Expert Panel to provide advice on complex workplace issues facing Canadians

News release

February 20, 2019                       Gatineau, Quebec                        Employment and Social Development Canada

The nature of work is changing and so are the needs of Canadian workers. A modern set of federal labour standards that reflects these changes will better protect Canadian workers and help set the stage for good quality jobs. When workers have better working conditions, their work-life balance can improve which can foster increased productivity.

Important changes to the Canada Labour Code were recently made but the Government’s work to modernize the Code isn’t done. Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced that the Government has established an independent Expert Panel to study the more complex workplace issues facing Canadian employers and workers. The process to select panelists was lengthy, thorough and extensive. The Labour Program considered upwards of 100 potential candidates over the course of about five months.

The Panel will study, consult and bring forward recommendations to Minister Hajdu on: federal minimum wage; labour standards protections for non-standard workers; the “right to disconnect” outside of work hours; collective voice for non-unionized workers; and, access and portability of benefits.

Chaired by Sunil Johal, Policy Director at The Mowat Centre, the Panel will operate at arm’s length from the Government to ensure it provides independent, evidence-based advice. Collectively, the seven members of the Panel bring valuable expertise in areas such as labour policy, law, economics and business, and possess a well-rounded understanding of employer and worker perspectives. The other Panel members are Richard Dixon, Mary Gellatly, Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau, Kathryn A. Raymond, Q.C., W. Craig Riddell and Rosa B. Walker. The results of their work will be made public in Summer 2019.


"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. Labour standards that reflect current workplace realities will also help employers recruit and retain employees. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

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

“I’m looking forward to working with the other members of the Panel on these important issues that matter for workers and employers across the federally regulated private sector. Each Panel member brings a diverse set of expertise and experience to the table that I’m confident will be a great foundation for the independent, evidence-based advice we’ll be providing to the Minister.”

– Sunil Johal, Chair of the Expert Panel on Modernizing Federal Labour Standards

Quick facts

  • Federal Labour Standards are set out in Part III of the Canada Labour Code (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.

  • Between May 2017 and March 2018, the Government held extensive consultations on what a robust and modern set of federal labour standards should look like. One strong message was repeated throughout the consultations: The way Canadians work has changed, but federal labour standards have not. Full details can be found in the What We Heard: Modernizing Federal Labour Standards report.

  • Through these consultations, a number of areas were identified where the Government could move forward immediately and, in October 2018, legislation to modernize federal labour standards was introduced. Updates to the Code include new breaks and leaves for employees and protections for those in precarious work. The legislation received Royal Assent in December 2018 and the amendments will come into force in waves over the coming months. This is in addition to changes introduced through Budget 2017 to better protect interns and provide employees with the right to request flexible work arrangements.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

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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