More information on the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards
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The Expert Panel’s report
Message from the Minister of Labour
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that federal labour standards are robust and modern in the changing world of work. We have made important changes to the Canada Labour Code (the Code), but the Government’s work to modernize federal labour standards isn’t done.
Earlier this year, the Government established the independent Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards to study, consult and provide advice on 5 complex issues related to the changing nature of work. 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, had not been thoroughly studied in the Canadian context and there was no consensus on how to address them.
On June 28, 2019, the Panel submitted its report.
The Panel spent 4 months conducting research, engaging employers and employer organizations, unions and labour organizations, civil society groups, experts and individual workers and developing its advice and writing its report. The Panel operated at arm’s-length from the Government to ensure it provided independent, evidence-based advice.
The Panel’s report, which contains 39 recommendations, is now available.
The Prime Minister has given me a mandate to improve labour protections in the Code, including increasing the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour; developing greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms; and co-developing new provisions with employers and labour groups that give federally regulated workers the “right to disconnect”. The Government will consider the findings and leverage the work of the Panel as it determines how best to move forward on continuing to modernize federal labour standards.
I would like to thank the 7 members of the Panel for contributing their time and expertise to ensuring federal labour standards reflect modern realities.
The Honourable Filomena Tassi, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Labour
The Expert Panel studied 5 issues that were identified during consultations conducted by the Labour Program in 2017 to 2018 on modernizing federal labour standards and relate to the changing nature of work.
These issues required further study because less evidence was available, there were different views on possible policy responses and they raise key questions about the principles behind federal labour standards.
The 5 issues examined by the Panel were:
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.
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.
Between May 2017 and March 2018, the then-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. Some of these changes (and others introduced in earlier legislation), including flexible work arrangements, new leaves, and strengthened labour standards protections, have already come into force.
The consultations also pointed to 5 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
In February 2019, the Government created the independent Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards to study, consult on and provide advice on these issues. The final report is now available.
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