Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8Footnote 1 aims to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all to drive progress, and improve living standards. Decent work means opportunities for everyone to get:

  • work that is productive and delivers a fair income
  • security in the workplace and social protection for families
  • better prospects for personal development and social integration

Canadian ambition under decent work and economic growth

Canada’s ambitions for this goal are to focus on ensuring that Canadians have access to quality jobs and contribute to and benefit from sustainable economic growth.

Canada’s prosperity will increasingly depend on:

Canadian Indicator Framework

In collaboration with federal departments and agencies, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals. The CIF includes 76 indicators specific to Canada, which measure progress using a set of nationally relevant, objective and comprehensive indicators. CIF indicators for SDG 8 are:

  • Unemployment rate
  • Proportion of employees earning less than 66% of the median hourly wage for permanent full-time employees
  • Proportion of youth not in education, employment or training
  • Proportion of involuntary part-time workers
  • Gross domestic product per capita
  • Jobs in the clean technology products sector

What we are doing to support decent work and economic growth in Canada

The Jobs and Growth Fund is a $700-million federal program to support regional job creation and position local economies for long-term growth. The fund helps job creators and the organizations that support them to:

  • future-proof their businesses
  • build resiliency
  • prepare for growth

The Accelerated Growth Service helps Canadian companies get the help they need to grow their businesses. The service coordinates government support for high growth companies in areas such as:

  • financing
  • advisory support
  • export
  • innovation services

Immigration supports in meeting labour market needs and helps grow the economy, particularly in times of COVID-19 pandemic recovery. To accelerate economic growth, the Government of Canada has created innovative pathways to permanent residence for essential temporary foreign workers and international students, including in the health care sector.

Each year, the Government of Canada provides over $3 billion for individuals and employers to obtain skills training and employment supports through bilateral labour market transfer agreements with provinces and territories. These include the Labour Market Development Agreements and the Workforce Development Agreements. Over a million individuals and employers benefit from programming funded by these agreements each year.

Future Skills helps Canadians to take advantage of new opportunities, better prepare for jobs of the future and supports employers to have access to a skilled workforce. It focuses on the inclusion of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, including Black and Indigenous peoples, women and persons with disabilities so everyone has a chance to succeed.

Skills Boost provides enhanced student financial assistance and makes better use of Employment Insurance flexibilities to support working or unemployed Canadians looking to return to school to upgrade their skills.

The Lifelong Learning Plan allows to individuals withdraw up to $10,000 in a calendar year from a registered retirement savings plan to finance full-time training or education.

The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy helps young people (aged 15 to 30), particularly those facing barriers to employment, get the information and gain the skills, work experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market.

The Student Work Placement Program gives post-secondary students across Canada paid work experience related to their field of study.

The Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program is a distinctions-based program designed to help Indigenous people improve their skills and find employment. It provides funding to Indigenous service delivery organizations to build and improve their capacity and deliver culturally-appropriate job training services to First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban/non-affiliated Indigenous people in their communities.

The Skills and Partnership Fund is a project-based program that funds partnerships between Indigenous organizations and industry employers to provide skills training for Indigenous peoples linked to economic opportunities at the local, regional and national level. By increasing access to training that is demand-driven, the SPF plays a key role in directly linking Indigenous peoples to specific jobs and improving their employment outcomes.

The Indigenous Growth Fund (IGF), announced in Budget 2019, was established to enable Indigenous lenders to support more Indigenous entrepreneurs and more ambitious projects. The IGF is managed by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and is accessible to Aboriginal Financial Institutions and Métis Capital Corporations that draw from the IGF to finance Indigenous entrepreneurs’ projects.

The Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program increases access to:

  • affordable capital for Indigenous entrepreneurs by providing them with equity (non-repayable contributions)
  • business support services (such as help writing a business plan)
  • support through the cross-Canada network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions and Métis Capital Corporations that lend to entrepreneurs

As part of Canada’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan, the Government is developing a Canadians with Disabilities Employment Strategy to address the systemic barriers to labour market participation faced by persons with disabilities. The Strategy will:

  • take a holistic and intersectional look at the long-standing barriers that persons with disabilities face in the labour market and in the workplace
  • include range of supports for both persons with disabilities and employers

The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities is a project-based program that funds third party organizations to:

  • assist persons with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment or self-employment
  • increase their access to the labour market
  • advance in their careers

The program also supports employers in creating inclusive and accessible workplaces for persons with disabilities.

The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) supports community and workplace-based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, remove barriers, and enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in and contribute to their community and the labour market. It accomplishes this by supporting construction, renovation, or retrofit projects aimed at improving physical accessibility and safety for persons with disabilities in Canadian communities and workplaces. Through funding accessibility projects in communities and workplaces, the EAF is able to support creating job opportunities and inclusive workplaces for persons with disabilities.

The Skills for Success program helps Canadians improve their foundational and transferable skills, to help workers to:

  • develop stronger skills
  • become more resilient to labour market changes
  • have better employment outcomes

Projects funded support development and delivery of training programs and assessment resources. The program promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth by focusing on those facing barriers to employment, such as newcomers, racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and Indigenous peoples.

The Black Entrepreneurship Program is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations, and financial institutions. With an investment of up to $265 million over 4 years, it will help Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses and succeed now and into the future.

The Government of Canada created a Task Force on Women in the Economy to help guide a robust, inclusive, and feminist recovery and to help address long-standing systemic barriers

To strengthen labour standards in the federally regulated private sector, the Government of Canada recently modernized the Canada Labour Code. These changes, which include many measures to support work-life balance, have improved protections and benefits for employees. The Parliament of Canada also passed Bill C-65 to amend the Canada Labour Code and Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to better protect employees from harassment and violence in federal workplaces.

The Pay Equity Act, which came into force on August 31, 2021, establishes a proactive pay equity regime for approximately 1.3 million federally-regulated workers. The Pay Equity Act is expected to contribute to reducing the gender wage gap by addressing the portion of the gap that can be attributed to the undervaluation of work traditionally performed by women. The Government of Canada is also implementing pay gap reporting measures for federally regulated private sector employers covered by the Employment Equity Act.

What Canada is doing to support decent work and economic growth abroad

The International Labour Organization (ILO) plays a central role in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and in particular SDG 8, for which it plays a custodian role. Canada, as an active member of the ILO, plays a key role in contributing to the advancement of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda.

Canada was actively involved in the discussions at the ILO’s 2021 International Labour Conference that led to the adoption of a Global Call to Action for a human-centred COVID-19 recovery, outlining a comprehensive agenda for member States to ensure their economic and social recovery is fully inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

Canada has ratified all 8 core ILO Conventions, covering a range of fundamental rights and principles, such as:

  • the right to organize and collective bargaining
  • minimum age of employment
  • non-discrimination
  • elimination of child labour and forced labour

The Government of Canada is taking further action to eliminate child labour and forced labour in global supply chains by addressing this issue in trade agreements, including the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which came into force on July 1, 2020.

The Government of Canada played a strong leadership role in the development and adoption of the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment, 2019 (C190) as Chair of the ILO Standard- Setting Committee on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work at the 2018 and 2019 International Labour Conference. Canada also provides capacity-building / technical assistance to developing free trade partners to support compliance with international labour standards.

Organized by the ILO, OECD and UN Women, Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) is a strategic, multi-stakeholder partnership, launched in 2017, that aims to assist UN Member States in achieving the SDGs, particularly target 8.5 that calls for equal pay for work of equal value by 2030. Canada will Chair the EPIC Steering Committee starting in 2022.

Inclusive growth and development cannot be achieved without the full and equal participation of women as economic actors. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is at the heart of Canada’s approach to implementing the 2030 Agenda internationally, including through the Growth That Works for Everyone Action Area for its international assistance. Canada aims to change the underlying factors that affect women’s abilities to flourish and live fulfilling lives, because it supports economic growth that benefits everyone. It also believes that when women and girls are given equal opportunities to succeed, they can transform their local economies and generate growth that benefits their families, communities and countries.

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy recognizes that, for women in developing countries to participate equally in contributing to economic growth, they must also have greater access to and control over assets, as well as labour rights and social protections from precarious work situations. Canada is committed to:

  • promoting greater financial inclusion for women in its international assistance work
  • supporting technical and vocational training for women
  • helping address inequalities with respect to care work to protect the rights of paid, unpaid, and poorly-paid care workers
  • promote decent working conditions across the care workforce

Under the 2019-2024 National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, Canada is actively working to counter labour trafficking domestically and internationally. As part of this National Strategy, Canada is implementing an enhanced international engagement approach to better leverage multilateral and bilateral partnerships in addressing this crime. Notably, Canada joined the Alliance 8.7 and will request to join the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons Related Transnational Crime at its next Ministerial Conference in 2022.

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