Canada’s unions call federal budget bill a boon for workers

October 30, 2018

Canada’s unions welcome measures in Monday’s federal budget implementation act that provide important progress for working people, including plans to achieve pay equity, provide paid domestic violence leave, protect workers during contract retendering, and otherwise elevate Canada’s labour standards.

Introducing a new Pay Equity Act will bring in long-awaited legislation requiring federally-regulated employers to create proactive pay equity plans that will begin to address Canada’s gender wage gap. The government also announced the establishment of a Pay Equity Commissioner to independently oversee implementation and hold employers accountable.

“Canada’s unions have been fighting for proactive pay equity legislation for over a decade and we’re glad to see the government take meaningful action to close Canada’s shameful gender pay gap,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff.

For all federally-regulated employers with ten or more workers, the new legislation will adapt existing compliance frameworks to include pay equity, and set out specific timelines for implementation and compulsory maintenance reviews.

Changes to Part III of the Canada Labour Code were also included in the omnibus bill, and are being heralded by Canada’s unions as an important modernization of federal labour standards in Canada. These changes will restrict exploitation by prohibiting employers from misclassifying workers and paying them less, simply because they work for a temp agency or on a part-time, casual or term basis.

Canada’s unions were also pleased with new measures that will prevent employers from using contract flipping as a means of undermining the wages, benefits, and job security of workers.

“The Canada Labour Code used to be upheld as the gold standard across the Country but federal labour standards were significantly eroded over a decade by the Harper government,” said Yussuff. “Providing additional vacation time and leave provisions, as well as new scheduling notice protections, are important steps that will lift employment standards for Canadian workers,” said Yussuff.

After an intensive campaign by Canada’s unions, survivors of domestic violence working in the federal sector will now receive five days of paid leave. This will help to set a national standard as many provinces move to allow people experiencing violence at home to seek the support and services they need to help keep themselves and their children safe.

“Canada’s unions will continue to push to elevate labour standards for everyone working in Canada,” said Yussuff. “Along with this week’s announcements, immediate action to establish a $15 federal minimum wage would raise the bar across the country.”

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