario governments.

Before returning to private practice in 1990, Kathryn worked for a time in the public sector as in-house counsel to the Ontario Ministry of Health. An advocate for resolving workplace disputes in an efficient and effective manner, Kathryn has been invited to speak at numerous conferences. Currently, she is Chair of the Nova Scotia Administrative Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and a member of the Regional Advisory Committee of the Advocates’ Society. She previously served as Chair of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Task Force on the Model Code of Conduct and as Chair of the Society’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility Advisory Committee. In 2017, Kathryn received her Queen’s Counsel appointment.

W. Craig Riddell

W. Craig Riddell is Professor Emeritus, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia (UBC). He graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1968 and received MA (1972) and PhD (1977) degrees from Queen’s University. He was Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Alberta from 1975 to 1979. Prior to his retirement, he was Royal Bank Research Professor of Economics at UBC, where he taught from 1979 to 2016. He also held visiting appointments at University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Santa Barbara, Australian National University, University of Sydney and University of New South Wales.

Craig currently serves on Statistics Canada’s Advisory Committee on Labour and Income Statistics and the Board of Directors, Centre for the Study of Living Standards. He is also Research Fellow at the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Montreal; Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, London; and IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Bonn, Germany.

He has published widely in labour economics, labour relations and public policy, including income inequality, education, skill formation, unemployment, social programs, immigration, and unionization. He is also co-author of Labour Market Economics: Theory, Evidence and Policy in Canada, 8th edition, Canada’s leading labour economics textbook.

Craig is former Head of UBC’s Department of Economics, Past-President of the Canadian Economics Association and former Director of the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Research Network. He has received numerous awards, most recently the 2016 UBC Dean of Arts Award, the 2016 Doug Purvis Memorial Prize for the book Income Inequality: The Canadian Story (edited with David Green and France St-Hilaire), and the 2012 Mike McCracken Award for contributions to labour market data,.

Craig’s previous government advisory roles include the Expert Panel on Older Workers, Government of Canada, 2007-2008; British Columbia Task Force on Employment and Training, 1989-1991; and Research Coordinator for Labour Markets and Labour Relations, Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, 1983-1985.

Rosa B. Walker

Rosa B. Walker is a member of Peguis First Nation of Manitoba. She is currently the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute Inc. in Manitoba and was formally the Executive Director of Taking Charge! Inc., a federal and provincial initiative that assists single parents on social assistance enter the workforce. She was also employed at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in the capacity of Managing Director, Workplace Diversity. Rosa worked with the Bank of Montreal in the capacity of Manager, Workplace Equality for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Rosa received a BA from the University of Winnipeg and is a graduate of the Social Work Diploma Program at Confederation College, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Rosa was formally a board member of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, the Aboriginal Training and Employment Services, National Aboriginal Youth Association, Inc., and Accreditation Canada. She is currently a board member for First Peoples Economic Growth Fund and Empowering Indigenous Youth in Governance and Leadership.

Rosa is a member of the University of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Business and Economic Alumni Committee and Global College Advisory Council. She received the YM-YWCA Women of Distinction Award for 1999 and was named to Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in 2014.

Message from the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Innovation is changing the way we work and live, bringing with it new realities for Canadian workers and employers. While many employers go above and beyond what’s in the Canada Labour Code (the Code), for some Canadians, these standards are the only protections they have.

As Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, I was mandated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to update the Code to ensure that Canadians have a robust and modern set of federal labour standards. This will not only better protect Canadian workers, but also help employers recruit and retain employees. That means more productivity in the workplace. It’s a win-win for everyone.

After extensive consultations, our Government has made a number of important updates to the Code that will help set the stage for good quality jobs, especially for workers in part-time, temporary or low-wage jobs, many of whom are struggling to balance work and family.

During our consultations it was also made clear that there are a number of complex issues related to federal labour standards and the changing nature of work that require more in-depth review and discussion. Issues such as federal minimum wage, the absence of protections for contractors, gig workers and others in non-standard work arrangements, as well the “right to disconnect” outside of work hours, have not been thoroughly studied in the Canadian context and there is no consensus on how to address them.

In order to determine how best to move forward on these issues, I am mandating an independent Expert Panel to study, consult, and ultimately provide advice to me on these issues.

The Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards will consult and engage with workers, employers, other experts, civil society groups and Canadians, especially those with experience in the federally regulated private sector, in order to deepen its understanding of the issues, receive feedback on potential recommendations and strengthen the evidence base for future policy-making.

The Panel will ensure that engagement opportunities are accessible to different groups, including people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples and low-wage workers.

I want to thank the members for agreeing to be part of the Expert Panel. I look forward to receiving their advice on June 30, 2019.

Thank you.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

The issues

The Expert Panel is studying five issues that were identified during consultations conducted in 2017-2018 on modernizing federal labour standards and relate to the changing nature of work.

These issues require further study because less evidence is available, there are different views on possible policy responses and they raise key questions about the principles behind federal labour standards.

The five issues being studied are:

Federal minimum wage

For more than 20 years, the federal minimum wage has been pegged in the Canada Labour Code (the Code) to the minimum wage rate in the province or territory in which the employee is usually employed. Should this approach be maintained or should a freestanding federal minimum wage be reinstated? If a freestanding rate were to be adopted, how should it be set, at what level and who should be entitled to it?

Read the complete version of the issue paper on Federal minimum wage

Labour standards protections for non-standard workers

Labour standards generally apply to workers in traditional employment relationships. Today, however, many workers are engaged in non-traditional employment and may not have access to these protections. In this context, who should be covered by federal labour standards? What protections should apply to workers in non-traditional employment in the federally regulated private sector?

Read the complete version of the issue paper on Labour standards protections for non-standard workers

Disconnecting from work-related e-communications outside of work hours (sometimes known as the “right to disconnect”)

In today’s world of work, mobile technologies and other factors, such as alternative work arrangements, the 24/7 economy, gig work and organizational cultures, have blurred the boundaries between what it means to be “at work” and not “at work.” In this context, should limits be set on work-related e-communications outside of work hours in the federally regulated private sector? If so, how should this be done and why?

Read the complete version of the issue paper on Disconnecting from work-related e-communications outside of work hours

Access and portability of benefits

Benefits, including statutory minimums such as annual vacations and leaves as well as employer-provided benefits such as medical and retirement savings plans, make crucial contributions to the personal and financial security of Canadian workers. Access to benefits has traditionally been based on full-time long-term employment with one employer. Workers who change jobs frequently and those who spend part of their working life in non-standard work may not have access to them. Should the federal government take steps to enhance access to benefits in the federally regulated private sector and/or improve portability? If so, what measures should be considered?

Read the complete version of the issue paper on Access and portability of benefits

Collective voice for non-unionized workers

Judicial rulings, continued decline in unionization, new types of work arrangements and employer efforts to boost retention and performance are shining the spotlight on the ability of workers to join together to express their views and have a say in decisions affecting their working conditions. To what extent are there gaps in opportunities for collective voice for non-unionized workers on labour standard issues in the federally regulated private sector? How could they be addressed?

Read the complete version of the issue paper on Collective voice for non-unionized workers

How to get involved

The Expert Panel is very interested in hearing from Canadians in order to help deepen its understanding of the five issues it is examining and develop recommendations for its report by June 30, 2019.

That is why the Panel is holding targeted engagement activities in April and early May with workers, employers, other experts, and civil society groups, especially those with experience in the federally regulated private sector.

In addition, the Panel invites written inputs on any or all of the issues it is examining. Inputs should be sent to by May 1, 2019.

Contact the Expert Panel

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