Minister of Labour: Labour Program overview briefing binder
On this page
- List of abbreviations
- A: Mandate of the Minister of Labour
- 1. Labour mandate
- 2. Federal mandate
- 3. National mandate
- 4. International mandate
- 5. Labour Program portfolio organizations
- B. Partners and stakeholders
List of abbreviations
- Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation
- Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals
- Committee on the Application of Standards
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Canada Industrial Relations Board
- Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements
- Canada Labour Code
- Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Dispute Prevention and Relationship Development Program
- Employment Equity Act
- Employment Equity Achievement Awards
- Equal Pay International Coalition
- Federal Contractors Program
- Federally Regulated Employers-Transportation and Communications
- Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board
- Free Trade Agreements
- Federal Workers' Compensation Service
- Government Employees' Compensation Act
- Head of Compliance and Enforcement
- Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour
- International Labour Conference
- International Labour Organization
- Industrialized Market Economy Countries
- International Social Security Association
- International Trade and Labour
- Legislated Employment Equity Program
- Labour Market Availability
- Member of Parliament
- Non-smokers' Health Act
- Non smokers' Health Regulations
- Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development
- Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination
- Self-Government Agreements
- Workers' Compensation Boards
- Wage Earner Protection Program
- Wage Earner Protection Program Act
- Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity
A: Mandate of the Minister of Labour
1. Labour mandate
The core mandate of the Minister of Labour is to promote safe, healthy, fair and inclusive work conditions and cooperative workplace relations in:
- the federal private-sector, which includes key industries such as banking, telecommunications and air, rail and maritime transportation;
- most Crown corporations (for example, Canada Post); and
- certain activities (in other words, governance and administration) of First Nations band councils and Indigenous self-government.
In some circumstances, the Minister of Labour's responsibilities also extend to parts of the federal public sector (in other words, core federal public service, federal agencies, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Parliament), as well as to private-sector firms and municipal governments in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
The key pieces of legislation underpinning the Minister of Labour's mandate are:
- Canada Labour Code
- Government Employees Compensation Act
- Employment Equity Act
- Wage Earner Protection Program Act
- Non-smokers' Health Act
- Pay Equity Act
- Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act
Given that responsibility for labour matters is divided under the Canadian constitution, the Minister of Labour works with the provinces and territories to foster cooperation and coherence on labour issues that affect all Canadian workplaces, workers and employers. In addition, the Labour Program supports the promotion of safe, fair, stable and productive workplaces in Indigenous communities where federal labour laws may apply depending on the nature of employers' activities.
The Minister of Labour manages Canada's international labour affairs and plays an important role in the development and realization of Canada's foreign and trade policy objectives by strengthening respect for internationally recognized labour standards and human rights.
The Minister of Labour's portfolio includes the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). The CIRB's mandate is to contribute to harmonious industrial relations while also ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation and adherence to minimum employment standards in federal workplaces. The CCOHS' mandate is to minimize work-related illnesses and injuries in Canada which it achieves through the provision of programs, products and services, and collaboration with domestic and international partners.
Partners and stakeholders
A key element in delivering the Labour mandate is engagement with employer and union representatives. The federal government has traditionally been able to create a high degree of consensus with respect to labour laws and policies through such engagement and this, in turn, has played an important role in ensuring stable and healthy labour relations in Canada's federally regulated industries. In addition, the Labour Program engages with non-governmental organizations and experts on key mandate priorities to inform policy development, build relationships and share information on issues of mutual interest.
In carrying out the Labour mandate, the Minister of Labour has an opportunity to contribute to:
- enhancing the employment conditions and well-being of working Canadians
- improving the success of businesses and the Canadian economy
- promoting respect for international labour principles and standards, and
- strengthening the overall performance of Canada's socio-economic system
Under the Canadian Constitution, responsibility for labour matters is divided between the federal government and the provinces and territories. Most of the legislation for which the federal Minister of Labour is responsible applies to the following sectors:
- marine shipping, ferry and port services
- air transportation, including airports, navigation, aerodromes and airlines
- rail and road (truck, bus) transportation that crosses provincial or international borders
- canals, pipelines, tunnels and bridges that cross provincial or international borders
- radio and television broadcasting
- Crown corporations (for example, Canada Post, Via Rail)
- certain activities (in other words, governance and administration) of First Nations band councils and Indigenous self-governments, and
- industries declared by Parliament to be “for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of 2 or more of the provinces”, such as grain handling and uranium mining
There are approximately 18,600 employers in these sectors that together employ 935,000 employees (or 6.0% of the Canadian workforce), the vast majority (87%) of whom work in medium to large-size firms (in other words those with 100 or more employees).
Although a relatively small share of enterprises and employees fall under the Minister of Labour's mandate, they make a vital contribution to Canada's economy and the well-being of Canadians. For example, in 2018, the federal private-sector and Crown corporations alone generated direct economic activity accounting for about 9% or $200 billion of Canada's total economic output (Gross Domestic Product). The critical infrastructure services provided by these employees – such as banking, transportation and telecommunications – is essential for the well-being of Canadians through the support it provides to the rest of the Canadian economy. For example, natural resource and agriculture producers depend on the ports and the rail companies to export their products; retail firms depend on the ports and rail and trucking companies to import goods, either from overseas or from the U.S. or Mexico.
Detailed notes on each responsibility of the mandate are provided but it may be useful to note that some legislation for which the Minister of Labour is responsible covers a larger or smaller number of enterprises and employees:
- Industrial relations responsibilities, like mediation and conciliation, also apply to private-sector firms and municipalities in the 3 territories
- Occupational health and safety responsibilities, including provisions on workplace violence and harassment, also apply to the federal public service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and employees on Parliament Hill
- Pay equity responsibilities also apply to the federal public service, the RCMP and employees on Parliament Hill, but do not apply to employers with fewer than 10 employees
- Employment equity responsibilities extend to the federal public service, the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, and to firms regulated by provinces and territories who contract with the federal government, but do not apply to firms with fewer than 100 employees
- Workers' compensation responsibilities apply only to federal government employees
2. Federal mandate
The mandate of the Minister of Labour is to promote safe, healthy, fair and inclusive work conditions and cooperative workplace relations in federal private-sector industries and, in some cases, for the federal public service and other federal establishments. This is accomplished through the development and administration of labour-related legislation and policies designed to regulate the employment relationship and improve the work environment for the benefit of workers (and their families), employers, the national economy and Canadian society as whole.
Key areas of responsibility under the federal labour mandate are:
- promotion and facilitation of constructive industrial relations including labour dispute prevention and resolution activities (mediation and conciliation)
- promotion and enforcement of occupational health and safety standards
- promotion and enforcement of labour standards (for example, hours of work, payment of wages, protected leaves and rights on termination of employment)
- promotion of employment equity for women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people and visible minorities
- management of workers' compensation for employees of the federal government
- restriction and regulation of smoking in any federally regulated work space including aircraft, trains and ships, except in designated smoking areas, and
- promotion of equal pay for work of equal value (in other words, pay equity)
Part I of the Canada Labour Code (Code) is the legislative framework governing workplace relations and collective bargaining for private-sector employers and trade unions under federal jurisdiction. Part I also applies to private-sector and municipal employers and employees in Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. In 2018, approximately 972,000 employees (or 6.2% of all Canadian employees) were employed in enterprises subject to Part I. About 34% of these workers were covered by a collective agreement.
The Minister of Labour is responsible to Parliament for the administration of the Code. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service of the Labour Program administers the dispute resolution provisions of the Code. The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) is an independent tribunal whose mandate includes the determination of collective bargaining rights, unfair labour practices, illegal strikes and lockouts, activities to be maintained during a strike or lockout, and the adjudication of certain other matters (for example, claims by non-unionized employees about unfair dismissal).
The Code sets out the following general framework for collective bargaining in the federally regulated private-sector:
- Exclusive bargaining rights are granted by the CIRB to unions (also referred to as bargaining agents) when they can demonstrate majority support from employees
- The parties have an obligation to negotiate in good faith
- Collective agreements establish the terms and conditions of employment between the parties. The agreements must be of a fixed term of at least a year, and strikes and lockouts are not permitted while a collective agreement is in force
- The bargaining process begins when a notice to bargain is given by 1 party to the other to start negotiating the renewal of a collective agreement
- When a notice of dispute is received from 1 of the parties, the Minister may (and almost always does) appoint a conciliation officer to assist the parties in resolving their differences
- The conciliation process is normally for a period of 60 days unless it is extended by the parties by mutual agreement. At the end of the conciliation period, a 21-day “cooling off” period begins
- The employer can give a 72-hour notice to lockout, or the union can serve a 72-hour notice to strike to the Minister prior to the end of the 21-day cooling off period. However, a legal work stoppage cannot take place until the 21 days have expired
- A legal strike or lockout cannot take place until the following conditions are met:
- a notice to bargain has been given
- the conciliation process has taken place
- 21 days have elapsed since the end of the conciliation process
- a strike vote has been taken, and
- a 72-hour strike or lockout notice has been given
- The Minister can refer specific issues to the CIRB. For example, parties must have an agreement on the maintenance of services during a work stoppage to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public, if any. Where they cannot reach such an agreement, or the agreement seems insufficient, the Minister may refer the matter to the CIRB for determination
- Such a referral suspends the parties' acquisition of strike or lockout rights until a decision is rendered by the CIRB if the referral is made before the beginning of a work stoppage
- The Minister may appoint a mediator at any time, either at the request of the parties, or on the Minister's own initiative. The appointment of a mediator does not influence the acquisition of the right to strike or lockout
Other important provisions of Part I of the Code include:
- a range of unfair labour practices relating to employers and unions
- offences and penalties for actions by employers, trade unions or individual that are contrary to the Code's provisions, and
- general provisions relating to the promotion of industrial peace, including the power to appoint industrial inquiry commissions and the reference of questions to the CIRB
The Labour Program's Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service offers employers and unions dispute resolution assistance through the services of conciliation and mediation officers whose job is to assist the parties in reaching a collective agreement. During fiscal year 2018 to 2019, conciliation and mediation officers dealt with 280 collective bargaining disputes. Ninety-seven (97%) percent of all disputes that were referred to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (and settled in 2018 to 2019) were resolved without a work stoppage.
Conciliation and mediation officers also offer dispute prevention and relationship development services intended to help employers and unions build and maintain constructive working relationships while the collective agreement is in force. During fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the Dispute Prevention and Relationship Development Program (DPRDP) held a total of 112 dispute prevention and relationship development sessions for a total of 198 days. Of these, facilitation services represented the highest number of sessions, while workshop delivery and grievance mediation were also significant contributors.
Status of the Artist Act
For people working in the federal cultural sector in Canada (for example, the National Arts Centre, National Film Board and CBC/Radio Canada) the Status of the Artist Act (the Act) protects the rights of artists. The Act guarantees their freedom to associate and authorizes the negotiation of wage scales. Artists cannot be paid below the minimum by a producer bound by the scale. Under the Act, the Minister of Labour may appoint mediators and grievance arbitrators to assist artists, producers and film-makers, even if they are independent contractors working on films.
Under the Act, the CIRB is responsible for professional relations between self-employed artists and producers at federally regulated broadcasters, and federal government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations.
Occupational health and safety
The purpose of Part II of the Canada Labour Code (Part II) is to prevent workplace‑related accidents and injuries, including occupational diseases. It applies to private-sector employers in the federal jurisdiction, Crown corporations, the federal public service, and as of July 29, 2019, to Parliamentary workplaces (for example. House of Commons, Senate).
Under the Code, employers have a general obligation to protect the health and safety of employees while at work, as well as non-employees (for example, contractors or members of the public) who are granted access to the workplace. It also places obligations on employees and health and safety committees or representatives to help prevent occupational-related injuries and diseases.
The standards in Part II and its related regulations cover matters such as:
- the right to know about every known or foreseeable health or safety hazard in the area where they work
- the right to participate in identifying and correcting job-related health and safety concerns
- the right to refuse dangerous work
- the requirement of all workplaces with 20 or more employees to establish a workplace health and safety committee
- the duties of the health and safety committee and health and safety representative
- the requirements for protective equipment and other preventative measures
- the requirements for first aid
- the reporting requirements of a hazardous occurrence to the Minister
- the powers and duties of the Minister, the majority of which are delegated to Health and Safety Officers and Senior Investigators through a delegation instrument, and
- the requirements to develop, implement and monitor a program for the prevention of hazards
Many specific rules and requirements are also outlined in regulations enabled by Part II of the Code, such as:
- Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
- Aviation Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
- Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
- On Board Trains Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
- Oil and Gas Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
- Policy Committees, Work Place Committees and Health and Safety Representatives Regulations
Compliance with Part II is achieved using a variety of approaches, including education and counseling, investigation of complaints and inspections of workplaces. Part II also establishes offences for non-compliance, allows for directions and prosecutions and provides an appeal process for parties who are dissatisfied with a direction or a decision (for example, a decision of danger in the case of a Refusal to Work) issued by a delegate of the Minister.
Through Memoranda of Understanding, Transport Canada and the Canada Energy Regulator have roles in administering Part II, on behalf of the Labour Program, for persons working in the on-board aviation, marine, rail, and oil and gas industries. Certain health and safety services are also administered by the provinces through Memoranda of Understanding in specific sectors (such as uranium mines and mills in Saskatchewan, mining and smelting in Manitoba and nuclear facilities in Ontario).
A new Part IV of the Code, expected to come into force in 2020, will allow for the establishment of an administrative monetary penalty system to promote compliance with occupational health and safety and labour standards requirements. This includes giving the Governor in Council regulation-making powers to designate violations and determine associated penalties (not exceeding $250,000), setting out processes for the issuance, review and appeal of notices of violation, and providing authority to publish the name of employers that have committed a violation.
Provisions allowing the Minister of Labour to designate a Head of Compliance and Enforcement (HOCE) are also anticipated to come into force on the same day as Part IV. The HOCE will exercise the powers and perform the administrative duties and functions currently conferred on inspectors, regional directors and the Minister of Labour by the Code. The Minister will still have key responsibilities at the policy level. The HOCE will have authority to delegate to any qualified person any of these powers, duties or functions. This measure is intended to improve client service through improved oversight and consistency in program delivery, greater operational flexibility and specialization, and the optimization of workloads.
There are a number of regulatory changes that are at varying stages of the regulatory process. Over the coming year, regulatory packages will be brought forward to the Minister of Labour for consideration.
Changes are underway to internal process and delegation instruments with respect to the establishment of a new Head of Compliance and Enforcement.
Education and awareness-raising activities for employers and employees, as well as training for Health and Safety Officers, will be provided to support the implementation of the new provisions.
Application of Part II of the Canada Labour Code to parliamentary employees
PESRA and its application
Employees on Parliament Hill are subject to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (PESRA).
- Part I of the PESRA (Industrial Relations), which was proclaimed on December 24, 1986, extended collective bargaining rights to most employees of the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Library of Parliament, but not to exempt Ministerial staff
- Part III (Occupational Safety and Health) of the PESRA was proclaimed on July 29, 2019. It extended provisions of Parts II of the Canada Labour Code (Code) protecting the occupational health and safety of employees, while respecting Parliamentary Privilege
- Part II (Labour Standards) of the PESRA remains unproclaimed, with no current plans to bring it into force. Unlike the Occupational Health and Safety provisions under the Code (Part II), the Labour Standard provisions of the Code (Part III) do not apply to the federal public service
Part III of PESRA applies to employees of the Library of Parliament, the Office of the Parliamentary Officer, the Office of Conflict Interest and Ethics Officer, the Office of the Senate Ethics Officer, the Parliamentary Protection Services, the Senate and the House of Commons and their members.
It also covers any Member of Parliament who, in that capacity, employs any person or has the direction or control of staff employed to provide research or associated services to caucus members of a political party represented in Parliament.
An explicit protection of Parliamentary Privilege is included in Part III of the PESRA to ensure that its implementation does not obstruct the Senate or House of Commons from conducting business, nor limit or interfere with their powers, privileges and immunities.
The mandate of the Labour Program
The Labour Program is responsible for protecting the rights and well-being of employees in federally regulated workplaces through the enforcement of the occupational health and safety provisions of the Code.
The role of the Speakers of the House and Senate
The Minister has the obligation to notify the Speaker of the Senate or the House of Commons, or both in certain situations. In practice, this activity would be undertaken by the Deputy Minister of Labour in order to avoid a perception of Conflict of Interest.
The Speaker or Speakers must be notified, on behalf of the Minister of Labour, if the Labour Program:
- intends to enter a workplace controlled by a parliamentary employer
- commences an investigation of a parliamentary employer or employee under Part II of the Code, or
- issues a direction, as a result of a compliance activity, to a parliamentary employer or employee under that Part
The Speaker or Speakers must also be notified if the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB):
- receives a complaint of reprisals in relation to a parliamentary employer, or
- receives an appeal of a direction issued to a parliamentary employer or employee
Additionally, if notified of an appeal before the FPSLREB, the Speaker or Speakers may request a copy of any document that is filed with the FPSLREB and present evidence and make representations in relation to that appeal.
The role of Members of Parliament
Each Member of Parliament (MP) is considered an individual employer per the definitions of an employer in Part III of the PESRA.
As such, each MP is responsible for protecting the occupational health and safety of their employees, putting in place a health and safety representative or committee for each of their workplaces, providing their staff with required training, and establishing the necessary policies for their workplaces. Many requirements of the Code are performance-based rather than prescriptive, which allows employers to choose a way to comply that best suits their workplace.
Senators are represented by the Senate Administration, as a single employer.
If an employer (each MP, or the Senate Administration) controls more than 1 workplace, but for logistical or administrative reasons wants to establish a single occupational health and safety committee or representative for these workplaces, provisions in the Code allow the employer make a request to a Health and Safety Officer for consideration.
Part III of the Canada Labour Code establishes the conditions of work and provides protection for employees in the federally regulated private-sector and most federal Crown corporations. Part III does not apply to the federal public service or employees of Parliament.
Employers have an obligation to provide the minimum labour standards in Part III such as:
- hours of work (maximum of 48 hours/week; overtime after 8 hours/day or 40 hours/week; right to refuse overtime; 96 hours notice of work schedules; 24 hours notice of shift changes; unpaid 30-minute breaks; nursing and medical breaks; 8-hour rest period between shifts)
- right to request flexible work arrangements (changes to hours worked, work schedule and location of work)
- minimum wages (rate set by province in which work is performed)
- annual vacation (2 weeks; 3 weeks after 5 years; 4 weeks after 10 years)
- general holidays (9 holidays/year)
- severance pay (2 days pay per year, with a minimum of 5 days pay)
- individual termination (2 weeks notice or pay in lieu)
- group termination (16 weeks notice to the Minister)
- unjust dismissal (recourse for non-unionized employees who have at least 1 year of continuous employment), and
- requirement that employers insure their long-term disability plans
Part III also provides for different types of leave, generally without pay:
- maternity‑related reassignment leave (up to the 24th week after birth, if unable to work because there is a risk to the pregnant or nursing mother or her child and no reassignment or modification of job functions is reasonably practicable, or if the employee is unable to work because of pregnancy or nursing)
- maternity* (up to 17 weeks) and parental* (up to 63 weeks) leaves (up to 78 weeks when combined; up to 86 weeks when combined and the parental leave is shared)
- compassionate care* leave to provide care and support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period)
- leave for critically ill children* (up to 37 weeks) and adult* (up to 17 weeks)
- leave for parents of murdered** (up to 104 weeks) and missing** (up to 52 weeks) children
- personal leave (up to 5 days, 3 days with pay)
- leave for victims of family violence (up to 10 days, 5 days with pay)
- leave for traditional Indigenous practices (up to 5 days)
- leave for court or jury duty (unlimited time for jury selection, to serve on a jury or to attend court as a witness)
- bereavement leave (up to 5 days, 3 days with pay)
- medical* leave (up to 17 weeks) that can be taken for personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, and medical appointments
- work-related illness and injury leave (for the duration of the employee's recovery), and
- reservist leave (to attend all types of Canadian Armed Forces military skills training, plus time necessary to participate and recuperate from designated operations)
* The protected leaves generally align with Employment Insurance special benefits and the Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime.
** The protected leaves (partly for missing children) align with the Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime.
Once in force on dates in 2020 to be determined, and subject to Ministerial approval, employers will also have to provide the following minimum labour standards introduced as part of several budget bills since 2017:
- protection for interns
- individual notice of termination (current 2 weeks notice or pay in lieu will be replaced by a graduated notice of termination system ranging from 2 weeks for employees with between 3 months and 3 years of service to 8 weeks after 8 years of service)
- group notice of termination (termination of 50 or more employees in a 4 week period in the same industrial establishment; the current 16 weeks notice will be enhanced by allowing employers to provide pay in lieu of the 16 week notice or a combination of notice and pay in lieu)
- minimum age of employment
- recovery of work-related expenses
- equal treatment and temporary help agencies (prohibited practices), and
- administrative monetary penalty system under new Part IV (authority to publish the name of employers that have committed a violation; compliance orders; new Head of Compliance and Enforcement)
Regulations have been enacted in support of Part III including special hours of work rules and exemptions in certain industries. A number of new regulations will be required in support of the standards not yet in force.
Compliance with Part III is achieved using a variety of approaches, including education and counseling, investigation of complaints and inspections of workplaces. Additional tools, such as the power to order an internal audit of the employer's practices and records, were recently added to Part III.
An employee who believes that their rights under Part III have not been respected, including in situations of non-payment of wages, non-monetary complaints, unjust dismissal complaints or complaints related to genetic testing, may file a complaint with the Labour Program. In the case of non-payment of wages an inspector will investigate and take appropriate action, including wage recovery measures, if a contravention is found. In the case of unjust dismissal complaints and complaints related to genetic testing, an inspector will endeavor to settle the matter.
Adjudicative functions were transferred to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) on July 29, 2019 in order to simplify employment-related recourse for federally regulated employees and employers by creating a single access point to adjudicate certain employment disputes and provide employees with a new recourse mechanism against employer reprisals under Part III of the Code. At the request of the employee, the CIRB has authority to adjudicate unjust dismissal complaints and complaints related to genetic testing that have not been settled. The CIRB may also hear appeals of notices and orders including payment orders, notices of unfounded complaints and notices of voluntary compliance.
A new Part IV of the Code, expected to come into force in 2020, will allow the establishment of an administrative monetary penalty system to promote compliance with occupational health and safety and labour standards requirements. This includes giving the Governor in Council regulation-making powers to designate violations and determine associated penalties (not exceeding $250,000), setting out processes for the issuance, review and appeal of notices of violation, and providing authority to publish the name of employers that have committed a violation.
Provisions allowing the Minister of Labour to designate a Head of Compliance and Enforcement (HOCE) are also anticipated to come into force on the same day as Part IV. The HOCE will exercise the powers and perform the administrative duties and functions currently conferred on inspectors, regional directors and the Minister of Labour by the Code (the Minister will still have key responsibilities at the policy level). The HOCE will have authority to delegate to any qualified person any of these powers, duties or functions. This measure is intended to improve client service through improved oversight and consistency in program delivery, greater operational flexibility and specialization, and the optimization of workloads.
The legislative provisions that are not yet in force require regulations that are at varying stages of the regulatory process. For some regulations (for example, interns), consultations are completed and proposed regulations are ready to be considered by the Minister before seeking Treasury Board approval. For others (for example, equal treatment), while consultations have started, additional consultation will be required. Over the coming year, regulatory packages will be brought forward to the Minister of Labour for consideration.
Changes are underway to internal process and delegation instruments with respect to the establishment of a new Head of Compliance and Enforcement.
Education and awareness-raising activities for employers and employees, as well as training for inspectors, will be provided to support the implementation of the new provisions.
Employment equity and pay transparency
Employment Equity Act
The purpose of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no one is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfillment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by 4 designated groups listed in the Act:
- Aboriginal peoples
- persons with disabilities
- members of visible minorities
The EEA emphasizes that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way. It also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.
The EEA is a proactive framework that aims to:
- bring about significant change by focusing on awareness, education, and enforcement
- achieve equality in the workplace
- correct conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by members of 4 designated groups, and
- identify and remove barriers to employment
The EEA applies to federally regulated private-sector employers, federal Crown corporations, other federal organizations, the federal public service, separate agencies (for example, Canada Revenue Agency and Parks Canada) and other federal public sector employers (Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Forces). These employers must create equitable workplaces and build a workforce that is representative of the 4 designated groups by implementing employment equity and reporting to Parliament on their progress.
Employment equity initiatives
The Minister of Labour is responsible for 4 employment equity initiatives that are delivered by the Labour Program:
- Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP)
- Federal Contractors Program (FCP)
- Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity (WORBE)
- Employment Equity Achievement Awards (EEAA)
The LEEP covers federally regulated private-sector employers with over 100 employees, federal Crown corporations and other federal government business enterprises (in other words, Toronto Port Authority, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and Montreal Port Authority). As of December 2018, this program applied to 603 employers covering approximately 3.9% of the Canadian workforce.
Employers under LEEP are required to:
- survey their workforce to collect data on the representation, occupational group, salary distribution, and shares of hires, promotions and terminations of designated group members
- identify any under representation of the designated groups in each occupational group in their workforce
- review their employment systems including written and unwritten policies and practices in order to identify employment barriers, and
- prepare and implement a plan to remove employment barriers and achieve equitable representation
Each year, the federally regulated private‑sector employers covered by LEEP are required to file an employment equity report with the Minister of Labour. The information comprises 6 forms that include representation data, employee occupational groups, employee salary ranges, and the number of employees hired, promoted and terminated, as well as a narrative report describing the measures they have taken, consultations with employee representatives, and results achieved in implementing employment equity.
The FCP applies to provincially regulated employers with over 100 employees receiving goods and services contracts of more than $1 million from the Government of Canada. The FCP ensures that provincially regulated private‑sector employers who do business with the Government of Canada seek to achieve and maintain a workforce that is representative of the Canadian workforce, including members of the 4 designated groups under the Act.
Once an employer receives an eligible contract from the Government of Canada, the contractor must fulfill the following requirements:
- collect workforce information
- complete a workforce analysis and an achievement report
- establish short term and long term numerical goals, and
- make reasonable efforts to ensure that reasonable progress is made towards having full representation of the 4 designated groups within its workforce
As of June 19, 2019, this program applied to 335 employers covering 451,878 employees.
WORBE is a grants and contributions program designed to support private-sector employers subject to the EEA in their efforts to improve designated group representation through partnerships and industry-tailored strategies. It provides up to $500,000 per year in funding to eligible recipients to develop tailored solutions to support areas experiencing low representation.
The program was launched on July 17, 2014. A total of 9 projects have been funded to date (4 completed in 2016, 2 in 2017 and 3 in 2018) and 1 project is underway. Projects that are funded through WORBE seek to raise awareness, identify barriers and best practices, or test innovative approaches to improve employment equity in specific sectors, such as the Transportation industry, or for specific designated groups, such as Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities.
The EEAA seek to publicly recognize federally regulated private-sector employers and federal contractors for their commitment to creating diverse and inclusive Canadian workplaces. Awards are presented by the Minister of Labour at an official ceremony for four categories: Outstanding Commitment, Innovation, Sector Distinction, and Employment Equity Champion (introduced in 2018). In 2018, 2 Employment Equity Champion recipients and 15 private-sector employers were recognized with an award.
Labour Program activities
The Labour Program provides tools and guidance to employers and contractors to assist them in complying with their employment equity obligations. In addition, it is solely responsible for assessing compliance with the requirements of the FCP.
The Labour Program receives and validates annual reports submitted by the LEEP employers. These reports are consolidated to form the Minister of Labour's Employment Equity Act: Annual Report to Parliament. The report consolidates and highlights the statistical results achieved by employers in implementing employment equity. Employers subject to the FCP do not report annually to the Labour Program and their statistical results are not consolidated in the Minister's report.
Pay transparency is a new initiative that will provide Canadians with accessible, online information on the wage gaps of federally regulated private-sector employers subject to the EEA. These measures will raise awareness of wage gaps that affect women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities, helping to shift business culture and expectations towards greater equality.
To support the implementation of pay transparency, the Labour Program introduced amendments to the EEA and is in the process of amending the Employment Equity Regulations to change the way LEEP employers submit salary data as part of their employment equity annual reports. These changes will enable wage gap calculations that will be included in employers' annual submissions to the Labour Program. A new online application is being developed to make aggregated hourly wage gaps, bonus pay gaps and overtime pay gaps, for each employer overall as well as by employment equity occupational group, available to the public.
Employment equity reporting
The most common quantitative measure of employment equity is the extent to which the representation of members of designated groups in the employers' workforce meets their representation in the Canadian workforce. The representation of each of the 4 designated groups is compared to their availability in the Canadian labour market—referred to as labour market availability (LMA). This availability is determined based on Census information obtained through Statistics Canada. A workforce is considered fully representative when the representation of designated group members is equal to their LMA. The attainment rate refers to the extent to which representation approaches, meets or exceeds labour market availability by dividing the representation rate by the LMA rate.
The representation rates of the designated groups working for employers covered under the LEEP, along with their LMA, are presented below:
- Women were represented at 40.2% compared to LMA of 48.2% which is an attainment rate of 83.3%
- Aboriginal peoples were represented at 2.3% compared to LMA of 3.5% which is an attainment rate of 66.1%
- Persons with disabilities were represented at 3.3% compared to LMA of 4.9% which is an attainment rate of 67.6%
- Members of visible minorities were represented at 22.8% compared to LMA of 17.8% which is an attainment rate of 128.2%
The President of the Treasury Board is responsible for submitting an annual report on the state of employment equity in the federal public service to Parliament. Separate agencies and other public-sector employers submit their annual reports to the President of the Treasury Board for tabling in Parliament at the same time. The Public Service Commission also reports annually on employment equity as it relates to staffing processes in the public service.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission conducts compliance audits to verify that federally regulated public and private-sector employers subject to the EEA meet their legislative obligations to implement employment equity. According to its 2018 annual report to Parliament, a total of 947 barriers were identified in employment equity audits between 2015 and 2019. The largest proportion was found in the ground transportation industry (23.8%), followed by the production industry (industries included in the “other” category that are production-based such as manufacturing, power generation, mining, etc.) (22.2%), air transportation (18.3%), and the telecommunications industry (14.3%).
The Government Employees' Compensation Act (GECA) provides benefits to federal public service employees (or their dependants) who suffer an occupational injury or illness arising out of or in the course of their employment, or who are slain on duty. GECA currently covers approximately 420,000 employees.
The legislation applies to federal departments and agencies, most Crown corporations, and some parliamentary employers such as the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. It does not apply to regular members of the Canadian Forces or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (these organizations administer their own workers' compensation systems).
GECA is administered by the Labour Program's Federal Workers' Compensation Service (FWCS) in partnership with provincial workers' compensation boards (WCBs). Business relationships between the Labour Program and WCBs are governed by bilateral service agreements.
WCBs adjudicate claims from federal workers according to the laws and policies of their jurisdiction. A WCB verifies the incident details, adjudicates the claim, and provides compensation and benefits to the injured employee. Either the employee or the employer may request an internal review of a WCB claim determination or may appeal the decision to an external tribunal.
Through FWCS, federal employers reimburse WCBs for GECA claims costs plus an administrative fee, as set out in the service agreements.
When the workplace incident is caused by a third party—for example, the employee is struck by a car—the employee may choose to either sue the third party or claim compensation under the GECA. Where the employee chooses to claim compensation, the employee transfers his or her right to sue to the Labour Program. The Labour Program then attempts to recover appropriate damages from the third party who may be partially or wholly responsible for the injury.
In 2018 to 2019, there were 27,659 active claims and the total claims costs were $175.9 million. This total includes $38 million in administrative costs.
The FWCS also administers the following:
- the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act, which provides benefits to seamen who are not otherwise eligible for compensation under federal or provincial legislation (there were only 2 active claims in 2018 to 2019)
- the Public Service Income Benefit Plan for Survivors of Employees Slain on Duty, which provides benefits to an employee's spouse and children where death was caused by unlawful violence while on duty. 12 cases of survivors' benefits are currently being administered, and
- advisory services to Correctional Services Canada in the administration of its permanent disability awards to inmates injured while working in a federal institution, under the Regulations of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act
The Non-smokers' Health Act (NSHA) and the Non-smokers' Health Regulations (NSHR) restrict and regulate smoking in work spaces under federal jurisdiction, including the federal private-sector, federal Crown Corporations, designated federal agencies, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal public service and Parliament.
A key objective of the NSHA is to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke in the workplace. To that end, all persons (including employees and members of the public) are prohibited from smoking in any federally regulated work space, including aircraft, trains and ships, except in designated smoking areas. Rooms or areas that may be so designated are specified by regulations and are highly restricted (for example, a living accommodation, a motor vehicle to which only one person has access during a shift).
Administration of the NSHA is the joint responsibility of the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Transport. The former is responsible for the Act's application to federally regulated workplaces and the latter for its application to common federally regulated transportation carriers (in other words any company that transports goods or people, such as aircraft, public transportation and shipping carriers).
The Minister of Labour is solely responsible for designating inspectors to ensure compliance with the Act. Fines for offences range from $1,000 to $10,000 for employers and $50 to $1,000 for individuals.
Since 2013, there have been a total of 4 complaints under the NHSA. All complaints were investigated and none was determined to be founded.
To date, there have been no prosecutions initiated under the NHSA. There also have been no fines issued since at least 2010.
Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers' Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, received Royal Assent on May 23, 2018. The amendments subject vaping products used in federally regulated workplaces to the same prohibitions as tobacco use.
Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018. It amended the NSHA to prohibit the smoking and vaping of cannabis in workplaces. The amendments place restrictions on these products in line with the prohibitions on tobacco use.
The definition of work space in the NSHA was also amended to mean any indoor or other enclosed space — or any outdoor space or class of outdoor space designated in the regulations — in which employees perform the duties of their employment, and includes any adjacent corridor, lobby, stairwell, elevator, cafeteria, washroom or other common area — and any outdoor space or class of outdoor space designated in the regulations — that is frequented by employees during the course of their employment.
Although Health and Safety Officers educate those affected regarding the provision of the Act during routine activities, there is generally no planned proactive work with respect to NHSA.
Proactive pay equity
The right to equal pay for work of equal value (pay equity) is an internationally recognized human right that has been protected under section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) since 1977 for all employees in the federal jurisdiction.
The Pay Equity Act (the Act), which received Royal Assent in December 2018, introduced a proactive approach in line with the 2016 recommendations of the Parliamentary Special Committee on Pay Equity. The Act will come into force once the necessary regulations are adopted.
Once in force, the Act will apply to approximately 4,500 employersFootnote 1 with 10 or more employees in the federal public and private-sectors, the Prime Minister's and Ministers' offices, as well as parliamentary institutions. It will cover approximately 1.2 million workers.
The new approach will:
- require employers to establish a pay equity plan within 3 years of becoming subject to the Act
- require that pay equity plans be reviewed and updated at least once every 5 years, in order to identify and close any gaps that may have emerged
- require employers to adjust compensation to ensure that employees receive equal pay for work of equal value, and allow for the gradual phase-in of adjustments over a period of 3 years for employers with 100 or more employees and 5 years for employers with 10 to 99 employees
- require employers with 100 or more employees, and those with 10 to 99 employees, some of whom are unionized, to establish a pay equity committee to develop or update the pay equity plan. Employer, union and non-unionized employee representatives will all be members of the committee
- provide employees with the opportunity to comment on a proposed pay equity plan (or revised pay equity plan) before it is finalized and require that any comments be taken into consideration before finalizing the plan
- create a new Pay Equity Commissioner position at the Canadian Human Rights Commission to administer and enforce the Act
- require employers to submit annual statements to the Pay Equity Commissioner regarding their pay equity plan
- provide mechanisms to request the review or appeal of decisions of the Pay Equity Commissioner
- give the Governor in Council the power to adapt the pay equity regime in its application to certain Indigenous employers, and
- require that the Act be reviewed 10 years after the coming into force, and every 5 years after that
Pay equity requirements will also be extended, as a non-legislative measure, to participants of the Federal Contractors Program with contracts to supply the Government with $1 million or more worth of goods or services.
Work is ongoing to bring the proactive pay equity regime into force. The Labour Program, working with the Treasury Board Secretariat, is currently developing regulations to make the legislation operational. The Labour Program is also working with the Canadian Human Rights Commission to develop education materials and a software tool to assist employers, employees and bargaining agents with implementing the Act in their workplaces. It is expected that the Act will come into force in 2020.
3. National mandate
The federal Minister of Labour plays a major role in providing national leadership in the field of labour affairs. The federal Minister is in a unique position to consider labour issues not only from the perspective of the federal jurisdiction, but also from the vantage point of the country as a whole. The provinces and territories are generally open to federal leadership in the labour field provided that jurisdictional boundaries are respected.
Federal, provincial and territorial departments of Labour have collaborated for many decades, and have enacted such a broadly consistent set of labour laws that it is possible to speak meaningfully about a Canadian “model” of labour law. It is in Canada's interests to maintain and enhance this model as the greater the coordination among jurisdictions, the more consistent are the rights and benefits enjoyed by workers across the country and the more cost effective it is for businesses to operate across Canada. That said, jurisdictions can benefit from federalism as it creates space for the experimentation of programs and initiatives on a smaller scale, allowing for jurisdictions to learn from each other's successes.
The Labour Program supports the promotion of safe, fair, stable and productive workplaces in Indigenous communities where federal labour laws may apply depending on the nature of employers' activities.
The federal Minister of Labour plays a key role in identifying emerging workplace issues and in stimulating discussion with other jurisdictions on ways to address these issues. Through the monitoring and provision of information and analysis on national labour trends, workplace conditions and innovative practices (for example, wage adjustments, work stoppages, collective agreement provisions), current and emerging workplace issues can be identified and strategies developed for meeting the needs of both employers and workers.
The national mandate of the federal Minister of Labour can extend to the development and administration of national policies where there is a labour dimension. The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP), which is administered by Service Canada, provides workers across Canada – including those who normally come under provincial or territorial labour laws – with unpaid wages, vacation pay and termination and severance pay in the event of an employer bankruptcy.
Federal/provincial/territorial relations and Indigenous affairs
Provinces and territories
There is a strong and collegial relationship between the federal government and provinces and territories on a wide variety of labour issues. The exclusive authority that each jurisdiction has over its labour affairs minimizes the potential for conflict. Additionally, there are no financial transfer programs that could be a source of tension between jurisdictions.
A key means by which the federal Minister of Labour engages with the provinces and territories is by co-chairing annual Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) meetings of ministers responsible for labour. The ministers' meeting is an opportunity for ministers to discuss issues of mutual interest and consider approaches that address domestic and international workplace matters of importance to Canadians. It is also an opportunity for ministers to develop and maintain good working relationships.
The annual meeting of ministers is normally held in January when Parliament and most provincial and territorial legislatures are still in recess. The federal Minister of Labour co-chairs on a permanent basis, while the provincial/territorial co-chair rotates among jurisdictions. Topics of discussion at the January 2019 meeting of ministers included occupational health and safety harmonization, harassment and violence in the workplace, wage gap and pay transparency, potential global supply chain transparency legislation, workplace mental health, international labour issues, and engagement with Indigenous partners.
If there are labour matters of mutual interest requiring discussion in between annual meetings, FPT ministers may meet via videoconference.
The Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (CAALL) is a forum of Deputy Ministers responsible for labour and serves as the vehicle for preparations for the annual FPT meetings of Ministers responsible for Labour, as well as for the follow-up required on issues as directed by the Ministers.
The CAALL Secretariat historically resides in the federal Labour Program.
The Secretariat is responsible for managing the CAALL budget, the preparation of the Ministers' meetings as well as CAALL meetings and teleconferences, and ensuring that all CAALL members and federal labour contacts are kept abreast of relevant developments.
Indigenous labour affairs
Both federal and provincial labour laws apply on Indigenous lands, depending on the nature of the employers' activities. Recent court rulings have circumscribed the scope of federal jurisdiction related to Indigenous government employees on First Nations reserves to those engaged in administration and governance, thereby reducing the number of Indigenous employees falling under the mandate of the Minister of Labour. The Labour Program monitors court decisions on jurisdiction and pursues engagement with the provinces and territories on this issue.
Self-Government Agreements (SGAs) and Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements (CLCAs) set out arrangements for Indigenous groups to govern their internal affairs and assume greater responsibility and control over decision-making that affects their communities. The Labour Program supports the Government of Canada in the negotiation of self-government arrangements regarding labour matters with Indigenous communities.
Since 2015, the Government of Canada has been co-developing mandates for discussion with Indigenous partners at about 70 Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussion (RIRSD) tables. These discussions are intended to provide more flexibility to negotiations and new approaches to the recognition of rights in agreements.
While jurisdiction over labour legislation has not been a pressing issue for Indigenous communities in the past, a few Indigenous communities have recently expressed interest in jurisdiction over labour matters.
Provincial/Territorial Ministers for Labour
There is a great deal of collaboration on a variety of labour issues between the federal Minister of Labour and counterpart provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour. Below is a list (in alphabetical order by province or territory) of the current provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour.
The Honourable Jason Copping
Minister of Labour and Immigration
The Honourable Harry Bains
Minister of Labour
The Honourable Blaine Pederson
Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade
The Honourable Trevor Holder
Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore
Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour
The Honourable Caroline Cochrane
Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
The Honourable Labi Kousoulis
Minister of Labour and Advanced Education
The Honourable Jeannie Ehaloak
Minister responsible for Labour
The Honourable Monte McNaughton
Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Prince Edward Island
The Honourable Matthew McKay
Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture
The Honourable Jean Boulet
Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity
The Honourable Don Morgan
Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
The Honourable John Streicker
Minister of Community Services (responsible for labour portfolio)
Part of the Minister of Labour's national mandate is the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and information on collective bargaining in Canada.
Wage adjustments: Data on major wage settlements for bargaining units with 500 or more employees in the federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions are collected and published each month on Canada.ca. The data, broken down by month, quarter and year, covers all industries in both the public and private-sectors. The annual average percentage increase in base-rate wages for the calendar year, resulting from major settlements negotiated in the private-sector in Canada is used to calculate the salary increases for Members of Parliament, in accordance with the Salaries Act. Wage data are also used by Statistics Canada, Bank of Canada, the Department of Finance and Treasury Board Secretariat in the context of policy development, monitoring and/or decision making. Among major agreements under Part I of the Canada Labour Code, the average nominal wage increase was 1.8% in 2018.
Work stoppages: Data on strikes and lockouts across Canada are collected and updated on a monthly basis and made publically available. The data includes the number of work stoppages, the number of workers directly involved in the stoppage and the number of person days not worked. The data is also provided to the International Labour Organization (ILO). In the 10 years from 2009 to 2018, the number of work stoppages under Part I of the Code has averaged 9.2 per year, compared to 16.9 per year during the prior 10-year period, from 1999 to 2008.
Collective agreements: The Labour Program maintains the most comprehensive collection of collective agreements in Canada, with over 46,000 agreements available to public, private, national and international stakeholders through the Labour Program's online database, Negotech.
Labour organizations: The Labour Program conducts an annual survey of major labour organizations in Canada, including information on union membership, affiliations, mergers, and officials. In 2018 union coverage among employers under Part I was approximately 34%.
Wage Earner Protection Program
The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) provides timely payment of unpaid eligible wages owed to workers when their employer has filed for bankruptcy or become subject to a receivership.
Any worker who is legally entitled to work in Canada is eligible to receive a WEPP payment if all of the following apply: their employment has ended; their former employer has filed for bankruptcy or is subject to a receivership; and their former employer owed them eligible wages.
Eligible wages, which include wages, vacation pay, termination and severance pay, must have been earned in the 6-month period leading up to a bankruptcy or receivership. If an employer attempted to restructure prior to their bankruptcy or receivership, then eligibility is extended to begin 6 months prior to the start of those proceedings.
As of February 27, 2018, the maximum WEPP payment amount is 7 times the maximum weekly insurable earnings under the Employment Insurance Act ($7,148 for 2019). The annual indexation of the cap ensures that the amount of wages protected by the WEPP increases with inflation.
Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 also introduced a number of additional amendments to the Wage Earner Protection Program Act (WEPPA) to make Program eligibility more equitable. Some of these changes came into force on December 18, 2018, and include ensuring that employees retained to help wind down business operations remain eligible to receive termination and severance pay under the WEPP, and granting WEPP recipients the right to request reviews and appeals regarding overpayment decisions.
A regulatory initiative is underway to expand WEPP eligibility to cover employees working for foreign companies in Canada who file for bankruptcy or receivership abroad, and to offer more timely payments to workers during prolonged business restructurings, if likely to end in a bankruptcy or receivership.
When payments are made under the WEPP, the Government of Canada is subrogated to any rights the individual may have in respect of unpaid wages, to the extent of the WEPP payment amount. Collection activities are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency, both for subrogated debts owed to the Government, and for overpayments to recipients.
Service Canada delivers the WEPP on behalf of the Labour Program, and is responsible for frontline communications with the public and trustees/receivers, processing of applications, assessing applicants' eligibility, issuing payments, and administering the review process.
The Labour Program is responsible for legislative and regulatory policy with respect to the WEPPA and its regulations. It also provides operational policy guidance to Service Canada as a service delivery partner, monitors and reports on program activity and maintains relationships with key stakeholders and federal government partners.
The WEPPA also confers duties to trustees and receivers in the administration of the Program. They must identify workers who are owed eligible wages, determine amounts owed, inform workers of the existence of the Program, provide information to Service Canada and inform the Canada Revenue Agency when the estate is discharged.
WEPP applicants have the right to request a review of their application, which is conducted by Service Canada. If the applicant is not satisfied with the review they can request an appeal to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, but only if it concerns a question of law or jurisdiction. For fiscal year 2018 to 2019, there were 107 reviews requested and 3 appeals.
From inception in July 2008 to March 2019, over 128,000 workers have received a payment from WEPP, totaling over $337 million.
The Labour Program will continue working with its federal partners, including Service Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Canada Revenue Agency, external stakeholder and professional insolvency organizations such as the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) to develop regulatory amendments for the Minister's consideration.
4. International mandate
The Minister of Labour's mandate includes a number of important international responsibilities that aim to strengthen respect for internationally recognized labour standards. These activities contribute to the development and realization of Canada's foreign and trade policy objectives. This is achieved through: the negotiation of international labour standards; participation in international labour forums; the negotiation and implementation of trade-related labour agreements; and the provision of technical assistance to partner countries.
The Minister, with the support of the Labour Program, plays a lead role in the pursuit of international labour standards that reflect Canadian interests, and improved global working conditions. This work, principally occurring within the International Labour Organization and the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour, strengthens Canada's influence within the international system and raises the nation's profile in global labour and human rights debates.
Free trade agreements
Canada's trade-related labour approach seeks to improve working conditions in partner countries, thus reducing competitive disadvantages faced by Canadian businesses and workers and strengthening domestic support for Canada's trade agenda. In this regard, the Minister of Labour has overall responsibility for the negotiation and implementation of comprehensive, binding and enforceable labour provisions, thus playing a key role in advancing Canada's trade agenda.
Labour capacity building
Technical assistance and cooperative activities enhance working conditions abroad. This is accomplished through a mix of funded, project-based work, executed by third parties, and the exchange of knowledge and expertise. Typical areas of focus include: modernization of labour policies; enforcement of national labour laws; and increased respect for internationally recognized labour rights and principles. The Labour Program is responsible for a $1.7 million grants and contributions program, the Labour Funding Program, of which approximately $1.2 million was allocated in 2017 to 2018 for projects in support of the trade-related labour agreements. As of fiscal year 2019 to 2020, an additional $680,000 per year will be earmarked towards technical assistance and cooperative activities in selected Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) partner countries.
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The ILO, with its 187 member states, has a unique tripartite structure in which employers' and workers' representatives have an equal voice with that of governments in shaping its policies and programs.
The ILO's mandate is the promotion of social justice, decent work, and internationally recognized human and labour rights. International labour standards (including Conventions and Recommendations) and the broad policies of the ILO are negotiated and adopted by the International Labour Conference (ILC or Conference), which meets annually in Geneva in June. The Conference provides a forum for discussion of global labour, employment and social issues and is attended by many Heads of State and Ministers responsible for Labour. The Canadian Minister or Deputy Minister of Labour normally attends the Conference, supported by officials of the Labour Program.
Canada is bound by the ILO Constitution to pay for the expenses of equal numbers of worker and employer representatives, nominated by the most representative employers' and workers' organizations in Canada, to attend certain ILO meetings, including the annual Conference.
Between Conferences, the work of the ILO is guided by a Governing Body of government, worker and employer members. Officials from the Labour Program, in collaboration with the Canadian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva (Global Affairs Canada), play an influential role within the ILO as a member of the Governing Body and as the permanent chair of an informal grouping of 40 Industrialized Market Economy Countries (IMEC). IMEC members contribute approximately 70% of the ILO's budget based on assessed contributions for ILO member states (this percentage is likely higher when additional voluntary contributions are also considered), and thus have a strong collective interest in ensuring the organization is effective and efficient.
As most labour issues fall within the competency of the provinces and territories, Canadian positions on ILO issues are developed in consultation with all interested jurisdictions. In addition, the agreement of the provinces and territories is sought prior to ratification of ILO Conventions. For more than 10 years, Ministers responsible for Labour have endorsed a federal-provincial-territorial strategy on Canada and the ILO, which aims to enhance Canada's participation in the organization.
The ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which was negotiated in a committee chaired by Canada, sets a floor for workplace human rights. These principles are embodied in 8 core ILO Conventions that member states are invited to ratify. Canada has ratified all 8 core Conventions, which relate to forced labour, freedom of association, protection of the right to organise, equal remuneration, discrimination and child labour.
The ILO celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. In a demonstration of continued support for the ILO and its work, Canada ratified 2 additional international labour standards during the Centenary celebrations: Protocol 29 on Forced Labour and Convention 81 on Labour Inspection.
The ILO has a well-established supervisory system, which helps to ensure that ILO member states implement the conventions they ratify. Canada fully supports the ILO supervisory system, which it considers to be one of the most effective in the United Nations structure.
Two key components of the ILO supervisory system are:
- Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS)
- Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA)
The CAS is a standing tripartite committee of the International Labour Conference which examines 24 individual country cases each year where difficulties of application or non-compliance with ratified Conventions have been identified. The CAS adopts conclusions for each case, which often include specific recommendations to governments for improvement. The CFA is a specialized tripartite committee that receives complaints regarding alleged violations of freedom of association, the right to organize, or the right to collective bargaining.
Occasionally, Canada is called before the CAS or is the subject of a CFA complaint. In those situations, responses must be prepared and Canada engages in a dialogue with the ILO on those issues.
Other international organizations and initiatives
In addition to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Labour Program also leads or supports Canada's participation in other international organizations, such as the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour, various United Nations Committees, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the G7, the G20, and other international initiatives.
Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour (IACML)
Operating within the framework of the Organization of American States, the IACML is the main forum in the Americas for discussing labour and employment issues common to all countries in the hemisphere. The IACML, which includes all 35 independent states of the Americas, aims to further hemispheric consensus on issues such as the promotion of decent work, the protection of workers' rights, the strengthening of labour ministries, and the promotion of social dialogue.
The Minister of Labour represents Canada in the IACML ministerial conferences, which now takes place every 3 years. Ministers of Labour of the Americas adopt a Declaration and Plan of Action that guide the work of their respective labour ministry officials in collaboration with international organizations, business and labour, and other key partners.
The Labour Program actively participates in workshops, meetings and other activities leading up to the next IACML. Canada has a close trading relationship with the Americas (for example, with Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the U.S.) and active participation in the IACML is important to help improve labour conditions in this key region.
The last ministerial conference took place in Barbados in December 2017. While the host country of the next IACML has not yet been identified, the conference is scheduled to take place in 2020.
Support for Canada's participation in other international organizations
The Strategic and Service Policy Branch of Employment and Social Development Canada leads the Department's engagement in various United Nations Committees, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the G7, and the G20. The Labour Program provides subject-matter support on labour-related issues and participates in these fora, where appropriate.
Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC)
Organized by the ILO, the OECD and UN Women and launched in 2017, EPIC is a strategic partnership whose goal is to engage all relevant stakeholders (governments, private-sector, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and academia) to work together to make equal pay for work of equal value a reality.
The Labour Program sits on the EPIC Steering Committee, which takes key decisions on the governance processes of the coalition. The Labour Program also actively participates in EPIC events, with a view to sharing best practices on equal pay and pay transparency issues.
Global Deal for Decent Work and Inclusive Growth (Global Deal)
The Global Deal is a multi-stakeholder partnership, launched in 2016 by the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, and developed in cooperation with the OECD and the ILO. The objective of the Global Deal is to harness the potential of social dialogue as an instrument for promoting better quality jobs, fairer working conditions and more inclusive growth, in line with the UN 2030 Agenda. Canada supports the Global Deal initiative.
World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
The World Congress on Safety and Health at Work (Congress), held every 3 years, is a global forum for advancing worker health protection. It is sponsored by the ILO and the International Social Security Association (ISSA). The Congress is the world's largest event for the international occupational safety and health community, with participants drawn from employer associations, labour unions, multilateral organizations, and national regulatory authorities.
The next Congress will be held in Toronto on October 4-7, 2020. The theme of the 2020 Congress is “Protection in the Connected Age”, and will focus on topics such as innovations in addressing occupational safety and health challenges, implications of the changing world of work for safety and health, and advancing a culture of prevention. More than 3000 delegates from up to 150 countries are expected to attend.
Canada is taking an active role in the organization of the Congress. Labour Program officials sit on the National Advisory Committee and the International Organizing Committee, and a financial contribution of $326,000 has been made to support the Fellowship Program, which will enable the participation of 100 individuals (50% of which will be awarded to women) from developing countries to attend the Congress. Canadian Ministerial participation in the Congress has been requested in the form of a key-note address.
Free trade agreements
In the context of the federal government's free trade initiatives, Canada's approach is to negotiate comprehensive and enforceable labour chapters in all of its free trade agreements (FTAs). In the past, Canada has also negotiated Labour Cooperation Agreements, in parallel to FTAs. These provisions seek to support and protect Canadian workers and businesses from unfair competition.
Labour provisions commit signatories to enforce their national labour laws, which should in turn embody and provide protection for internationally recognized labour rights and principles. These agreements also include commitments to provide protections for occupational health and safety, wages, hours of work and migrant workers. Canada's approach includes an enforceable dispute resolution mechanism, which may result, as a last recourse, in trade sanctions or, alternatively, in penalties to be paid by a government in violation of the agreement's provisions.
Canada has Labour Cooperation Agreements with the United States and Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Jordan, Panama and Honduras, and Labour Chapters with Korea, Ukraine, the European Union, and six countries in the Asia-Pacific region under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Vietnam). In May 2019, Canada ratified the modernized Canada-Israel FTA, which includes a comprehensive and enforceable labour chapter, but the agreement is not yet in force.
In November 2018, Canada signed the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, which includes a comprehensive labour chapter to replace the labour cooperation agreement between the countries, but this agreement is yet to be ratified.
Ongoing negotiations of labour provisions include:
- Trade negotiations are taking place with regional economic blocs such as MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) and the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru).
- Canada and the European Free Trade Association have been exploring the possible expansion of the FTA into additional areas, including labour.
- Canada has engaged in exploratory talks on a potential FTA with the ASEAN trade bloc (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).
Labour capacity building
As part of its work to effectively implement the labour chapters of free trade agreements with partner countries and to ensure enhanced commitment of these countries to promote and respect fundamental labour rights, the Labour Program provides technical assistance, through the International Trade and Labour (ITL) stream of the Labour Funding Program (a grants and contributions program), to support capacity building.
Through the ITL stream, technical assistance is provided in direct support of existing and future trade-related labour agreements. Since 2013, projects valued at over $9 million have been funded by the Labour Program and implemented by reliable executing agencies (for example, international and regional organizations). Generally, these projects support partner countries' efforts undertaken to strengthen respect for international labour standards. For example, in fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the ITL stream funded new capacity building projects valued at $1.3 million in Mexico, Jordan and Colombia:
- In Jordan, efforts are being made to enhance the capacity of the Garment Trade Union to engage and represent workers at all levels
- A project in Mexico seeks to achieve greater respect for the rights of workers in Mexico's garment and other export sectors to join or form unions of their choice and to bargain collectively
- In Colombia, under the Canada-Colombia Action Plan, a project will improve the registration of collective agreements of the Colombian Ministry of Labour
In addition to ITL's annual budget of $1.2 million, Budget 2019 provided for an additional $680,000 per year, over a 5-year period, which will be earmarked towards technical assistance and cooperative activities in selected Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) partner countries. The $680,000 will be sourced from existing departmental reference levels.
Interaction with monitoring and compliance activities
Technical assistance is a complement to monitoring and compliance functions already in place. These measures are currently being reinforced, and will include a series of regular, ongoing reports and consultations. This material will serve to inform decisions related to capacity-building and enforcement measures in the case of non-compliance with trade-related labour provisions.
5. Labour Program portfolio organizations
Canada Industrial Relations Board
The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) is an independent, representational, quasi-judicial tribunal responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part I (Industrial Relations), and certain provisions of Part II (Occupational Health and Safety), and Part III (Standard Hours, Wages, Vacations and Holidays) of the Canada Labour Code (the Code). The CIRB Board is also responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part II (Professional Relations) of the Status of the Artist Act and appeals under the Wage Earner Protection Program Act.
The Board's mandate is to contribute to, and promote, a harmonious industrial relations climate in the federally regulated sector while also ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation and adherence to minimum employment standards in federal workplaces.
The CIRB is responsible for the interpretation and application of the provisions of Part I of the Code related to: employer/employee status; appropriate bargaining units; certification and decertification; unfair labour practice complaints; sales of business; illegal strikes and lockouts; and maintenance of activities during a work stoppage necessary to prevent immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public. Additionally, the CIRB is responsible for adjudicating unjust dismissal complaints, wage recovery appeals, a new recourse mechanism against employer reprisals under Part III of the Code and Wage Earner Protection Program appeals, and has expanded powers to dispose of occupational health and safety appeals.
The CIRB is also responsible for professional relations between self-employed artists and producers at federally regulated broadcasters, and federal government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations, pursuant to the Status of the Artist Act. This includes defining the sectors of cultural activity suitable for collective bargaining and certifying artists' associations in these sectors.
Various factors, such as the economy and lifecycles of collective agreements result in fluctuating workloads year to year. Fiscal year 2018 to 2019 saw a marginal workload increase from the two previous fiscal years, but it is anticipated that with the new mandates under Parts II and III of the Code that were recently transferred to the Board from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), workloads will increase significantly over the next two fiscal years. The resources previously allocated to ESDC for these mandates will be transferred to the Board in 2020 as agreed to by both organizations.
The Code provides for the CIRB to be composed of one full-time neutral Chairperson, 2 or more full-time neutral Vice-Chairpersons, and not more than 6 full-time members representing employers and employees in equal numbers. Part-time Vice-Chairpersons and members may also be appointed to the CIRB. The Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the CIRB must have experience and expertise in labour relations.
The Board is currently composed of the following appointees:
- Chairperson: Ginette Brazeau was appointed as Chairperson on December 28, 2014, after previously serving as Executive Director and General Counsel with the CIRB. Ms. Brazeau's term expires on December 28, 2024
- 5 full-time Vice-Chairpersons:
- Annie G. Berthiaume, term ending January 26, 2025
- Louise Fecteau, term ending November 30, 2020
- Sylvie Guilbert, term ending July 2, 2024
- Roland Hackl, term ending July 2, 2024
- Allison Smith, term ending January 5, 2025
- 3 part-time Vice-Chairpersons:
- Paul Love, term ending November 30, 2020
- Lynne Poirier, term ending November 28, 2020
- Jennifer Webster, term ending July 2, 2024
- 4 employer representative members:
- Richard Brabander, term ending December 20, 2020 (full-time member)
- Thomas Brady, term ending May 28, 2021 (full-time member)
- Vacant (full-time member)
- Barbara Mittleman, term ending December 20, 2020 (part-time member)
- 4 employee representative members:
- Lisa Addario, term ending June 18, 2021 (full-time member)
- Gaétan Ménard, term ending December 13, 2020 (full-time member)
- Daniel Thimineur, term ending January 21, 2021 (full-time member)
- Paul Moist, term ending December 20, 2020 (part-time member)
In accordance with section 12(2) of the Code, members whose term recently expired continue to complete the duties assigned to them during their active term.
In accordance with the Code, the Board reports to Parliament through the Minister of Labour. The Minister is responsible under the Code for recommending the appointment of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the Board to the Governor in Council. As well, the representative members are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister, after consultation with federal employer organizations, namely the Federally Regulated Employers-Transportation and Communications (FETCO) and the Canadian Labour Congress.
Under the Code, the Minister has authority to refer any question on maintenance of activities to the Board if there is concern that a work stoppage could threaten the health or safety of the public. In the interest of promoting industrial peace, the Minister also has authority under the Code to refer any question to the Board or direct it to do such things as the Minister deems necessary. This provision has been used sporadically since its inclusion in the Code.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is a federal government agency with a legislative mandate to promote workplace health and safety and the physical and mental health of working people in Canada. It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Labour.
To fulfill its mandate, CCOHS collaborates with various key partners, researchers and stakeholders. It is a recognized leader in providing effective programs, products and services, which are based on CCOHS’ knowledge base and core competencies; collection of occupational health and safety information; and application of information management technologies.
More specifically, the CCOHS provides information and knowledge transfer services; e-courses; cost-effective tools and management systems for improving occupational health and safety performance; and injury and illness prevention initiatives that promote the safety and health, physical, psychological, and total well-being of workers.
Since its establishment in 1978, in Hamilton, Ontario, CCOHS has developed a national and international reputation for excellence as a source of unbiased and credible information on all aspects of workplace health and safety.
CCOHS is governed by a Council representing 3 key stakeholder groups: governments (federal, provincial and territorial), employer representatives and unions. The 22 members (chair included) of the Council are appointed by the Governor-in-Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Labour.
The Council is required to submit an annual report on the activities and work of the Centre to the federal Minister of Labour. The Minister tables the report to Parliament on behalf of the CCOHS Council of Governors.
The CCOHS’ budget for 2018 to 2019 consisted of a total expenditure of $11.6 million, which includes a federal parliamentary funding level of $4.8 million, and a revenue level of $6.8 million, including provincial and territorial contributions. The CCOHS workforce is approximately 85 employees.
Anne Tennier was appointed as President and CEO of CCOHS for a 5-year period in April 2018. Gary Robertson, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Labour Program was reappointed as Chairperson of CCOHS for a 5-year period in December 2017.
B. Partners and stakeholders
Business and employer associations
Operating in industries such as air, rail and marine transportation, banking, telecommunications and broadcasting, businesses in the federal jurisdiction play vital roles in generating direct economic activity, providing critical infrastructure services that enable the national economy and contribute to the well-being of Canadians.
Business and employer associations primarily act as advocates for their members on public policy issues with governments and often undertake research and analysis to support their activities. A few also engage in, or coordinate, collective bargaining on behalf of their members.
Discussions with employers, and the associations that represent them, have long been important means by which the Minister of Labour and the Labour Program identifies issues of common concern and gains a better understanding of employer perspectives on federal labour issues. Ongoing dialogue with these organizations helps to ensure that their views are taken into account in the formulation of federal labour laws and policies.
The remainder of this section describes the key business and employer associations that are active in the federal private-sector.
Federally Regulated Employers in Transportation and Communication (FETCO)
FETCO represents the major federally regulated companies and employer associations in the transportation and communications sectors in Canada. Formed in 1983, it is the principal voice for these businesses on federal labour matters.
FETCO members collectively employ about 425,000 employees, of which over 200,000 are represented by unions. FETCO members employ two-thirds of the unionized workforce covered under the Canada Labour Code.
FETCO members include:
- Air Canada
- Air Transat
- BC Maritime Employers Association
- Bell Canada
- Brink's Canada Limited
- Canada Post Corporation
- Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
- Canadian Pacific Railway
- Canadian Trucking Alliance
- Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)
- Canadian National Rail
- FedEx Canada
- Jazz Aviation LP
- J.D. Irving
- Logistec Corporation
- Maritime Employers Association
- National Bank
- NAV CANADA
- Shaw Communications
- St. Lawrence Seaway Corporation
- Sunwing Airlines
- Swissport Canada Inc.
- UPS Canada
- VIA Rail Canada
- Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA)
In recent years, FETCO has been involved in formal and informal discussions on all aspects of federal labour policy. The organization is also part of the Canada Industrial Relations Board's Client Consultation Committee, which was established in 2004 to improve communications between the Board and the business and labour organizations that use its services.
Key contact: Mr. Derrick Hynes, Executive Director
Canadian Bankers Association (CBA)
The CBA represents 60 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees. It provides governments and others with a centralized contact to all banks on matters relating to banking in Canada.
The CBA's advocacy activities are aimed at ensuring a sound banking system. Issues of interest include banking regulation, tax competitiveness, financial literacy, identity theft and money laundering, as well as federal labour laws, policies and regulations that affect the workplaces of its member organizations. In the latter area, the CBA has in recent years focused on issues such as termination of employment, workplace violence and sexual harassment and support for employees with caregiving responsibilities.
Key contacts: Neil Parmenter, President and CEO
British Columbia Maritime Employers' Association (BCMEA)
The BCMEA consists of 55 member companies with commercial interests in the waterfront in Vancouver and along the British Columbia coast. These companies include ship owners and agents, stevedores and container, bulk and break bulk terminal operators.
The BCMEA's main role is collective bargaining on behalf of its members and the administration of 2 collective agreements covering about 5,000 longshoremen and foremen in the Ports of Vancouver, New Westminster, Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island. It also represents its members before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and other regulatory bodies and plays an advocacy role on behalf of its members on issues such as health and safety, pensions, human rights and employment equity, legislative reform and the Canada Labour Code.
In addition, the BCMEA promotes workplace health and safety in the longshore industry. It also oversees the training and recruitment of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canadian Area and the daily dispatch of labour for the Vancouver local of the Union.
The 55 members of the BCMEA include:
- Pacific Northwest Ship and Cargo Services Inc.
- Associated Stevedoring Co. Ltd.
- Pacific Coast Terminals Co. Ltd.
- GCT Canada Limited Partnership
- DP World (Canada) Inc.
- Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.
- Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia
- Viterra Inc.
Key contact: Mr. Mike Leonard, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA)
The CTA is a federation of provincial trucking associations. It represents a broad cross-section of the trucking industry – some 4,500 carriers, owner-operators and industry suppliers – and advocates on behalf of the industry on national and international policy, regulatory and legislative issues that affect trucking.
The CTA is headquartered in Toronto, has an operating office in Ottawa and provincial association offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Montreal and Moncton.
Although the CTA is a member of FETCO, the unique characteristics of the trucking industry sometime merit direct communications.
Key contact: Mr. Stephen Laskowski, President and Chief Executive Officer
Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ)
The CPQ consists of Quebec's largest companies and the vast majority of sector-based employer associations in the province. Its members operate in industries such as banking, transportation, communications, manufacturing and services, as well as natural resources, education and occupational health and safety.
Although most of its activities concern provincial policies and legislation, in recent years the CPQ has been active on federal issues such as labour standards, psychological health and safety and health and safety in the workplace.
CPQ members who fall under federal jurisdiction include:
- Air Canada
- Arcelor Mittal Exploitation minière Canada s.e.n.c.
- Bell Canada
- Cogeco Inc.
- Port de Québec
Key contact: Mr. Yves-Thomas Dorval, President and CEO
Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC)
The CCC has a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes from all sectors. In recent years, it has played an active advocacy role on issues such as trade and competitiveness, employee benefits, work practices in the cross-border transportation sector and labour relations and work stoppages with impacts for Canada's economy.
Key contact: The Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and Chief Executive Officer
Business Council of Canada (BCC)
The BCC is composed of the Chief Executive Officers of leading companies across the Canadian economy. Member companies collectively administer $4.5 trillion in assets, have annual revenues in excess of $850 billion and are responsible for the vast majority of Canada's exports, investment, research and development and training.
The BCC has an active program of public policy research, consultation and advocacy. Its work in recent years has addressed issues such as trade and competitiveness, corporate tax reform, the labour market participation of disadvantaged groups and the changing nature of the Canadian workforce.
BCC members include:
- BMO Financial Group
- Bombardier Inc.
- Canadian Pacific Railway
- Desjardins Group
Key contact: Mr. Goldy Hyder, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
The CFIB represents over 109,000 small business owners in all sectors of the economy, but particularly retail, construction and manufacturing.
The CFIB advocates on behalf of its members with all 3 levels of government on tax fairness, labour laws and reducing the regulatory burden. Although typically not a key advocate on federal labour issues, the CFIB in recent years has taken an active interest in amendments to the labour standards provisions in the Canada Labour Code.
Key contact: Mr. Dan Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME)
The CME is Canada's largest trade and industry association, with an estimated 10,000 members. It represents manufacturing and exporting businesses which, together, account for an estimated 82% of Canada's manufacturing production and 90% of Canadian goods and services exports. While CME's membership includes Canada's largest businesses, more than 85% of its members are small and mid-sized enterprises.
The CME focusses on issues such as manufacturing competitiveness, business with the United States, international markets, people and skills, energy and the environment. It plays an active policy and advocacy role and provides a wide variety of other services to its members, such as training, research and analysis.
Key contact: Mr. Dennis Darby, President and Chief Executive Officer
There are approximately 5.1 million workers in Canada represented by a union.
Unions act as the bargaining agent representing employees during the collective bargaining process. Additionally, unions support employees by working with the employer to help resolve workplace issues by: advocating for employee concerns; holding employers accountable to their obligations; and by supporting workplace safety and anti-discrimination measures.
Any industrial action taken by either the workers or their employer during contract negotiations may have a social and economic impact and, because of this, it is important to develop ongoing communication and dialogue.
Unions, with some exceptions, are normally affiliated to a central labour body. One of the key roles of central labour bodies is to represent the views of the labour movement in public policy discussions and debates.
The remainder of this section first describes the main labour centrals in Canada, and then provides information on the key individual unions active in the federal jurisdiction.
Key labour centrals
Labour centrals are organizations formed by groups of unions to represent the general concerns of unions and workers. Labour centrals coordinate the activities of their member unions and represent them in public policy discussions and processes that address the interests of their members and other workers.
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
Founded in 1956, the CLC represents 3.7 million workers. The CLC is the largest labour central in Canada and acts as the principal voice of organized labour with respect to labour and employment legislation in the federal jurisdiction.
The CLC has played an active role in a wide range of consultative activities that have been undertaken by the Labour Program in the past. On behalf of its members, the CLC advocates for decent wages, healthy and safe workplaces, fair labour laws, equality rights, dignity in retirement, a sustainable environment and respect for basic human rights.
Key contact: Mr. Hassan Yussuff, President
Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ)
The FTQ is the Canadian Labour Congress' provincial federation in the province of Quebec. It should be noted that, unlike other CLC provincial federations, the FTQ has, over the years, acquired a unique autonomous role both organizationally and in governmental affairs.
The FTQ is the largest labour central in Quebec, in terms of its membership. It has 600,000 members, who account for 44% of unionized workers in Quebec.
Key contact: Mr. Daniel Boyer, President
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
The CSN is the second largest labour central in Quebec, with a membership of approximately 325,000 workers from 2,700 affiliated labour organizations. The CSN's membership covers a range of industrial sectors under both provincial and federal jurisdiction.
Key contact: Mr. Jacques Létourneau, President
Other labour centrals
Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ)
The CSQ is the third largest labour central in Quebec, with almost 200,000 members, most of whom are employed in industries under provincial jurisdiction.
Over 100,000 CSQ members are in the field of education, most working in the public sector, and 69% are women.
Key contact: Ms. Sonia Éthier, President
Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD)
The CSD represents approximately 75,000 members in various sectors of the economy. The majority of members are in the textile, clothing and footwear sectors, under provincial jurisdiction.
Key contact: Mr. Luc Vachon, President
Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)
The CLAC is both a union and a labour central representing 25 affiliated active local unions. CLAC is not affiliated with any provincial or national labour federation or congress in Canada.
CLAC currently represents 66,000 members in the construction, health care, transportation, manufacturing, service, mining and retail sectors in both provincial and federal jurisdictions.
Key contacts: Mr. Wayne Prins, Executive Director and Mr. Ian DeWaard, Ontario Provincial Director
The Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU)
CCU is the nation's largest federation of independent labour unions. The CCU is dedicated to the establishment of a democratic, independent Canadian labour movement.
The CCU has 10,000 members in 5 affiliated unions: the Nova Scotia Union of Public and Private Employees, the Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Union; the York University Staff Association; the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada; and, the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers.
Key contact: Mr. Kelly Johnson, President
Key unions in federal jurisdiction
Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA)
ACPA is the federally certified bargaining agent for 3,000 pilots employed at Air Canada. ACPA was established in 1996 when Air Canada pilots separated from the Canadian Airline Pilots Association.
Key contact: Captain Mike McKay, Chair, Master Elected Council (MEC)
Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) – Affiliated with CLC
ALPA is an international union that represents more than 52,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines. The ALPA Canada Board represents the interests of pilots in Canada. ALPA represents pilots at a number of Canadian air carriers, including: Jazz (Air Canada's regional carrier), Air Transat, Air Nova Inc., Air Ontario Inc., Bearskin Lake Air Services, and Canadian Regional Airlines.
Key contact: Captain Joe DePete, President
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) – Affiliated with CLC
CUPE represents 650,000 workers in health care, education, municipalities, libraries, universities, social services, public utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines. CUPE is most active in the provincial jurisdiction with health care and municipal workers as its 2 largest sectors.
Key federally regulated employers that CUPE has negotiated agreements with include: Air Canada, Air Transat, Atomic Energy of Canada, CanJet Airlines, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Groupe TVA Inc., Maritime Employers Association, Sunwing Airlines, and Telus Communications.
Key contact: Mr. Mark Hancock, National President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
CUPW represents approximately 54,000 members. Many work for Canada Post as letter carriers, rural and suburban mail carriers, postal clerks, mail handlers and dispatchers, technicians, mechanics and electricians. CUPW also represents cleaners, couriers, drivers, vehicle mechanics, warehouse workers, printers, emergency medical dispatchers and other workers in the private-sector.
Key contact: Jan Simpson, National President
Canadian Merchant Service Guild (CMSG)
The objectives of CMSG, a National Association of Ships' Officers and Marine Pilots, are to promote the social, economic, cultural, educational and material interests of its members. The Guild represents the majority of Ships' Officers and Pilots in the Canadian Maritime Industry.
Key contact: Captain Simon Pelletier, President
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) – Affiliated with CLC
IBEW represents approximately 750,000 active members and retirees in the United States and Canada. IBEW's membership covers a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government.
Key federally regulated employers that IBEW has negotiated agreements with include: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, the Government of Canada, and NAV Canada.
Key contacts: Mr. Thomas Reid, International Vice President, IBEW
First District (Canada)
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) – Affiliated with CLC
ILWU Canada is a union made up of 11 autonomous ILWU Locals and 3 affiliate unions: the Retail Wholesale Union (British Columbia); the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union (Saskatchewan); and the Grain Services Union (Saskatchewan).
Key federally regulated employers that ILWU has negotiated agreements with include: Seaspan Marine Corporation, British Colombia Maritime Employers Association, and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
Key contact: Mr. Rob Ashton, President
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) – Affiliated with CLC
Formed in 1966, PSAC represents 180,000 members across Canada, as well as representing some workers in embassies and consulates abroad.
The majority of PSAC members work for the federal government and its agencies. A growing number of PSAC members also work for private-sector enterprises and in the broader public sector including universities, women's shelters, casinos, community services agencies, Indigenous communities, airports and the security sector.
Key federally regulated employers that PSAC has negotiated agreements with include: Canada Post Corporation, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, NAV Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mint.
Key contact: Mr. Chris Aylward, National President
Teamsters – Affiliated with CLC
Teamsters Canada is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Canadian Labour Congress and represents 93,000 workers across Canada in different sectors of the economy, including trucking, aerospace, railways and security services. Key federally regulated employers that Teamsters Canada has negotiated agreements with include: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Kingsway Transport Ltd., and Purolator Inc.
Key contact: Mr. James P. Hoffa, President and Mr. François Laporte, International Vice President, President of Teamsters Canada
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC)
The Teamsters union represents 125,000 Canadians, over 16,000 of those members work in the rail industry and are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. They are a collective bargaining partner for the 2 major rail carriers in Canada, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, as well as the majority of the short lines in Canada.
Key contact: Lyndon Isaak, President
Unifor is the largest private-sector union in Canada, representing more than 315,000 members, and 754 affiliated union locals. Unifor was formed after the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) in August of 2013.
Key federally regulated employers that Unifor has negotiated agreements with include: Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Bell Canada, CTV Television, Canadian National Railway, First Air, Jazz Air, Rogers Cable Communications, Shaw Media, Service Air Inc., and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Key contact: Mr. Jerry Dias, National President
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – Affiliated with CLC
UFCW Canada has 36 locals representing approximately 250,000 members in Canada. Members work mainly in provincial jurisdiction industries, including in food, retail, health care, hospitality, security, financial services, and non-food manufacturing.
Key federally regulated employers that UFCW has negotiated agreements with include: Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, National Bank of Canada, Bearskin Lake Air Service, Buckerfield's Ltd., CSP Foods Ltd., and Canada Packers Inc.
Key contact: Mr. Paul R. Meinema, National President
United Steelworkers (USW) – Affiliated with CLC
The USW is divided into 13 districts across North America including 3 districts across Canada and 4 national local unions: Telecommunications Workers Union-TWU-USW National Local 1944, USW National Local Union 2004, USW National Local Union 1976 and USW Wood Council.
USW represents 190,000 members working in call centres, credit unions, rail, mines offices and oil refineries, restaurants, rubber plants, sawmills, steel mills, security companies, nursing homes, legal clinics, social agencies, universities, manufacturing plants and the lumber industry.
Key federally regulated employers that USW has negotiated agreements with include: Atomic Energy of Canada, Allstream Corporation, CANPAR Transport, Cameco Corporation, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Delta Airlines, Garda Security Screening, Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Securitas Transport, and Telus Communications.
Key contact: Mr. Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada
The Labour Program regularly engages with numerous non-governmental organizations and experts on key Labour Program mandate priorities, to build relationships and to share information on issues of mutual interest. Their views and perspectives have informed the development of policies, legislation and regulations that are responsive to the needs of the diverse types of workplaces found in the federal jurisdiction.
The contacts listed below include the organizations or individuals with whom the Labour Program has had significant interaction or who have made a key contribution to the development of policies or programs.
Alzheimer Society of Canada
The Alzheimer Society of Canada is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: John L. O'Keefe, First Vice President
Association des proches aidants de la Capitale-Nationale (RANQ) FWA
RANQ is an association that develops services to support caregivers. The key goal of RANQ is to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of caregivers and promote their personal, family and social well-being.
RANQ participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: Suzanne Girard, President
The Atkinson Foundation promotes social and economic justice with the key goal of making Ontario more equitable, inclusive and prosperous.
The Atkinsons Foundation participated in consultations on Modernizing Labour Standards in 2017.
Key contact: Colette Murphy, Executive Director
Au bas de l'échelle (ABÉ)
ABÉ is an education and advocacy group of non-unionized people. Since 1975, ABÉ has offered several information and training services on the rights to work (dismissal, psychological harassment, prohibited practices, etc.) and has taken political actions to improve the rights of non-union workers, particularly in the context of labor standards.
ABÉ participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016 and on Modernizing Labour Standards in 2017.
Key contacts: Mélanie Gauvin; Carole Henry
C.D. Howe Institute
The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. The C.D. Howe Institute's research is national in scope and is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.
The C.D. Howe institute participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: William B.P. Robson, President
Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE)
CACEE is an association that fosters a networking partnership between Canadian educational institutions and employers. Their key goal is to advance and support on-campus recruitment and career education by providing: leadership, information, resources and a professional network to prepare post-secondary students for a successful transition into their careers.
CACEE participated in consultations on Unpaid Internships in 2015 and 2016.
Key contact: Lauren Shanahan, President
Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP)
CAIRP is the stakeholder group that represents the interests of the Canadian trustee and receiver community. Trustees and receivers are required to perform duties under the Wage Earner Protection Program Act. CAIRP participates in the Joint Liaison Committee (JLC), which is chaired by the Labour Program, and comprises key stakeholders and partners both internal and external to the federal government.
Key contact: Grant Christensen, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
The CCPA is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice. The CCPA has produced a number of studies into vulnerable workers, precarious work, minimum and living wages.
The CCPA participated in the Labour Program's 2017 consultations on proactive pay equity and in an information session in the spring of 2019. In addition, CCPA participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: Larry Brown, President
Canadian Intern Association
The Canadian Intern Association is a not-for-profit organization that advocates against the exploitation of interns and aims to improve internship experiences. They were founded in June 2012 and incorporated federally in July 2013. Their areas of work focus on education, law reform, research and media coverage.
The Canadian Intern Association participated in consultations on Unpaid Internships in 2015 and 2016.
Key contacts: William Webb, Executive Director
The Conference Board of Canada
The Conference Board of Canada is a Canadian not-for-profit think tank dedicated to researching and analyzing economic trends, as well as organizational performance and public policy issues.
The Conference Board of Canada participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: Bill McFarland, Chair
CSA Group (formerly known as the Canadian Standards Association) is a global provider of testing, inspection and certification services for products from a wide range of market sectors, and a leader in safety and environmental certification for Canada and the US.
The Labour Program maintains an ongoing relationship with the CSA Group, with program officials sitting on Technical Committees that are tasked to provide their expertise and feedback to the development of occupational health and safety CSA standards.
Key contact: David Weinstein, President and CEO
DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN)
DAWN Canada's mission is to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by women with disabilities and Deaf women. DAWN is an organization that works towards the advancement and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities and Deaf women in Canada.
DAWN participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director
The Fraser Institute is an independent non-partisan research and educational organization. They have done research on labour policy, including poverty and inequality.
The Fraser Institute participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: Niels Veldhuis, President
Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE), Rotman School of Management
GATE is a research institute based out of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. They have done research on labour policy, including harassment, parental leave and other issues related to gender in the workplace.
GATE was a partner for the May 2019 Symposium on Women and the Workplace.
Key contact: Sarah Kaplan, Director
The Vanier Institute of the Family
The Vanier Institute of the Family is a national, independent, charitable organization dedicated to understanding the diversity and complexity of families and the reality of family life in Canada. The Institute works to enhance the national understanding of how families interact with, have an impact on and are affected by social, economic, environmental and cultural forces.
The Vanier Institute of the Family participated in consultations on Flexible Work Arrangements in 2016.
Key contact: Nora Spinks, Chief Executive Officer
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