HUMA committee binder: Minister of Labour - November 24, 2020

Official title: Appearance of Minister of Labour Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA), November 24, 2020

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1. Opening remarks

Official title: Speaking Notes for Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi for Appearance before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in relation to the Main Estimates 2020 to 2021 and the Supplementary Estimates (B) House of Commons November 24, 2020

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(2020 PASRB 001110)

Opening

Good evening, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee.

Thank you for inviting me to join you today.

We are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people to discuss the Main Estimates and Supplementary Estimates (B) for Employment and Social Development Canada’s Labour Program.

This year, the Department’s main estimates present a total of $68.6 billion in planned budgetary expenditures to carry out its mandate during the 2020–2021 fiscal year.

More than 94% of this amount will directly benefit Canadians through the Department’s programs, services and initiatives.

We are proud of the work we do to help Canadians successfully navigate life’s transitions.

COVID-19 Supports for workers

Now, as you know, the Government of Canada took a number of extraordinary but necessary steps to protect and support Canadian workers and businesses during the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.

To make sure that employees in federally regulated workplaces would be able to take time off work to deal with situations related to COVID-19, like school closures and self isolation, the Government introduced a new job protected leave under the Canada Labour Code. We also waived medical certificate requirements to access certain existing leave.

In addition, the Government took action to protect the employment of employees in the federally regulated private sector. New measures gave employers more time to recall employees who were temporarily laid off due to the pandemic.

As well, the Government temporarily extended the eligible wages period for the Wage Earner Protection Program by up to 6 months. We did so to ensure that any delays in insolvency proceedings due to the pandemic did not hurt workers’ eligibility for the Program.

Moreover, throughout the pandemic, we have been reminding employers of the importance of having an evergreen hazard prevention plan.

Supplementary Estimates (B)

That leads me to my portfolio’s Supplementary Estimates (B).

Employment and Social Development Canada received approval for $2.5 million for two fiscal years (2020-2021 and 2021-2022) to support business resumption activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic for federally regulated employers across the country. Of this, the Department is requesting $0.4 million through the Supplementary Estimates (B).

The COVID 19 pandemic has created challenges on many fronts for workers and employers in Canada. And effective business resumption requires focused occupational health and safety efforts, including addressing mental health.

That’s why the Labour Program will increase proactive occupational health and safety activities, outreach and guidance, as well as enhance technical and mental health expertise to support business resumption in the federally regulated sector.

Support recovery initiatives

In fact, the Government recently announced that the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) will receive $2.5 million over two years to continue the excellent work they have been doing to provide COVID 19 resources to workplaces.

This funding is part of the coordinated efforts by federal, provincial and territorial governments, public health authorities and CCOHS to ensure that businesses have the necessary tools to protect their employees.

Equitable and safe workplaces

One of the key pieces of moving forward is ensuring workplaces are both safe and equitable.

That is why we are continuing to move forward with the Pay Equity Act, which introduces a proactive pay equity regime that will ensure that women and men in federally regulated workplaces receive equal pay for work of equal value.

We are also raising awareness of wage gaps that affect women, Indigenous people, people with disabilities and visible minorities in federally regulated workplaces through new pay transparency measures.

Now, as you know, we have passed legislation to help prevent violence and harassment in the workplace. We will soon move forward with implementation of this legislation and regulations, which will come into force on January 1, 2021.

Mental health

Workplaces are changing even faster due to the pandemic.

Mental health is a key element of occupational health and safety. This is why we will consult and work with unions, workers, employers and experts to further improve support for the mental health of workers.

Closing

Mr. Chair, these are just some of the actions we are taking.

There is no doubt that the financial resources requested under these Main Estimates and Supplementary Estimates (B), will enable us to continue this work.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you.

- 30 -

2. Work refusals

Issue

How has the Labour Program addressed refusals to work related to the current COVID-19 outbreak?

Key facts

  • Since the outbreak of Coronavirus was first reported on December 31, 2019, there have been 282,577 confirmed cases in Canada
  • As of November 13, 2020, the Labour Program and its extended jurisdiction partner, Transport Canada, have investigated a total of 65 continued refusals to work relating to the COVID-19 outbreak since January 2020

Response

  • The Labour Program is responsible for ensuring that federally regulated workers in Canada can carry out their work in safe, fair and healthy workplaces, and that they get home safe at the end of the day
  • Part II of the Canada Labour Code grants employees the right to refuse work if they believe that the activity they are being asked to perform poses an imminent or serious danger to themselves or to others
  • Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their employees while at work, even amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic
  • Employers should consider whether certain tasks put employees at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19, and study whether their workplace Hazard Prevention Program needs extra controls or protections
  • To assist employers, the Labour Program has made online information and links available for workplaces to use as resources as they respond to the new hazards created by the pandemic

Background

The Labour Program ensures the continuity of its operations by providing advice to employers and employees during the pandemic. Our employees respond to requests for information and Canada Labour Code (Code) provisions and ensure compliance with the Code.

Federally regulated employees that have reasonable cause to believe that a situation exists, in the workplace, which constitutes a danger to their health and safety may refuse to work, under Part II of the Code. The definition of danger under the Code is defined as any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered.

There are certain restrictions where a refusal to work is not permitted:

  • if the refusal puts the life, health or safety of another person directly in danger; or
  • if the danger in question is a normal condition of employment

The Labour Program conducts investigations of continued refusals to work that arise in workplaces under federal jurisdiction and which cannot be resolved internally between the employee(s) and the employer. On completion of their investigation, the Labour Program Official renders one of the following decisions:

  • agrees that a danger exists
  • the refusal is not permitted on the basis that the refusal puts the life, health or safety of another person directly in danger; or the danger is a normal condition of employment; or
  • determines that a danger does not exist

Weekly updates on the number of continued refusals to work, related to COVID-19, investigated by the Labour Program and Transport Canada are provided to the Minister of Labour via the daily communication of the Minister’s Situation Report. As of November 13, 2020, the Labour Program and its extended jurisdiction partner, Transport Canada, have investigated 65 continued refusals to work, across the country, related to COVID-19.

Hazard Prevention Program

Under the Code and its related regulations, employers are required to have a Hazard Prevention Program in place to protect employees. The Hazard Prevention Program is a workplace-specific program designed to prevent work-related injuries and diseases and is prepared as a response to hazards identified at a particular workplace.

If COVID-19 may pose a risk to employees, the employer is required under the regulations to identify and assess the hazards, update the hazard prevention program where required, and train the employees on the new hazard information.

All employers must strive to ensure that employees have been provided with the necessary training, tools and equipment to safely perform their work (including training and procedures on how to use personal protective equipment, if required).

Prepared by

Name: Ross Weatherdon

Title: Program Advisor, Workplace Directorate

Key contact

Name: Marcia Edgar

Title: OHS Manager, Workplace Directorate

Phone number: 873-353-6212

Approved by

Name: Frances McCormick

Title: A/Director General, Workplace Directorate

Phone number: 613-818-8074

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 13, 2020

3. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety resources

Issue

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has developed educational and information resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for use in Canadian workplaces.

Key facts

  • The CCOHS is a federal government agency. Its mandate is to promote workplace health and safety, and to encourage attitudes and methods that will lead to improved physical and mental health for Canadian workers
  • The CCOHS reports to Parliament through the Minister of Labour and is governed by a tripartite Council, representing government, employers and labour
  • The CCOHS has produced several types of resources for workplace parties in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that will benefit all workplaces, not just those in the federally regulated sector:
  1. workplace pandemic information
  2. tip sheets for various essential Canadian sectors
  3. a workplace risk assessment framework; and
  4. a pandemic information sharing porta

Response

  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CCOHS has published health and safety tip sheets on its website, made e-learning courses available free of charge and provided an online space, Pandemic Info Share, where businesses can share resources and advice
  • In September 2020, I announced new funding of $2.5 million over two years for the CCOHS to create more sector-specific guidance and new e-learning tools to help Canadian workplaces operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • If approved through Supplemental Estimates B, this new funding will enable CCOHS to continue and expand this important work - including creating more sector-specific guidance and new e-learning tools that will help all Canadian workplaces operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only those in the federally regulated sector
  • This funding is part of a coordinated response by federal, provincial and territorial governments, public health authorities and CCOHS to the COVID-19 pandemic. These entities are making sure that businesses have all the necessary tools and resources to protect workers’ health and safety during and beyond COVID-19

Background

The CCOHS is a federal government agency that reports to Parliament through the Minister of Labour and that is governed by a tripartite Council of Governors that has 22 seats representing three key stakeholder groups: governments (federal, provincial and territorial), employers and labour. Since its establishment in 1978, the CCOHS has developed a national and international reputation for excellence as an authoritative source of neutral, expert information on all aspects of health and safety in the workplace.

Role and key activities

The CCOHS is responsible for providing occupational health and safety information through training, education, management systems and solutions that support health, safety and wellness programs. Specifically, the CCOHS:

  • facilitates consultation and cooperation among federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, with the participation of labour and management representatives
  • assists in the development and maintenance of policies and programs; and
  • serves as a national centre for information relating to occupational health and safety

One of the CCOHS's most important roles is the publication of educational materials, best practices and recommendations to assist workplace parties to meet their occupational health and safety obligations under provincial and federal legislation, like the Canada Labour Code.

CCOHS currently has 45 tip sheets on-line for various workplace settings and industry sectors as well as several infographics, posters, publications and tools (Appendix A). There are several new tip sheets in production and others that will be updated as new science emerges.

To help employers, CCOHS has launched a new customizable tool kit resource to help employers and workers keep workplaces safe and to prevent the spread of the infection.

Newly created resources for health and safety planning are;

  • COVID-19 Health and Safety Planning for Employers publication
  • COVID-19 Prevention for Workers publication

Additionally CCOHS has updated and curated the Infectious Disease/ Pandemic website that is a gateway to free information and resources from CCOHS and other credible organizations in Canada and beyond.

Key quotes

"COVID-19 has created challenges on many fronts for Canadian workers and businesses. As more workplaces reopen, the health and safety of workers is a priority. This new funding for CCOHS will make more advice and information available to workplaces as they take steps to operate safely and responsibly during this pandemic."

(The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour)

"The need for reliable information and tools to protect the health of workers has never been greater. This funding support from the Labour Program will give CCOHS even greater capacity to provide health and safety guidance and learning modules for specific higher-risk sectors and occupations. This will help employers quickly gain the knowledge they need to ensure a safe and orderly reopening and return to work for all."

(Anne Tennier, President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)

Prepared by

Name: Axell Nascimento

Title: Analyst

Key contact

Name: Erich Kahrer

Title: A/Manager

Phone number: 343-998-4372

Approved by

Name: Duncan Shaw

Title: A/Director General, Workplace Directorate

Phone number: 613-816-1580

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 16, 2020

Appendix

HUMA Card – CCOHS COVID-19 Tip Sheets and Resources

Workplace – Specific Tip Sheets

  • Agriculture
  • Airline and Ground Crews
  • Campgrounds
  • Community Centres
  • Construction
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Court Operations
  • Daycares
  • Education Providers: Grades K-12
  • Emergency and Patient Intake
  • First Responders
  • Food Processing
  • Gyms and Fitness Clubs
  • Health Clinics
  • Home Delivery and Courtiers
  • Home Service Providers
  • Homeless Service Providers
  • Hotels, Motels and Other Accommodations
  • Live Performances: Singing, Music and theatre
  • Long Term Care
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Patios
  • Personal Services (salons, spas, barbers, etc.)
  • Places of Worship
  • Public Transportation
  • Restaurants and Food Services
  • Retail
  • Sport Activities
  • Transportation
  • Work Camps

Resources for All Workplaces

  • COVID 19: Workplace Health and Safety Guide
  • COVID 19 Screening Tool
  • Get the Facts on Masks
  • Preventing Stigma
  • Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19
  • Reopening for Business
  • Respirators, Surgical Mask, and Non-Medical Masks
  • Standard Operating Procedure: Disinfection of Touch Points

Posters, Infographics, and Publications

  • COVID-19: Workplace Health and Safety Guide
  • Controlling COVID-19 in the Workplace Infographic
  • Emergency Response Planning Guide
  • Flu and Infectious Disease Outbreaks Business Continuity Plan
  • Prevent the Spread Infographic
  • Prevent the Spread of Infections
  • Take the Time to Wash your Hands
  • COVID-19 Health and Safety Planning for Employers
  • COVID-19 Prevention for Workers

4. Changes to Occupational Health and Safety and First Aid Certifications related to COVID-19

Issue

What is the Labour Program doing to protect the health and safety of Canadian workers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Key facts

  • The Labour Program is available to assist workplace parties in the federal jurisdiction to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
  • The Labour Program can be reached through its toll-free 1-800 numberFootnote 1, to answer stakeholders’ questions and concerns and respond to urgent situations, including refusals to work related to COVID-19.
  • Officials delegated by the Minister are also available 24/7 as needed.
  • A Ministerial Order to temporarily extend the validity period of employees’ First Aid certifications until December 31, 2020 was issued in September to recognize the challenges faced by workplaces whose employees’ First Aid certificates expired or will expire during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

Response

  • The Labour Program is responsible for enforcing the Canada Labour Code Part II, which pertains to occupational health and safety and applies to federally regulated workplaces.
  • The purpose of Part II of the Code is to prevent work-related accidents and injuries, including the hazards posed by exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
  • The Canada Energy Regulator and Transport Canada conduct compliance and enforcement activities related to Part II of the Code on my behalf, in certain federally regulated sectors.
  • Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their employees while at work, including updating their workplace Hazard Prevention Program (HPP) to identify the hazards in their workplaces, and develop appropriate procedures to mitigate those hazards, which includes the hazards presented by COVID-19.
  • The Internal Responsibility System, embedded in Canadian Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, requires that workplace parties, employers and employees, each have a role to play to identify workplace risks.
  • These parties work together with their Health and Safety Committee or Representative to determine the best measures to mitigate the hazards, and where necessary, determine the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when there is no other method that can adequately protect the employees from the hazard.
  • I issued a Ministerial Order to recognize the challenges faced by workplaces whose employees’ First Aid certificates expired or will expire during the COVID-19 pandemic period, since First Aid certification courses were not universally available in the spring and summer of 2020. This has temporarily extended the validity period of employees’ First Aid certifications until December 31, 2020.
  • Labour Program Officials have verified that many First Aid providers across the country are now offering modified Basic and Standard First Aid Training to the public.
  • Additionally, to assist employers, the Labour Program has made information and resources available online for workplaces as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

Canada Labour Code, Part II Overview

Part II of the Canada Labour Code (Code) applies to private-sector employers under federal jurisdiction (including transportation, telecommunications, broadcasting, feed-flour-seed, grain elevators, banking, certain Aboriginal activities, oil and gas, uranium energy and mining sectors), the federal public service, including crown corporations and Parliament.

Part II of the Code places a general obligation on the employer to protect the health and safety of employees while they are working, as well as non-employees (such as contractors or members of the public) who are granted access to the workplace.

However, it also establishes an internal responsibility system whereby both employers and employees are obliged to work together to prevent work-related injuries and diseases. This system, based on cooperation, improves occupational health and safety in the workplace.

The legislation also provides an employee with 3 fundamental rights:

  1. the right to know about every known or foreseeable health or safety hazard in the area where they work
  2. the right to participate in identifying and correcting job-related health and safety concerns through health and safety representatives and/or committees; and
  3. the right to refuse dangerous work

The legislation also establishes offences and provides an appeal process for parties who are dissatisfied with a direction or decision issued by a delegate of the Minister with respect to a violation under the Code.

Labour Program partners

The Labour Program works closely with our colleagues at the Canada Energy Regulator and Transport Canada, who are responsible for enforcing the Code in certain federally regulated sectors on behalf of the Minister of Labour.

Officials from the Labour Program have been working closely with Transport Canada in providing ongoing guidance and assistance to our joint stakeholders in the essential transportation sectors, specifically rail, road, air and marine transportation.

The Labour Program also works closely with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) which is a federal departmental corporation, responsible for giving trustworthy and complete occupational health and safety information by providing training, education, management systems and solutions that support health, safety and wellness programs. One of their most important roles is publishing educational materials, best practices and recommendations that regulators are unable to for reasons of liability and duty of care.

We have also supported the work of PHAC and Health Canada by referencing their expert guidance on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and in proposed changed to the Hazardous Products Act.

Additionally, to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to the COVID-19 response in workplaces across Canada, regardless of jurisdiction, the Labour Program also works closely with provinces and territories.

How the Labour Program has adapted under COVID-19

Despite the limitations imposed in response to the pandemic, the Labour Program continues to serve federally regulated employers and employees by carrying out investigations, responding to complaints and providing counselling on the Code requirements, but has suspended any proactive work, such as inspections.

Due to the hazard posed by COVID-19, and the Government restrictions on business operations and human movement, the Labour Program has made some adaptations to ensure that employers and employees can continue to work safely and continue to perform normal activities.

  • The Labour Program issued a Ministerial Order to address First Aid certifications under the regulations. The order came into effect on September 11, 2020, and temporarily extended the period of validity of First Aid certifications and courses that expired between March 13 and August 31, 2020, by 6 months or until December 31, 2020, whichever comes first. This extension will ensure that employers and employees in federally regulated workplaces who were unable to renew the First Aid certification of their employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic are not unfairly penalized. It will also ensure businesses can continue to operate while ensuring the health and safety of their workers. Labour Program Officials have confirmed that various First Aid providers, including St. John’s Ambulance, are open and offering modified basic and standard First Aid training, both in class and virtually. Availability of First Aid certification courses varies by jurisdiction with restrictions on course offerings being dependent on the recommendations of a given jurisdiction’s Public Health Authority
  • Health Canada has put in place an interim policy to facilitate chemical products being imported from the United States because it was anticipated that Canadian suppliers may not be able to meet the demand for chemical products used for cleaning. The Labour Program worked with Health Canada to provide information to stakeholders on differences in WHMIS labelling and Safety Data Sheets requirements for chemical products imported from the United States for use in federally regulated workplaces

The Labour Program has also been updating and creating guidance documents to support workplace parties, including:

  • A Hazard Alert on differences in Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labelling and Safety Data Sheet requirements for chemical products imported from the United States for federally regulated workplaces
  • Temporary amendments to signature requirements on employer reporting forms that recognized the limitations imposed by teleworking
  • Clarifying reporting requirements for situations where COVID-19 is contracted in the workplace
  • Regular emails to employer and employee stakeholders reminding them of the Code requirements, and sharing helpful tools and information that they can use to ensure that their workplace is protected
  • Timely responses to employer and union questions and concerns; and
  • Actively promoting the tools and resources developed by CCOHS

Labour Program as an employer

As an employer, the Labour Program has instructed its officials to consider whether investigations should be conducted remotely or in person, as safe and appropriate.

Where onsite investigation cannot be avoided, approval from senior management is required and the official will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment.

As required under the HPP, safe work procedures were reviewed and revised to ensure the health and safety of our own employees in the conduct of regulatory compliance activities on behalf of the Minister of Labour.

The Labour Program is planning for any operational changes that may be required as the Government and public health officials open and close specific sectors to limit the spread of COVID-19 in particular areas of the country.

Prepared by

Name: Ross Weatherdon

Title: Program Advisor, Workplace Directorate

Key contact

Name: Marcia Edgar

Title: OHS Manager, Workplace Directorate

Phone number: 873-353-6212

Approved by

Name: Frances McCormick

Title: A/Director General, Workplace Directorate

Phone number: 613-818-8074

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 13, 2020

5. Workplace mental health

Issue

The commitment to improve the mental health of workers in federally regulated workplaces.

Key facts

  • According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 500,000 employees are unable to work each week due to a mental health issue or illness
  • A recent survey found that the mental health of working Canadians is significantly strained compared to pre-COVID 19 pandemic reports with 38% of respondents reporting financial stress as a main contributor to mental ill health
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada also estimates that costs associated with reduced productivity from absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover cost the Canadian economy approximately $6 billion per year

Response

  • Mental health is a concern for all Canadians and has become an even more prominent concern as a result of the pandemic – which is why it’s a priority for me as Minister of Labour
  • To support Canadians during these difficult times, a number of mental health supports are available. For example, we have launched a new portal called "Wellness Together Canada", which includes free tools and resources that can benefit everyone, workers included, in improving their mental well-being
  • Additionally, as part of my mandate, I will ensure that mental health is included as a specific element of occupational health and safety and require federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury
  • To this end, we are moving forward with stakeholder engagement this fall. This will include the publication of a discussion paper for written feedback and the distribution of a survey to federally regulated employers
  • Information gathered through this engagement will inform the development of policy options and inform a second round of engagement which is expected to be held in early 2021

Background

The Minister of Labour has a mandate to improve labour protections in the Canada Labour Code (Code) by including mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety, and by requiring federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury.

Canada Labour Code and mental health

Occupational health and safety is covered by Part II of the Code and related regulations, which apply to federally regulated private-sector employers, Crown corporations, the federal public service and Parliamentary workplaces including the House of Commons and Senate.

Employers are currently bound by both a general and more specific duties to protect the health and safety of every person employed by the employer. However, there is no specific or prescriptive obligation for employers to protect the psychological health and safety of their employees under the Code.

Bill C-65

Bill C-65, which received Royal Assent on October 25th, 2018, amends the Code to create a single, integrated regime that will protect federally regulated employees from harassment and violence in the workplace. Once the amendments come into force on January 1, 2021, "psychological injuries and illnesses" will be included in the purpose statement of Part II. This is expected to strengthen the expectation that prevention of psychological illnesses and injuries is also part of the employer’s obligation.

Federal-Provincial-Territorial coordination

Mental health in the workplace is a shared priority for FPT Ministers Responsible for Labour. Work is underway to develop a strategy for workplace mental health that will identify a range of tools and best practices. Led by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the results of this work are anticipated to be shared with FPT Ministers in early 2021.

Evidence regarding the costs of psychological injuries and illnesses in the workplace

A wide range of Canadian studies have estimated that poor mental health results in major costs to the Canadian economy. For example, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) estimates that poor mental health in general costs the Canadian economy $50 billion per year, including the costs of health care, social services and income support. The MHCC also estimates that more than one third (35%) of these overall societal costs are related to work, and that mental health problems in the workplace cost the Canadian economy $6 billion per year in lost productivity (MHCC, 2010; 2013).

Recently, 10 large Canadian companies reported an average return on investment of $1.62 for every dollar invested in mental health initiatives per year. Findings revealed that organizations with initiatives in place for 3 years or more were able to double that return on investment (Deloitte Insights, 2019).

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a significant emotional, psychological, and social toll on Canadians. Studies indicate that since the beginning of the pandemic the number of people who describe their mental health as being excellent or very good has decreased. For example, in May 2020, 48% of Canadians reported excellent or very good mental health compared to 68% in 2018.

Many resources and supports have been made available to support Canadians during the pandemic. Almost all provinces and territories have enhanced available mental health supports and resources, as well as adapted, promoted and/or enhanced their crisis lines while some are addressing particular gaps in care and services. Additionally, several organizations across Canada have been stepping up to provide useful tools, as well as interactive and streamable resources to support employers and employees. For example:

  • The Government of Canada launched a new online portal called "Wellness Together Canada" that provides access to a virtual network of psycho-social supports. These supports will complement, and not replace, existing provincial and territorial services.
  • CCOHS has updated and published e-courses that workplaces can download free of charge. These tools will help workplaces (including employees) deal with psychological health and safety during these difficult times.
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada has been active in supporting employers and employees by providing a hub of resources specific to COVID-19.
  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is providing tips, coping strategies and resources for public and health care workers. As well, they are tracking the affects the pandemic is having on mental health through a series of national surveys.
  • The Canadian Mental Health Association has put together resources and suggestions to help support the mental health of Canadians.
  • The Canadian Psychological Association provides factsheets on support for employees.

Despite these supports, data trends demonstrate that mental health concerns are maintaining the heightened levels reported at the beginning of the pandemic. Other emerging trends suggest that COVID-19 stressors like financial uncertainty, isolation, job losses or reduced work hours are exacerbating pre-existing psychological distress, anxiety and even depression among Canadian workers.

Key quotes

The Government will "partner with provinces, territories, and health professionals to introduce mental health standards in the workplace…"

(Moving Forward Together – Speech from the Throne to open the first session of the 43rd Parliament of Canada, December 5, 2019)

"To help make life less stressful and to give people more time to do the things they love, we will move forward with new federal labour code protections, including… better support for the mental health of workers, by including mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety, and requiring employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury…"

(Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class – Liberal Party Platform, 2019)

"We must not only fight the virus. We’ve also got to fight the stigma that is likely preventing people from feeling comfortable seeking help and support." "The more we invest in our wellness now, the better off we will be on the other side of COVID-19."

(Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada)

Prepared by

Name: Nicole Uloth

Title: Policy Officer

Phone number: [Redacted]

Key contact

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General, SPAWID

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Anthony Giles

Title: Assistant Deputy Minister

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

6. Personal Protective Equipment support for frontline workers

Issue

Stakeholders in the federally regulated sector have stressed the need to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) for the essential services they are providing.

Key facts

  • Approximately 1.2 million employees, or 8 per cent of the Canadian labour force, are federally regulated. Key federally regulated sectors include rail, road, air and maritime transportation, telecommunications, radio and television broadcasting, banking, some aspects of First Nations, and the public service of Canada
  • There are more than 18,500 employers in these sectors. The vast majority of employees (87%) working in these sectors are employed by medium to large-size firms (such as those with 100 or more employees)
  • The critical infrastructure services provided by these employees are essential for the well-being of Canadians through the support they provide to the rest of the Canadian economy

Response

  • The Government of Canada is collaborating with provinces and territories on an ongoing basis to identify their needs and purchase required equipment, supplies, and services to combat COVID-19 in the health care sector and other sectors that are delivering essential services
  • My colleague, Minister Anand, and the officials from the Department of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) have taken an aggressive approach to buying—especially when it comes to personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers
  • In addition to health care workers, who are provincially regulated, a significant proportion of federally regulated workers and employers are providing essential services during this COVID-19 crisis
  • Federally regulated workers and employers play an important role in ensuring the supply chain for food and medical equipment remains uninterrupted, and that there is no break in vital transportation, telecommunications and broadcasting services
  • Organizations that provide essential services may request access to the Government of Canada’s Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR) when all other sources of supply are unavailable and when a significant disruption in the delivery of essential services to Canadians is imminent
  • The ESCR complements existing PPE support being provided to frontline health care workers by the Public Health Agency of Canada and provinces and territories
  • In addition, the Government of Canada launched PPE Supply Hub to help organizations sell and buy PPE during the pandemic

Background

As Government of Canada’s central purchaser, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is spearheading the consolidated purchase of emergency supplies and services required for Canada, including at the federal, provincial and territorial levels.

Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR)

Through the ESCR, eligible essential service business or organizations may apply to receive personal protective equipment (PPE), non-medical masks and disinfection products to address urgent, short-term (45 days) needs. The Contingency Reserve complements existing PPE support being provided to frontline health care workers by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It helps other essential service organizations bridge critical, temporary gaps in their supplies to avoid any significant disruptions in services to Canadians. Supplies are provided on a cost-recovery basis to businesses or organizations that cannot access supplies through other means and when significant service disruptions are imminent. Support provided to provincial or territorial governments will not be cost recovered.

To be eligible for the ESCR, an organization must provide essential services in one of the following areas:

  • energy and utilities
  • information and communication technologies
  • finance
  • health
  • food
  • water
  • transportation
  • safety
  • government
  • manufacturing

PPE Supply Hub

The PPE Supply Hub brings together available resources for organizations buying and selling PPE. The Supply Hub connects Canadian organizations with federal, provincial, territorial and other resources and information about PPE, including consumer guidance. Buyers will find PPE supplier lists, in addition to guidance to help plan their PPE purchases.

National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS)

The NESS contains supplies that provinces and territories can request in emergencies, when their own resources are not enough. In the context of Canada’s COVID-19 response, the NESS is primarily being used to meet the needs of frontline healthcare workers. The Public Health Agency of Canada maintains the NESS.

Key quotes

"Across the country, organizations of all types are providing a wide range of essential services—from keeping food on our tables to caring for vulnerable populations and shipping goods from coast to coast to coast. Through the Essential Services Contingency Reserve, the federal government seeks to ensure that these organizations can continue to operate if they have short-term challenges in obtaining PPE when all other sources of supply are unavailable. Canadians can rest assured that they will continue to have access to the essential services on which they depend as the Canadian economy continues to recover from the pandemic."

—The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

"As an essential service industry, the ability to source PPE and secure availability is critical. The establishment of the Supply Hub by Minister Anand will assist our members who continue to move Canada’s supply chain during the COVID-19 crisis"

—Stephen Laskowski, President, Canadian Trucking Alliance

Prepared by

Name: Patrick McDuff

Title: Senior Policy Analyst

No phone number

Key contact

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Anthony Giles

Title: Assistant Deputy Minister

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

7. Safe work restart in pandemic

Issue

As businesses re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic, what are the occupational health and safety considerations to resume operations safely?

Key facts

  • The Labour Program is responsible for enforcing the Canada Labour Code Part II, which concerns occupational health and safety in federally-regulated workplaces. The purpose of Part II is to prevent workplace related accidents and injuries including occupational diseases
  • Employers are required under Regulations to establish a Hazard Prevention Program (HPP) in the workplace to protect the health and safety of their employees while at wor
  • Before resuming operations, employers are required to update their HPP to address COVID-19 as a biological hazard in the workplace by assessing the risks and implementing preventative measures in consultation with the Workplace Health and Safety committee or Health and Safety Representative. The employer is also required to train employees on new hazard information, procedures and proper use of personal protective equipment, if provide
  • To support this effort the Labour Program is in the process of establishing a COVID-19 Response Coordination Team (CRCT) which is expected to be in place in January 2021

Response

  • To assist employers, the Labour Program has made online information and resources available for workplaces as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • To ensure that federally regulated entities and employees receive the guidance and support they require to re-open safely, the Labour Program is in the process of establishing a COVID-19 Response Coordination Team (CRCT) to help federally regulated employers’ business resumption efforts. This team will be dedicated to proactively ensure that adequate Hazard Prevention Programs are in place, and that the Policy Health and Safety Committees, Workplace Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives are functioning appropriately. There will also be a number of subject matter experts available to support this team. This function is dependent on the funding sought in the Supplemental Estimates B. The Program is working towards having it in place for January 2021
  • Throughout the pandemic the Labour Program has supported our stakeholders, reminding them of the importance of having an evergreen Hazard Prevention Plan in each workplace, ensuring the full participation of Health and Safety committees or representatives in all health and safety decision-making, and using technology to communicate information to employees. This is aligned with an employees’ fundamental right to know about all hazards in their workplace

If pressed:

  • I encourage all employers to take the necessary steps to ensure that their Health and Safety Committees or Representatives are actively engaged in the development of safe return to workplace plans, and that these plans are widely shared with employees.
  • When developing procedures and protocols and implementing preventative measures to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, employers need to ensure they are using reliable sources of information. This is important to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and are obtaining the appropriate personal protective equipment for their employees that meet specified standards.
  • I also want to bring attention to the important work of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety who have produced workplace pandemic information resources, tip sheets on various essential Canadian sectors, a workplace risk assessment framework and a pandemic best-practices sharing portal, which are available online.

Background

The Labour Program is focused on providing federally regulated entities and employees with the support they need as they seek to reopen safely in the COVID-19 context, by:

  • Creating a COVID-19 Response Coordination Team (CRCT) to focus on proactive work to aid federally regulated employers’ business resumption.
    • The CRCT, composed of six Early Resolution Officers (EROs), will work proactively with federally regulated employers to ensure that adequate Hazard Prevention Programs are in place, and that the Policy Health and Safety Committees, Workplace Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives are functioning appropriately.
    • The EROs will be supported by a group of subject matter experts, including an existing cadre of experienced Health and Safety Officers, three additional Program Advisors (operating with enhanced coverage across all time zones) as well as three additional technical experts (in industrial hygiene and mental health).
  • Identifying and participating in outreach, awareness and promotion activities to support business resumption, including: information to Employers’ Health and Safety Committees; developing guidance materials; and, attending and actively participating in virtual industry events.
    • Activities would focus on proactive workplace prevention measures, protection of mental health and reduction of workplace hazards related to COVID-19.
    • Prioritization and increase in the number of virtual and in-person inspections of the Health and Safety Officers will help federally regulated entities identify and mitigate risks associated with business resumption amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by reducing physical and/or psychological harm on employees.
    • Dedicating resources to Transport Canada to ensure technical guidance and expertise in a post-pandemic business environment. These resources will support enhanced expertise in areas such as program advice, industrial hygiene and psychological health.

    The Labour Program has also been updating and creating guidance documents to support workplace parties, including:

    • AVCs with standard language for the expiration of first aid certificates
    • A Hazard Alert on differences in Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labelling and Safety Data Sheet requirements for chemical products imported from the United States for federally regulated work places
    • Temporary amendments to signature requirements on employer reporting forms that recognized the limitations imposed by teleworking
    • Clarifying reporting requirements for situations where COVID-19 is contracted in the workplace
    • Regular emails to employer and employee stakeholders reminding them of the Code requirements, and sharing helpful tools and information that they can use to ensure that their workplace is protected
    • Timely responses to employer and union questions and concerns; and
    • Actively promoting the tools and resources developed by CCOHS

Prepared by

Name: Renée Roussel

Title: Senior Director, Regional Operations and Compliance Directorate

Key contact

Name: Renée Roussel

Title: Senior Director, Regional Operations and Compliance Directorate

Phone number: 819-654-4390

Approved by

Name: Guy Morissette

Title: Director General, Regional Operations and Compliance Directorate

Phone number: 819-654-4267

Date:

Date approved in ADMO: November 13, 2020

8. Delay in regulations and consultations for legislation implementation

Issue

How is the Labour Program proceeding with legislative and regulatory initiatives for federal jurisdiction workplaces in the context of COVID-19?

Key facts

  • You have had ongoing engagement with unions, employer organizations, and employers since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to better understand their needs, preoccupations, and capacity constraints
  • During these exchanges, employer organizations in particular have shared concerns over the timing of regulatory and legislative initiatives as well as the consultation processes for some of your mandate commitments in the context of COVID-19
  • To ease concerns, timelines for the coming into force of several regulatory and legislative initiatives have been postponed and consultation periods have been extended

Response

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on federally regulated workers and employers. We have taken this impact into consideration as we move forward on regulatory and legislative initiatives
  • I am sensitive to employers, workers and unions needing to focus their attention elsewhere. For that reason, I put in place new timelines that postpone coming into force, or lengthen consultation periods for several initiatives, so that our stakeholders have more time to prepare. To further reduce the burden on employers and unions, when possible we also use existing consultation mechanisms such as standing committees to engage on other priorities and provide flexibility about the timing of the discussions
  • It is important we continue to work with employer and employee representatives to ensure our workplaces remain safe and healthy in this rapidly changing world of work. This means moving forward with their support on understanding and addressing key issues such as mental health, harassment and violence prevention, the right to disconnect and labour protections for gig workers

Background

The following policy work on mandate commitments was underway at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
  • creating a new federal Family Day holiday
  • including mental health as an element of Occupational Health and Safety
  • developing greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms, including gig workers, whose status is not clearly covered by provincial or federal laws; and
  • co-developing new provisions with employers and labour groups that give federally regulated workers the "right to disconnect"

The following regulatory packages were underway at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • amendments to the Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) – delayed publication of the proposed regulations in Part I of the Canada Gazette from spring to late fall 2020
  • harassment and violence – delayed coming into force date of the legislation and associated regulations from 2020 to January 1, 2021
  • pay transparency – regulations to be published in fall 2020 with coming into force on January 1, 2021. Employers will report on the new wage data in June 2022 with wage gaps to be published in late 2022 or early 2023
  • pay equity – delayed publication of the proposed regulations in Part I of the Canada Gazette from spring to late fall 2020 and extended the comment period to 60 days
  • protections for interns – delayed coming into force date until September 1, 2020
  • exemption from or modifications of hours of work provisions – a phased approach was adopted to allow stakeholders in certain sectors to focus their attention on the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase I covers road transportation, postal and courier, marine and grain sectors, while remaining sectors (air, rail, banking and telecommunications/broadcasting) will follow later when stakeholders are able to re-engage with the Labour Program. The pre-publication of the proposed exemptions and modification regulations, for Phase I, in Part I of the Canada Gazette was also delayed from early fall to early winter 2020
  • administrative monetary penalties – delayed coming into force date to early 2021
  • amendments to the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – addressing Workplace Hazardous Substances (Thermal Stress, Nanoparticles and Ultraviolet Radiation) – delayed publication in Part I of the Canada Gazette from fall 2020 to spring 2021
  • amendments to the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – Protecting Employees Working in Confined Spaces – delayed publication in Part II of the Canada Gazette from fall 2020 to winter 2021
  • amendments to the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – Updating Part VII – Levels of Sound – delayed stakeholder consultations from spring 2020 to fall 2020
  • amendments to the Nuclear Exclusion Regulations – delayed publication in Part I of the Canada Gazette, Part I from fall 2020 to winter 2021; and
  • amendments to four Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – Addressing Outstanding Comments from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR) – delayed publication in Part II of the Canada Gazette from fall 2020 to spring 2021 (TBD)

Key quotes

"Canada is facing an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. The world of work is experiencing rapid and significant disruptions that are affecting everyone—employers, workers, their families and surrounding communities. The weeks and months ahead will not be easy, but we are going to get through this together."

(Joint Statement by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, and leaders from labour and industry regarding support for workers and employers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, April 20, 2020)

"A number of extraordinary but necessary steps have been taken to protect and support Canadian workers and businesses during this crisis. Businesses across Canada have had to dramatically alter or shut down their operations to help flatten the curve, and this has had an enormous impact on employers and workers alike."

(Joint Statement by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, and leaders from labour and industry regarding support for workers and employers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, April 20, 2020)

Prepared by

Name: Patrick McDuff

Title: Senior Policy Analyst

No phone number

Key contact

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Anthony Giles

Title: Assistant Deputy Minister

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 19, 2020

9. Group terminations

Issue

What is the Government doing to protect the rights of employees who may lose their jobs due to the impacts related to COVID-19?

Key facts

  • The group termination provisions, as defined in the Canada Labour Code, stipulate that an employer who intends to terminate the employment of 50 or more employees in a single industrial establishment within a four-week period, must give written notice to the Minister of Labour at least 16 weeks before the termination date and provide a copy of that notice to associated unions and any affected employees not represented by a union
  • The Minister of Labour may grant or deny a waiver application related to group terminations based on whether or not it has been proven that the criteria set out in legislation have been met. It is noted and understood that these are unprecedented times and that employers are affected by layoffs and terminations due to the impacts related to COVID-19
  • As of November 9, 2020, there have been twenty-nine notices of group terminations received by the Minister of Labour since April 1, 2020, in accordance with the Group Terminations division of the Canada Labour Code. Of those, 2 waiver requests were signed, 5 waiver requests are currently under review, 6 notices were received without a waiver request and 16 were withdrawn and/or the provisions of the Canada Labour Code did not apply

Response

  • The Labour Program works to ensure that the rights and entitlements of the employees under Part III of the Canada Labour Code are respected
  • When employers terminate the employment of a large group of employees, they are required to notify the Minister of Labour in advance. They must also establish a joint planning committee with a mandate to minimize the impacts of the terminations on affected employees or, if possible, consider alternatives to the need for terminations
  • If an employer submits a waiver requesting to be exempted from these obligations, they must demonstrate that they meet the requirements of Part III of the Canada Labour Code to my satisfaction

Background

The Labour Program ensures the continuity of its operations by providing advice to employers and employees during the pandemic. Our employees respond to requests for information and Canada Labour Code (Code) provisions and ensure compliance with the Code.

The group termination provisions, as defined in Division IX of Part III of the Code, stipulate that an employer who intends to terminate the employment of 50 or more employees in any single industrial establishment within a four-week period, must give written notice to the Minister of Labour at least 16 weeks before the termination date, and provide a copy of that notice to, the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC), associated unions and any affected employee(s) not represented by a union.

The employer must also establish a joint employer-employee planning committee. The mandate of this committee is to find ways to minimize the impact of the group termination on affected employees, and if possible, to avoid the necessity of terminating the employment.

The Code allows the employer to request exemptions from:

  1. Providing the Minister and employees with notice of termination
  2. Cooperating with Canada Employment Insurance Commission
  3. Providing employees with a statement of benefits in writing; and
  4. Establishing a joint planning committee

To be granted a waiver under section 228, the application must demonstrate that the requirement to provide notice, statement of benefits, to cooperate with the Commission or to establish the joint planning committee:

  1. would be or is unduly prejudicial to the interests of the employees
  2. would be or is unduly prejudicial to the interests of the employer of those employees
  3. would be or is seriously detrimental to the operation of the industrial establishment; or
  4. is not necessary, because measures for the assistance of redundant employees at that establishment are substantially the same or to the same effect as the measures established by the Code or by the collective agreement

The Minister may grant or deny a waiver application based on whether or not it has been proven that the above criteria have been met.

In addition, whether or not there has been a group termination, an employer must provide at least 2 weeks' written notice of termination or 2 weeks' pay in lieu thereof to all employees with at least 3 consecutive months of continuous employment.

Furthermore, the Code stipulates that any employee whose employment is being terminated and has completed at least 12 consecutive months of continuous employment shall, unless dismissed for just cause, be paid severance pay equivalent to 2 days' wages for each year of employment or 5 days' wages, whichever amount is the greater.

Where employees are affected by a group termination in accordance with the Code and are covered by a collective agreement, which contains provisions that are at least as favourable as those found in the Code, the collective agreement provisions prevail.

Group Termination Waiver Requests

Under the provisions of Part III of the Code related to labour standards, requests for group termination are reviewed and handled to ensure the well-being of employees and to meet the needs of employers during this exceptional period.

As of November 9, 2020, there have been 29 notices of group terminations received by the Minister of Labour since April 1, 2020, in accordance with the Group Terminations division of the Code. The current requests are primarily within the airline or transportation industry. Of those, 2 waiver requests were signed, 5 waiver requests are currently under review, 6 notices were received without a waiver request and 16 were withdrawn and/or the provisions of the Code did not apply, as less than 50 employees were terminated or because employees had recall rights related to their collective agreement.

Prepared by

Name: Renée Roussel

Title: Senior Director, Regional Operations and Compliance Directorate

Key contact

Name: Renée Roussel

Title: Senior Director, Regional Operations and Compliance Directorate

Phone number: 819-654-4390

Approved by

Name: Guy Morissette

Title: Director General, Regional Operations and Compliance Directorate

Phone number: 819-654-4267

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 16, 2020

10. Changes to Federal Labour Standards related to COVID-19

Issue

To respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has introduced changes to federal labour standards that make it easier for employees to take the job-protected leave they need, and to ensure that their jobs are protected in the event that they are laid off by their employers.

Key facts

  • On March 25, 2020, the Canada Labour Code was amended to create a new leave related to COVID-19 which employees could take if they were unable work due to the pandemic, and to waive the requirement that employees provide a medical certificate to access three other leaves. These measures were set to expire on October 1 and September 30, 2020, respectively
  • On October 2, 2020, the leave was modified to align it with the new Canada Recovery Sickness and Caregiving Benefits and delay its repeal until September 25, 2021. The waiver for medical certificates expired on September 30, 2020 as scheduled. However, on October 14, 2020, new regulations came into force to remove employers’ ability to require employees to provide medical certificates when taking medical leave for three or more days. The regulations will expire on September 25, 2021
  • On June 22, 2020, regulations came into force to protect workers' attachment to their employers by extending by up to six months the amount of time a federally regulated employee can be legally laid-off before his or her job is automatically terminated. This extension was renewed and extended by up to an additional three months on November 9, 2020
  • These changes apply to approximately 922,000 employees across the federally regulated private sector, representing around 6% of the Canadian workforce

Response

  • The Government of Canada has taken action to protect and support workers in the federal jurisdiction by making three important changes to federal labour standards
  • First, we created the new leave related to COVID-19 that employees can take if they are unable to work due to the pandemic. In October, we extended and updated this leave to align it with the new Canada Recovery Sickness and Caregiving benefits – allowing workers on leave to access those benefits
  • Second, we made it easier for employees to take existing job-protected leaves by temporarily waiving certain medical certificate requirements. Until September 2021, employers cannot require an employee to provide a medical certificate when he or she takes a medical leave. This allows employees to focus on recovery and prevents unnecessary strain on the healthcare system during this critical time
  • Lastly, we’ve extended the amount of time a worker can be laid off before their employment is automatically terminated. This protects the employee’s attachment to their employer and makes it easier for them to resume their job seamlessly as our economy recovers

Background

Leave related to COVID-19

On March 25, 2020, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act (Bill C-13) temporarily amended the Canada Labour Code (Code) to introduce the leave related to COVID-19. This leave originally provided up to 16 weeks of job protections for employees if they were unable or unavailable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, and was scheduled to be repealed on October 1, 2020.

On October 2, 2020, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19 (Bill C-4), amended Part III (Labour Standards) of the Code to ensure that employees in the federally regulated private sector can continue to access job-protected leave from work if they are sick or self-isolating due to COVID-19 or if they have caregiving responsibilities related to COVID-19. More specifically, this bill amended the leave related to COVID-19 so that it can be taken:

  • for up to 2 weeks at a time, as many times as necessary, if an employee is unable to work because
    • they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19
    • they have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19; or
    • they have isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, a nurse practitioner, a person in authority, a government or a public health authority for any reason related to COVID-19; and
  • for up to 26 weeks in total, if an employee is unable to work because they need to care for a child who is under 12 years of age or a family member who requires supervised care, because
    • they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19
    • their school, day program or other facility is, for reasons related to COVID-19, closed, open only at certain times or open only for certain persons
    • they cannot attend their school, day program or other facility under the advice of a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner due to being in isolation because they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19, or because they are at high risk of having serious health complications if they contracted COVID-19; or
    • the person or the care service that usually provides care is not available for reasons related to COVID-19

These amendments are designed to facilitate federally regulated employees’ access to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, which were also created as part of Bill C-4, without fear of losing their job.

The amendments also created a regulation-making power that allows the Government to suspend or modify the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access certain entitlements under Part III of the Code. The leave and the regulation-making power will be automatically repealed on September 25, 2021.

Medical certificate waivers

Bill C-13 also waived medical certificate requirements for 3 existing leaves under the Code: compassionate care leave, leave related to critical illness, and medical leave. This waiver was automatically repealed on September 30, 2020.

On October 14, 2020 regulations came into force to remove employers' ability to require an employee to provide a medical certificate if he or she took medical leave for 3 or more days. Instead, employers are entitled to request a written declaration attesting to the reasons for the leave. This regulation will be repealed automatically on September 25, 2021.

Lay-offs

Section 30 of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations provides that a temporary lay-off will not be deemed a termination of employment for the purposes of the Canada Labour Code (Code) in certain circumstances, including where the term of a lay-off is for less than three months (paragraph 30(1)(c)) and where the term of the lay-off is for six months or less and the employer notifies the employee in writing of the date or period within which they will be recalled to work (paragraph 30(1)(d)).

When a lay-off becomes a termination of employment, employees who meet eligibility requirements are entitled to severance pay, termination pay (if notice of termination of employment was not provided) and any accumulated vacation pay.

On June 22, 2020, regulations came into force to extend temporarily time periods for temporary lay-offs by up to 6 months:

  • For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by 6 months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first
  • For employees laid off between March 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the lay-off

On November 9, 2020, regulations came into force to give employers up to an additional three months to recall employees whose employment would otherwise have been terminated due to the duration of the lay-off.

These changes do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights nor to employees whose employment had already been terminated prior to the coming into force of the amendments.

These amendments were put into place in response to correspondence from stakeholders on this issue and targeted, informal consultations with stakeholders, as well as ongoing discussions with provincial and territorial counterparts.

Key quotes

None.

Prepared by

Name: Ryan Cowling

Title: Senior Policy Analyst

Phone number: [Redacted]

Key contact

Name: Douglas Wolfe

Title: Senior Director

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 16, 2020

11. Wage Earner Protection Program

Issue

The Government recently introduced the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) under which the Minister made an order to extend the wage eligibility period under the Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP).

Key facts

  • On September 11, 2020, the Minister of Labour issued an order under the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) to extend the wage eligibility period for the WEPP by up to 6 months
  • The Order supports workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that unpaid eligible wages owed to workers by an employer that is bankrupt or subject to a receivership remain eligible for a WEPP payment, even if the employer’s bankruptcy or receivership is delayed due to factors related to the COVID-19 crisis
  • The extended eligibility applies to bankruptcies or receiverships that occurred between March 13 and December 30, 2020
  • The Order and explanatory note were published on the Labour Program website, and subsequently in Canada Gazette, Part I, on September 19, 2020

Response

  • The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) provides critical support to workers when they are owed wages and their employer is bankrupt or subject to a receivership. This is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as workers who lose their jobs may struggle to find new employment
  • As Minister of Labour, I have used the authority provided to me by the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) to order the extension of WEPP eligibility by up to 6 months. This will help to ensure that workers do not lose out on WEPP coverage if their employer’s insolvency was delayed due to the pandemic, and they are owed wages
  • As of November 1, 2020, WEPP has issued payments to over 9,000 individuals, totaling close to $35 million. These payments are helping to support workers through a very difficult transition period as they seek new employment during the pandemic

Background

The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) provides financial support to workers for eligible wages owed to them when their employer has filed for bankruptcy or has become subject to a receivership. Eligible wages under the WEPP include unpaid amounts for wages, vacation pay, termination, and severance pay.

Through the WEPP, workers who are owed wages by their insolvent employer can receive payments from the federal government for eligible wages earned, but not paid, in the six-month period leading up to a bankruptcy or receivership. WEPP has an annual allocation of $49.25 million and the funds are drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. As of November 1, 2020, WEPP had issued payments to over 9,000 individuals, totaling close to $35 million.

To be eligible for a WEPP payment, a claimant must meet 3 conditions:

  • Their employment must have ended
  • Their employer must have entered bankruptcy or become subject to receivership; and
  • Eligible wages must be outstanding

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative impact in many areas. This includes delays to some insolvency proceedings due to a lack of timely access to courts. It is also possible that some employers will remain solvent while government support measures are in place, but may not be able to continue operating once those measures are lifted. Taken together, these factors could increase the risk that some workers may not be covered by WEPP.

To address this risk, the Minister of Labour issued an order under the authority of the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) on September 11, 2020 to extend the WEPP wage eligibility period by up to six months. This temporary measure will ensure that employees do not miss out on receiving WEPP due to unavoidable delays caused by COVID-19, such as limited access to the courts or employer reliance on temporary government support measures. This temporary measure applies to bankruptcies and receiverships initiated between March 13, 2020 and December 30, 2020. After December 30, 2020, the eligible wages period for the WEPP will revert to six months before the date of the bankruptcy or receivership.

This temporary WEPP measure works as follows:

  • if the date of the bankruptcy or receivership is between March 13, 2020 and September 12, 2020, the eligibility period starts on September 13, 2019, and ends on the date of the bankruptcy or receivership; or
  • if the date of the bankruptcy or receivership is between is between September 13, 2020 and December 30, 2020, the eligibility period is the 12 month period before the bankruptcy or receivership; or
  • if the date of the bankruptcy or receivership is before March 13, 2020, or after December 30, 2020, the eligibility period is the normal 6 months before the bankruptcy or receivership

The Order and an explanatory note were published on the Labour Program website, and subsequently in Canada Gazette, Part I, on September 19, 2020.

Date

November 13, 2020

Prepared by

Name: Maria Syoufi

Title: Policy Analyst

No phone number:

Key contact

Name: Danijela Hong

Title: Director, Labour Standards and Wage Earner Protection Program

Phone number: 613-854-4083

Approved by

Name: Frances McCormick

Title: Acting Director General, Workplace Directorate

Phone number: 613-818-2074

Date

Approved in ADMO: November 13, 2020

12. Description and costing of ESDC COVID measures (Announced)

Measure

Additional investment of $1.5B in the WDAs with PTs

Target population

Canadians in underrepresented groups and those in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$1.5B

Payments to support provincial and territorial job training efforts Statutory Forecast $1.5B

Measure

Waive the one-week waiting period for EI sickness.

The waiting period was waived for EI sickness benefit claimants on quarantine starting on March 15, 2020. This measure was subsequently overtaken by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

  • CERB provisions came into force retroactively as of March 15, 2020
  • New claims for EI sickness benefits with an effective date on or after March 15, 2020 were processed for the CERB which had no waiting period

Starting on September 27, 2020, the waiting period is waived for all EI sickness benefit claimants for a period of one year, or until September 25, 2021.

Target population

EI-eligible individuals who are unable to work due to an injury, illness or quarantine

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

EI measures are not in the Estimates

Measure

Work-Sharing Program: extending agreement duration from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers and workers affected by COVID-19 and other measures including:

  • The mandatory waiting period (up to 38 weeks) between agreements was waived for eligible employers
  • Requirements for an employer recovery plan were reduced to a single line of text in the application form
  • Employers who have been in business for 1 year (rather than 2) are now deemed eligible to apply to the program
  • Eligibility was expanded to include Government Business Enterprises, public corporations (for example Transit Authorities/Universities) and not-for-profit organizations
  • An enquiry unit (email) for clients affected by COVID-19 was created, providing responses to employer enquiries within 24 hours

This measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Since the special measures were introduced, over 3,700 Work-Sharing agreements have been approved, representing over 117,000 workers now supported by WS benefits. The cost of these agreements is over $1.3 Billion.

Target population

Businesses and workers

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$12M

EI measures are not in the Estimates

Measure

Waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI benefits: the requirement to submit a medical certificate was waived for a period of six months for all EI claims beginning March 15, 2020 or later.

For EI sickness benefit claims starting on September 27, 2020, the requirement to submit a medical certificate is temporarily waived for a period of one year (or until September 25, 2021).

This was put in place to reduce the burden on the healthcare system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data is not available on the take-up of this measure.

Target population

EI-eligible individuals

Accessible to all

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

EI measures are not in the Estimates

Measure

Changes to EI for self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons: We will allow these workers to establish a fishing benefits claim for the summer season based on their earnings in their current qualifying period or the earnings used to establish a summer fishing claim in 2018 or 2019, whichever is highest. The same approach will apply to the coming winter season.

Fishers also benefit from a $500 minimum benefit rate and can access EI fishing benefits with a minimum of $2,500 in self-employed fishing income.

Target population

EI-eligible individuals

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

EI measures are not in the Estimates

Measure

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): Ended

We provided a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 28 weeks to eligible workers who stopped working or whose work hours were reduced due to COVID-19 or were eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or had exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.

We are continuing to accept and process retroactive applications until December 2, 2020.

If you continue to need financial support, find out if you are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)

Target population

All workers

Accessible to all

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$88.5B

Adjustment to CERB Statutory Forecast $28.5B

Total Statutory Forecast $88.5B

Measure

Employment Insurance (EI) program

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program to better support Canadians looking for work.

As of September 27, you may be eligible for EI if you:

  • were employed for at least 120 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks
  • If you received the CERB, the 52 week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended
  • stopped working through no fault of your own
  • have not quit your job voluntarily
  • are ready, willing and capable of working each day (EI regular benefits)
  • are temporarily unable to work while you care for someone else or yourself (EI maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and family caregiver benefits)

If you are eligible for EI benefits, you will receive a minimum taxable benefit at a rate of $500 per week, or $300 per week for extended parental benefits.

If you are not eligible for EI, you may be eligible for the new benefits:

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

Target population

EI-eligible individuals

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

EI measures are not in the Estimates

Measure

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The CRB provides a benefit amount of $500 per week (available in two-week periods) for up to 26 weeks for those who are not employed or self-employed and who are not eligible for EI, or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19.

Target population

Workers not eligible for EI

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$6.3B in 20-21

$3.4B in 21-22

Total $9.7B

Funding decision was too late for inclusion in Supplementary Estimates B. CRB will appear in Supplementary Estimates C.

Measure

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The CRSB provides

$500 per week, for up to two weeks (available in two one-week periods), effective September 27, 2020 until September 25, 2021 for workers who:

  • are unable to work because they contracted COVID-19
  • stopped working for at least 50% of the week due to COVID-19 sickness reason
  • self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19
  • or have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that will make them more susceptible to COVID-19

Target population

Workers not currently in receipt of other benefits, including CRB, CRCB, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, any EI benefits, or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$2.3B in 20-21

$2.1B in 21-22

Total $4.4B

Funding decision was too late for inclusion in Supplementary Estimates B. CRB will appear in Supplementary Estimates C.

Measure

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The CRCB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household for workers:

  • unable to work for at least 50% of the time that they would have otherwise worked or devoted to their work in the week for which they claim the benefit, because they had to care for a child under the age of 12 or another family member who requires supervised care:
    • Because their school, daycare, day program, or facility that they normally attend is unavailable, closed or open only certain times or for certain individuals; or
    • Because the care services or the person that usually cares for the child or family member is not available due to COVID-19; or
    • Because they are sick and/or have been directed to quarantine for reasons related to COVID-19; or
    • Because they are at high risk of serious health complications if they contracted COVID-19

Target population

Workers not currently in receipt of other benefits, including CRB, CRSB, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, any EI benefits, or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$4.9B in 20-21

$4.5B in 21-22

Total $9.4B

Funding decision was too late for inclusion in Supplementary Estimates B. CRB will appear in Supplementary Estimates C.

Measure

Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program:

Key actions taken:

  • Exempted TFWs from entry restrictions into Canada (March 26)
  • Implemented flexibilities to enable timely access to foreign workers (March 26)
  • Developed and communicated new requirements for employers to safeguard the health of Canadians and foreign workers (March 27)
  • Extended the federal Migrant Worker Support Network pilot in B.C. to help temporary foreign workers affected by COVID-19 (April 11)
  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada announced the $50 million Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which will provide a maximum non-repayable contribution amount of up to $1,500 to employers for each temporary foreign worker arriving in Canada, to offset costs of new requirements on employers related to COVID-19 in key sectors (April 13)
  • Implemented regulatory amendments and launched inspections of employers on new requirements related to COVID-19 (April 20 and 24, respectively)
  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada launched "Step up to the Plate – Help Feed Canadians" initiative to encourage careers in the agri-food sector, and help match Canadians with jobs (April 21)
  • Launched post-quarantine inspections, which consist of inspections to assess COVID-19 conditions after the 14-day quarantine period (June 9)
  • Service Canada launched an inspection pilot project, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Skills and Training and local health units to assess the living and working conditions on some farms where outbreaks have occurred (June to July)
  • Strengthened assessment criteria for all new and existing LMIA applications under review to help ensure Canadians have the first opportunity for available jobs (June 15)
  • Established a Mexico-Canada Contact Group to collaboratively and effectively respond to COVID-19 outbreaks (June 25)
  • Launched the Canadian Red Cross initiative to improve measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, and provide customized service to meet the basic needs of seasonal agriculture migrant workers exposed or infected (early July)
  • Established a Dedicated Liaison Officer on Integrity and Compliance to provide a focal point for consulates and migrant network groups to address employer non-compliance, and report on a regular basis regarding challenges and actions taken to address concerns (July 8)
  • Commenced processing LMIA fee refunds to employers who no longer need workers due to COVID-19 (July 11)
  • Announced an additional investment of $35 million to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. This funding, known as the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund, will support direct infrastructure improvements and emergency housing, as well as personal protective equipment, sanitary stations, and any other health and safety measures (July 31)
  • Announced $6M to expand direct outreach to workers, delivered through migrant worker support organizations across Canada (July 31)
  • Announced $16.2M to strengthen the employer inspections regime, particularly on farms, and to improve how tips and allegations of employer non-compliance are addressed (such as by initiating an inspection). Implementation is underway, with the expectation that this funding will help to increase the number of inspections focusing on workplaces and workers vulnerable to COVID-19 (July 31)
  • Launched consultations on worker accommodations to develop minimum requirements to improve employer-provided accommodations, focusing on ensuring better living conditions for workers (October 27)

These measures help to advance efforts to address issues regarding COVID-19 by promoting jobs for Canadians and Permanent Residents, protecting the rights of foreign workers, and ensuring Program users receive transparent and efficient service.

Target population

Temporary Foreign Workers, Migrant Worker Support Organizations and Businesses who employ TFWs.

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$4M for LMIA refunds

Payments for the Temporary Foreign Work Program Statutory Forecast $4M

Measure

Protecting the health and safety of farm workers

We are providing $35 million through the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. The funding will provide support to farmers for:

  • direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and work stations, temporary or emergency housing
  • personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary stations, and any other health and safety measures to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19

Target population

Temporary Foreign Workers

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$23.6M

TFW on Farms Statutory Forecast $15.5M

Vote 1 $6.9M

EBP $1.2M

Total $23.6M

Measure

Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Financial support was provided to over 708,000 post-secondary students and recent graduates who could not find summer employment due to COVID-19.

Eligible students received $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they had dependants or a disability for a maximum of $2,000 per month.

CESB was available from May to August, with applications being accepted retroactively to September 30

Target population

Post-secondary students and recent graduates

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$5.25B

Canada Emergency Student Benefit Statutory Forecast $5.25B

Measure

Canada Student Loan Program – Repayment Moratorium

The Government of Canada temporarily paused the repayment of Canada Student Loans from March 30, 2020, until September 30, 2020. During this time, payments were not required and interest did not accrue.

Target population

Canada Student Loan borrowers

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$190M

Included as part of the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) Statutory Forecasts

Measure

Double the Canada Student Grants: to up to $6,000 for full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020 to 2021. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependants were also doubled.

No student or spousal contribution expected in 2020 to 2021, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Increase the maximum weekly amount of Canada Student Loans from $210 to $350 for the 2020 to 2021 school year.

Taken together, these measures are expected to benefit more than 765,000 students in loan year 2020 to 2021 at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.

Target population

Students from low- and middle-income households, students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants.

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$1.9B

Included as part of the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) Statutory Forecasts

Measure

Supports for Student Learning Program

  • $15 million to help organizations that provide support to vulnerable children and youth to migrate their wraparound supports online while also increasing connectivity for vulnerable children and youth
  • This funding will serve approximately 14,700 youth through supports to complete high school and transition to post-secondary education. A total of 7 agreements have been signed, and the full funding amount has been expended

Target population

Students and youth

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$15M

Included as part of the $459M Students and Youth Statutory Forecast below.

Measure

Creating new jobs and opportunities for youth

We are creating up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months.

  • On April 22 and June 25, 2020, announced a total additional investment of $187.7 million in the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to provide employment placements and skills development supports to up to 9,500 Canadian youth, in high-demand and critical sectors such as health, community services, and information technology
  • $40 million of this additional investment allocated to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy program at Employment and Social Development, with a target to serve up to 4,000 more youth in 2020 to 2021. This funding is supporting a number of projects providing skills and employment opportunities for youth across Canada, including youth with mental health challenges

The Strategy is delivered by ESDC and 10 other federal departments and agencies, and aims to help youth develop the skills and gain the experience they need to successfully transition into the labour market

Student Work Placement Program

  • On April 22 and June 25, 2020, announced a total additional investment of $266 million in the Student Work Placement Program to create 40,000 work-integrated learning placements for post-secondary students in their field of study. Student Work Placement Program gives post-secondary students across Canada paid work experience related to their field of study
  • ESDC works with Employer Delivery Partners, who work with businesses and post-secondary education institutions to: provide wage subsidies to employers that offer quality student work placements; and create partnerships with colleges, universities, polytechnics and CEGEPs to recruit students for these placements

Target population

Students and youth

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$459M

Adjustment to Students and Youth Statutory Forecast ($269M)

Total Statutory Forecast $459M

Measure

Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program:

On June 25, an additional $61.7M in funding was announced for CSJ 2020 to support the creation of 10,000 additional jobs, expanding the CSJ 2020 work placement target from 70,000 to 80,000 jobs.

This is in addition to temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program introduced in April 2020, to allow employers to:

  • receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • extend the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
  • adapt their projects and job activities
  • hire staff on a part-time basis

Target population

Youth

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$61.7M

Included as part of the $459M Students and Youth Statutory Forecast above.

Measure

Extension of lay-off periods: We have extended time periods for temporary layoffs by up to six months in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations to allow employers more time to recall laid-off employees. The temporary changes will help protect the jobs of federally regulated private-sector employees and support employers facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Target population

All Canadians

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

N/A

Measure

Delivering Essential Services to those in need:

Investment of $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$350M

Emergency Community Support Fund Statutory Forecast $350M

Measure

Increasing the Canada Child Benefit (CCB): $300 per child through the CCB for families currently receiving the CCB. This will mean approximately $550 on average per family.

This benefit was delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May.

Target population

Families

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

N/A

Measure

Supporting people experiencing homelessness: support to people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing $157.5 million through Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy at the onset of the pandemic.

An additional investment of $236.7 million through Reaching Home was announced on September 21, 2020 to provide continued support to the homeless-serving sector in their efforts to reduce transmission and impacts of COVID-19 throughout the winter, as well as to support the provision of permanent housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness and prevent further inflows into homelessness.

Target population

Individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

Funding Decisions:

$158M

$237M

$15M (2019 to 2020)

Total $410M

Canadians Experiencing Homelessness

Statutory Forecast $237M

Reaching Home Program Statutory Forecast $158M

$15M of non-statutory Grants and Contributions funding was used to make payments in 2019-20. Not in Supplementary Estimates B.

Measure

Helping address urgent housing needs of vulnerable individuals (CMHC)

We are introducing the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to help address urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by rapidly creating new affordable housing. This $1 billion initiative will cover the construction of modular housing, as well as the acquisition of land, and the conversion of existing buildings to affordable housing.

It is expected to enable the rapid creation of up to 3,000 new affordable housing units across the country and will help stimulate the economy.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

N/A

Measure

One-time payment for Seniors:

The Government provided a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional tax-free payment of $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This measure provided a total of $500 to low-income seniors who receive both the OAS pension and the GIS. Allowance recipients also received $500. This $2.5 billion investment in financial support helped Canadian seniors cover increased costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial payments were issued during the week of July 6. Individuals who were eligible to receive the OAS pension or the GIS in June 2020 were eligible for this payment and did not need to apply.

After the initial payments were issued, there were a number of seniors who were found to be eligible for an OAS pension retroactively. As a result, a second series of one-time payments was issued during the week of September 28.

Target population

Seniors

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$2.5B

Additional Support for Canadian Seniors Statutory Forecast $2.5B

Measure

One Time Payment to Persons with Disabilities: We are providing a one-time-, tax-free, non-reportable payment of up to $600 in recognition of the extraordinary expenses incurred by persons with disabilities during the pandemic. This will help Canadians with disabilities who are recipients of any of the following programs or benefits:

  • holders of a valid Disability Tax Credit
  • beneficiaries as at July 1, 2020 of:
    • Canada Pension Plan Disability
    • Quebec Pension Plan Disability Pension
    • Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada

Individuals have the opportunity to apply for the applied for the Disability Tax Credit by December 31, 2020 and if eligible can receive the one time payment. Seniors with disabilities who received the one-time seniors payment announced on May 12, 2020 may also be eligible for the one-time payment to persons with disabilities. In cases where they are eligible for both payments, individuals would receive a total amount of $600 as follows:

  • $300 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and who received the one-time seniors payment of $300; or
  • $100 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowances and who received the one-time senior’s payment of $500

Target population

People with disabilities

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$849M

One-time payment for Persons with Disabilities Statutory Forecast $849M

Measure

Providing resources to improve workplace accessibility and access to jobs: A new investment of $15 million in 2020 to 2021 will provide community organizations with resources to improve workplace accessibility and access to jobs in response to COVID-19, including by helping employers set up accessible and effective work-from-home arrangements. This support will also cover expanding accessible online training opportunities and helping connect Canadians with disabilities working from home with employers.

Target population

Persons with disabilities

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$15M

Payments to Support Persons with Disabilities Statutory Forecast $15M

Measure

Supporting organizations that provide essential services to seniors: We are contributing $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals' needs and connect them to community supports.

Target population

Seniors

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$9M

Not in Supplementary Estimates B.

Paid in 2019 to 2020.

Measure

New flexibilities under the New Horizons for Seniors Program: We are expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.

For all organizations who received funding under the 2019 to 2020 New Horizons for Seniors Program community-based stream, funding can be used to provide immediate and essential services to seniors impacted by COVID-19.

Target population

Seniors

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

$20M

New Horizons for Seniors Statutory Forecast $20M

Measure

Extending GIS and Allowance payments: Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been received. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. Seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible in order to avoid an interruption in benefit payments.

Target population

Seniors

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

N/A

Measure

COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group: The Government of Canada established the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group, comprised of experts in disability inclusion, to provide advice on: the lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis; along with disability-specific issues; challenges and systemic gaps; and strategies, measures and steps to be taken in response, in keeping with a "Nothing Without Us" approach.

Target population

Persons with disabilities

Funding decision / Supplementary estimates B

N/A

13. Overview 2020 to 2021 Main Estimates

Issue

What are the financial highlights of the 2020 to 2021 Main Estimates for the Department of Employment and Social Development?

Key facts

Table 1: ESDC financial highlights of the 2020 to 2021 Main Estimates
Employment and Social Development Canada financial information Expenditures for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2019 (in millions of dollars) Main estimates for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 (in millions of dollars) Estimates to date for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 (in millions of dollars) Main estimates for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2021 (in millions of dollars)
Operating expenditures (net) – Vote 1 768.3 702.8 759.2 803.3
Voted Grants and Contributions – Vote 5 2,432.2 2,728.8 2,819.9 3,021.4
Debt Write-Off – Canada Student Loans 162.2 0 180.4 0
Budget Implementation Votes 0 333.0 333.0 0
Total voted 3,362.7 3,764.6 4,092.5 3,824.7
Total statutory 57,839.4 61,005.0 61,246.8 64,817.0
Total budgetary 61,202.1 64,769.6 65,339.3 68,641.7
Total non-budgetary 1,286.9 1,073.7 1,188.5 1,017.5

Response

  • The Main Estimates for 2020 to 2021 present a total of $68.6 billion in planned budgetary expenditures for the Department of Employment and Social Development, a net increase of $3.8 billion over the 2019 to 2020 Main Estimates of $64.8 billion
  • The increase is primarily associated with statutory items, in particular, an increase to the Old Age Security Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments, explained by increases in the average monthly rates and in the increasing number of beneficiaries.

Background

Table 2: Employment and Social Development Financial Summary for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2021
Employment and Social Development Financial Summary for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2021 Expenditures for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2019 (in millions of dollars) Main estimates for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 (in millions of dollars) Estimates to date for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 (in millions of dollars) Main estimates for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 2021 (in millions of dollars)
Operating expenditures (net) – Vote 1 768.3 702.8 759.2 803.3
Voted Grants and Contributions – Vote 5 2,432.2 2,728.8 2,819.9 3,021.4
Debt Write-Off – Canada Student Loans 162.2 0 180.4 0
Budget Implementation Votes 0 333.0 333.0 0
Total voted 3,362.7 3,764.6 4,092.5 3,824.7
Old Age Security 40,424.1 42,754.3 42,754.3 44,966.1
Guaranteed Income Supplement 12,404.7 12,895.0 12,895.0 13,921.6
Allowance 562.5 555.1 555.1 640.0
Sub-Total Old Age Security Program 53,391.3 56,204.4 56,204.4 59,527.7
Canada Student Loans Program and Canada Apprentice Loans 2,508.8 2,390.1 2,619.6 2,665.5
Canada Education Savings Grants 910.7 955.0 955.0 980.0
Canada Disability Savings Grants and Bonds 513.1 767.3 767.3 879.5
Employee Benefit Plans 244.4 214.7 227.0 243.1
Canada Learning Bond 166.2 185.0 185.0 194.0
Service Delivery under the Department of Employment and Social Development Act (DESDA) 2.4 194.5 194.5 233.4
Wage Earner Protection Program 64.9 49.3 49.3 49.3
Federal Workers' Compensation (net) 31.6 44.0 44.0 44.0
Universal Child Care Benefit 4.6 0.3 0.3 0.1
Others 1.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Total statutory 57,839.4 61,005.0 61,246.8 64,817.0
Total budgetary 61,202.1 64,769.6 65,339.3 68,641.7
Loans under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act 1,246.8 1,031.8 1,157.2 993.1
Loans under the Apprentice Loans Act 39.4 41.9 31.3 24.4
Advance issued to Provincial Workers Compensation boards under the Government Employees Compensation Act 0.7 0 0 0
Total non-budgetary 1,286.9 1,073.7 1,188.5 1,017.5

Note: The Main Estimates do not include Specified Purpose Accounts: the Employment Insurance Operating Account, the Canada Pension Plan, the Civil Service Insurance Fund and the Government Annuities Account.

Approximately $68,641.7 million in total budgetary funding is anticipated through the Main Estimates for the Department of Employment and Social Development ($3,824.7 million in voted appropriations and $64,817.0 million in statutory). This excludes funding anticipated through Budget 2020. More than 94% of planned budgetary expenditures will directly benefit Canadians through the Old Age Security Program and other statutory transfer payment programs.

Overall, the Department of Employment and Social Development's total budgetary authorities for 2020 to 2021 have a net increase of $3,872.1 million, or approximately 6.0%, from the previous year's total Main Estimates of $64,769.6 million.

This increase in funding is primarily attributable to statutory items:

  • an increase of $3,323.3 million to the Old Age Security Pension, the Guaranteed Income Supplement and to Allowances, explained by expected increases to the average monthly rate and changes in the number of beneficiaries
  • an increase of $275.4 million to the Canada Student Loans Program and Canada Apprentice Loans, mostly due to increased grant amounts for low-income, middle-income and part-time students provided through the Canada Student Grants
  • an increase of $112.2 million to Canada Disability Savings Grants and Bonds, which is due to a steady increase in total registered Canada Disability Savings Plans and participation in the program
  • an increase of $38.9 million related to the delivery of programs and services to the public on behalf of partners, which are to be recovered
  • an increase of $34.0 million to the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond due to more people saving for the post-secondary education of their children, to more children from low-income families receiving the education savings incentives for the first time and to more children continuously receiving the Canada Learning Bond; and
  • an increase of $28.2 million for other items

In addition, voted grants and contributions (Vote 5) are expected to reach $3,021.4 million in 2020 to 2021, an increase of $292.6 million from the 2019 to 2020 Main Estimates, mainly attributable to investments announced in Budget 2018 and Budget 2019 to the Student Work Placement Program, the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative, the Workforce Development Agreements and the Canada Service Corps.

The Department plans to spend $803.3 million in 2020 to 2021 in operating expenditures (Vote 1), representing a net increase of $100.5 million from the 2019 to 2020 Main Estimates of $702.8 million. The net increase is related to additional funding including for the Old Age Security Service Improvement Strategy and workload, Temporary Foreign Worker Program including the Global Talent stream, Canada Service Corps and the modernization of federal labour standards.

It is to be noted the increase in total budgetary expenditures is offset by a decrease of $333.0 million related to measures announced in Budget 2019 (Votes 10 to 85).

Regarding non-budgetary loans, there is a net decrease in authorities of $56.2 million from the 2019 to 2020 Main Estimates, mainly as a result of a Budget 2019 measure which provides an interest-free six-month non-repayment period after a student loan borrower leaves school.

Key quotes

N/A

Prepared by

Jennifer Moorehead

Senior Director, Planning and Expenditure Management

Chief Financial Officer Branch

Key contact

Jason Won

Deputy Chief Financial Officer

Chief Financial Officer Branch

(819) 654-6583

Approved by

Mark Perlman

Chief Financial Officer

Chief Financial Officer Branch

(819) 654-6634

Date

February 19, 2020

14. Subject: Overview 2021 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates B

Issue

Why does Employment and Social Development (ESDC) require additional authorities in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for Fiscal Year ending March 31, 2021?

Response

  • Supplementary Estimates seek parliamentary approval for changes to departmental spending plans for the current fiscal year, including items that were unforeseen at the time the Main Estimates were prepared
  • ESDC is requesting adjustments for:

A. Voted appropriations

  1. Funding for retroactive compensation (reprofile) – $23.5 million
  2. Funding for personal support worker training and measures to address labour shortages in long-term and home care (COVID-19) – $15 million
  3. Funding to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms (COVID-19) – $6.9 million
  4. Funding for Investing in Early Learning and Child Care (reprofile) – $1.8 million
  5. Funding for Benefits Delivery Modernization (reprofile) – $1.3 million
  6. Funding related to government advertising programs (horizontal item) – $1.2 million
  7. Funding to support business resumption for federally regulated employers (COVID-19) (horizontal item) – $0.4 million; and
  8. Funding for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy (reprofile) – $0.4 million

B. Transfers

  1. 'Transfer From the Department of Indigenous Services and Public Health Agency of Canada to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative – $6.4 million
  2. Transfer from Privy Council Office to Employment and Social Development for COVID-19 Communications Strategy funding related to Essential Services Jobs/Job Bank advertising campaign – $0.9 million
  3. 'Transfer from the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Kativik Regional Government to streamline delivery of youth programming – $0.5 million
  4. Internal reallocation of resources from Vote 5 Contributions ($600,000) to Vote 1 Operating expenditures for the National Campaign of Youth Employment and Skills Strategy; and
  5. Transfer to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative – $(14,902)

C. Statutory Budgetary Authorities

  1. Payments pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act (PHENCPA) – $29.1 billion
  2. Adjustment to Canada Student Loans Programs – $1,355.0 million
  3. Payment to support Persons with Disabilities one-time payment under An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures – $848.6 million; and
  4. Adjustment to Contributions to employee benefit plans (EBP) – $1.4 million

D. Statutory Non-Budgetary Items

  1. Loans disbursed under Canada Student Financial Assistance Act – $9 billion
  2. Loans disbursed under the Apprentice Loan Act – $(0) million

Background

A. Voted appropriations

Table 3: Voted appropriations (in dollars)
Voted appropriations (in dollars) Operating Vote 1 Grants and Contributions Vote 5 Total
1. Funding for retroactive compensation 23,454,022 0 23,454,022
2. Funding for personal support worker training and measures to address labour shortages in long-term and home care (COVID-19) 973,190 11,500,000 12,473,190
3. Funding to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms (COVID-19) 6,934,442 0 6,934,442
4. Funding for Investing in Early Learning and Child Care 0 1,780,515 1,780,515
5. Funding for the Benefits Delivery Modernization 1,292,875 0 1,292,875
6. Funding related to government advertising programs (horizontal item) 1,200,000 0 1,200,000
7. Funding to support business resumption for federally regulated employers (COVID-19) (horizontal item) 446,688 0 446,688
8. Funding for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy 0 382,938 382,938
Total Voted Appropriation 34,301,217 13,663,453 47,964,670

Text description: Employment and Social Development require additional authorities in the Supplementary Estimates (B) in Operating Vote 1 and Grants and Contributions Vote 5.

B. Transfers

Table 4: Transfers (in dollars)
Transfers (in dollars) Operating Vote 1 Grants and Contributions Vote 5 Total
1. Transfer From the Department of Indigenous Services and Public Health Agency of Canada to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative 0 6,394,819 6,394,819
2. Transfer from Privy Council Office to Employment and Social Development for COVID-19 Communications Strategy funding related to Essential Services Jobs/Job Bank advertising campaign 900,000 0 900,000
3. Transfer from the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Kativik Regional Government to streamline delivery of youth programming 0 497,000 497,000
4. Internal reallocation of resources from Vote 5 Contributions ($600,000) to Vote 1 Operating expenditures for the National Campaign of Youth Employment and Skills Strategy 600,000 -600,000 0
5. Transfer to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative -14,902 0 -14,902
Total Transfers 1,485,098 6,291,819 7,776,917

Text description: Employment and Social Development require Transfers in the Supplementary Estimates (B) in Operating Vote 1 and Grants and Contributions Vote 5.

C. Statutory budgetary authorities

Table 5: Statutory budgetary authorities (in dollars)
Statutory budgetary authorities (in dollars) Statutory items
1.1 Payments for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 28,467,769,000
1.2 Payments to Support Provincial and Territorial Job Training Efforts as Part of COVID-19 Economic Recovery (Workforce Development Agreements) 1,500,000,000
1.3 Payments to support students and youth impacted by COVID-19 pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act -269,198,833
1.4 Payments to support Canadians experiencing homelessness pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 236,700,000
1.5 Payments to support a safe restart in Indigenous communities pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 63,900,000
1.6 Payments to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 15,495,009
1.7 Payments to support persons with disabilities pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 15,000,000
1.8 Payments for personal support worker training and measures to address labour shortages in long-term and home care pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 12,650,000
1.9 Payments for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act 4,000,000
1.10 Payments for the Canada Student Service Grant pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act -912,000,000
1. Total Adjustment to PHENCPA 29,134,315,176
2.1 Canada Student Grants 1,550,605,168
2.2 Interest and other Liabilities under the CSFA Act (Risk Shared Loans) 5,169,172
2.3 Liabilities under the CSL Act (Guaranteed Loans) 202,073
2.4 Interest payments under the CSL Act (Guaranteed Loans) 64,783
2.5 Payments related to the direct financing arrangement under the Apprentice Loan Act -992,946
2.6 Payments related to the direct financing arrangement under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act -207,298,351
2. Total Adjustment to Canada Student Loans Programs 1,347,749,899
3. Payment to support Persons with Disabilities one-time payment under An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures 848,600,000
4.1 Funding to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms 1,186,801
4.2 Funding for Training for Personal Support Worker Interns and Other Measures to Address Labour Shortages in Long-Term and Home Care 176,810
4.3 Funding to support in Business Resumption (COVID-19) for federal jurisdiction employers 77,188
4. Total Adjustment to Contributions to Employee Benefit Plans (EBP) 1,440,799
Total Statutory Budgatary Authorities 31,332,105,874

Text description: Employment and Social Development require additional authorities’ adjustments in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for Statutory Budgetary authorities.

D. Statutory non-budgetary items

Table 6: Statutory non-Budgetary items
Statutory non-Budgetary items Statutory items
Loans disbursed under Canada Student Financial Assistance Act 1,229,623,757
Loans disbursed under the Apprentice Loan Act -2,015,649
Total Statutory non-Budgetary items 1,227,608,108

Text description: Employment and Social Development require additional authorities’ adjustment in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for Statutory non-Budgetary authorities.

A. Voted appropriation

1. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $23.5 million in funding for retroactive compensation in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Through Budget 2019, ESDC received funds to enable the Department to meet obligations from a longstanding grievance concerning the Program and Service Delivery Clerk job description, which resulted in a reclassification. However, given the significant work entailed by the case-by-case review, some of the retroactive payments will be completed in 2020 to 2021, $23.5M out of a total of $101.7M.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $23,454,022 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures) as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

2. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $12.5 million for personal support worker training and measures to address labour shortages in long-term and home care (COVID-19) in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the acute need for additional workers in long-term care facilities, home care and assisted living services. It has also exacerbated workforce challenges in the supportive care sector, especially in long-term care facilities, which experienced the tragic impacts of COVID-19.

ESDC has requested funding to provide surge capacity in supportive care by recruiting up to 4,000 new Personal Support Worker interns through an accelerated online training and work placement project. Post-surge, new interns will be encouraged to pursue long-term careers in supportive care, and to seek full certification at educational institutions that will recognize their accelerated training and work experience. This investment will further support improvements to the quality and consistency of training for these workers across the country.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $973,190 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures, excluding employee benefit plan (EBP) costs of $176,810) and $11,500,000 in Vote 5 (Contributions) for Personal Support Worker Training and Measures to Address Labour Shortages in Long-Term and Home Care as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B). This is planned spending after the December 31st repeal date of the Public Events of National Concern Payments Act.

3. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $6.9 million related to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms (COVID-19) in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Since the very beginning of this pandemic, the Government of Canada has taken a number of important steps to ensure the safe arrival of farm workers, who play a vital role in preserving Canada’s food security. To protect the health and safety of Canadian and migrant farm workers, the Government has been working with municipal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as farmers, support groups, workers and other employers who participate in the TFW Program.

Despite these efforts, there have been COVID-19 outbreaks on a number of Canadian farms that have significantly impacted the health and safety of workers. This is why on July 31, 2020 the Government announced action to strengthen the TFW Program and make further investments to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $6,934,442 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures, excluding employee benefit plan (EBP) costs of $1,186,801) to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B). This is planned spending after the December 31st repeal date of the Public Events of National Concern Payments Act.

4. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $1.8 million related for Investing in Early Learning and Child Care in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

To help Canadian children get the best start in life and better support Canadian families, Budgets 2016 and 2017 announced an investment of $7.5 billion over 11 years in Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) of which $100 million over 10 years is dedicated to innovation.

While 26 projects were funded from the 2018 Call for Concepts, delays in the project implementation resulted in an inability to fully use the approved funding for 2019 to 2020. Implementation delays resulted in ESDC being unable to allocate all funds in 2019 to 2020 and is requesting to have $1.8M available in 2020 to 2021. These funds will be used to maximize innovation practices to increase high-quality, accessible, affordable, and inclusive early learning and child care across Canada.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $1,780,515 in Vote 5 (Contributions) for Investing in Early Learning and Child Care as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

5. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $1.3 million related to the Benefits Delivery Modernization in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

The Benefits Delivery Modernization programme (BDM) will ensure ESDC can continue to reliably and accurately provide Canadians with Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits. The BDM program is modernizing IT systems to enable service improvements which will expand self-service options, reduce wait times, streamline application processes and enable resolution at first point of contact. This funding will continue to advance critical work required to progress the BDM Program Definition Phase.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $1,292,875 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures) for the Benefits Delivery Modernization as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

6. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $1.2 million related to government advertising programs (horizontal item) in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

This funding will support two advertising campaigns, for Services for Seniors $1.0 million and Inclusive Workplaces $0.2 million.

The Services for Seniors campaign is a continuation of the 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 Services for Seniors advertising campaigns. The first two waves of the Services for Seniors campaign were very successful, however, the second wave was cut short as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore a third wave of the campaign is proposed to raise awareness of Government of Canada programs and services that either directly or indirectly benefit seniors. In addition, the Inclusive Workplaces campaign builds on the initial success and lessons learned from the pilot campaign to support accessibility in the workplace for people with disabilities.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $1,200,000 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures) to government advertising programs (horizontal item) as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

7. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.4 million related to support business resumption for federally regulated employers (COVID-19) (horizontal item) in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Covid-19 has created challenges on many fronts for workers and employers in Canada. Effective business resumption requires focused occupational health and safety (OHS) support for federally regulated entities, including an increased emphasis on workplace prevention measures. Additional support and guidance for employers and workplaces to protect the health and safety of workers during the pandemic will benefit both employers and about 1.2 million employees in the federal jurisdiction, in addition to reaching a broader workforce in provinces and territories. The Labour Program will increase proactive Occupational Health and Safety activities, outreach and guidance, as well as technical expertise to adequately support business resumption in the federally regulated sector.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $446,688 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures, excluding employee benefit plan (EBP) costs of $77,188) to support business resumption for federally regulated employers (COVID-19) (horizontal item with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, and Transport Canada) as part of the Supplementary Estimates (B) 2020 to 2021.

8. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.4 million related for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

ESDC is requested that a total of $382,938 from 2019–20 be reprofiled. This funding is for the regionally-delivered streams be reprofiled to 2020 to 2021. Communities and regions will use these funds to support local homelessness projects and priorities, including sustaining and expanding local responses to COVID-19.

Given the current context of COVID-19, the Department will need to re-engage with Indigenous partners to determine their current priorities and project capacity. Reprofiling funds across years three, four and five of Reaching Home will ensure there is sufficient time to support these discussions. This approach will also enable the Department to sequence its remaining negotiations with Indigenous partners and achieve full expenditure. Relationships that were developed in 2019 to 2020 will be leveraged to effectively support the expenditure of funds.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $382,938 in Vote 5 (Contributions) for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

B. Transfers

1. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $6.4 million for a Transfer From the Department of Indigenous Services and Public Health Agency of Canada to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative is a horizontal initiative across multiple federal departments. New flexible programming authorities enable Indigenous-led investments in a broad range of ELCC priorities for all Indigenous children and families no matter where they live in Canada. The Initiative is using a new partnership model to facilitate Indigenous-led decision making to advance national and regional priorities. This funding is being advanced to communities through a range of funding agreements available at ESDC, Indigenous Services Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $6,394,819 in Vote 5 (Contributions) for Transfer from the Department of Indigenous Services and Public Health Agency of Canada to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

2. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.9 million for a Transfer from Privy Council Office to Employment and Social Development for COVID-19 Communications Strategy funding related to Essential Services Jobs/Job Bank advertising campaign in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

The transfer of $900,000 from Privy Council Office COVID-19 Communications Strategy fund will be used to implement Employment and Social Development's Essential Services Jobs / Job Bank advertising campaign. The campaign will target both employers and job-seeking Canadians, informing of opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Essential Services Jobs/Job Bank is a key tool in the reopening of the economy and also supports the CERB and CESB benefits.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $900,000 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures) for COVID-19 Communications Strategy funding related to Essential Services Jobs/Job Bank advertising campaign as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

3. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.5 million for a Transfer from the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Kativik Regional Government to streamline delivery of youth programming in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

This transfer to the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), has occurred annually since 2005 through an Interdepartmental Letter of Agreement (ILA). This flow through consolidates funding, allowing for a reduction in administrative burden on KRG, especially in reporting, and allows for more streamlined service delivery to youth in Nunavik. This ensures that youth in 14 communities continue to gain the skills and work experience needed to make a successful transition into the labour market.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $497,000 in Vote 5 (Contributions) for the Kativik Regional Government to streamline delivery of youth programming as part of the 2020–21 Supplementary Estimates (B).

4. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.6 million for an internal reallocation of resources from Vote 5 Contributions ($600,000) to Vote 1 Operating expenditures for the National Campaign of Youth Employment and Skills Strategy in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

In Budget 2019, the Government committed to creating a National campaign to promote the skilled trades as first-choice careers to youth. The internal reallocation of funding from Contributions to Operating expenditure votes sought in Supplementary Estimates B will enable Employment and Social Development Canada to lead the Campaign design and delivery. The transfer of funding from Vote 5 Grants and Contributions to Vote 1 Operating will facilitate a department-led approach, rather than the originally envisioned third-party-led approach.

ESDC is requesting authority to include an Internal Transfers from Vote 5 ($600,000) (Contributions) to Vote 1 (Operating expenditures) for the National Campaign of Youth Employment and Skills Strategy as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

5. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.01 million for a Transfer to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Transfer from the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative.

ESDC is requesting authority to include $14,602 in Vote 1 (Operating expenditures) to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative as part of the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B).

C. Statutory Budgetary Authorities

1. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting an adjustment of $29.1 billion in funding to the statutory item related to Payments pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act (PHENCPA)

There are ten measures under the PHENCPA listed on page 2-4 of ESDC’s Supplementary Estimates B. Seven are new and were not included in Supplementary Estimates A. The remaining three, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Students and Youth, and the Canada Student Service Grant, were initially presented in Supplementary Estimates A and now have amended spending estimates. All statutory estimates for Covid-19 response measures reflect the funding decisions communicated by the President of the Treasury Board.

1.1 - Payments for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act – $28.5 billion

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides temporary income support to workers who have stopped working related to COVID-19. The Benefit provides $500 per week, and is delivered through both Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but is fully charged to ESDC.

1.2 Support for provincial and territorial job training efforts (Labour Market Transfer Agreements) – $1.5 billion

ESDC will provide additional funding to provinces and territories in 2020 to 2021 through the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs). The additional funding will provide timely support so provinces and territories can respond to the unprecedented increase in unemployed Canadians seeking skills training and employment supports. Provinces and territories can draw on their existing service delivery infrastructure to reach the broadest range of Canadians in the fastest manner possible.

1.3 Students and youth impacted by COVID-19 – $(269.2) million

The estimate provided in Supplementary Estimates A for Students and Youth respresented the planned spending on this measure by all government departments. Supplementary Estimates B refines this estimate to remove other government departments and present only ESDC’s estimated spending.

This item is a combination of initiatives:

a) Youth Employment and Skills Strategy

Funding for the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to help youth develop the skills and gain the experience they need to successfully transition into the labour market. ESDC to fund national projects providing youth placements in environmental, transport, agricultural, food security, and community service sectors.

b) Canada Summer Jobs

With this funding, the Canada Summer Jobs program to create 10,000 more placements for youth in critical services, bringing the total from 70,000 to 80,000 jobs. In response to COVID-19, temporary changes were also announced to the Canada Summer Jobs program to provide additional flexibilities that allow employers to continue to hire youth. These changes include: allowing all employers to receive 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum wage; allowing part-time work; and, allowing for job placements to be offered beyond the summer months.

c) Student Work Placement Program

In response to the economic impacts created by the pandemic and the resulting pressures on students and employers, the Government made additional investments in the Student Work Placement program and introduced new program flexibilities to help post-secondary students access paid work-integrated learning opportunities. This new investment will help support the creation of up to 40,000 paid work placements.

d) Supports for Student Learning Program

Funding for the Supports for Student Learning Program to help organizations that have established and trusted relationships with vulnerable children and youth, migrate their wraparound supports online. This funding will serve approximately 14,700 youth through support to complete high school and transition to post-secondary education in order to help ensure that vulnerable children and youth do not become further marginalized as a result of COVID-19.

e) Canada Service Corps – Microgrants

As part of the Canada Service Corps (CSC), micro-grant funding for youth-led projects has demonstrated great success in reaching their targets and engaging under-represented youth. ESDC was negotiating a COVID specific contribution agreement to deliver on the commitment to expand the number of available micro grants from 1,800 to 15,000. In August 2020 it was determined that the project was no longer feasible due to the short timelines in which to disburse the micro-grants to align with youth availabilities outside the school year. Given the delays in launching the micro-grant expansion CSC will not be spending the PHENCPA funding received.

1.4 Payments to support Canadians experiencing homelessness – $236.7 million

Individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness are at heightened risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions, increased transience, and reduced opportunities to self-isolate.

As part of Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government has identified an additional $236.7 million for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. This builds on the $157.5 million in additional funding previously secured under the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act.

1.5 A safe restart in Indigenous communities – $63.9 million

This funding is to ensure the continued availability of Indigenous ELCC spaces and to offset increased costs to Indigenous ELCC centres associated with implementing COVID-19 public health measures (for example enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols and lower child to staff ratios). Up to 35,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children who participate in IELCC programming are expected to benefit.

1.6 To address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms – $15.5 million

To protect the health and safety of Canadian and migrant farm workers, the Government has been working with municipal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as farmers, support groups, workers and other employers who participate in the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program. Despite these efforts, there have been COVID-19 outbreaks on a number of Canadian farms that have significantly impacted the health and safety of workers. This is why on July 31, 2020 the Government announced action to strengthen the TFW Program and make further investments to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19.

With the voted funding under Vote 1, the total funding in Supplementary Estimates B for this initiative is $23.6M.

1.7 To support persons with disabilities (National Workplace Accessibility) – $15.0 million

The Government of Canada recognizes that persons with disabilities are significantly and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To support the skills training and employment of persons with disabilities in response to COVID-19, on June 5, 2020, the Government of Canada announced a $15 million investment in 2020 to 2021 to create a new National Workplace Accessibility Stream under the Opportunities Fund. This new funding will provide community organizations with resources to improve workplace accessibility, increase job opportunities for persons with disabilities and expand accessible online training opportunities.

1.8 Personal support worker training and measures to address labour shortages in long-term and home care – $12.7 million

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the acute need for additional workers in long-term care facilities, home care and assisted living services. It has also exacerbated workforce challenges in the supportive care sector, especially in long-term care facilities, which experienced the tragic impacts of COVID-19. This funding will provide surge capacity in supportive care by recruiting up to 4,000 new Personal Support Worker interns through an accelerated online training and work placement project. This investment will further support improvements to the quality and consistency of training for these workers across the country.

With the voted funding under Vote 1 and Vote 5, the total funding in Supplementary Estimates B for this initiative is $25.3M.

1.9 Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Labour Market Impact Assessment Refunds) – $4.0 million

The Government of Canada recognizes that COVID-19 has negatively affected many businesses and there are many Canadians looking for work. Employment and Social Development Canada is helping eligible employers who no longer wish to proceed with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application due to the impact of COVID19 to seek a refund of the fee paid. Employers requesting a refund will receive the full amount of the $1,000 LMIA processing fee per position, provided no work permit has been issued for that position and no work permit application is being processed. Negative Labour Market Impact Assessments are not eligible for a refund.

1.10. Canada Student Service Grant – $(912.0) million

The Government of Canada allocated up to $912 million for the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) to implement and deliver the program through the establishment of a Contribution Agreement with a total value of up to $543.5 million, with additional funding upon necessity. The CSSG was launched on June 25, 2020, to provide support to students and recent graduates during the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 3, 2020, the Government of Canada and the WE Charity Foundation announced that the CSSG Contribution Agreement would be terminated. Given the cancellation of the CSSG and the return of funds allocated to the WE Charity Foundation, the planned spending for this measure is being revised to zero through Supplementary Estimates B.

2. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $1,347.7 million for adjustments to Canada Student Loans Programs in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

2.1 Canada Student Grants – $1.6 billion

The increase of $1,550,605,168 related to the Canada Student Grants is to take into consideration the temporary COVID measure doubling the grant amounts for loan year 2020 to 2021. The new projection is in line with the latest actuarial report.

2.2 Interest and other Liabilities under the CSFA Act (Risk Shared Loans) – $5.2 million

The increase of $5,169,172 is due to the COVID Six Month Moratorium on CSL repayment. Since this measure applies to all CSLs, including risk-shared loans, Financial Institutions will invoice the Program for their loss of revenue.

2.3 Liabilities under the CSL Act (Guaranteed Loans) – $0.2 million

The increase of $202,073 is due to the COVID Six Month Moratorium on CSL repayment. Since this measure applies to all CSLs, including guaranteed loans, Financial Institutions will invoice the Program for their loss of revenue.

2.4 Interest payments under the CSL Act (Guaranteed Loans) – $0.1 million

The increase of $64,083 is due to a change within the Financial Institutions billing.

2.5 Payments related to the direct financing arrangement under the Apprentice Loan Act – $(1.0) million

The decrease of $992,946 is mainly due the special payment to Quebec has been adjusted to take into consideration the significant reduction in the Government’s cost of borrowing (~$3M reduction) and to take into consideration the Six Month Moratorium on CSLP repayments. The Repayment Assistance Program was put on hold since students don’t have to make principal and interest payment for a period of six months (between March 30th, 2020 and September 30th, 2020).

2.6 Payments related to the direct financing arrangement under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act – $(207.3) million

The decrease of $207,298,350 is to take into consideration the temporary COVID measure for the six month Moratorium on CSL repayment. The Repayment Assistance Program was put on hold since students don’t have to make principal and interest payment for a period of six months (between March 30th, 2020 and September 30th, 2020).

3. Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting an adjustment of $1.4 million in funding to the statutory item "Contributions to employee benefit plans" in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

An adjustment of $1,440,799 to EBP costs related to three items requested in these Supplementary Estimates is being included in the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B). The three items are:

  • Funding to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms ($1,186,801)
  • Funding for Training for Personal Support Worker Interns and Other Measures to Address Labour Shortages in Long-Term and Home Care ($176,810)
  • Funding to support in Business Resumption (COVID-19) for federal jurisdiction employers ($77,188)
D. Statutory non-Budgetary items

1. Why is there a net increase of $1,229.6 million from the Main Estimates amount of $993.1 million to loans disbursed under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act in the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B)?

The increased of $1,229,623,757 is due to the forecasted repayments for the 2020to 2021 fiscal year have been decreased to take into consideration the temporary six-month moratorium on CSL repayments. The decrease takes into consideration 6 months of non-repayment, excluding expected voluntary repayments during this period.

2. Why is there a decrease of $2.0 million for loans disbursed under the Apprentice Loans Act in the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B)?

The projection for disbursements has been decreased to reflect COVID impacts. Canada Apprentice Loan recipients receive loans per period of technical training. Since educational institutions were closed at the beginning of the fiscal year due to the pandemic, there has been a decrease in loans disbursed.

The reduction in repayment is to account for the six-month moratorium on Canada Apprentice Loan repayments due to COVID, excluding expected voluntary repayments during this period.

Prepared by

Name: Jennifer Moorehead

Title: Senior Director, Planning and Expenditure Management, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 613-793-3084

Key contact

Name: Jason Won

Title: Deputy Chief Financial Officer, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 613-295-2555

Approved by

Name: Mark Perlman

Title: Chief Financial Officer and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 819 654-6634

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO: October 16, 2020

15. Retroactive compensation

[Document redacted]

16. Business Resumption (COVID-19) for federal jurisdiction employers

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.5 million related to support in Business Resumption (COVID-19) for federal jurisdiction employers to increase proactive occupational health and safety (OHS) activities, outreach and guidance, and technical expertise in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

  • [1 paragraph redacted]
  • Additional support and guidance for employers and workplaces to protect the health and safety of workers during the pandemic will benefit both employers and about 1.2 million employees in the federal jurisdiction, in addition to reaching a broader workforce in provinces and territories

Response

  • COVID-19 has created challenges on many fronts for workers and employers in Canada
  • The Government of Canada is taking action to protect Canadians and ensure our economy continues to stay as strong as possible through and beyond the COVID‑19 pandemic
  • Every Canadian has the right to a healthy and safe workplace. That is why ESDC sought funding of $3.5 million for 2 fiscal years (FY2020 to 2021 and FY2021 to 2022) to support business resumption activities across the country related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The funding for the COVID-19 Response Coordination Team includes $2.5 million for the Labour Program, and $1.0 million for Transport Canada to increase proactive occupational health and safety (OHS) activities, outreach and guidance, as well as technical expertise
  • As a complementary approach to ESDC's, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety will receive funding of $2.5 million over two fiscal years (FY2020 to 2021 and FY2021 to 2022), to develop a comprehensive program to provide credible, informative and clear language resources, guidance, knowledge transfer documents and e-learning materials to enable Canadians to safely return to work during an active and/or post-pandemic environment with minimal risk

Background

Labour Program and Transport Canada

Effective business resumption requires focused occupational health and safety (OHS) support for federally regulated entities, including an increased emphasis on workplace prevention measures. The risks of business resumption are significant if not managed appropriately, including physical (for example illness, death) and psychological harm (for example mental health, stress).

[1 paragraph redacted]

This initiative will also complement additional resources for delivery partners as they continue to undertake sector-specific labour investigations and inspections on behalf of the Minister of Labour. Transport Canada will use the increased capacity to complement the Labour Program’s efforts with respect to transport-specific proactive activities ($502,660), and technical expertise ($502,661). Funding for this initiative is for two years.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

CCOHS has the mandate and expertise to develop sector-specific guidance, but does not currently have the resources to manage the significant and complicated workplace needs throughout and following COVID 19. CCOHS requires additional support to assume an expanded role in this domain.

CCOHS recently signed an Interdepartmental Letter of Agreement with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to develop sector-specific documents that integrate COVID 19 public health consideration into workplace health and safety business resumption guidance. Developing training materials that complement these guidance documents will support efficient and effective return to work plans.

The temporary funding will enable the development of training materials ($1,211,586 and knowledge translation tools ($1,011,843), and support the hiring of new resources to better support CCOHS operations ($276,571). Funding for this initiative is for two years.

Key quotes

"COVID-19 has created challenges on many fronts for Canadian workers and businesses. As more workplaces reopen, the health and safety of workers is a priority. This new funding for CCOHS will make more advice and information available to workplaces as they take steps to operate safely and responsibly during this pandemic."

– The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour

"The need for reliable information and tools to protect the health of workers has never been greater. This funding support from the Labour Program will give CCOHS even greater capacity to provide health and safety guidance and learning modules for specific higher-risk sectors and occupations. This will help employers quickly gain the knowledge they need to ensure a safe and orderly reopening and return to work for all."

– Anne Tennier, President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Labour Program's 2020 to 2021 funding

Table 7: Funding ($000’s) and FTE
Funding FTE Salary O and M Total Operating EBP Sub-total Vote 5 G and C Total
Existing Funding 4 536 720 1,256 144 1,400 0 1,400
SUPPS B – 2020 to 2021 0 0 1,293 1,293 0 1,293 0 1,293
Total Funding 4 536 2,013 2,549 144 2,693 0 2,693

Prepared by

Name: Marie-Pier Chauret

Title: Policy Analyst

Phone number: 343-572-5967

Key contact

Name: Duncan Shaw

Title: Senior Director, Occupational Health and Safety

Phone number: 613-816-1580

Approved by

Name: Frances McCormick

Title: Acting Director General

Phone number: 613-818-2074

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO: October 16, 2020

17. Healthy and Productive Work research initiative

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $0.01 million for a Transfer to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

This funding is to support three research initiatives focusing on the employment of persons with disabilities.

Response

  • As you are aware, my department and our partners are working hard to enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in, and contribute to, the Canadian economy and society
  • My department provided a Supplement of $100,000 for knowledge transfer to three major research initiatives focusing on the employment of persons with disabilities
  • The 3 research initiatives are multi-year, multi-disciplinary, multi-million dollar, and multi-partnership.
  • Such rigorous research will provide strong evidence for sound policy development aimed at enhancing the full participation of persons with disabilities in the Canadian labour market
  • The 3 research initiatives focus on various aspects of workplace accommodation of persons with different sociodemographic characteristics and different types of disabilities: persons with episodic disabilities, youth with disabilities and people with mental health-related disabilities.

Background

The $14,602 transfer to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is to support the knowledge transfer and mobilization purposes of the Healthy and Productive Work research initiative.

In 2016, the Funding Agencies created the Health and Productive Work (HPW) initiative with a budget of $14.2 million to support research addressing the interaction of disability, health issues, gender and other social identifiers (for example age, caregivers), with labour force participation over the period of 2019 to 2023.

In March 2017, the Funding Agencies and ESDC jointly held a workshop where 20 teams were invited to present their research projects and received detailed information about eligibility criteria for the grant and ESDC’s supplement. ESDC contributed $10,000 to the workshop.

In April 2018, an adjudication committee of experts on health and productive work met in Ottawa to review 18 applications. Nine applications were recommended for funding and were again reviewed by two external assessors. Of the nine, six applied for ESDC’s supplement and were reviewed by departmental Ph.D. researchers. Three projects were selected to receive the supplement (total of $90,000) based on relevance to departmental priorities and potential benefit of their proposed knowledge transfer activities.

Table 8: Funding ($000’s) and FTE
Funding FTE Salary O and M Total Operating EBP Sub-total Vote 5 G andC Total
Existing Funding 0 0 0 0 0
SUPPS B – 2020 to 2021 (14) (14) 0 (14) 0 (14)
Total Funding (14) (14) 0 (14) 0 (14)

Prepared by

Name: Abdou Saouab

Title: Manager

No phone number: 613 282-5373

Key contact

Name: Abdou Saouab

Title: Manager

Phone number: 613 282-5373

Approved by

Name: Catherine Adam

Title: Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, SSPB

Phone number: 819-654-2992

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO: October 16, 2020

18. Contributions to employee benefit plans

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting an adjustment of $1.4 million in funding to the statutory item "Contributions to employee benefit plans" in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

  • Changes to statutory items are presented in the Supplementary Estimates for information purposes only as Parliament has already approved the purpose of the statutory expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made through other legislation (other than Appropriation Acts)
  • Contributions to employee benefit plans include costs to the government for the employer’s matching contributions and payments to the Public Service Superannuation Plan, the Canada and the Quebec Pension Plans, death benefits, and the Employment Insurance Operating Account

Response

An adjustment of $1,440,799 to EBP costs related to three items requested in these Supplementary Estimates is being included in the 2020 to 2021 Supplementary Estimates (B). The three items are:

  • Funding to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms ($1,186,801)
  • Funding for Training for Personal Support Worker Interns; and Other Measures to Address Labour Shortages in Long-Term and Home Care ($176,810); and
  • Funding to support Business Resumption for federally regulated employers ($77,188)

Prepared by

Name: Jennifer Moorehead

Title: Senior Direct

Phone number: 819-654-6402

Key contact

Name: Jason Won

Title: Deputy Chief Financial Officer

Phone number: 819-654-6583

Approved by

Name: Mark Perlman

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Phone number: 819-654-6634

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO: October 16, 2020

19. Provincial and Territorial Job Training Efforts

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $1.5 billion for Supporting Provincial and Territorial Job Training Efforts (Workforce Development Agreements) in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

  • The impacts of the pandemic have been significant. Over 3 million Canadian workers lost their jobs from February to April 2020. Unemployment reached a record high of 13.7% in May 2020, up from 5.6% this past February
  • The August labour force survey figures indicated that 1.8 million Canadian workers are still affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown, with an unemployment rate of 10.2%
  • Evidence shows that early participation in training enhances employment outcomes. Ensuring that Canadian workers have access to, and are aware of, the training and employment supports they need to prepare them to re-enter the labour market is key to an inclusive economic recovery
  • The skills training and employment supports delivered by provinces and territories are a critical part of Canada's skills training infrastructure

Response

  • ESDC is requesting to provide $1.5 billion in additional funding to provinces and territories in 2020 to 2021 through the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs). The additional funding will provide timely support so provinces and territories can respond to the unprecedented increase in unemployed Canadians seeking skills training and employment supports. Provinces and territories can draw on their existing service delivery infrastructure to reach the broadest range of Canadians in the fastest manner possible
  • This immediate support will reach workers and employers in sectors hardest-hit by COVID-19, as well as groups particularly disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic. This is in addition to the $3.4 billion already being provided to provinces and territories under the Labour Market Development Agreements and Workforce Development Agreements in 2020 to 2021
  • Funding will also help enable PTs to adjust their service delivery models to comply with public health requirements during COVID-19 and serve more clients
  • PT supports are key to supporting Canadians gain the skills they need to gain or retain more stable employment.The WDAs reach vulnerable and underrepresented groups, providing new funding will support the provinces and territories in delivering targeted supports to groups particularly disadvantaged by the pandemic

Background

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada will provide an additional $1.5 billion to provinces and territories in 2020 to 2021 through the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs). This immediate support will respond to the increased number of Canadians looking to re-enter the workforce, and targets workers and employers in sectors hardest-hit by COVID-19, as well as groups particularly disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic. This is in addition to the $3.4 billion already being provided to provinces and territories under the Labour Market Development Agreements and Workforce Development Agreements in 2020 to 2021.

Provinces and territories have strong service delivery networks in place that are already adapting to social distancing requirements. Providing this investment through the Workforce Development Agreements will ensure quick access to training for Canadian workers, including gig-workers and the self-employed. Canadians will have access to programs such as skills training, wage subsidies, job search assistance and career counselling.

The funding has been allocated among provinces and territories based on two equally-weighted variables: 50% of the funding has been allocated based on their share of total employment losses in their ten most affected industries; and, 50% has been allocated based on their share of the Canadian population. To ensure equity, a 0.2% funding floor was established for each of the territories.

Programs delivered under the WDAs provide skills training and employment programming with a focus on those further removed from the labour market and those wishing to upskill, including those who may not be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The WDAs can assist individuals regardless of their employment status. Those who are unemployed, underemployed, employed or self-employed can receive supports for upskilling, career reorientation and on-the-job-training, to ultimately find and maintain good jobs.

The WDAs can also be used to support members of underrepresented groups such as visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, youth, older workers, and newcomers to Canada. These agreements also include specific funding targeted for persons with disabilities that will continue to apply to the additional $1.5 billion provided to provinces and territories. The WDAs can also support employers seeking to train current or future employees to fill available jobs or enhance the skills of their workforce.

Key quotes

While we continue to see more people returning to work, we know that many Canadians are still facing challenges and uncertainty when it comes to getting back into the labour force. That is why we are taking a comprehensive approach to ensure everyone gets the support they need.

- Carla Qualtrough

c
Table 9: Funding ($000’s) and FTE
Funding FTE Salary O and M Total operating EBP Sub-total Vote 5 G and C Total
Existing funding 24 2,250 218 2,468 333 2,801 922,000 924,801
SUPPS B – 2020 to 2021 6 595 1,161 1,756 160 1,916 1,498,084 1,500,000
Total funding 30 2,845 1,379 4,224 493 4,717 2,420,084 2,424,801

Prepared by

Name: Jennifer Moorehead

Title: Senior Director, Planning and Expenditure Management, CFOB

Phone number: 613-793-3084

Key contact

Name: Saajida Deen

Title: A/Director General

Phone number: 613-790-3566

Approved by

Name: Saajida Deen

Title: A/Director General

Phone number: 613-790-3566

and

Name: Mark Perlman

Title: Chief Financial Officer, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 819-654-6634

Date

Date approved : October 16, 2020

20. From CERB to Employment Insurance

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $28.5 billion for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

  • Planned spending for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in Supplementary Estimates A was $60B. The $28.5B adjustment in Supplementary Estimates B brings the Proposed Authorities to $88.5B, matching the funding decision for CERB
  • CERB's $88.5B proposed authorities include the initial program and the two extension periods. They are comprised of benefits and operational costs for both CERB and EI-ERB

Response

  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides temporary income support to workers who have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19
  • The funding authority for the CERB under the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act ends on December 31, 2020
  • The CERB is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. Eligible workers can make retrospective benefit applications with respect to that period until December 2, 2020

Background

CERB

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides temporary income support to workers who have stopped working related to COVID-19. The Benefit provides $500 per week, and is delivered through both Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CERB is available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily

As of September 15, 2020, the government has served more than 8.7M unique applicants, and processed over 26.7M applications totaling over $78B in payments.

PHENCPA

The Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act (PHENCPA) authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for "Things that may be done in relation to a public health event of national concern", which includes "providing income support, including the Canada emergency response benefit". The PHENCPA is to be repealed on December 31, 2020.

Table 10: Estimated spending
Funding (in millions of dollars) Supplementary estimates (A), 2020 to 2021 Supplementary estimates (B), 2020 to 2021 Total estimates spending
Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act – 2020 to 2021 60.0 28.5 88.5

Prepared by

Name: Jennifer Moorehead

Title: Senior Director, Planning and Expenditure Management, CFOB

Phone number: 613-793-3084

Key contact

Name: Andrew Brown

Title: Director General EI Policy, ESDC-EDSC

Phone number: 819-639-3532

Approved by

Name: Andrew Brown

Title: Director General EI Policy, ESDC-EDSC

Phone number: 819-639-3532

and

Name: Mark Perlman

Title: Chief Financial Officer, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 819-654-6634

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO: October 16, 2020

21. Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, outbreaks on farms

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $6.9 million (excluding employee benefit plan costs) in Vote 1 and $15.5 million in Statutory funding to address the outbreak of COVID-19 among temporary foreign workers on farms (COVID-19) in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

  • To protect the health and safety of Canadian and migrant farm workers, on July 31, 2020 the Government announced action to address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms including $7.4 million to increase support to temporary foreign workers (TFWs), and $16.2 to strengthen the TFW Program compliance regime
  • This funding will not be fully dispersed by December 31, 2020, the repeal date of the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act (PHENCPA), therefore an appropriation of $6.9 million is requested for payments made between January and March 2021

Response

  • Since the very beginning of this pandemic, the Government of Canada has taken a number of important steps to ensure the safe arrival of farm workers, who play a vital role in preserving Canada’s food security. To protect the health and safety of Canadian and migrant farm workers, the Government has been working with municipal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as farmers, support groups, workers and other employers who participate in the TFW Program
  • Despite these efforts, there have been COVID-19 outbreaks on a number of Canadian farms that have significantly impacted the health and safety of workers. This is why on July 31, 2020 the Government announced action to strengthen the TFW Program and make further investments to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19
  • An investment of $16.2M is underway to strengthen the employer inspections regime, particularly on farms, and making improvements to how tips and allegations of employer non-compliance are addressed. $7.9M has since been invested to ensure that an additional 3,000 inspections will be conducted prior to the fiscal year end, with a portion completed by September 30. The majority of inspections will be in the Agriculture sector. Funds have been allocated to ensure the hiring of more FTEs, and other resources are in place to meet these targets. Remaining funds have been allocated for activities to make improvements to the Tip-Line, including for translation services
  • Substantial work is underway on these commitments, and will continue beyond December 31, 2020; $7.4M in additional funding to increase supports to temporary foreign workers is expected to be dispersed by fiscal year end. This includes $6.0M in funding to assist migrant worker organizations to directly reach TFWs affected by COVID-19 and provide them with information, resources and services to exercise their rights. This also includes an investment of $500K in the Job Bank platform, to assist temporary foreign workers in Canada with finding new jobs, thereby helping address the power imbalance between workers and employers, and mitigating the risk of abuse by unscrupulous recruiters

Background

On July 31, 2020 Minister Qualtrough and Minister Bibeau announced $58.6 million to strengthen the TFW Program and safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19. It included:

  • Investing $7.4M to increase supports to temporary foreign workers, including $6M for direct outreach to workers delivered through migrant worker support organizations. Recommended recipients have been identified and the $6 million allocation of funds is expected to be dispersed by March 31, 2021, pending Ministerial approval. $900K will be dedicated to associated internal administrative and oversight costs and will be dispersed by fiscal year end, with the remaining $500K being invested in the Job Bank platform to assist worker in finding new jobs
  • Strengthening the employer inspections regime, particularly on farms, and making improvements to how tips and allegations of employer non-compliance are addressed (such as by initiating an inspection) through an investment of $16.2 million. Approximately $1.5M has been spent on integrity activities to date, with the remaining to be dispersed by fiscal year end
  • Investing $35 million to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. This will go toward direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters, temporary or emergency housing (on- or off-farm), as well as PPE, sanitary stations, and any other health and safety measures. This funding will be delivered by Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) and is expected to be rolled out in Fall 2020

AAFC has been holding bilateral and group consultations with provincial/territorial governments related to the delivery of the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund (EOFSF). Six provinces have expressed their willingness to deliver the EOFSF and were asked to submit proposals to deliver their programs. AAFC officials continue to work with P/Ts to negotiate agreements and timing of their respective program launches. For those jurisdictions that do not have the capacity to deliver the program, the program will be delivered by the Farm Income Programs Directorate (FIPD).

The Government will continue to develop mandatory requirements to improve employer-provided accommodations, focusing on ensuring better living conditions for workers.

Table 11: Estimated spending
Funding (in millions of dollars) Supplementary estimates (A), 2020 to 2021 Supplementary estimates (B), 2020 to 2021 Total estimates spending
Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act – 2020 to 2021 0 15.5 15.5
Voted Appropriation Vote 1 Operating expenditures 0 6.9 6.9

Prepared by

Name: Jennifer Moorehead

Title: Senior Director, Planning and Expenditure Management, CFOB

Phone number: 613-793-3084

Key contact

Name: Philippe Massé

Title: Director General, Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Phone number: 613-793-5673

Approved by

Name: Philippe Massé

Title: Director General, Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Phone number: 613-793-5673

and

Name: Mark Perlman

Title: Chief Financial Officer, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 819-654-6634

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO: October 16, 2020

22. Personal Support Worker Training in Long-Term and Home Care

Issue

Why is Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) requesting $1 million (excluding employee benefit plan costs) in Vote 1, $11.5 million in Vote 5 (Contributions), and $13 million in Statutory funding for Personal Support Worker Training and Other Measures to Address Labour Shortages in Long-Term and Home Care in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021?

Key facts

  • According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, as of May 25, 2020, more than 840 outbreaks have been reported in long-term care facilities and retirement homes, which have accounted for more than 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada
  • Health Canada estimates that between 170,000 and 211,000 long-term care residents live in approximately 2,060 facilities across Canada. 93% of the residents are seniors (65+years) and 7% are adults with disabilities (2016)
  • The Canadian Association for Long-Term Care forecasts that 42,000 new long-term care beds will be needed by 2023. By 2027, 45% of job openings for Personal Support Workers are expected to come from current workforce retirements
  • This funding will not be fully dispersed by December 31, 2020, the repeal date of the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act (PHENCPA), therefore an appropriation of $1 million in Vote 1 and $11.5 million in Vote 5 is requested for payments made between January and March 2021

Response

  • The Government of Canada is taking concrete action to help address the shortage of support workers in home and long-term care to ensure that the vulnerable members of our society are safely and properly cared for, both now and into the future
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the acute need for additional workers in long-term care facilities, home care and assisted living services. It has also exacerbated workforce challenges in the supportive care sector, especially in long-term care facilities, which experienced the tragic impacts of COVID-19
  • ESDC has requested funding to provide surge capacity in supportive care by recruiting up to 4,000 new Personal Support Worker interns through an accelerated online training and work placement project. Post-surge, new interns will be encouraged to pursue long-term careers in supportive care, and to seek full certification at educational institutions that will recognize their accelerated training and work experience. This investment will further support improvements to the quality and consistency of training for these workers across the country

Background

The shortage of Personal Support Workers in the long-term and home care systems has been a growing issue for several years, particularly in the context of an aging population. Through the pandemic, existing recruitment and retention challenges (such as low pay, poor benefits, challenging work conditions, low perception of the occupation, and casual/part-time work or unpredictable hours) have been exacerbated by absences due to illness, self-isolation and childcare responsibilities of current workers. As the COVID-19 crisis has shown, there is an urgent need for short- and long-term solutions to supplement the current workforce.

Through the Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP), which focuses on skills issues in key sectors of the Canadian economy, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has requested funding for a new pilot project to help address labour shortages in long-term and home care.

The project will aim to supplement the existing workforce, by quickly training up to 4,000 Personal Support Worker interns through an accelerated online training micro-credential program, available free of cost, followed by a paid work placement. Employers that hire Personal Support Worker interns will receive a wage subsidy during the work placement period (approximately $7/hour up to a maximum of $5,000 per participant) to offset the costs of increased supervision and on-the-job training. The project will also develop a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process to assist new workers who opt to upgrade their micro-credential to a full Personal Support Worker certificate subsequent to the project, in order to pursue career advancement, increased responsibilities and pay. To support long-term sustainability, professional development, and recognition of the supportive care sector, the project will engage stakeholders to develop and promote consistency in occupational and training standards across provinces and territories.

The Government of Canada recognizes provincial and territorial jurisdiction in the long-term and home care sector. However, as all jurisdictions are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government can play an important convening role in bringing all parties together to help reduce the variability in Personal Support Worker training and certification requirements across Canada.

During the development phase of the project proposal, SIP consulted with key worker, industry, and educational stakeholders as well as government agencies. These included Health Canada, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representatives of the Canadian Association of Continuing Care Educators (CACCE), and provincial and territorial governments through Health Canada’s Federal/Provincial/Territorial FPT Committee on Health Workforce (CHW).

Table 12: Estimated spending
Funding (in millions of dollars) Main estimates Supplementary estimates (B), 2020 to 2021 Total estimates spending
Voted Appropriation Vote 1 Operating expenditures 0 1.0 1.0
Voted Appropriation Vote 5 Grants and contributions - Sectoral Initiative Program (SIP) 5.7 11.5 17.2
Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act – 2020 to 2021 0 13.0 13.0

Prepared by

Name: Jennifer Moorehead

Title: Senior Director, Planning and Expenditure Management, CFOB

Phone number: 613-793-3084

Key contact

Name: Jacinthe Arsenault

Title: Director, Sectoral Initiatives Program

Phone number: 613-240-7116

Approved by

Name: Chris Bates

Title: Director General, Apprenticeship and Sectoral Initiatives Directorate

Phone number: 613-868-6517

and

Name: Mark Perlman

Title: Chief Financial Officer, CFOB, ESDC

Phone number: 819-654-6634

Date

Date approved in: October 16, 2020

23. Language of work

Issue

How does the government plan to address the issue of French as the language of work in federally regulated workplaces in Quebec?

Key facts

  • Federal departments and agencies, as well as current and former Crown corporations, are subject to the Official Languages Act (OLA) while federally regulated private-sector workplaces are not subject to any language law
  • In 2013, the Government of Canada released a report that concluded that the linguistic practices of Quebec-based employers in federal and provincial jurisdictions are very similar:
  • French is predominantly the language of work in federally regulated workplaces in Quebec
  • Employees can generally work in French and have access to work tools in French
  • Over 33% of large federally regulated employers (100+ employees) in Quebec not subject to the OLA have voluntarily obtained a francization certificate from the OQLF despite not being subject to the Quebec Charter
  • These employers employ about 53% (79,900) of all federally regulated employees in Quebec that are not subject to the OLA
  • The Labour Program has never received a complaint or other indication from a federally regulated employee in Quebec concerning an inability to work in French
  • A 2020 study from the Institut de la statistique du Québec for the Office québécois de la langue française showed that 40% of Quebec businesses (63% in Montreal) required or wished the person hired in 2018 had English language skills

Response

  • Our Government is proud of Canadian bilingualism and cultural diversity, and remains fully committed to promoting the French language in Canada
  • We encourage businesses under federal jurisdiction in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada to protect and promote the use of French in their workplace in the spirit of the Official Languages Act and its provisions on promoting both official languages in Canadian society
  • The Speech from the Throne recognizes that French requires special protection and the Government will take the necessary steps to meet this objective

Background

Current situation

On August 18, 2020, the Government of Quebec announced that it would table a language action plan that would, among other things, propose an approach to ensure that federally regulated employers in Quebec are subject to the Charter of the French Language (Quebec Charter).

On August 31, 2020, the Bloc Québécois announced that it would table a Private Member’s Bill to subject federally regulated employers to the Quebec Charter. It cited a study showing that 40% of Quebec businesses (63% in Montreal) required or wished the person hired in 2018 had English language skills.

Both leaders of the Conservative Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party have since stated that they supported an approach that would subject federally regulated employers in Quebec to the Quebec Charter.

In Quebec, there are two parallel frameworks governing language of work for different categories of businesses and workers: the Official Languages Act (OLA) and the Charter of the French Language (Quebec Charter).

Official Languages Act (OLA)

Canadian official languages policy, as reflected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the OLA, is founded on the principle of equality of the 2 languages. The OLA sets out obligations relating to the use of both official languages within federal institutions (such as institutions of Parliament and the Government of Canada), in particular with respect to proceedings of Parliament, legislative instruments, the administration of justice, communications with and services to the public and language of work. The OLA also applies to current and former Crown corporations such as Air Canada, CN and various ports and airports. It does not, however, apply to organizations in the federally regulated private sector.

Every federal institution has a duty to ensure that all members of the public are able to communicate with and receive available services in either official language in the National Capital Region and regions designated as bilingual. The public’s right to be served in the official language of its choice takes precedence over an employee’s right to work in French or English.

According to the OLA, English and French are the languages of work in federal institutions. It is incumbent on these institutions, in the National Capital Region and in other designated bilingual regions to ensure that the work environment is conducive to the use of both official languages while allowing employees to use the official language of their choice. In Quebec, designated bilingual regions are: the Greater Montreal region and bilingual regions in other parts of Quebec (mainly situated in the Eastern Townships, the Gaspe and western Quebec). Elsewhere the language of work is French.

In designated bilingual regions, services for employees (for example, human resources) as well as work tools must be available in both languages. Institutions must also ensure that supervisors are able to communicate with their employees in both languages and that senior management is capable of functioning in French and English.

Charter of the French Language (Quebec Charter)

The Quebec Charter recognizes French as the official language of the province of Quebec. Its provisions apply to the legislature and the courts, civil administration, semipublic agencies, educational instruction, commerce and business and labour. The Quebec Charter sets out as a fundamental right, the right of workers in provincially regulated workplaces to perform their duties in French.

The Quebec Charter does not specifically regulate oral communication between an employer and an employee or between employees. However, the employer is required to draft written communications to staff in French, as well as offers of employment or promotion. Collective agreements must be drafted in French and arbitration awards must be translated into French or English, as the case may be, at the request of one of the parties.

The Quebec Charter also permits the use of English (or another language other than French) for communications between businesses in Quebec and those situated outside of Quebec. The use of a language other than French as the language of operation is also permitted in head offices and research centres by special agreements with the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). In the case of head offices, the OQLF must be satisfied that communications outside of Quebec are substantial enough to justify the use of a language other than French.

Key quotes

"I am shocked at where we are. […] Québécois have the right to work in their language. [They] have the right to work in French". "We've arrived at the point where there is no reason why Québécois cannot work in their language and that Quebec legislation doesn't apply to all of Quebec's territory"

Simon Jolin-Barrette, 18 août 2020

"The French language is the common and national language of all Québécois. If federal parties recognize, as they claim, that Quebec forms a nation, then it would be logical for them to recognize that is the National Assembly of Quebec alone that has the legitimacy to legislate the cultural sector and language in Quebec"

Yves-François Blanchet, 3 septembre, 2020

"Businesses located in Quebec that fall under federal jurisdiction are not required to comply with Bill 101. It is simply inconsistent and unacceptable. I ask that you include a policy addressing this issue in your fall agenda." "Language helps preserve the culture and identity of its people and the identity of its nation. Ensuring the sustainability of the French language in Quebec is a crucial issue and we are ready to work with you to finally do what should have been done several years ago."

Jagmeet Singh, 9 septembre, 2020

"I told him [Quebec Premier François Legault] that large federal institutions should respect French language provisions in Quebec". "I spoke about my experience as a lawyer [for small companies]: if they must follow the rules, why not the banks or the airports?". "It's a matter of respect".

L’Honorable Erin O’Toole, 15 septembre, 2020

Prepared by

Name: Sébastien St-Arnaud

Title: Manager

Phone number: [Redacted]

Key contact

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Anthony Giles

Title: Assistant Deputy Minister

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

24. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

Issue

The Government has committed to increasing the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour.

Key facts

  • Since 1996 the federal minimum wage has been pegged to the general minimum wage rate of the province or territory in which an employee is usually employed
  • Current hourly minimum wages in the provinces and territories:
    • Alberta - $15.00
    • British Columbia- $14.60
    • Manitoba - $11.90
    • New Brunswick - $11.70
    • Newfoundland and Labrador - $12.15
    • Northwest Territories - $13.46
    • Nova Scotia - $12.55
    • Nunavut - $16.00
    • Ontario - $14.25
    • Prince Edward Island - $12.85
    • Quebec - $13.10
    • Saskatchewan - $11.45
    • Yukon - $13.75

Response

  • Every Canadian should have the chance to join the middle class, yet some Canadians struggle to do so while supporting families in part-time, temporary and low-wage jobs, working several jobs to make ends meet, and juggling work and family demands. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased focus on the essential work done by a large proportion of these low-wage workers
  • A freestanding federal minimum wage was recommended by the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards in 2019. It also aligns with recent updates to federal labour standards to ensure that employees in the federally regulated private-sector have a robust and modern set of labour standards that reflect the realities of the 21st century workplace
  • The Government continues to be committed to moving forward on this issue.

Background

Currently, Part III (Labour Standards) of the Canada Labour Code (Code) sets the federal minimum wage as the general minimum wage established by the province in which the employee is usually employed.

Prior to 1996, a federal minimum wage rate for employees in the federally regulated private-sector was set by order of the Governor in Council. In 1996, due to a lack of regular rate adjustments for almost a decade, the federal minimum wage had fallen below all provincial and territorial rates. The Code was then amended to automatically adopt applicable general minimum wage rates set by the provinces/territories.

Provincial minimum wage systems

Minimum hourly wage rates: Provincial and territorial employment standards laws establish general minimum wage rates, as well as minimum wage rates specific to certain categories of employees. Currently, the highest provincial/territorial rate is in Nunavut at $16 per hour and the lowest is in Saskatchewan at $11.45 per hour.

Minimum wage setting mechanisms: While a variety of minimum wage setting mechanisms are in use across Canada, including adjustments based on economic factors, rates set by regulation and rates set by a committee or board, there is a trend towards automatic adjustments based on indexing formulae. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon currently index their minimum wage rates to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Saskatchewan currently indexes its minimum wage to the CPI and the rate of change in the average hourly pay of workers.

Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards

In February 2019, the then Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour created an independent expert panel to study, consult and provide advice on many issues, including whether a freestanding federal minimum wage should be instituted.

In its report, submitted to the Minister in June 2019 and publicly released on December 19, 2019, the Panel recommended that a freestanding federal minimum wage be established and be adjusted annually.

Stakeholders’ reactions

There have been calls over the past several years for the federal government to establish a uniform, freestanding federal minimum wage including the 2006 Fairness at Work report from the Arthurs Commission that undertook a comprehensive review of Part III of the Code, and from a number of campaigns to raise the minimum wage (for example Fight for $15 and Fairness).

Unions and labour groups have indicated their support numerous times for a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, indexed to inflation. They contend that a standard federal minimum wage would remove unfairness and inequality among federally regulated private-sector workers who earn different minimum wage rates based on the province or territory in which they work. Many workers and unions have also promoted a federal minimum wage as an anti-poverty measure, arguing that a $15 federal minimum wage could improve the lives of vulnerable workers, increase employment stability, reduce turnover and decrease the gender pay gap.

Conversely, employers and employer organizations have voiced concern that re-establishing a common minimum wage for employees in the federally regulated private-sector would run counter to the recent practice of provinces and territories assessing the appropriate level for the minimum wage in their respective jurisdictions based on local labour market conditions, cost of living, etc. They have also argued that it would create competition for labour between the federally and provincially/territorially regulated sectors and, as a result, inflationary wage pressures.

Key quotes

"The Panel is guided by the principle that standards, such as the minimum wage, should provide decency and wages sufficient to live on. We also believe that minimum wage policy should play a role in reducing income inequality [… R]esearch from several countries, including […] for Canada, concludes that changes in minimum wages play an important role in reducing inequality, particularly at the low end of the wage distribution […T]he Panel recommends that a freestanding federal minimum wage be established and adjusted annually."

- Report of the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards, June 2019.

Prepared by

Name: Karen Welch

Title: Senior Research Advisor

Phone number: [Redacted]

Key contact

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Anthony Giles

Title: Assistant Deputy Minister

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

25. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Issue

On September 29, 2020, the Government tabled Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act, and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), which would establish a new, federal holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to be observed on September 30.

Key facts

  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 80 calls on the federal government to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday to honour Survivors and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process
  • Canadian jurisdictions currently provide between six and 10 statutory holidays with pay. Part III of the Canada Labour Code provides for nine: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day
  • The addition of a new holiday would result in 10 holidays in the federally regulated private sector. This is consistent with the number of statutory holidays provided in other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which generally falls between seven and fifteen, putting the federally regulated private sector right at the OECD median of ten

Response

  • The Government is continuing to move forward on the journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples by establishing a new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples remains a core priority for the Government. Establishing a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 80, which calls for a statutory holiday to honour residential school Survivors, their families, and communities, and to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process
  • If Bill C-5 becomes law, it will designate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday under the Canada Labour Code, providing approximately 955,000 employees in the federally regulated private sector with a paid holiday on that day. Because of provisions in all federal public service collective agreements, employees in the federal public service would also be entitled to this new holiday

Background

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created in 2008 as a part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and was tasked with documenting the history and legacy of the Indian residential schools and the lasting impacts on Indigenous students, families, and communities. In 2015, the Commission submitted its final report containing 94 Calls to Action to help repair the harm caused by residential schools and advance reconciliation.

In December 2015, the Government committed to implementing all the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action as a means of advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Call to Action 80 calls upon the federal government, "in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process." In its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also noted that the history and legacy of residential schools should be publicly commemorated in such a way so that it is remembered as a crucial part of history, and contributes to a broader human rights education in Canada.

In 2017, Private Member’s Bill C-369 proposed making National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) a statutory holiday in response to this Call to Action. The Government supported the Bill with amendments to change the name of the holiday to "National Day for Truth and Reconciliation" and to change the date of observance to September 30. Although the Bill was passed by the House of Commons, it died in the Senate at the dissolution of Parliament.

[Redacted]

[Five paragraphs redacted]

Key quotes

"A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation would provide federally regulated workers with the opportunity to participate in educational and commemorative activities. This will ensure that the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process."

—The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour

"We have taken steps to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions. However, we recognize that there is still much work to do as a country to make progress on our shared path of reconciliation. This includes acknowledging the harm residential schools have done to Indigenous Peoples. By establishing a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we will have a day every year to reflect and honour the survivors of residential schools, ensuring they are never forgotten."

—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Prepared by

Name: Yoana Garcia-Poulin

Title: Policy Analyst

Key contact

Name: Douglas Wolfe

Title: Senior Director

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 16, 2020

26. Government employees compensation

Issue

Federal workers’ compensation in the context of COVID-19.

Key facts

  • In 2019 to 2020, approximately 27,600 federal employees (federal departments, agencies and Crown Corporations) received payments from workers’ compensation. Total claims costs were $197 million
  • The number of new claims submitted in 2019 to 2020 was nearly 14,000. As of November 13, 2020, over 4,700 claims have been submitted in 2020 to 2021, representing a net decrease in proportion to the previous year. While further study would be needed, this is likely due to the changes in how many federal employees now perform their duties working from home
  • As of November 13, 2020, federal employees have filed 224 claims related to COVID-19: so far, 66 claims were approved, 27 denied, 128 are pending, two (2) have been suspended and one (1) withdrawn

Response

  • COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims are treated the same as any other claim for a work-related injury or illness. The Labour Program reviews the claim for eligibility and then forwards the authorized claim to the appropriate provincial workers’ compensation board for adjudication
  • Most provincial compensation boards assess COVID-19 claims on a case-by-case basis. However, in British Columbia, since August 20th, WorkSafeBC will accept that a COVID-19 related claim occurred in the workplace where the worker’s risk of exposure to infection is significantly greater than that of the public
  • The Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA) provides benefits and services to approximately 435,000 federal employees for workplace accidents and illness, or their dependents when an employee has died in the line of duty
  • Provincial workers’ compensation boards, on behalf of the Labour Program, provide benefits and medical services and ensure federal employees return to work in a safe and timely manner

Background

The Labour Program is responsible for administering the GECA. The Act governs compensation benefits such as medical expenses, treatments and wage replacement to federal government employees for workplace injuries and occupational illnesses.

Under the GECA, provincial workers’ compensation boards (WCBs) are responsible for adjudicating federal government employee claims, providing benefits and services such as payment of medical expenses, wage replacement, and facilitating return to work arrangements with employers. The Labour Program receives and reviews all GECA claims and forwards authorized claims to the appropriate WCB. As set out in bilateral service agreements, WCBs invoice the Labour Program for claim related costs plus a set administration fee. The Labour Program then recovers these costs from employers from which the claims occurred.

The Labour Program also administers GECA claims for locally engaged staff who work outside of Canada.

The GECA currently covers approximately 430,000 employees. The legislation applies to federal departments and agencies, most Crown corporations, and some parliamentary employers. It does not apply to regular members of the Canadian Forces or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Prepared by

Name: Jane Morrison

Title: Senior Policy Analyst

jane.morrison@labour-travail.gc.ca

Key contact

Name: Jean-Francois Roussy

Title: Director, Federal Workers Compensation Policy

Phone number: 613-889-6395

Approved by

Name: Judith Buchanan,

Title: Senior Director, Federal Programs Directorate

Phone number: 819-654-4362

Date:

Approved in ADMO: November 13, 2020

27. Federal-Provincial-Territorial collaboration during COVID-19 pandemic

Issue

What is being done with provinces and territories to coordinate efforts during the pandemic?

Key facts

  • Governments at all levels and in all jurisdictions are taking action to protect Canadians and ensure Canada’s economy continues to stay as strong as possible through the COVID‑19 pandemic and beyond the crisis
  • Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments have a strong and collegial relationship and work collaboratively together on a variety of labour issues, including those related to COVID-19
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, FPT Ministers and Deputy Ministers responsible for Labour have shared best practices and discussed areas of possible collaboration to ensure government continues to provide strong labour protections and is responsive to the needs of Canadian workers and employers

Response

  • The Government of Canada recognizes that strong and continued collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, as well as with stakeholders in labour and industry, is key to protecting Canadians and the economy. As the Canadian economy adapts to the realities of COVID-19, the health and safety of workers is a fundamental part of reopening and rebuilding our economy. The Government of Canada is taking steps to ensure that employers and employees have the resources they need for a safe and responsible return to the workplace
  • Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have engaged regularly with my counterparts to determine how we can work together in providing protection to workers and employers as they deal with the effects of the pandemic
  • I will be meeting my counterparts again in winter 2021, via videoconference, to discuss continued FPT priorities for collaboration in the context of the pandemic, such as the new realities of working from home, the safe return to work, and changes in employment standards in a pandemic world. In addition, labour issues such as mental health in the workplace and Occupation Health and Safety Harmonization via the Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table will continue to remain our shared priorities

Background

At the Ministerial level, annual meetings are the main fora for federal Minister of Labour engagement with the provinces and territories. These annual meetings are co-chaired by provincial and territorial counterparts.

On February 6, 2020, FPT Ministers responsible for Labour met in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to discuss priorities, such as: occupational health and safety harmonization; collaboration with Indigenous partners; labour protections for temporary foreign workers; mental health in the workplace; as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s standards on violence and harassment in the world of work (C190 and R206).

In light of the recent pandemic, there were two ad hoc FPT ministerial teleconferences in spring 2020 to address labour matters and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the March 26, 2020 teleconference, FPT Ministers responsible for Labour:

  • Were made aware of the range of tools and resources that the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has available on their website to assist FPT governments, employers, workers and Canadians in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic from an OHS perspective. The CCOHS also highlighted their development of industry sector-specific good practices and a pandemic information exchange portal
  • Exchanged information on worker safety issues within their respective jurisdictions, noting the need for the sharing of good practices and guidance on social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for various sectors.

Discussed challenges, such as refusal to work cases, and requested further sharing of information and good practices among jurisdictions on these issues.

  • Procurement of supplies was a concern shared across jurisdictions and Minister Tassi assured PT Ministers that the federal government was seized with this as a priority. During the May 15, 2020 teleconference,
  • The CCOHS provided an:
    • Update on the organization’s work during the pandemic, highlighting that CCOHS guidance tip sheets for essential workers and free pandemic-related courses were now accessible on their website
    • Overview of its new two-year agreement with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and its three main deliverables: 1) Curating a website of credible OHS resources, drawn from FPT professional associations and international sources; 2) Developing COVID-19 sector-specific guidance; and 3) Providing expert advice on the applicability of PHAC-developed guidance through an OHS lens
  • FPT Ministers discussed:
    • Initiatives and support measures their governments were undertaking to build confidence of workers, the public, and employers with respect to ensuring a safe return to work
    • Challenges related to the safe re-opening of workplaces, including the acquisition of PPE; lack of industry associations in some sectors; regional, urban/rural dynamics in implementing measures; and recognizing that behaviours outside of the workplace may impact and could be connected to the spread of COVID-19

At the Deputy Ministerial level, the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (CAALL) table serves as the vehicle for preparations (development of the agenda, background papers and logistics) for the annual FPT meetings of Ministers responsible for Labour. Deputy Ministers normally meet twice a year: one in-person meeting, normally in May, and one teleconference meeting, normally in late October or early November.

The CAALL Deputy Ministers' Annual Meeting (originally scheduled for May 2020) was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; in the interim, work has continued remotely via the CAALL Executive Committee (ADM level) and through meetings of Standing Committees of FPT officials.

Per the regular cycle of meetings, Deputy Ministers met via videoconference on October 30, 2020 to discuss potential collaboration among the federal government, provinces and territories in relation to pressing labour issues and COVID-19; topics included: occupational health and safety - return to work; teleworking; and changes to labour standards. This meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and approaches to address workplace matters of importance to Canadians, such as mental health and occupational health and safety harmonization.

Discussions at the recent CAALL meeting will serve as the basis for the next Ministers’ meeting agenda, tentatively planned for mid-February 2021.

Key quotes

"Governments in Canada have taken wide-ranging steps to support businesses, protect workers from the impact of COVID 19, and ensure the economy continues to stay as strong as possible through and beyond the pandemic.

"Canadians have been steadfast in our efforts to flatten the curve. As parts of our economy gradually reopen, workers’ health and safety remains a top priority. Whether in times of crisis or in regular times, everyone deserves a safe workplace."

"The Government of Canada recognizes that strong and continued collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, as well as with stakeholders in labour and industry, is key to protecting Canadians and the economy. During my recent engagements with these partners, we discussed the steps the federal government, provinces and territories are taking within their jurisdictions to promote the safety of workers. We also discussed the importance of coordination on occupational health and safety guidance across the country as some workplaces reopen and more workers begin to go back. Partners discussed how high-quality, consistent occupational health and safety guidance can help ensure workers feel confident about their own safety, and support employers in their efforts to minimize risks."

"Governments along with key partners underscored their commitment to continued collaboration, and to taking the necessary steps to support workers, businesses and our economy during this unprecedented time."

(Minister Tassi, Statement, May 21, 2020)

Prepared by

Name: Jared Weston

Title: Senior Policy Analyst, IILA, Labour Program

Phone number: [Redacted]

Key contact

Name: Rebecca Gowan

Title: Deputy Director, IILA, Labour Program

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Rakesh Patry

Title: Director General, IILA, Labour Program

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 16, 2020

28. Developing greater labour protections for gig workers and digital platform workers

Issue

Mandate commitment to develop greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms.

Key facts

  • Your mandate letter contains a commitment to improve labour protections for people who work through digital platforms. This has been broadened to include gig workers
  • Gig workers are persons who enter into short-term contracts with firms or individuals to complete specific and often one-off tasks. They are often classified by employers or job givers as self-employed independent contractors rather than employees, and therefore have little to no access to protections afforded to employees under Canadian labour statutes
  • Gig workers account for approximately 8-10% of workers in Canada, and between 3-5% of workers in federally regulated sectors
  • Digital platform workers are a specific subset of gig workers, who use electronic intermediaries like a smartphone application to connect with end-users who pay them through the platform to provide a service

Response

  • We have seen gig and digital platform work rapidly expand to cover more segments of the economy, and this is changing the way we work. I am committed to ensuring that both workers and employers are treated fairly in this new world of work
  • Our work is ongoing. To date, I have personally met with representatives of several gig work platforms, and Labour Program officials have conducted interviews with a range of experts and academics
  • Governments around the world are beginning to think through these issues and we want Canada to be part of the conversation

Background

What is a gig worker?

There is no universal definition for gig workers, but they are generally understood as unincorporated self-employed persons who enter into short-term contracts with firms or individuals to complete specific and often one-off tasks. As a recent Statistics Canada report states, "gig workers are usually not employed on a long-term basis by a single firm; instead, they enter into various contracts with firms or individuals (task requesters) to complete a specific task or to work for a specific period of time for which they are paid a negotiated sum."

What is a digital platform worker?

Digital platform workers are a subset of gig workers. The term "platform" is used to refer to an electronic intermediary, like a smartphone application, that workers use to connect with end-users who pay them, through the platform, to provide a service. With the steady proliferation of innovative platforms comes a proliferation of business models. These platforms can be broken down into two main types: "remote service" platforms and "local service" platforms.

  • Remote service platforms involve a platform worker providing a service remotely for an end-user who may be an individual or business. There are a wide variety of such platforms, with some providing microwork tasks that may take less than an hour to complete and pay very little, some facilitating short-term tasks like designing a logo for a set price and some providing for a mix of short-term tasks and longer-term assignments similar to traditional employment
  • Local service platforms usually involve a worker providing an in-person service for an end-user who is most often an individual. Such services may include food delivery, ridesharing, general handiwork, housekeeping and others

Employment status of gig and digital platform workers

  • Gig workers are often classified by employers as independent contractors, which means they are not covered by basic labour protections. This has led to difficulty in accessing how certain labour rights (for example collective representation) and eligibility for certain social security programs (for example Canada Pension Plan) may be applied or extended to this group of workers
  • On February 25, 2020, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) held that couriers for the food delivery platform Foodora were dependent contractors of the platform and could unionize under the Labour Relations Act, 1995. This decision represents the first time that a Canadian court or labour tribunal has determined the employment status of a platform-based workforce for the purposes of federal, provincial or territorial labour legislation
  • There are other notable cases of gig workers challenging their classification as independent contractors. The Supreme Court of Canada recently held that the arbitration clause, which Uber requires its drivers to accept, is in fact unconstitutional. This ruling allows Uber drivers to continue their class action lawsuit challenging their status as independent contractors under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act. Uber Black limousine drivers in Toronto have voted to unionize under the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, however, further hearings before the OLRB are required before it can be determined whether the bargaining unit can be certified

COVID-19 and gig work

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed both the vulnerability of gig workers and Canada’s dependence on gig work to provide essential services. Each day, gig workers in Canada are risking exposure to the virus to ensure the continued flow of goods (for example through road transportation and delivery services). However, despite their importance, these workers often earn low wages, and if they get sick or need to care for a loved one, their jobs are not protected

Key quotes

"As the new Minister of Labour, I’m committed to continuing to work toward objectives that keep workers safe and healthy, and that take into account the changing world of work. I very much like hearing the views of employers, unions and the public on challenges and issues in the area of labour policy that our government intends to move forward on. Governments around the world are beginning to think through these issues and we don’t want to be left behind,"

(The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, February 13, 2020).

"A new Statistics Canada study shows […] [that] those who were part of the gig economy are more likely to be poorer Canadians, women and immigrants,"

(iPolitics, December 16, 2019).

"The biggest innovation in the world of work in the last decade has been the rise of online platforms which connect workers and customers. […] These platforms have been well received by customers, but for workers, they often have a dark side,"

(CBC Radio, July 31, 2018).

Prepared by

Name: Nicholas Balak

Title: Junior Policy Analyst

Phone number: [Redacted]

Key contact

Name: Douglas Wolfe

Title: Senior Director

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Barb Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

29. Right to disconnect

Issue

The Government has committed to co-develop, with employers and labour organizations, a "right to disconnect" for federally regulated workers.

Key facts

  • In 2015, 27% of federally regulated employees had been issued a work cell or smartphone by their employer and 20% of federally regulated workplaces had a policy to limit the use of smartphones for work purposes outside of regular business hours
  • About 12% of employees in the federally regulated private sector worked unpaid overtime in 2017 – though it is not known what proportion of this overtime was spent on work being done offsite through the use of communication technology
  • According to an August, 2020 PCO survey, one in three Canadians have reported difficulties disconnecting from work outside of regular work hours because of work-related e-communication devices (such as cell phones and laptops)

Response

  • Smartphones and electronic communications are a reality of the twenty-first century workplace, and workers are increasingly expected to be available after working hours
  • I have a mandate to work with employers and labour organizations to "co-develop" a policy on the right to disconnect that will benefit federally regulated workers. The Right to Disconnect Advisory Committee, with representatives from federally regulated employers, unions, and other stakeholders, held its first meeting on October 20, 2020. The committee is tasked with providing recommendations on how to move forward with this important initiative
  • The committee will hold a series of meetings over the coming months. This is part of a broader effort by the Government to improve labour protections in the Canada Labour Code. Ensuring a positive work-life balance is a key aspect of the Government’s commitment to continue to work toward objectives that keep workers safe and healthy, and that take into account the changing world of work
  • I look forward to receiving the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on this important issue

Background

Effects of constant connectedness

  • Increased availability of mobile technologies has enabled employers to demand that employees remain reachable off duty and may be contributing to an increase in work intensification. Engaging in e-communications for work purposes outside of work hours has been associated with poorer sleep quality, higher levels of burnout, and increased health-related absenteeism
  • Research indicates that the negative effects of using communications technologies for work purposes can be mitigated if employers set clear rules, expectations and boundaries around off-duty communications

Current status

  • Currently under the Canada Labour Code, if an employee elects to respond to work-related communications after work, the time they spend doing so is not generally considered as working hours. However, responding to such communications after usual work hours at the request of an employer is considered working time and must, as a fundamental principle of employment law, be paid. To note, what is deemed to be "work" or "working time" is not explicitly defined in the Code
  • "Right to disconnect" was considered by the independent Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards. While the panel did not recommend a statutory "right to disconnect", the panel did recommend that Part III of the Canada Labour Code should be amended to clarify what it means to be "at work" and provide for compensation when employees are required to remain available. The panel also noted the value of workplace policies on "right to disconnect" and urged further study on the issue
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has added new dimensions to this issue. According to Statistics Canada, at the height of pandemic (the last week of March, 2020), about 40% of Canadians were working from home, this is in contrast to only about 8% of workers working any of their scheduled hours from home in 2018. According to recent research, most workers were pleased with their new teleworking arrangements, but the biggest complaint among workers was about problems "switching off" at the end of the day
  • The main beneficiaries of a "right to disconnect" are likely to be workers with nine-to-five jobs who do not expect to be working off-hours, for example workers in the banking and telecommunications sectors where 96% and 72% of employees, respectively, work a standard daytime schedule. Over two-thirds of federal sector employees work a regular, daytime schedule

Key quotes

"As the new Minister of Labour, I’m committed to continuing to work toward objectives that keep workers safe and healthy, and that take into account the changing world of work. I very much like hearing the views of employers, unions and the public on challenges and issues in the area of labour policy that our government intends to move forward on. Governments around the world are beginning to think through these issues and we don’t want to be left behind."

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour

"We would have more productivity if people could enjoy their work, then turn off."

Bill Howatt, President of Howatt HR Consulting (BNN Bloomberg, November 9, 2018)

Prepared by

Name: Justin Nevills

Title: Policy Analyst

Key contact

Name: Douglas Wolfe

Title: Senior Director

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Barb Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

30. Pay transparency

Issue

The Government of Canada fulfils its commitment to addressing wage gaps through the introduction of pay transparency measures for federally regulated private-sector employers subject to the Employment Equity Act (the Act).

Key facts

  • While educational and work experience gaps are narrowing, the gap in wages between men and women persists among workers in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, on average, women aged 15 years and over in full-time employment earned 89 cents for every dollar earned by men
  • The Government’s new pay transparency measures will make wage gap information for women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities working in federally regulated workplaces publicly available
  • The legislative amendment to the Employment Equity Act and supporting regulations will come into force on January 1, 2021. Once in force, employers will be required to record new salary data and to include aggregated wage gap information in their annual reporting on employment equity the following year (June 1, 2022)

Response

  • Pay transparency will provide Canadians with accessible, comparable online information on federally regulated employers to raise awareness of wage gaps that affect women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities
  • Pay transparency will prompt employers to examine their human resource practices and show leadership in reducing wage gaps, helping to shift business culture and expectations towards greater equality
  • Budget 2018 provided $3 million over five years to introduce pay transparency for federally regulated private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to reduce wage gaps
  • Budget 2019 announced amendments to the Employment Equity Act and Regulations to support the implementation of pay transparency measures
  • The amendments come into force on January 1, 2021 and will apply to the annual employment equity reports submitted by employers in 2022
  • This initiative demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to strengthening the middle class by supporting equality and diversity in federally regulated Canadian workplaces

Background

Wage gaps

Despite narrowing educational and work experience gaps, the gap in wages between men and women persists among workers in Canada. Some of the reasons cited for this ongoing disparity include inflexibility in standard hours of work; workforce interruptions; lower likelihood of negotiation over salary, raises, and promotions; and, gender discrimination in hiring.

Hourly wage gap: in 2019, on average, women aged 15 years and over in full-time employment earned 89 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Among federally regulated private sector employees in permanent full-time positions in 2017, 64.7% of men and 49% of women earned $60,000 and more per year. This compares to:

63.2% of Aboriginal men and 41.5% of Aboriginal women

61.2% of men with disabilities and 45.7% of women with disabilities

60.6% of visible minority men and 48.4% of visible minority women

Pay transparency

Transparency policies have become increasingly popular since the 1980s, most notably in the area of environmental regulation and financial disclosure. The key lesson learned has been that transparency regimes succeed when they can benefit disclosers, by allowing them to signal their effort to improve or their success in doing so, and when users of the information have a strong voice and are motivated to ensure that reporting is accurate.

Making wage gaps information available can help to shift business culture and expectations towards greater equality.

Federally regulated employers are already required to provide pay information through the Employment Equity Act.

The Act requires employers to create equitable workplaces and build a workforce that is representative of the four designated groups – women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities – according to relevant labour market conditions.

Currently, the employment equity reports submitted annually by employers are publicly available online, but wage gap data is not highlighted.

The new approach will provide Canadians with accessible, comparative online wage gap information, available on a Government website.

The UK has been the first to require all large employers to publish gender wage gaps online annually since 2017. In reviewing the UK’s gender pay gap reporting initiative, their experience has shown transparency to be effective in raising awareness about wage gaps.

Budget funding

Budget 2018 committed $3 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, to implement pay transparency.

A minor legislative amendment to the Employment Equity Act was passed through Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No.1 (Royal Assent – June 2019) to provide legislative authority for the proposed amendments to the Regulations.

Consultations

Several in-person consultations hosting approximately 260 participants were held in early 2019 to solicit feedback from stakeholders on proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Regulations. Participants included federally regulated employers, federal contractors, unions, special interest groups, industry associations, and representatives from provincial and municipal orders of government.

An online questionnaire was sent to stakeholders in March 2019 to solicit additional feedback on proposed regulatory amendments. The Labour Program received 259 online responses to the questionnaire, as well as six written submissions.

In August 2019, the proposed amendments to the Regulations were published in Canada Gazette, Part 1 for a 30-day public comment period.

Implementation

The amended Regulations are expected to be published in Canada Gazette, Part 2 this fall, and will come into force on January 1, 2021. As a result, federally regulated private-sector employers will first report on their wage gaps in 2022.

The Labour Program is also developing an IT solution to manage the information that will be collected and ensure it is posted in a user-friendly format.

Key quotes

"Pay transparency is one such action that can narrow the wage gap. It provides women with the information they need to better negotiate for fair and equal pay. Government mandates requiring companies to publicly disclose salaries and/or gaps between women and men’s wages, such as the U.K. government’s regulations and Australia’s legislation requiring companies to report on the remuneration of their employees, are examples of ways to achieve pay transparency."

– Ms. Serena Fong, Vice-President, Government Affairs, Catalyst, - Evidence, ESPE Committee Meeting (May 2, 2016).

Prepared by

Name: Kevin Church/François Hudon

Title: Senior Policy Analyst/Policy analyst

Phone number: 819-654-3747

Key contact

Name: Gert Zagler

Title: Director, Workplace Equity

Phone number: 613-618-2063

Approved by

Name: Judith Buchanan,

Title: Senior Director, Federal Programs Directorate

Phone number: 613-614-0308 (cell)

Date

Date Approved in ADMO: November 13, 2020

31. Implementation of the Pay Equity Act

Issue

The commitment to lead the implementation of the recently passed Pay Equity Act.

Key facts

  • The Pay Equity Act (the Act) received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018. Once the Act is in force, it will direct employers to take proactive steps to ensure that they are providing equal pay for work of equal value
  • The Act will apply to approximately 1.2 million workers employed by federally regulated public and private sector employers with 10 or more employees, as well as in the Prime Minister's and Ministers' offices. The new regime will also apply to parliamentary workplaces
  • The Act will require employers to establish a pay equity plan within three years of becoming subject to the Act. In addition, employers will be required to review and update pay equity plans at least every five years in order to identify and close any gaps that may have emerged
  • On November 13, 2020, regulations setting out some of the key elements of the new proactive pay equity regime were pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I for a comment period of 60 days
  • The Act will be administered and enforced by a Pay Equity Commissioner, who will be a full-time member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Response

  • The Pay Equity Act received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018. Once in force, this legislation will bring about a dramatic shift in how the right to pay equity is protected in federally regulated workplaces
  • The Government is continuing its work to get the key pieces ready for the coming into force of the legislation, which is expected to occur later in 2021. This includes developing and seeking input on proposed regulations that are necessary for the Act to be functional
  • To that end, a first step has been taken through the pre-publication of the Pay Equity Regulations in Part I of the Canada Gazette for a comment period of 60 days. In order to help interested parties in understanding the proposed regulations, informative documents have also been developed and posted on our website. We look forward to hearing from Canadians over the coming weeks on these proposed regulations
  • Finally, Ms. Karen Jensen was reappointed as a full-time member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission effective October 1, 2020. Ms. Jensen will serve as Canada’s first federal Pay Equity Commissioner when the Act comes into force

Background

Pay Equity Commissioner

The Pay Equity Commissioner will be supported by a Pay Equity Unit. The responsibilities of the Commissioner will include, among other things, assisting individuals in understanding their rights and obligations and facilitating the resolution of disputes under the Act. The Commissioner will have a range of tools to enforce the Act, including the power to initiate audits, conduct investigations, receive complaints, and issue orders and administrative monetary penalties.

Regulatory development

The Labour Program is developing regulations setting out some of the key elements of the pay equity regime that need to be in place before the Act can come into force.

As part of the regulatory development process, Labour Program officials held a series of information sessions in the spring of 2019, as well as solicited feedback from stakeholders, including employer representatives, labour representatives, advocacy groups, and pay equity experts, through a consultation paper that was distributed in the summer of 2019.

The Pay Equity Regulations were pre-published in Canada Gazette Part I on November 13, 2020. The regulations will prescribe requirements around the posting of documents in the workplace, time limits for filing applications and notices with the Pay Equity Commissioner, the mathematical factor to be used when comparing compensation, steps to follow when regression lines cross under the equal line method, methods to complete a pay equity plan in a workplace with no predominantly male job classes, and the process to be followed for updating pay equity plans.

To support the review of the regulations, the Labour Program also published informational documents that explain the proposed regulations in plain language. The proposed regulations will be open for comments for a period of 60 days.

Funding

In fall 2018, the Government announced $26.6 million over six years and $5.8 million per year ongoing to support the administration of the new proactive pay equity regime, over the first 6 years starting in 2018 to 2019. Additionally, $49.4 million will be made available to implement the proactive pay equity regime within the federal public service.

On November 4, 2020, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report providing a fiscal analysis of the new proactive pay equity regime introduced in the Pay Equity Act (Act). The report focuses largely on the costs for the Government, as an employer, of implementing the Act in the federal public service. It estimates total additional compensation costs of $621 million per year once a federal public service pay equity plan or multiple plans are posted (such as beginning in 2023 to 2024).

Key quotes

"[O]ver the past five years, we have taken many significant steps forward toward gender equality, but we know there is much more work to do. We have passed historic pay equity legislation and are working hard to implement it. We know this is a systemic change that is long overdue. We have started taking large steps toward it, but we will continue to work with all our allies in the House and beyond to ensure that we are making things much better in this country. We need gender equality. It is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. That is why we will continue to work hard every day to achieve it."

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (House of Commons, November 4, 2020)

"Canada’s unions have been fighting for proactive pay equity legislation for over a decade and we’re glad to see the government take meaningful action to close Canada’s shameful gender pay gap."

Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress (news release, Canadian Labour Congress, October 30, 2018)

"Diversity, inclusion and equality – particularly with respect to women in the work force – represent the brightest way forward for Canadian businesses and for making our country as a whole a better place. Federal pay-equity legislation is a welcome step in realizing this long-sought goal."

Neil Parmenter, President and CEO, Canadian Bankers Association (news release, Canadian Bankers Association, October 31, 2018)

"Canada has made significant progress on gender equality in the last few years, developing institutions, policies, tools and accountability structures that position it as a leader in an area increasingly seen as a cornerstone of inclusive growth."

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (Launch of Gender Governance Review of Canada, May 2018)

Prepared by

Name: Justin Nevills

Title: Policy Analyst

Key contact

Name: Barbara Moran

Title: Director General

Phone number: [Redacted]

Approved by

Name: Anthony Giles

Title: Assistant Deputy Minister

Phone number: [Redacted]

Date

Date approved in ADMO: November 17, 2020

32. Parliamentary background and analysis

Official title: Parliamentary background and analysis appearance by the Honourable Minister of Labour Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) - Main Estimates 2020 to 2021 and Supplementary Estimates (B) 2020 to 2021, Thursday, November 24, 2020 | 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

1. Background

On February 27, 2020, the Government tabled the Main Estimates 2020 to 2021 in the House of Commons. At that time, HUMA extended invitations to ESDC Ministers to appear and testify. Due to the pandemic and the Prorogation of Parliament, the Main Estimates were not adopted according to the usual rules and practices of the House of Commons. With the return of Parliament in the fall, the Government re-tabled the Main Estimates as well as the Supplementary Estimates 2020 to 2021 (B).

Once the striking of Standing Committees took place and committees were formed, HUMA moved to adopt a work plan for its future business. The first item agreed upon was to invite the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on both the Main Estimates and the Supplementary Estimates to appear on November 4. The Minister of Senior is scheduled to appear on the same topic on November 26.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for Committee Members to question the planned government spending for the fiscal year prior to the introduction of the appropriation bill authorizing the necessary funds, which is scheduled to take place no later than December 10. In addition, according to a motion adopted in the House of Commons, Standing Committees have until November 27 to report to the House that they have considered the Estimates.

At the request of the Committee, the November 24 meeting will be 2 hours in duration: a one-hour discussion with you and senior officials and one additional hour with only senior officials.

2. Committee proceedings

HUMA is composed of 12 MPs.

In the current minority Parliament, the Government does not hold the majority at HUMA. The Chair is Liberal MP Sean Casey and two Vice-Chairs CPC MP Peter Kent and BQ MP Louise Chabot. Mr. Kent is the Employment Critic and Ms. Chabot is the Employment and Labour Critic.

Other members are:

  • Han Dong (Lib)
  • Rosemarie Falk (CPC)
  • Leah Gazan (NDP)
  • Wayne Long (Lib)
  • Jamie Schmale (CPC)
  • Ryan Turnbull (Lib)
  • Adam Vaughan (Lib)
  • Brad Vis (CPC)
  • Kate Young (Lib)

NDP Labour Critic, Scott Duvall may replace NDP Member Leah Gazan.

You may deliver remarks for a duration of 5 minutes.

HUMA has agreed that questioning of witnesses would be allocated as follows:

The first round of questioning:

  • 6 minutes for the Conservative Party
  • 6 minutes for the Liberal Party
  • 6 minutes for the Bloc Quebecois
  • 6 minutes for the New Democratic Party

For the second and subsequent rounds of questioning:

  • 5 minutes for the Conservative Party
  • 5 minutes for the Liberal Party
  • 2.5 minutes for the Bloc Quebecois
  • 2.5 minutes for the New Democratic Party
  • 5 minutes for the Conservative Party
  • 5 minutes for the Liberal Party

3. Parliamentary and media analysis

In addition to questions specific to items included in the Estimates documents, you may receive questions from opposition party members related to the following:

COVID Response: Protecting workers

ESDC has played a significant role in developing innovative measures to help Canadians financially through the pandemic. In general, these measures received support from opposition parties as they recognized the urgency in helping Canadians through this difficult situation. However, opposition parties may seek to discuss the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit for workers who are unable to work because they contracted COVID-19 or are self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19. The CPC has expressed concern with the cost of the COVID measures and may ask you to provide additional information regarding the number of Canadians that have requested this benefit. In addition, the NDP and the BQ may ask if the Government intends to increase the minimum wage in Canada.

The Public Service of Canada: Mental health

In the last few months, there has been a number of questions related to federal employees working from home; including issues relating to their mental health. The NDP is an advocate of ensuring mental health resources are available to Canadians. As such, the NDP may probe on the limited focus provided to mental health issues in the Throne Speech. You may also be asked to provide details on resources available to public sector employees in the area of mental as well as the impact isolation may have on their well being and safety.

Language of work

It was reported by the media that some francophone public servants, including those at ESDC, are expressing concern over the impact the pandemic is having on bilingualism in federal workplaces. There is a dominance of English during teleconferences and the failure to translate documents into French. The BQ may raise the issue; including references to the Report released by the Commissioner of Official Languages, which urges federal institutions of the importance of meeting their obligations to communicate with the public and employees in both official languages at all times.

Parliamentary Budget Officer: Report on Pay Equity

HUMA Members may raise questions regarding the conclusions offered in the PBO’s Report on Pay Equity. The Report provides an analysis of the fiscal impact of increased federal public service employee salaries and benefits resulting from the enactment of the federal Pay Equity Act. The PBO estimates that the financial cost of implementing the Act, which covers approximately 1.3 million employees, could increase to $621 million once fully in force starting in 2023-24. Considering how the CPC remains concerned with Government spending, CPC Member Peter Kent may raise questions on this issue.

C-220, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (compassionate care leave)

CPC MP Matt Jeneroux debated his Private Member’s Bill C-220 on Compassionate Care Leave in the House of Commons on November 6. During debate, Liberal Members mentioned the possibility of amending the proposed Bill. It is possible that the CPC members may request additional information regarding the proposed amendments. HUMA would study C-220 if adopted at Second Reading. The last hour of debate on C-220 is scheduled for February 2021.

33. House of Commons HUMA Committee profile – October 2020

Original title: House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)- Committee Profile (October 2020)

Committee profile

Sean Casey, Liberal Party, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Brief biography

Sean was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland but grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting from Saint Francis Xavier University. He worked for the New Brunswick Telephone Company before attending Dalhousie Law School, graduating in 1988. While attending Dalhousie, he was on the Student Union Executive and served as President of the Law Students Association. Upon graduating, Sean served as a summer student at what was then Scales Jenkins and McQuaid (now Stewart McKelvey) in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

He continued to work with the firm and was named a partner at 29 years of age. In 2003, Sean left the firm to take a leadership role in the family business, commonly known as Paderno. That was also the year he ran his first of four marathons. In 2008, Sean rejoined Stewart McKelvey where he served as Regional Managing Partner. In 2011, Sean was elected the Member of Parliament of Charlottetown. He was re-elected in 2015, and again most recently in 2019. In Parliament, Sean has served most recently as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard. He has previously served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

He is currently the Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Chair of the Liberal Atlantic Caucus.

Wayne Long, Liberal Party, Saint John — Rothesay, New Brunswick

Brief biography

Wayne Long is a member of the Saint John community with national and international business experience. Wayne currently serves as President of the Saint John Sea Dogs, and his efforts have helped turn the team into one of Canada’s most successful CHL hockey franchises winning the cherished Memorial Cup in 2011. That same year, Wayne was recognized with the John Horman Trophy, awarded to the Top Executive in the QMJHL.

Prior to his work with the Sea Dogs, Wayne was President of Scotiaview Seafood Inc. He was also a successful large-scale product manager with Stolt Sea Farm Inc. Wayne’s work has seen him travel across North America, negotiating contracts with national restaurant distributors, restaurant chains, and retail chains. He earned the North American Excellence in Sales and Marketing award twice. Wayne is a former Board Member for Destination Marketing and Salmon Marketing.

Wayne was born in the riding, has lived in the riding 44 years, and currently calls the area home alongside his wife, Denise, and their two children, Khristian and Konnor.

Han Dong, Liberal Party, Don Valley North, Ontario

Brief biography

Raised and educated in Toronto, Han Dong, his sister, and his parents immigrated to Canada from Shanghai in 1990. Growing up working at his parent’s 24-hour coffee shop, Han learned the value of hard work, family, and community which ultimately lead him to public service.

In 2014, Han was elected as a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), gaining valuable legislative experience.

Han works with a Toronto based high-tech company dedicated to building safer communities with digital neighbourhood watch technology. He has also shown leadership in promoting Toronto's diversity, currently serving as the leader of the Chinatown Gateway Committee established by Mayor John Tory.

Han and his wife Sophie, are the proud parents of Emma and Matthew.

Ryan Turnbull, Liberal Party, Whitby, Ontario

Brief biography

Ryan Turnbull is a passionate change maker, experienced entrepreneur and social innovation that has devoted his life to advance ethical leadership, social responsibility, and build a more ethical economy and society. Ryan has raised his young family in the Durham Region for over five years and has deep roots in the Whitby community, where he recently moved.

Ryan has taken advanced leadership training and earned an MA in philosophy from Carleton University. Ryan has taught and developed curriculum at multiple post-secondary institutions around the world. Over the last decade, Ryan has led the development of a successful social innovation consulting firm that has had a direct social impact on the organizations, communities and the people they serve, in the Durham Region and across Ontario. Ryan has worked with over 250 charitable organizations, has advised government at all levels and has led over 350 impactful projects and his work has had a direct and positive influence on the quality of life for all segments of the population including children, youth, seniors, immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ2S, and many others. Ryan has also served on the board of directors for Food Secure Canada and the Ethics Practitioners’ Association of Canada.

Adam Vaughn, Liberal Party, Spadina—Fort York, Ontario

Brief biography

Adam Vaughan was first elected to the House of Commons for Trinity-Spadina on June 30, 2014. On October 19, 2015, Adam was re-elected in the new riding of Spadina-Fort York, and was re-elected for a second full term on October 21, 2019.

Adam was elected twice to Toronto City Council before voters sent him to Ottawa to represent urban issues in Parliament. As an activist and as a journalist, Adam has played a significant role in the social and economic growth of Toronto. Adam Vaughan brings a lifetime of experience to federal politics. On City Council he played a major role in reforming the planning process in the city. He led successful campaigns to rebuild and revitalize existing public housing stock while initiating new policies to create family housing, supportive housing and new co-op housing programs in Toronto.

Together with residents, he spearheaded the revitalization of the Alexandra Park community: a significant neighbourhood in Toronto that will see new affordable housing, new commercial space, a re-built community and more parkland added to the downtown. Adam Vaughan’s record in office demonstrates strong support for the arts and housing in Toronto.

While on council, he championed the expansion of OCAD University’s campus and led the campaign to save Theatre Passe Muraille. He also served on the Boards of the Toronto Arts Council, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Harbourfront Centre and Heritage Toronto. Before entering politics, Adam was a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in municipal affairs for both the CBC and Citytv. He covered all three levels of government and has written about urban issues too.

In the 41st Parliament, Adam was appointed the Liberal Critic for Housing and Urban Affairs and worked with Justin Trudeau, Liberals, and local governments across the country to re-establish a national housing policy as part of a new urban agenda for Canada.

On December 2, 2015, Adam was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs. He served in this role until January 26, 2017, when he was appointed to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs).

On February 1, 2017, Adam was appointed to chair an Advisory Committee on Homelessness composed of experts and stakeholders in the field of homelessness to support the renewal of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

He is currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development (Housing) and a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Kate Young, Liberal Party, London West, Ontario

Brief biography

Kate Young was first elected Member of Parliament for London West in October 2015. She is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario). She has also served as the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport for Science and Sport, and for Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility); and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport.

Prior to being elected, Kate had a lengthy career in journalism and public relations in both the private and public sector. Best known as the first female news anchor at CFPL-TV in London, Kate was also the Manager of Public Affairs and Community Relations for the Thames Valley District School Board and Manager of Community Relations at TD Financial Group.

As a community organizer, Kate has volunteered much of her free time with organizations that directly impact London West, including the London Health Sciences Foundation Board of Directors, the Fanshawe College Board of Directors, and the Museum London Board of Directors. In 2007, London City Press Club named Kate Newsmaker of the Year for her outstanding service to the London community.

Kate has a diploma in Journalism (Broadcast) from Fanshawe College and is the proud mother of two children. She is also a grandma to twin boys. Kate grew up in London West, attended Westminster Secondary School, and continues to live in the riding with her partner Brian.

Rosemarie Falk, Conservative Party, Seniors Critic, Battlefords — Lloydminster, Saskatchewan

Brief biography

Rosemarie Falk is the federal Member of Parliament for Battlefords-Lloydminster. She was first elected to the House of Commons in a federal by-election on December 11, 2017.

Under the leadership of the Hon. Erin O’Toole, Rosemarie serves as the Shadow Minister for Seniors. She is also a member the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Rosemarie was born and raised in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. Along with her husband Adam, she is now raising her three children there. She has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary. Throughout her work and volunteer experience, she has been actively engaged in her community working with some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Rosemarie is committed to being a strong voice for seniors, families, taxpayers and rural communities. She is in federal politics to help build a stronger Canada today and for the next generation.

Peter Kent, Conservative Party, Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Critic, Thornhill, Ontario

Brief biography

Peter Kent was first elected to the House of Commons representing Thornhill in 2008 and sworn into Cabinet as Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, responsible for the Americas.

Re-elected in 2011, Peter was appointed Canada's Environment Minister and served in that capacity until July, 2013. In October, 2013 Peter was elected Chair of the House Standing Committee on National Defence. In October, 2015 Peter was again re-elected as MP for Thornhill and appointed Deputy Critic for Foreign Affairs. In Summer, 2016 Peter was appointed as Critic of Foreign Affairs. In September, 2017 Peter was appointed Shadow Minister of Ethics.

Prior to his election to the House of Commons, Peter was a broadcast journalist, having spent more than 40 years working as a writer, reporter, producer, anchor and broadcast executive in Canada, the United States and around the world.

He covered stories that shaped the 20th Century, including momentous events such as the Vietnam and Cambodian conflicts and recovery, decades of conflict, uncertainty and hope in the Middle East, the Ethiopian famine, the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, South Africa’s transition from the apartheid era to Mandela’s presidency, the overthrow of Idi Amin, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.

Peter won a number of awards over the course of his career, including the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award. He is also a member of the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame.

A passionate believer in community involvement, Peter actively supports a number of charitable organizations. He has served as a mentor with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council and was on the Toronto cabinet of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. He remains involved with the Royal Conservatory of Music, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Jamie Schmale, Conservative Party, Families, Children and Social Development Critic, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Ontario

Brief biography

With a strong background in radio, journalism, and federal politics, Jamie has had the honour of representing Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock in Ottawa since 2015.

Prior to entering politics, Jamie attended Fenelon Falls High School and Loyalist College, graduating from the Radio Broadcasting program. Jamie started his career as News Anchor and later News Director for CHUM Media Kawarthas. Covering news, municipal politics, and sports for 91.9FM Radio CKLY in Lindsay, Jamie covered the horrific attacks of 9/11, the blackout of 2003, and the amalgamation of the 16 municipalities of Victoria County into what is now the single-tier City of Kawartha Lakes.

Raised in Bobcaygeon, he now calls Lindsay home. A professional, father, and volunteer, Jamie is actively involved in a number of local charities and not-for-profits.

In 2014, Jamie was nominated by the Conservative party to become the next Conservative candidate for the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock (HKLB) riding. Since first being elected, he has served on various Parliamentary Committees such as the Procedure and House Affairs, Natural Resources and up until prorogation in August 2020, was the Vice Chair of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee.

In 2019, Jamie was asked to serve as the Shadow Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations under previous Leader Andrew Scheer. He is now pleased to hold the role of Shadow Minister for Families, Children and Social Development under his friend, riding neighbour and current Leader, Erin O’Toole.

Brad Vis, Conservative Party, Housing Critic, Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, British Columbia

Brief biography

Born in Matsqui, British Columbia, Brad has deep roots in the Fraser Valley. The grandson of Dutch immigrants, he was raised on the values of hard work, sacrifice, integrity and determination.

Brad has spent the majority of his career working in government, politics and the agri-business sector. His professional background extends to the fields of communications, public relations and policy development.

Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in Political Science from Carleton University.

Elected in 2019, Brad is honoured to represent all residents of Mission–Matsqui–Fraser Canyon and is thrilled to work hard on their behalf. His mission is to raise issues and work to accomplish the goals of the riding in Ottawa rather than work as Ottawa’s representative in the riding.

Under the leadership of the Hon. Erin O’Toole, Brad serves as the Shadow Minister for Housing and is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA).

Brad is happily married to Kathleen and the father of Declyn and Nicholas.

Leah Gazan, New Democratic Party, Families, Children and Social Development Critic, Winnipeg Centre, Manitoba

Brief biography

Leah Gazan was elected as the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre in October 2019. She is currently the NDP Critic for Children, Families, and Social Development, as well as the Deputy Critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. Gazan is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament. She recently introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-232, The Climate Emergency Action Act, which recognizes the right to a healthy environment as a human right.

As an educator, advisor, and media contributor, Leah Gazan has been deeply engaged with issues and organizing in Winnipeg’s core for nearly three decades. Gazan has spent her life working for human rights on the local, national, and international stage. Her recent success includes organizing and traveling across the country to push Bill C-262, the Indigenous Human Rights Act.

Her contributions in Winnipeg have both shaped our understanding of our collective struggles and strengths, and helped move us towards justice. As president of the Social Planning Council between 2011 to 2015, Gazan organized and pushed policy in support of an end to poverty, addressing violence against women and girls, finding solutions for housing insecurity and homelessness, ensuring fair wages, community-based actions addressing addictions, and proper supports for mental health.

Gazan was a prominent Winnipeg lead during Idle No More, articulating the movement to the Winnipeg public. Gazan also co-founded the #WeCare campaign aimed at building public will to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. Gazan is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory.

Louise Chabot, Bloc Québecois, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Critic, Thérèse-De Blainville, Quebec

Brief biography

Louise Chabot, born in 1955 in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse, Quebec, is a Quebec trade unionist and politician. She was president of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) from 2012 to 2018. This organization represents nearly 200,000 members, including 130,000 in the education and early childhood sector. She coordinated a major unionization project that resulted in the grouping of more than 15,000 family child care providers, a first in the Canadian union movement. On October 21, 2019, she was elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Thérèse-de-Blainville under the banner of the Bloc Québécois.

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