Federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers discuss key challenges facing workers in Canada

News release

April 5, 2024              Richmond, British Columbia  

Federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers met today to collaborate on common issues in workplaces across Canada. The meeting was co-hosted by the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., federal Minister of Labour, and the Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour for British Columbia.

Last year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) presented to ministers on the recent inclusion of a safe and healthy working environment as a fundamental principle and right at work. Since then, federal, provincial and territorial governments have been undertaking a technical review of Canada’s current compliance with ILO C155, the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981. Ministers received an update on that work and discussed next steps toward Canada’s possible ratification of the convention.

The Canadian Standards Association and the BC Building Trades gave presentations to ministers on the challenges workers face with personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace, including ill-fitting PPE especially for women. These challenges present serious dangers on worksites and barriers to the inclusion of women in the trades and other sectors. Ministers agreed to do more work in this area, including raising the issue with PPE manufacturers, employers and labour in their respective jurisdictions and convening a meeting on this issue. Ministers also discussed harmonization efforts related to occupational health and safety.

Ministers then discussed occupational health and safety protections and labour standards for workers in gig work and other non-standard employment circumstances. This emerging industry requires governments to consider how labour standards can address the reality faced by these workers.

Ministers also spoke about labour dispute provisions, appropriate essential service levels during a strike or lockout, and the issue of replacement workers, while sharing their experiences and best practices regarding conflict resolution. Minister O’Regan spoke with his colleagues about the report he received from industrial relations experts offering recommended terms of reference for the Government’s forthcoming review of longshore disputes at ports. Ministers agreed that Canada’s credibility depends on the stable operation of its supply chains, and discussed how they can work together to ensure that Canada continues to be a reliable trading partner to the world.

The meeting concluded with ministers reiterating their commitment to working together to share information and best practices in order to implement policies supporting fair, safe, healthy and inclusive workplaces in their jurisdictions. 


“Governments get more done when we work together. That’s what businesses and workers expect, and that’s what happened here today.”

– The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Federal Minister of Labour and Seniors

“Working people across Canada are entitled to fair working conditions. We rely on our labour laws, employment standards and the workers’ compensation systems to ensure appropriate rules are in place. The labour ministers’ meeting was a chance to compare best practices and discuss ways to keep up with the needs of our changing workplaces.”

– The Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour for British Columbia

Quick facts

  • The federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern that they can collaboratively address. Throughout the year, their work is supported by deputy ministers through the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation.

  • In June 2022, the International Labour Conference declared a safe and healthy working environment as a fifth fundamental principle and right at work, along with the four other existing fundamental principles. Two occupational health and safety conventions were subsequently declared as new fundamental or core ILO Conventions: C187, the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006; and C155, the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981. Canada ratified C187 in 2011, but has not yet ratified C155.

Associated links


Hartley Witten
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour and Seniors

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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Province of British Columbia
Ministry of Labour
Government Communications and Public Engagement

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