Legislation to better protect workers and support good quality jobs receives Royal Assent

News release

December 13, 2018                  Ottawa, Ontario                       Employment and Social Development Canada

A strong middle class depends on a job market where everyone has a real and fair chance at success. That’s why, on October 29, the Government of Canada introduced legislation that will modernize federal labour standards to better protect Canadian workers and help set the stage for good-quality jobs.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, highlighted that this important piece of legislation has received Royal Assent.

The legislation makes changes to improve employees’ eligibility for entitlements such as general holiday pay, sick leave, maternity leave and parental leave. It also improves work–life balance by introducing new breaks and leaves, including a new 5-day personal leave and 5 days of paid leave for victims of family violence. Changes will also ensure that employees in precarious work are paid equally and have fair access to the same entitlements as their full-time counterparts.

The legislation also makes improvements to the Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) that increase the maximum financial support provided to workers who are owed wages when their employer files for bankruptcy or enters receivership. The increase to the maximum payment applies retroactively to bankruptcies or receiverships that occurred on or after February 27, 2018, the day the budget was tabled.

These changes will come into force in waves over the next 18 months to allow time for the development of regulations, the training of labour program inspectors, and to raise awareness among employers and employees.

The nature of work is changing and a modern set of federal labour standards that reflect workplace realities will better protect Canadian workers and help employers recruit and retain employees. That means more productivity in the workplace.


“Bringing federal labour standards into the 21st century will strengthen the middle class. Better working conditions are good for business and benefit both workers and employers. When economic growth is inclusive, and fewer Canadians are left behind, we are all better off.”

– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Quick facts

  • Federal labour standards are set out in Part III of the Canada Labour Code. They establish the basic rights (e.g. hours of work, wages, leaves and holidays) of employees in federally regulated private-sector industries, such as banking, telecommunications and interprovincial and international transportation. They also help create a level playing field for employers by requiring them to meet these standards.

  • Up to $50.7 million over five years starting in 2019–20 and up to $12.2 million ongoing will be allocated to support implementation and enforcement of the labour standards amendments, including education and awareness, training and increased resources for proactive enforcement activities and to ensure timely resolution of complaints.

  • The Wage Earner Protection Program provides for the payment of outstanding eligible wages to individuals whose employer is bankrupt or subject to a receivership under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). The payment covers eligible wages (wages, vacation pay, disbursements of a travelling salesperson, termination pay, severance pay) up to an amount equal to seven times the maximum weekly insurable earnings under the Employment Insurance Act.

  • Through Budget Implementation Act 2018, No. 2, the Government of Canada also introduced proactive pay equity legislation which will ensure that women and men working in federally regulated workplaces, including the federal private sector, the federal public service, parliamentary workplaces and Ministers’ offices, receive equal pay for work of equal value. This legislation also received Royal Assent today.

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Véronique Simard
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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