Continued Consultations on Possible Complex Canada Labour Code Changes

Important changes to the Canada Labour Code were recently made (i.e., Bill C-63 and C-86, among others), but the government’s work to modernize the Canada Labour Code isn’t done yet. On February 20, 2019, the federal government convened an independent expert panel to provide advice on five complex workplace issues facing Canadian employers and employees due to the changing nature of work.

This changing nature of work is driven by several factors including among others, the global economy, technological progress and changes, new ways of production (i.e., automation or moving jobs in countries were labour is cheaper), non-standard work or work that differs from standard employment (i.e., rise in part-time, short-term and temporary work, as well as the increase use of foreign workers and the self-employed).

For example, technology has facilitated the creation of jobs through working online or joining the so-called gig economy (a gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements (source: Whatls.com)).

The independent expert panel mandated by the federal government will study, consult and bring forward recommendations to the federal labour minister on:

  1. whether a freestanding federal minimum wage should be reintroduced, as opposed to the current system where the applicable provincial minimum wage applies (see Federal minimum wage – Issue paper);
  2. what protections should apply to workers in “non-traditional employment,” such as independent contractors and those in the “gig economy” (see Federal labour standards protections for workers in non-standard work – Issue paper );
  3. whether limits should be set on work-related electronic communications outside of work hours, commonly referred to as the “right to disconnect.” For example, requiring employers to have clear policies in place regarding when employees engage in workplace communication outside of the office and when on vacation (see Disconnecting from work-related e-communications outside of work hours – Issue paper);
  4. access to and portability of benefits, such as annual vacation entitlements and medical and retirement savings plans (see Benefits: Access and portability – Issue paper) and
  5. opportunities for workers in non-unionized settings to speak with a “collective voice.” Currently, no law in Canada allows for non-union employees to collectively bargain. This proposal would allow non-union employees the legal right to associate and to make collective representations to their employers without fear of reprisal (see Collective voice for non-unionized workers – Issue paper).

These five items were identified in the What we heard: Modernizing federal labour standards report, but not proceeded with in Bill C-86.

Details on the expert panel’s consultation process are expected to be released soon, and the results of their work (advice and recommendations) will be made public by June 30, 2019.

More information can be found at

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