Employment and Social Development Canada: Departmental overview - July 2021

Official title: Department 101: Employment and Social Development Canada: Departmental overview - October 2021

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The ESDC portfolio - Mission

The mission of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); including, the Labour Program and Service Canada, is to build a strong and more inclusive Canada, to support Canadians in helping them live productive and rewarding lives and to improve Canadians’ quality of life.

Employment and Social Development Canada’s core responsibilities

ESDC’s 5 core responsibilities include:

As part of this role, the Department is responsible for delivering some key GoC programs and services:

How we carry out ESDC’s mandate

ESDC spent $144.4B Footnote 1 in 2019 to 2020 in order to deliver on its wide array of policy, program, and service delivery activities, representing 37% of total federal government program spendingFootnote 2. 93.6% ($135.2BFootnote 3) of ESDC expenditures were to provide direct benefits to Canadians, corresponding to 6.15% of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP), and a further 2.6% ($3.7B) was transferred to provinces and territories. The Department’s gross operating budget represented 2.4% ($3.5B) of the overall department’s spending. In addition, another 1.4% ($2B) was provided to other government departments and organizationsFootnote 4. A list of ESDC programs is attached as Annex A.

Specifically, ESDC fulfills its mission by:

Legislative Framework

ESDC is responsible for administering the following acts and their regulations.

ESDC Acts:

Labour Acts:

Organizational structure

With over 35,000 employees, ESDC is the fourth-largest Department within the GoC. In very tangible ways, ESDC’s employees touch the lives of Canadians across the entire country— with a space of operations across Canada, with more than 74% of our employees working outside the National Capital Region.

Biographies of Deputy Ministers

Graham Flack, Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development

Graham Flack

Graham Flack became Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development in October of 2018.

In 1995, Graham joined the Privy Council Office to work on the Quebec referendum campaign, Secession Reference and Clarity Act and became its Director of Strategic and Legal Affairs. Following 9/11, he became Director of Operations responsible for developing and implementing the Canada-US Smart Borders Declaration and Action Plan and for developing Canada’s first National Security Policy.

In 2005, Graham joined Natural Resources Canada as Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of Energy Policy, where he supported negotiations around the Mackenzie and Alaska pipelines and worked on files ranging from climate change to the response to the North American electricity blackout.

In 2006, he joined the Department of Finance as Assistant Deputy Minister, International Trade and Finance, where he worked on international development, trade and finance issues including the G7 and G20 response to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

From 2010 to 2013, he was Associate Deputy Minister, then Acting Deputy Minister at Public Safety Canada, whose mandate is to build a safe and resilient Canada by addressing risks such as natural disasters, crime and terrorism.

In 2013 and 2014, Graham was Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations and Intergovernmental Affairs) at the Privy Council Office.

From 2014 to 2018, he was Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Graham is the founding chair of the Deputy Minister Committee on Innovation and Deputy Minister Champion for Dalhousie University.

Graham received degrees in political science and economics from Dalhousie University and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is a former law clerk of the Supreme Court of Canada, and graduated with an LL.B. from Dalhousie University and an LL.M. from Harvard University.

Lori MacDonald, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development and Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada

Lori MacDonald

Lori MacDonald became the Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development and Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada in January 2020.

Lori began her career in Correctional Services of Canada in Kingston, Ontario and has held senior leadership roles within Transportation, Public Safety and Immigration. At Transport Canada, she served as the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Safety and Security Group. At Public Safety, she was responsible for Canada’s emergency and crisis management responses. As Associate Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Lori was responsible for world-class immigration programs that ensured the successful integration of newcomers and upheld Canada’s humanitarian obligations.

Lori has excelled at developing policies and programs at all levels of government. She has led and supported high-level consultations and engagements, and has received recognition for her leadership in developing managerial and leadership capacity in government teams and managers.

Lori has championed many projects related to women, Indigenous peoples and mental health issues. In addition to playing a leadership and champion role, she volunteered with the United Way for 36 years, helping to raise millions of dollars.

Lori is a recipient of the Exemplary Service Medal and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Kristina Namiesniowski, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development

Kristina Namiesniowski

On March 3, 2021, Tina Namiesniowski assumed the role of Senior Associate Deputy Minister at Employment and Social Development Canada. She brings with her a breadth of experience and a passion for public service.

Ms. Namiesniowski has spent more than 30 years in the federal government. Throughout her career, she has accumulated a wide range of experience in policy, programs and operations.

Prior to arriving at ESDC, Tina worked in 8 different federal organizations, with the last 20 years at the executive level. She spent time in central agencies, including Privy Council Office as Assistant Secretary, Operations Secretariat, and line departments. Her program experience stems from her work as Director General, Multiculturalism and Human Rights at Canadian Heritage and as Assistant Deputy Minister with Programs Branch at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She also served as Strategic Policy Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada and Assistant Deputy Minister, Markets and Industry Services Branch at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. At the deputy level, she was most recently Executive Vice-President at the Canada Border Services Agency, following which she was President of the Public Health Agency of Canada during the biggest public health crisis of the century.

Tina’s career has greatly deepened her understanding of Canada, the citizens we serve and our contribution globally. She knows first-hand the stresses that organizations face in times of peril, what it takes to rise to the challenge and the importance of innovation. She is committed to service, policy and program excellence as well as continuous improvement. She cares deeply about people, diversity, inclusion, mental health and well-being.

Tina holds a bachelor of arts in political science and history from Carleton University. She also holds a master of arts in political science, with a concentration in strategic studies and international relations from Dalhousie University.

She is married and has 3 children.

Annette Gibbons, Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development

Annette Gibbons

On March 8, 2021, Annette Gibbons assumed the role of Associate Deputy Minister at Employment and Social Development Canada.

Before joining ESDC, Annette served as Associate Deputy Minister at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (since 2018).

Annette has held various roles across several departments, including Assistant Secretary at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (2014 to 2017), Assistant Deputy Minister at Natural Resources Canada (2013 to 2014), Director General at Transport Canada (2009 to 2013), and Deputy Director General at Canadian Heritage (2006 to 2009).

Annette holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Ottawa, a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Memorial University.

Sandra Hassan, Deputy Minister of Labour and Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development

SSandra Hassan

Sandra Hassan holds a Bachelor of Law (civil law) from Université Laval (1990) and a Master of Taxation from the Université de Sherbrooke (1995). She also holds a Licence in common law (magna cum laude) from the University of Ottawa (2005). She is a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1991.

Between 1991 and 2000, prior to joining the public service, Ms. Hassan worked in private practice for Langlois Robert Gaudreau, for Deloitte & Touche and finally for Grant Thornton.

Ms. Hassan began her public service career in the Department of Justice in 2000 with the Legislative Services Branch. From 2006 to 2011, she was the Executive Director and General Counsel, Tax Counsel Division of the Department of Finance Legal Services.

Ms. Hassan was the Assistant Deputy Minister, Central Agencies Portfolio (Justice) and Counsel to the Department of Finance from April 2011 to June 2016.

From July 2016 to March 2021, she was the Assistant Deputy Minister, Employment Conditions and Labour Relations, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat. Ms. Hassan was also co-chair of the National Joint Council.

She was appointed Deputy Minister of Labour and Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development effective March 8, 2021.

Departmental branches and regions

Employment and Social Development Canada program and policy branches

Income Security and Social Development Branch

The Income Security and Social Development Branch develops social policies and designs programs to ensure that children, families, seniors, persons with disabilities, individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness, communities and others who are facing social challenges have the support, knowledge, and information they need to maintain their well-being and facilitate their participation in Canadian society. The Branch ensures that eligible Canadians are provided with retirement, survivor and disability benefits. It supports the long-term financial security of persons with disabilities and their families, leads the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act and the development of related regulations aimed at reducing barriers to accessibility and, through the Social Development Partnerships Program, builds partnerships and capacity to drive progress in achieving a barrier-free Canada. The Branch also funds organizations and the non-profit sector to reduce barriers and promote access to opportunities for marginalized populations. Through the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy and its 2 sub-programs – the Investment Readiness Program and the Social Finance Fund – the Branch also helps charities, non-profits and other social purpose organizations to improve their access to repayable finance so that they can grow their impact in communities. The major programs managed by the Branch are the Old Age Security (OAS) program, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), including disability benefits and the long-term financial security through the Canada Disability Savings Program (CDSP). Through Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, the Branch also ensures that communities are supported to prevent and reduce homelessness across the country.

Learning Branch

The Learning Branch helps make post-secondary education and apprenticeship training more affordable and accessible to all Canadians, as well as builds a culture of volunteer service for youth to gain leadership and other soft-skills while making an impact on communities across Canada. Specifically, the Branch helps families save early for their children’s post-secondary education through education savings incentives, supports students in the after-school space (for example tutoring and mentoring), provides grants and loans and repayment assistance to students and apprentices in need, and provides non-financial support aimed at helping students succeed in their studies and transition to post-secondary education and/or the labour market. The Branch also supports third-parties to deliver volunteer service opportunities for youth to engage in communities across Canada. The major programs managed by the Branch are the Canada Student Loans Program, the Canada Education Savings Program, the Supports for Student Learning Program, and the Canada Service Corps.

Skills and Employment Branch

The Skills and Employment Branch helps Canadians access the skills and employment supports they need to fully participate in the labour market and contribute to growth and innovation by providing programs and initiatives that promote skills development, labour market participation and inclusiveness. Specifically, these programs seek to build a skilled and inclusive labour force by removing barriers to skills development and employment, and supporting lifelong learning. The Branch also offers programs to support an efficient labour market by facilitating the integration of skilled immigrants, the entry of temporary foreign workers, the mobility of workers across Canada and the dissemination of labour market information. In addition, the Branch is responsible for programs that provide temporary income support to eligible unemployed workers. Major programs managed by the Branch are the Employment Insurance (EI) Program, including the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Recovery Benefits in response to COVID-19, the Labour Market Transfer Agreements, the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, Future Skills, and the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program.

Strategic and Service Policy Branch

The Strategic and Service Policy Branch undertakes the development of policy analysis and advice on key economic and social aspects of the ESDC mandate, as well as leading on horizontal policy development and integration across the portfolio. The responsibilities of the Strategic and Service Policy Branch include the development of economic, social and service policies, as well as research activities related to the mandate of the Department. The Branch leads on policy development and implementation in areas such as Early Learning and Child care, families and care, Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. It is also the focal point for portfolio-wide strategic planning and reporting; analysis, guidance and oversight on service-related issues; program evaluation; Cabinet and regulatory affairs; international and intergovernmental relations; and houses centres of expertise for GBA+, official languages and performance measurement. The Branch houses the ESDC Innovation Lab that fosters a culture of innovation and experimentation in the Department and the Chief Data Office, which is responsible for the Department's Data Strategy.

ESDC Enablers

Internal Audit and Enterprise Risk Management Branch

The Internal Audit function supports the Department by providing independent, objective assurance and advisory services. Internal Audit seeks to assess and improve the adequacy and effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes within the Department. The Internal Audit function also offers liaison services with the Office of the Auditor General and other central agencies. Furthermore, the Internal Audit function can conduct Special Examinations to gather evidence to support or deny possible irregularities related to organizations or individuals. The Enterprise Risk Management function seeks to enable intelligent risk taking while minimizing exposure to threats in the delivery of programs and services to Canadians.

Chief Financial Officer

In order to ensure an environment of fiscal responsibility, compliance and accountability, the Chief Financial Officer provides functional direction, guidance and leadership for the management of the Department’s financial resources and systems. This includes strategic multi-year resource planning, management, corporate accounting, reporting, and financial statements, the administration of the corporate real estate portfolio property, financial system maintenance, the stewardship of corporate investments and procurement, as well as a centre of expertise for project management.

Corporate Secretariat

The Corporate Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act, Part 4 of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act related to Protection of Personal Information and the Departmental Policy on Privacy Management. The Corporate Secretariat also supports the Department by providing services, advice and assistance on domains related to Parliamentary Affairs, Governance and Executive Committees, Ministerial and Executive Briefings, Ministerial and Executive Correspondence and Governor in Council appointment frameworks and selection processes.

Human Resources Services Branch

The Human Resources Services Branch contributes to ESDC as an inclusive, healthy and productive organization by acquiring and retaining diverse talent aligned with business needs, by developing people, and by fostering a safe, healthy and productive workplace. To achieve these goals, the Branch is committed to enabling and supporting a strengthened ESDC workforce, enabling an ESDC workplace that supports well-being and inclusion, and modernizing Human Resources programs and services.

Innovation, Information and Technology Branch

The Innovation, Information and Technology Branch provides information and technology services to the Department. These include business applications that support and streamline work processes, access data and process benefit-related transactions to address Canadians’ needs.

Legal Services Branch

The Legal Services Branch provides legal services to support the core operations and key initiatives of the Department. The services provided include legal advice on program statutes and policies administered by the Department; advice in relation to the development of policy and legislative or regulatory proposals; and representing the Department before boards, administrative tribunals and courts.

Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch

The Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch is the communications branch of ESDC. The Assistant Deputy Minister of this Branch is the Head of Communications for the Department and is responsible for upholding the GoC’s Policy on Communications and Federal Identity and the Directive on the Management of Communications. The Branch serves as the focal point for strategic and operational communications advice, products and services and supports portfolio Ministers in their roles as principal spokespersons for the Department and Deputy Heads in their roles as heads of the institution. Through its networks and channels, the Branch works closely with central agencies (such as the Privy Council Office, Treasury Board Secretariat and Finance Canada) for communication direction, guidance and approvals. The Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch is a full-service communications branch that offers professional communication services, including internal and strategic communications, events, marketing and advertising, stakeholder relations, public opinion research, video and creative services, social media, media relations, speech writing and linguistic services.

Labour Program

Policy, Dispute Resolution, and International Affairs Branch

The Policy, Dispute Resolution, and International Affairs Branch is responsible for conducting research and analysis on labour and workplace issues and providing strategic policy advice to address these issues. It deals with industrial relations, the settlement of labour disputes and the administration of Part I (Industrial Relations) of the Canada Labour Code. This Branch also promotes the development and enforcement of internationally recognized labour principles, and fosters cooperation and coordination on labour issues between federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as with Indigenous communities.

Compliance, Operations and Program Development Branch

The Compliance, Operations and Program Development Branch is responsible for program policy and design, as well as regulatory development under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) and Part III (Labour Standards), Part IV (Administrative Monetary Penalty System) of the Canada Labour Code, the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Government Employees Compensation Act. Through its 5 regions, that is Atlantic, Ontario, Quebec, Central and North West Pacific, it is responsible for undertaking compliance, enforcement and service delivery activities as they relate to Parts II and III of the Canada Labour Code.

Strategic Integration and Governance Directorate

The Strategic Integration and Governance Directorate provides corporate management advice and support to the Labour Program and ensures strategic alignment and integration across the Labour Program and with the department.

Service Canada Branches

Citizen Service Branch

The Citizen Service Branch (CSB) provides seamless, secure, knowledgeable services to Canadians. It provides leadership in achieving service excellence through a citizen-centred business model and by managing the service delivery network on behalf of ESDC and the GoC.

The Branch is responsible for determining what services citizens can expect and how these services are delivered and marketed to Canadians through an integrated multi-channel delivery network, in both official languages. This involves working with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal partners as well as Indigenous organizations to ensure Canadians have access to all programs and services to which they are entitled. It also involves leveraging service delivery partnerships with other government departments to offer citizens a comprehensive spectrum of government services and information. The Branch’s work focuses on client-facing service delivery, or supporting service delivery and the client experience (CX) with a horizontal view. CX is now a top priority for the Department and is driving how we do business.

The Branch plays an important role in translating government policy into quality, comprehensive service offerings and in developing integrated, seamless service delivery approaches. CSB is leading the department’s effort to reduce the number of eligible individuals not receiving benefits. These foregone benefits disproportionately affect vulnerable and/or marginalized persons, often those who need support the most. This effort, referred to as Reaching All Canadians, is an enterprise wide effort involving all programs that provide benefits to Canadians.

The Branch delivers general program/service information and self-service options across a multi-channel network of over 600 offices and outreach locations (in-person points of service, such as Service Canada Centres (SCC), scheduled outreach sites, SCC Passport Services sites, and Service Delivery Partner sites), phone operations (1-800 O-Canada call centre), and the internet (Web channel: Canada.ca). In addition, CSB offers enterprise wide tools to other GoC departments to manage their internet presence.

The Branch also provides more in-depth service for a range of other offerings including:

The Accessibility Roadmap Secretariat is a temporary entity housed in CSB. On behalf of the entire department, it is responsible for developing strategies and operational plans to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility for employees and clients with disabilities, in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act, 2019, the Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service – Nothing Without Us, 2019 and other related statutory, regulatory and policy directives.

Integrity Services Branch

The Integrity Services Branch protects ESDC’s key programs and services from error, fraud and abuse by preventing, detecting and addressing wrongdoing through the use of investigations, inspections, business intelligence, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, root cause analysis and fraud risk assessments. This ensures the long-term sustainability of Canada’s programs and the safety of temporary foreign workers.

The Branch is also the policy centre for identity management, provides registration and authentication services, runs the operations processing and quality management of the Social Insurance program and plays a lead role on identity information sharing with provinces and territories.

This Branch also promotes the security and the safety of departmental personnel, visitors, information and assets and ensures the Department continues to deliver services to Canadians in the event of security incidents, disruptions, natural disasters or emergencies.

Program Operations Branch

The Program Operations Branch is responsible for the planning, operation and coordination of the Department’s grants and contributions, TFW, and Work Sharing (W-S) programs. The Branch delivers national programs; provides functional direction on regionally delivered Labour Market and Social Development programs; and, provides functional guidance and oversight for the TFW and W-S programs.

In addition to its program delivery functions, the Programs Operations Branch houses the Centre of Expertise, which ensures consistent delivery of grants and contributions programs, totalling $3.2 billionFootnote 5 in 2020 to 2021.

Transformation Management Branch

The Transformation Management Branch (TMB) is responsible for guiding ESDC transformation efforts toward a target state. Two new roles have been created to help realize this objective; the Chief Transformation Officer, who has overall accountability for all aspects of Service Canada's service transformation and the Benefits Delivery Modernization (BDM) Program, including IM and IT, and the Business Change Authority, who is accountable for, and has overall and ongoing responsibility for the successful adoption of new capabilities in ESDC in support of the realization of outcomes of benefits.

TMB will advance ESDC’s transformation agenda through:

Benefits and Integrated Services Branch

The Benefits and Integrated Service Branch (BISB) was established as a separate branch within Service Canada in June 2020. In partnership with regional service delivery networks, the Branch is responsible for the development, delivery, and continuous improvement of the daily operations of Canada’s largest statutory benefit programs; including, EI, the CPP, and OAS, as well as other grant and benefit payments to Canadians. The Branch also leads the specialized call centre networks that ensure Canadians have timely access to the information they need to access the benefits to which they are entitled, through key life events.

BISB’s mandate and services continue to evolve as Service Canada seeks to improve its service delivery integration and client focus, through horizontal management of the workload, workforce, and workplace. The Branch works closely with colleagues and partners across the Department and GoC, to align policy direction through to effective operations. This work ensures that the design and implementation of benefits delivery aligns and evolves with key GoC priorities, such as temporary recovery benefits and grants to Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis, while striving to meet evolving service expectations of delivering dependable, digital, client-centred services.

Service Canada Regions

Service Canada Regions support the Department in delivering on key commitments and in responding to the unique service delivery needs of citizens in the areas they serve. Regional offices are critical to the delivery of the Department’s services, operating an extensive network of Service Canada Centres (SCC), Passport Service sites, outreach services, specialized call centres and processing centres. Service Canada delivers services to Canadians in person, online and by phone.

As of March 2021, Canadians have access to services at 604 in-person points of service across the country, including 317 SCC, 247 scheduled outreach sites, 25 SCC Passport Service sites, and 15 Service Delivery Partner Sites.

As part of Community Outreach and Liaison Services, staff travel to pre-determined locations, typically in rural or remote areas that are otherwise underserved, to answer questions, guide clients through online services and forms and help clients’ access services and benefits they are entitled to. Through the Indigenous outreach program, Service Canada builds and maintains relationships with all on reserve, remote and northern Indigenous communities, and visits these communities at least once annually to provide services. Outreach teams from Service Canada regions conducted 1,287 visits in 646 Indigenous communities in 2019 to 2020.

In response to COVID-19, the network introduced innovative ways to access personalized service to ensure continuity of assisted service, resulting in a multi-vehicle Person-to-Person service network. Meant to mirror the service provided to clients who come into SCC for support, the new eService channels are important options for clients seeking extra help:

In delivering the full mandate of the Service Canada vision and recognizing that, the face of the client also includes communities, employers, unions and associations, Service Canada Regions apply an integrated service delivery strategy. This ensures effective and efficient service delivery, simplifying the multitude of government services through a collective approach, resulting in increased accessibility and ease with which clients can access government programs and services regardless of where they live. In addition, Service Canada Regions engage in multi-jurisdictional partnerships, informed by labour market and socio-economic intelligence, ensuring best reach to all Canadians, understanding where programs are most needed and how services should be delivered.

Atlantic Region

The Atlantic Region covers 4 provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Atlantic Region has a combined area of 500,531 km² and serves a population of 2.4 million. The Region includes over 3,500 employees. The Region provides services to Canadians through 57 in-person sites (including 4 consolidated passport centres), 15 Benefits Delivery Operation Centres, 30 Integrity Services sites, 8 Grants and Contributions program sites and 2 TFW program sites.

Ontario Region

The Ontario Region Service Delivery Network covers an area of 1,076 million km² and serves a population of 14.7 million. The Region includes over 7,353 employees, 100 Points of Presence – Citizen Service Network (SCC and Passport Centres), 8 Benefit Service Delivery Hubs, 1 Integrity Service Delivery Hub, 1 Program Service Delivery Hub, and 1 Passport Service Delivery Hub. Ontario Region provides a coordinated, integrated and seamless service experience to clients, communities and Labour Market Partners.

Quebec Region

The Quebec Region covers an area of 1,668 million km² and serves a population of 8.5 million. The Region includes over 4,800 employees, 6 EI Processing Centres, 1 OAS Processing Centre, 4 Program Operations Centres, 1 Passport Processing Centre, 1 Passport Printing Centre and 1 Administrative Centre. In the Region, direct service sites available for citizens include 75 SCC, 18 Regular Mobile Service Sites, 4 Dedicated Passport Service Centres, and 4 Call centres (for Passport, EI and OAS).

Western Canada and Territories Region

The Western Canada and Territories Region includes 4 provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia) and 3 territories (Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories). It is the biggest region in terms of size, with an area of 6.8 million km². The Region serves a population of 12 million and includes over 6,000 employees through 249 in-person sites and 4 Benefit Delivery Operation Centres.

Commissions, Tribunals, Councils and Committees

Canada Employment Insurance Commission

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission plays a leadership role, with ESDC, in overseeing the EI program. For more than 75 years, this tripartite organization has included representation from business, labour and the GoC.

The Commission was first established in 1940 as the Unemployment Insurance Commission with the introduction of the Unemployment Insurance scheme. Its authority originates from the Department of Employment and Social Development Act and from the Employment Insurance Act.


The Commission has 4 members, 3 of whom are voting members, representing the interests of government, workers and employers.

The Commissioner for Workers and the Commissioner for Employers are appointed by the Governor in Council for terms of up to 5 years. They are mandated to represent and reflect the views of their respective constituencies.

The chairperson and vice-chairperson are respectively the Deputy Minister and Senior Associate Deputy Minister of ESDC, who represent the interests of government. The Vice-Chairperson votes on decisions only if the Chairperson is unavailable.

Services and information

The main statutory function of the Commission is to administer the Employment Insurance Act. In practice, many of the day-to-day duties of the Commission have been delegated to Employment and Social Development officials.

The Commission has the legislated mandate to annually monitor and assess the EI program. In this context, the Canada Employment Insurance Commission is responsible for:

The Commission also has responsibilities in the following areas:

EI policy and regulations

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission, under the authority of the Employment Insurance Act:

Financial transparency/rate setting

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission:

EI appeals

Additionally, the Canada Employment Insurance Commission has authority to perform duties and functions in relation to, but not limited to:

Financial profile

The operations of the Commission are funded from the EI Operating Account, for which there is no set financial profile as EI is a statutory program.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a Crown corporation of the GoC. Its superseding agency was established after World War II to help returning war veterans find housing. It has since expanded its mandate to facilitate access to housing for everyone living in Canada and contribute to Canada’s financial stability.

CMHC is the largest Crown corporation in terms of assets, with some $ 300,970,000,000 as of the end of 2020.

CMHC helps Canadians access suitable housing that they can afford through a range of programs across the housing spectrum. Its activities include the administration and delivery of government-funded initiatives. It also offers mortgage insurance and funding products to support homeownership and multi-unit residential sector, as well as help stabilize the financial system underpinning the Canadian housing market.

CMHC manages its mortgage insurance and mortgage funding activities on a commercial basis. The premiums and fees collected from these activities cover all related expenses, while generating a reasonable return for its shareholder, the GoC. CMHC returns excess capital to the Government by way of a dividend, while retaining sufficient capital to protect against housing market risks.

As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support to Canadians in need of housing- through Canada’s first-ever $70 billion National Housing Strategy, as well as a new human rights based approach to housing - and offers objective housing research and advice to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry. Together, these goals support CMHC’s Housing Affordability Strategy, which is to ensure that “By 2030, everyone in Canada has a home that they can afford and that meets their needs.”

CMHC is governed by a Board of Directors and is accountable to Parliament through the Minister of ESDC. The GoC appoints the board of directors and president.

Accessibility Standards Canada

Accessibility Standards Canada was established under the Accessible Canada Act. It is a departmental corporation that is part of the ESDC portfolio. Its mandate is to help make Canada a place without barriers to accessibility, and it accomplishes its mandate through, among other things:

The accessibility standards developed by Accessibility Standards Canada will set out how these bodies can prevent, identify and remove barriers to accessibility:

The organization's Board of Directors:

The majority of the directors are persons with disabilities and reflect the diversity of Canadian society.

Social Security Tribunal of Canada

The Social Security Tribunal of Canada is a federal institution that is part of the ESDC portfolio. They operate at arm’s length from the GoC.

The organization is an independent administrative tribunal that makes quasi-judicial decisions on appeals related to the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan, and the Old Age Security Act.

The Social Security Tribunal of Canada receives services from the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, which is also responsible for providing support services and facilities to 11 federal administrative tribunals by way of a single, integrated organization. These services include the specialized services required to support the mandate of each tribunal (for example registry, research and analysis, legal and other case- and mandate-specific work or case activities), as well as internal services (for example human resources, financial services, information management and technology, accommodation, security, planning and communications).

Canada Industrial Relations Board

The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) is an independent, representational, quasi-judicial tribunal responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part I (Industrial Relations) of the Canada Labour Code, and certain provisions of Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) and Part III (Labour Standards). The CIRB is also responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part II (Professional Relations) of the Status of the Artist Act and appeals under the Wage Earner Protection Program Act.

The Board’s mandate is to contribute to and promote a harmonious industrial relations environment in the federally regulated sector, while also ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation and adherence to minimum employment standards in federal workplaces.

In order to fulfill its mandate, the CIRB provides a variety of dispute resolution services. It adjudicates matters where necessary, but it also focuses on providing mediation assistance at all stages of a proceeding to proactively seek a resolution of matters that best meets the needs of the parties. Through this approach, the CIRB supports labour and management as well as artists and producers in improving their workplace and professional relationships.

Since November 1, 2014, the CIRB obtains its support services from the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (ATSSC). The ATSSC was created to consolidate the provision of support services to 11 administrative tribunals - including the CIRB - into a single, integrated organization. Applications, complaints and Ministerial referrals are filed, managed and dealt with independently by the CIRB through the application of its regulations, policies and procedures.

Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is governed by a tripartite council representing governments (federal, provincial and territorial), employers and labour, which assists in delivering a trustworthy and complete occupational health and safety service, and ensures that the information the CCOHS disseminates is unbiased.

The CCOHS has an established history of collaborating with many Canadian and international partners. Projects with leading workplace health and safety organizations in Canada have expanded the quality and quantity of resources and programs available to workers and employers across the country.

Work with international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union, has helped to advance health and safety in the workplace on a global level. These partnerships, in addition to its position as one of the Collaborating Centres of the International Labour Organization and WHO, allow the CCOHS to provide Canadians with information from international sources and to share our own knowledge and expertise in return.

National Seniors Council

The National Seniors Council (NSC) engages with seniors, stakeholders and experts to provide advice to the GoC on current and emerging issues and opportunities related to the health, well-being and quality of life of seniors. The NSC has a maximum of 12 members, including the Chairperson, who are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Health.

Work priorities are determined by the Ministers based on NSC members’ recommendations. The NSC is currently focusing on 4 key priorities, including addressing financial crimes and harms against seniors, developing a seniors policy lens examining potential objectives and elements of a national seniors strategy and identifying measures to counteract ageism by shifting the public discourse. To examine the above issues and advance its work, the NSC developed a 3-year work plan covering 2018 to 2021.

National Advisory Council on Poverty

As part of Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Government introduced the National Advisory Council on Poverty (NACP) in August 2019. The mandate of the NACP is set in the Poverty Reduction Act and is to:

The NACP is made up of 10 members from diverse backgrounds (for example, individuals with lived expertise, leaders, experts and practitioners that have worked extensively in the field of poverty reduction) including a Chairperson and member with particular responsibilities for children’s issues who are full-time members.

The NACP’s first annual report ‘Building Understanding: The First Report of the National Advisory Council on Poverty’ was tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2021.

Policy Horizons Canada

Policy Horizons Canada uses foresight to help the GoC develop future-oriented policy and programs that are robust and resilient in the face of disruptive change by:

Policy Horizons Canada’s mandate is government-wide. It reports to the Deputy Minister of ESDC.

A Deputy Minister Steering Committee, chaired by the Deputy Minister of ESDC and the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations) of the Privy Council Office provides Horizons with oversight, direction and guidance.

Federal-Provincial/Territorial Relations

The Department’s mandate covers a number of areas of shared intersecting jurisdictions with provinces and territories.

Forum of Labour Market Ministers

The Forum of Labour Market Ministers is a multilateral federal, provincial and territorial collaborative forum that promotes discussion and cooperation on labour market matters of common interest. Federal, provincial and territorial governments work cooperatively to ensure that Canada has a skilled, adaptable and inclusive workforce that supports the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.

The federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion co-chairs the Forum with a provincial-territorial co-chair that rotates on a two-year basis. The Minister of Education, Culture and Employment of the Northwest Territories currently co-chairs the Forum until March 31, 2023.

Federal-Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services

The Forum of Federal-Provincial/Territorial (F-P/T) Ministers Responsible for Social Services was established to promote inter-jurisdictional discussion, provide timely outcome-oriented policy options, and to encourage intergovernmental cooperation on social services issues. 

The Forum operates at the Ministerial and Deputy Minister levels, and is supported by committee work conducted at the officials’ level. At the Ministerial level, provinces and territories are generally represented by their respective ministers who have the primary mandate for social services; in some cases, other ministers may participate if there is a specific link to their mandate (for example there may be a separate minister with a mandate for persons with disabilities). One provincial/territorial (P/T) minister takes on the role of co-chair of the Forum, usually for a period of 2 years. The federal co-chair is the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, with support from other federal ministers as appropriate.

The Forum of Deputy Ministers Responsible for Social Services facilitates partnerships aimed at leveraging strategic opportunities to address challenging social issues. Members work collaboratively with P/T governments on key policy development issues, share information, and best practices to support F-P/T alignment on existing and emerging issues of mutual concern. The Forum also provides a space to establish linkages among jurisdictions and among other intergovernmental fora on crosscutting issues. It is a platform to promote inter-jurisdictional engagement on matters of mutual concern and to align work with P/T priorities, needs and perspectives.

The F-P/T Relations Division, Intergovernmental Affairs, Strategic and Service Policy Branch, provides secretariat services to the Ministers Responsible for Social Services. In collaboration with the provincial and territorial officials’ co-chair, the F-P/T Relations Division coordinates and supports the work of the Ministers Responsible for Social Services and the Deputy Ministers Responsible for Social Services at the working level as federal co-chair of the Support Committee of Officials.

The Support Committee is responsible for providing strategic advice and guidance to, as well as overall coordination for, the committees and working groups established to advance the priorities of Ministers and Deputy Ministers in a range of social policy areas:

These committees and working groups clarify and consider issues, advance F-P/T collaboration on issues of mutual interest, develop options for consideration by Deputy Ministers and Ministers and take action on decisions made by Ministers through the Ministers Responsible for Social Services.

Ad hoc table of Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care

The Ad hoc F-P/T Ministers Responsible for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) table is supported by the F-P/T Deputy Ministers’ Committee Most Responsible for ELCC; and the officials' working groups. The Table monitors and discusses the continued implementation of the ELCC Multilateral Framework, while facilitating partnerships aimed at improving access to affordable, high-quality early learning and childcare across Canada. It works collaboratively with P/T governments on key childcare issues, including affordability, access, quality, inclusiveness, recruitment and retention of early childhood educators. The Table shares information and best practices on existing and emerging issues of mutual concern and establishes linkages among jurisdictions and among other intergovernmental fora on cross- cutting issues.

Forum of Federal-Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors

The Forum of F-P/T Ministers Responsible for Seniors meets to discuss issues of importance to seniors, share information on seniors’ well-being, and undertake collaborative initiatives to advance issues of common concern to seniors, including, where possible, in collaboration with other F-P/T fora.

The Federal Minister responsible for the seniors’ portfolio occupies the federal co-chair role. The provincial territorial co-chair is identified following each in-person Ministers’ meeting, usually every 12–18 months, among P/T ministers responsible for their governments’ seniors’ portfolio. An F-P/T Committee of Deputy Ministers and an F-P/T Committee of Officials support the work of the Forum. The Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat, Income Security and Social Development Branch in ESDC manages the F-P/T Seniors Forum’s Secretariat. The Forum’s current work priorities include examining the socio-economic impact of aging, the labour force participation of older Canadians and the housing and community supports enabling older Canadians to age in their communities.

Federal-Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Labour

The Federal Minister of Labour engages with the provinces and territories by co-chairing the annual F-P/T meetings of Ministers responsible for Labour. The meeting is an opportunity for ministers to discuss issues of mutual interest and consider approaches that address domestic and international workplace matters of importance to Canadians. It is also an opportunity for ministers to develop and maintain good working relationships. Topics of discussion at the meetings include diverse subject areas such as occupational health and safety harmonization, legislation to address harassment and violence in the workplace, measures to reduce the wage gap such as pay transparency and engagement with Indigenous partners.

The annual meeting of ministers is held in January, when Parliament and most P/T legislatures are in recess. The Federal Minister of Labour is the co-chair on a permanent basis, while the P/T co-chair rotates among jurisdictions. If there are labour matters of mutual interest requiring discussion between annual meetings, F-P/T ministers may meet via videoconference. The ministers’ forum is supported by the Deputy Ministers’ body and the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation. The organization serves as the vehicle for preparations for the annual F-P/T meetings of Ministers responsible for Labour, as well as for the follow-up required on issues as directed by the ministers. The Secretariat historically resides in the federal Labour Program and provides support to both the deputy ministerial and ministerial tables.

Annex A

ESDC programs and initiatives

Grants and contributions

  1. Youth Employment and Skills Strategy
    1. Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program
    2. Goal Getters
    3. Canada Summer Jobs
  2. Student Work Placement Program (including Innovative Work Integrated Learning Initiative)
  3. Canada Service Corps
  4. Future Skills
  5. International Education Strategy: Outbound Student Mobility Pilot
  6. Pathways to Education
  7. Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills program (ALLESP)
  8. Enabling Fund for Official Language Minority Communities
  9. Apprenticeship Grants
    1. Apprenticeship Incentive Grant
    2. Apprenticeship Completion Grant
    3. Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women
  10. Union Training and Innovation Program
    1. Investment in Training Equipment
    2. Innovation in Apprenticeship
    3. Women in Construction Fund
    4. Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program
  11. Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities
    1. Skills and Employment
    2. Working with Employers
  12. Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities - Accessible Canada
  13. Sectoral Initiatives Program
  14. Foreign Credential Recognition Program
  15. Support for Labour Market Information in Canada
  16. Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime
  17. Social Innovation Social Finance
    1. Investment Readiness Program
    2. Social Finance Fund (under development)
  18. Social Development Partnerships Program
    1. Children and Families Component
    2. Supporting Black Communities
    3. Increasing Uptake and Awareness of the Canada Learning Bond
    4. Disability Component
    5. Early Learning and Childcare Innovation Stream
    6. Migrant Workers Support Network
    7. Canada Volunteer Awards
    8. Official Language Minority Communities
  19. Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy
    1. Designated Communities
    2. Indigenous Homelessness
    3. Rural and Remote Homelessness
    4. Territorial Homelessness
    5. Community Capacity and Innovation
  20. Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program
  21. Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative
  22. Skills and Partnership Fund
  23. Supporting Indigenous Post-Secondary Education (Inspire)
  24. Sustainable Development Goals
  25. Enabling Accessibility Fund
    1. Small-sized projects component
    2. Mid-sized projects component
    3. Youth Innovation component
  26. New Horizons for Seniors Program
    1. Pan Canadian
    2. Regional Communities
  27. Named Grants for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  28. Labour Funding Program
    1. International Trade and Labour
    2. Labour Management Partnerships
    3. Occupational Health and Safety and Fire Prevention
  29. Labour Funding Program (LFP)
  30. Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Fund (formerly entitled Labour Management Collaboration Program)
  31. Work Integration Social Enterprise
  32. Atlantic Apprenticeship Harmonization

Statutory Programs

  1. Canada Student Loans Program
  2. Canada Education Savings Program
  3. Supporting Indigenous Students
  4. Employment Insurance
    1. Regular Benefits
    2. Fishing Benefits
    3. Support for Seasonal Workers
    4. Sickness Benefits
    5. Maternity and Parental Benefits
    6. Special Benefits for Self-Employed
    7. Caregiving Benefits
    8. Premium Reduction Program
    9. Work Sharing
  5. Job Bank
  6. Canada Disability Savings Program
  7. Canada Pension Plan
    1. Canada Pension Plan-Disability
  8. Old Age Security
    1. Guaranteed Income Supplement
  9. Canada Emergency Response Benefit
  10. Canada Recovery Benefits
    1. Canada Recovery Benefit
    2. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
    3. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

Transfer Payments

  1. Early Learning and Child Care
  2. Labour Market Development AgreementsFootnote 6
  3. Workforce Development Agreements

Other Initiatives

  1. Red Seal Program
  2. Canada Training Benefit
  3. Canadian Government Annuities
  4. Social Security Tribunal
  5. Temporary Foreign Workers Program
  6. Employment Strategy for Canadians with Disabilities

Other Initiatives led by Finance Canada with Support from ESDC

  1. Canada Child Benefit
  2. Canada Workers Benefit

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