Backgrounder: Government of Canada reducing barriers to inclusive employment through Call for Concepts 


The Employment Equity Act (EEA) aims to achieve equality in the workplace so that no one is denied opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability. It also aims to address workplace disadvantages faced by the four designated groups: women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. 

The Labour Program ensures that federally regulated private-sector employers and Crown corporations report annually on the representation of these designated groups in their workplaces and on the steps they have taken to achieve full representation through the Legislated Employment Equity Program. Employment equity must be included in the employment plans and practices of all federally regulated businesses with 100 or more employees. 

Provincially regulated private-sector employers with 100 employees or more who receive contracts valued at $1 million or more (including taxes) from the federal government have employment equity obligations under the Federal Contractor’s Program. As a condition for receiving these contracts, these organizations are required to report on their progress in achieving a representative workforce. 

Despite the presence of legislation and an increased acceptance of diversity in Canadian workplaces, more needs to be done to achieve a workforce that is fully representative of the four designated groups. 

Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity is a grant and contribution program designed to support employers subject to the EEA in their efforts to improve designated group representation in areas of low representation through partnerships and industry-tailored strategies. 

Currently, five projects are still active under the Workplace Opportunities 2014 funding. These include the BC Centre for Ability Association with a project that aims to strengthen the transportation sector’s capacity to recruit and retain persons with disabilities. The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is working on identifying and disseminating successful workplace practices on hiring and retaining Indigenous apprentices and the National Educational Association of Disabled Students is using a reverse mentorship approach between post-secondary students and employers to identify sector-specific barriers and solutions to hiring persons with disabilities. 

The Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation is creating partnerships between federally-regulated employers and Indigenous organizations to identify barriers to employment faced by Indigenous peoples. Trucking HR Canada is working to improve the understanding of barriers faced by Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities in trucking and road transportation occupations. 

The 2017 Call for Concepts will be open to a wide range of stakeholders whose submissions will be evaluated and shortlisted by early fall. Those shortlisted organizations will be asked to submit detailed project proposals that will be considered for single or multi-year agreements (up to three years), beginning in fiscal year 2018–2019.

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