Employment equity in federally regulated workplaces

Employment equity encourages the establishment of working conditions that are free of barriers, corrects the conditions of disadvantage in employment and promotes the principle that employment equity requires special measures and the accommodation of differences for the four designated groups in Canada.

The Employment Equity Act identifies and defines the designated groups as:

  • women;
  • Aboriginal peoples – people who are Indian, Inuit or Métis;
  • persons with disabilities – people with a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment who consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment or who believe that an employer or potential employer is likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, as well as individuals with functional limitations due to their impairment that have been accommodated in their current job or workplace; and
  • members of visible minorities – people, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.

The Employment Equity Act applies to federally regulated industries, Crown corporations and other federal organizations with 100 employees or more, as well as portions of the federal public administration identified in Schedules I or IV and V of the Financial Administration Act and by order of the Governor in Council, which includes the Canadian Forces and the RCMP.

The Labour Program ensures that the Employment Equity Act and its mandates are applied appropriately to these four designated groups. It also makes sure that federally regulated employers covered under the Legislated Employment Equity Program and provincially regulated employers covered under the Federal Contractors Program understand the Act and mandates so they can meet their obligations.

  • The Legislated Employment Equity Program ensures that federally regulated private-sector employers, Crown corporations and other federal organizations report annually on the representation of the four designated groups in their workplaces and on the steps they have taken to achieve full representation. The Canadian Human Rights Commission receives these reports from the Labour Program and is responsible for ensuring that employers comply with the requirements of the Act.
  • The Labour Program is responsible for ensuring compliance with similar requirements under the Federal Contractors Program, which covers provincially regulated employers that have 100 or more employees and have been awarded a federal government contract for goods and services of $1 million or more.
  • Employment equity tools, resources, and publications are also provided to help employers fulfill their obligations under the Employment Equity Act.
  • The Employment Equity Achievement Award is an annual award that publicly recognizes employers for outstanding achievement in employment equity in their workplaces for four designated groups.
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