Backgrounder: Employment Equity Act Review Task Force


Mandate of the Task Force

Operating at arm’s length from the Government of Canada, the Task Force’s mandate was to undertake an independent review of the Employment Equity Act.

Some of the activities the Task Force undertook include:

  • studying issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • engaging with stakeholders, partners and Canadians
  • conducting research
  • submitting a report to the Minister of Labour

The Task Force studied the following areas:

  • defining equity groups
  • supporting equity groups
  • improving accountability, compliance and enforcement
  • improving public reporting

For more information, please consult the Terms of Reference.

Members of the Task Force

The Task Force was composed of 12 members from various backgrounds and fields of expertise, and includes a chair and a vice-chair.­

The members were:

  • Professor Adelle Blackett (Chair)
  • Professor Dionne Pohler (Vice-chair)
  • Professor Tao (Tony) Fang
  • Kari Giddings
  • Helen Kennedy
  • Raji Mangat
  • Fo Niemi
  • Kami Ramcharan
  • Sandra Sutter
  • Josh Vander Vies
  • Marie Clarke Walker
  • Ruth Williams

For more information, please consult the members’ biographies.

About the Employment Equity Act

The Employment Equity Act aims to promote and achieve equality in the workplace so that no one is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability. It also aims to address workplace disadvantages and eliminate barriers faced by the designated groups. It applies to the following industries and workplaces with 100 or more employees:

  • federally regulated industries, Crown corporations and other federal organizations; and
  • portions of the federal public administration (identified in Schedules I or IV and V of the Financial Administration Act or by order of the Governor in Council, which includes the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

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 gap reporting measures.

For more information, consult the Employment Equity Act: Historical background and understanding the intent of the Act.

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, barriers to employment still exist. In addition, Canada’s demographics and Canadians’ understanding of diversity and inclusion have evolved, which led to the Government’s decision to launch a review of the Act by an independent task force. For more information, consult the purpose of the review.

On July 14, 2021, the Government announced the launch of the Task Force. To help inform the review of the Act, the Task Force consulted extensively with Canadians, stakeholders, members of designated groups and other communities. These consultations allowed the Task Force to hear from women, 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians, Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups on their lived experiences and views on issues related to equity.

The feedback received along with research work supported the Task Force in developing concrete, independent and evidence-based recommendations to the Minister of Labour on how to modernize the employment equity framework, including the Act.

Additional information regarding next steps will be communicated in a timely manner when available. For more information, consult the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force webpage.

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