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Expert panel unveils 39 recommendations to modernize Canada Labour Code

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December 23, 2019
By Todd Humber

The federal government has released a report with 39 recommendations on how to modernize the Canada Labour Code.

The code, which applies to federally regulated workplaces such as banks, Crown corporations, communications and transportation companies, has been under review in Ottawa. It covers about 915,000 employees and 18,000 employers across Canada.

The government established an independent expert panel to study, consult and provide advice on five complex issues related to the changing nature of work.

The five issues


The issues under the panel’s scrutiny were:

  • federal minimum wage
  • labour standards protections for non-standard workers
  • the “right to disconnect” outside of work hours
  • access and portability of benefits
  • collective voice for non-unionized workers.

Federal minimum wage

The panel recommended that a freestanding federal minimum wage be established and adjusted annually. It proposed two options for setting the wage rate:

  1. A common federal minimum wage in all provinces and territories, benchmarked at 60 per cent of the median hourly wage of full-time workers in Canada.
  2. A minimum wage set at 60 per cent of the median wage in each province and territory.

It also suggested setting up a “low wage” commission to research minimum wage policy and its impacts across Canada on employers, employees and the economy.

Labour standards protection for workers in non-standard work

The panel recommended the government define the concept of “employee” under Part III of the Canada Labour Code and that a joint and several liability provision  be included.

It also said a definition of “continuous employment” should include periods of layoff or interrupted service of less than 12 months.

Disconnecting from work

A definition of “deemed work” should be included in the code and employees should be entitled to compensation or time off in lieu if they are required to remain available for potential demands from their employer.

Benefits: Access and portability

The panel called on Ottawa, including the Canada Revenue Agency, to review what it can do for employees in the federally regulated private sector (FRPS) particularly when it comes to the issue of lost pensions.

It recommended that the government explore, through stakeholder consultations and research, the development of a portable benefits model for workers in the FRPS.

Collective voice for non-unionized workers

The panel called for the introduction of a protection for “concerted activities” in the code. The recommendations, relating to third-party advocates, joint workplace committees and graduated models of collective representation, among others, represent ways that collective voice could be enhanced among non-union workers.

The federal government said it “will consider the findings of the Expert Panel as it determines how best to move forward on these commitments.”

Read the full report

If you are regulated by the Canada Labour Code, you’ll want to have a look at the full report. You can view the results at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/labour-standards/reports/expert-panel-final.html#h2.1

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