Terms of Reference - Employment Equity Act Review Task Force

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List of abbreviations

Employment Equity Act
Employment and Social Development Canada
Gender Based Analysis+
Labour Market Availability
Non-governmental Organizations
Workforce Availability


Canadians have the right to be treated fairly in workplaces free from barriers and inequalities. One of the ways the Government of Canada promotes equity and diversity in federally regulated workplaces is through the Employment Equity Act (EEA).

The purpose of the EEA is:

The EEA places the onus on employers under federal jurisdiction to:

Employers make progress toward achieving equity in the workplace when they close the representation and wage gaps experienced by members of the designated groups in their workforce.

State of equity

Federally regulated private sector

According to the Employment Equity Act: Annual Report 2019, the representation rate of:

Federal public service

According to Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2018 to 2019, the representation rate within the core public administration of:

Economic and social changes

Since the EEA passed in 1986, the Government of Canada has made some progress in creating fairer workplaces. The Government recognizes that key economic and social changes have occurred; however, more work is necessary.


The ageing population and shifting immigration patterns are resulting in a workforce that is older and more ethno-culturally diverse. This is:

Nature of work

Non-standard work relationships are now a persistent and a substantial feature of the Canadian labour market:

Evolution of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

There is an evolution in how Canadians understand and perceive diversity and inclusion in the workplace, such as:

Challenges to the federal employment equity framework

These economic and social changes have highlighted challenges to the federal employment equity framework.

  1. Calls to include other members amongst the EEA's designated groups, including LGBTQ2+ communities
  2. Renewed attention to systemic racism. It has highlighted:
    • calls by stakeholders to retire the term "visible minorities" and rethink the category, and
    • the need to gather disaggregated data for different groups that currently fall under this designated group
  3. Adoption of a distinctions-based approach to government programs involving Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis). This raises the question of how employment equity could reflect the unique interests, priorities and circumstances of each people
  4. Persistent gaps call for a joint approach with employers, stakeholders and partners. It is essential to identify key barriers and to promote best practices to close these gaps. This could include:
    • improving compliance and enforcement practices to support employers that work on achieving equity and hold accountable those that do not, and
    • moving beyond annual reporting of metrics to help get the full picture in federally regulated private sectors and the federal public service on the state of:
      • equity
      • diversity, and
      • inclusion

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges for many workers, and has affected certain groups more than others:


The mandate of the Task Force is to advise the Minister of Labour on how to modernize and strengthen the federal employment equity framework by launching a review of the Employment Equity Act Footnote 6 and its supporting programs.

The Task Force will:

Scope of work

With a focus on improving and building upon the foundation of the EEA, the Task Force will study the following areas:

Area 1: Equity groups

Area 2: Supporting equity groups

Area 3: Improving accountability, compliance and enforcement

Area 4: Improving public reporting

Operating structure

The Task Force operates:

A Secretariat:

The Task Force consists of 12 members, including a Chair and a Vice-Chair. The members have a wide range of expertise and experience related to equity (including workplace equity), such as:

The Chair:

The Vice-Chair:

The members:

In the event a member cannot continue, the remaining members will constitute the Task Force. This is the case unless the Minister of Labour decides otherwise.


The Task Force will submit a report to the Minister of Labour through the Deputy Minister of Labour. The report will inform the Government of Canada's approach for next steps to modernize and strengthen the federal employment equity framework. It will provide:

The Task Force's report may also provide further recommendations in areas where the Government of Canada could:

If the Task Force is unable to reach consensus on its advice and recommendations, the report should note this, with accompanying reasoning.

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