Backgrounder: Employment Equity Act Review Task Force


On this page

  • Mandate of the Task Force
  • Members of the Task Force
  • About the review of the Employment Equity Act
  • Fall Economic Statement 2020
  • About the Act
  • Contact us

Mandate of the Task Force

Operating at arm’s length from the Government of Canada, the Task Force’s mandate is to undertake a comprehensive review of the Employment Equity Act and the federal employment equity framework.

The Task Force will:

  • study employment equity areas of concerns;
  • engage with stakeholders, communities and Canadians; and
  • provide recommendations to the Minister of Labour on how best to improve the Act and its framework.

The Task Force will study the following areas of concerns:

  1. How to redefine and expand equity groups;
  2. How to better support equity-related groups; and
  3. How to improve accountability, compliance, enforcement and public reporting of employment equity

The Task Force will hold their first meeting on July 15, 2021. Their final report is expected in early 2022. For more information on the Task Force’s mandate, please consult the Terms of Reference.

Members of the Task Force

The Task Force is composed of 13 members from various backgrounds and fields of expertise, and includes a chair and two vice-chairs.

The members are:

  1. Professor Adelle Blackett (Chair)
  2. Professor Marie-Thérèse Chicha (Vice-chair)
  3. Professor Dionne Pohler (Vice-chair)
  4. Professor Tao (Tony) Fang
  5. Kari Giddings
  6. Helen Kennedy
  7. Raji Mangat
  8. Fo Niemi
  9. Kami Ramcharan
  10. Sandra Sutter
  11. Josh Vander Vies
  12. Marie Clarke Walker
  13. Ruth Williams 

For more information, please consult the members’ biographies.

About the Employment Equity Act

In 1984, the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Equality in Employment Report outlined the historical and systemic barriers to employment faced by four designated groups: women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. The report’s recommendations were implemented and led to the tabling of Bill C-62, An Act Respecting Employment Equity, which passed in the House of Commons on April 23, 1986. The Employment Equity Act received royal assent on June 27, 1986. 

Reviewed by a parliamentary committee in 1992, the Act was amended in 1995 to designate the Canadian Human Rights Commission as the enforcement agency and to expand the Act’s coverage to:

  • federal government employers;
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP); and
  • Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The Act was also reviewed by a parliamentary committee in 2001. Since this review, non-legislative initiatives were introduced, such as changes to the Federal Contractors Program and new pay transparency measures.

  • The Employment Equity Act applies to the following industries and workplaces:
    • federally regulated industries, Crown corporations and other federal organizations with 100 employees or more; and
    • portions of the federal public administration identified in:
      • Schedules I or IV of the Financial Administration Act;
      • Schedule V of the Financial Administration Act with 100 employees or more; and
      • other portions of the public sector by order of the Governor in Council, which includes the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Employment Equity Act aims to:

  • achieve and promote equality in the workplace so that no one is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability; and
  • address workplace disadvantages and eliminate barriers faced by the designated groups.

About the review of the Employment Equity Act

Since the enactment of the Act in 1986, there has been continued progress towards employment equity in federally regulated workplaces. However, the four designated groups defined in the Act—women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities—continue to experience employment barriers. In addition, economic and social changes have occurred, highlighting challenges to the employment equity framework. These challenges led to calls to:

  • expand the Act’s coverage to include other under-represented groups, such as LGBTQ2 Canadians;
  • redefine existing designated groups;
  • identify key barriers and promote best practices to close persistent equity gaps; and
  • re-examine reporting and data collection requirements.

These calls and challenges led to the Government of Canada’s decision to launch a comprehensive review of the Act by an independent task force. The Fall Economic Statement 2020 provided $6.6 million in funding for 2021–22 to support the review of this act.

The review of the Act complements other important Government of Canada initiatives aimed at improving outcomes for workers by creating work environments that are healthier, safer and fairer through:

Fall Economic Statement 2020

In addition to the funding ($6.6 million in 2021–22) to conduct a review of the Act, the Fall Economic Statement 2020 laid out a comprehensive plan for an inclusive economic recovery.

Among the measures:

Contact us

Canadians and stakeholders are invited to visit the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force webpage for more information and to share their views or questions on the review of the Act by email at

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