Government of Canada launches Task Force to review the Employment Equity Act

News release

Diversity and inclusion are Canada’s strength

July 14, 2021              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

The Employment Equity Act is an important tool for Canada to promote fairness, equality and diversity in federally regulated workplaces. Since its introduction in 1986, continued progress has been made for the four designated groups covered by the Act. However, there is still work ahead to address inequalities and long-standing barriers that limit workers from reaching their full potential. The COVID-19 pandemic, recent tragedies and movements for social change have made this even clearer.

As we work to identify ways to make work environments more inclusive and representative, we must recognize the lived experiences of women, LGBTQ2 Canadians, Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and other under-represented groups in federally regulated workplaces, and ensure that the Act reflects the realities of today’s workplaces. That is why today the Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, launched a Task Force to conduct the most extensive review of the Employment Equity Act since its introduction. The Minister made this announcement along with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger, and the newly announced Chair of the Task Force, Professor Adelle Blackett.

Over the next months, the Task Force will study the Act and consult with stakeholders, communities and Canadians on issues related to employment equity. Operating at arm’s length from the Government, the Task Force includes 13 members, including the Chair, Professor Blackett and vice-chairs, Professors Marie-Thérèse Chicha and Dionne Pohler, who bring a broad range of backgrounds, perspectives and fields of expertise to this important work. The Task Force will hold its first in a series of meetings on July 15, 2021.

The Task Force has been tasked with making concrete, independent and evidence-based recommendations to the Minister of Labour on how to modernize the Act. Its final report is expected in early 2022.

The modernization of the Act is an important step in advancing the state of equity, diversity and inclusion in federally regulated workplaces, including by addressing the need for better retention and leadership opportunities for under-represented groups at some of Canada’s largest corporations. Creating more equitable, diverse and inclusive workplaces will also help result in higher productivity and better retention. Taken together with other measures, this will help build a country where every Canadian has a fair and equal chance to reach their full potential.

Canadians and stakeholders are invited to visit the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force webpage for more information. They can also share their views on the review of the Act by email at EDSC.LEE-EEA.ESDC@labour-travail.gc.ca

Quotes

The Employment Equity Act is a critical tool to ensure that our workplaces are equitable, diverse and representative spaces. The Task Force’s work will be vital in identifying changes to help bring this Act into the 21st century and embrace the true potential of all workers. The pandemic, as well as many recent and tragic events, has demonstrated the depth to which change is needed now. As we look toward our future, we have an opportunity to make the kinds of changes that will result in more fair and equal opportunities for everyone to succeed—and that benefits workers, employers and all Canadians.”
– Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi 

Modernizing the Employment Equity Act to reflect the diversity of our society is a major step in building a consciously more inclusive Canada. Systemic racism and discrimination disproportionally affect LGBTQ2 Canadians, Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, and other equity-seeking groups. The Government of Canada will continue to work on strengthening diversity and inclusion across federally regulated workplaces from coast to coast to coast through recommendations made by the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force.
– Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger

I am honoured by the opportunity to work on this timely and important review with each Task Force member, including my two vice-chairs. Task Force members bring a rich range of expertise and experience to the table that I’m confident will offer a strong foundation for the recommendations that we’ll develop and provide to the Minister of Labour. Redressing systemic racism and discrimination matters deeply to workers and employers in federally regulated workplaces across Canada, and to our society as a whole. Together, let’s cultivate a legacy of equitable inclusion and flourishing workplaces with a renewed Employment Equity Act that achieves equality.
– Professor Adelle Blackett, Task Force Chair 

 

Quick facts

  • On November 30, 2020, the Fall Economic Statement 2020 included $6.6 million in 2021–2022 to conduct a review of the Employment Equity Act. A renewed Act is expected to contribute to ensuring that Canada’s economic recovery is equitable, inclusive and fair, as well as improving employment equity outcomes for workers. 

  • The 13 members of the Task Force, including the Chair, Professor Adelle Blackett, and vice-chairs, Professors Marie-Thérèse Chicha and Dionne Pohler, are: Tao (Tony) Fang, Kari Giddings, Helen Kennedy, Raji Mangat, Fo Niemi, Kami Ramcharan, Sandra Sutter, Josh Vander Vies, Marie Clarke Walker and Ruth Williams.

  • 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 (FAA);
      • Schedule V of the FAA 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 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.
  • In addition to the review of the Employment Equity Act, the Government is making other important changes to help achieve greater equality in federally regulated workplaces, such as:

    • Moving forward with the implementation of the Pay Equity Act, which will help ensure that women receive equal pay for work of equal value in federally regulated workplaces. The final regulations were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on July 7, 2021. The Act and pursuant Regulations will come into force on August 31, 2021.
    • Implementing pay transparency measures aimed at addressing wage gaps that affect women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities in the federally regulated private sector.
    • Introducing workplace harassment and violence prevention legislation through Bill C-65 and pursuant Regulations to provide a comprehensive, streamlined approach to protecting workers against all forms of harassment and violence. The legislation and its Regulations came into force on January 1, 2021.
  • Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada has also amended the Public Service Employment Act to address systemic barriers for equity-seeking groups in public service staffing. These amendments represent foundational work that will help departments take measures in their staffing actions to reduce barriers and encourage more inclusive recruitment practices. 

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Contacts

For media enquiries, please contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Filomena Tassi, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Labour
613-790-2087
rachel.rappaport@labour-travail.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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