About the Employment Equity Act

The Employment Equity Act (the Act) helps ensure that all Canadians have the same access to the labour market. The Act also requires that employers take actions to ensure the full representation of members of four designated groups within their organizations: women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and members of racialized groups1 . The Act requires employers to investigate, identify and take concrete action to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment for the four designated groups.

Who does the Act apply to?

Any organization or business (with at least 100 employees) that is regulated by the federal government has a legal obligation to comply with the Employment Equity Act.

What does the Act mean for an employer?

It is the employer’s responsibility to develop and implement an employment equity program, in consultation and collaboration with employee representatives.

Federally-regulated employers are required to analyze their workforce and review their employment systems in order to develop an Employment Equity Plan. The plan is to be based on the  employment barriers for designated groups and organized by employment equity occupational groups as identified in the Employment Systems Review. It is to include measures to address the barriers. Where under-representation exists for designated groups, employers are required to implement an Employment Equity Plan that will lead to progress in increasing representation. It is the employer’s responsibility to monitor the implementation of the plan and the resulting employment equity progress achieved. 

Employers must also review their plans regularly and make revisions to ensure progress.

Who is responsible for giving effect to the Act?

The responsibility is shared among following departments and commissions:

  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) provides employers with advice and the tools needed to comply with the Act. They are also responsible for collecting employment equity reports for the private sector.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) conducts compliance audits of federally regulated-businesses, Crown corporations and federal public sector organizations.
  • The Treasury Board Secretariat maintains a database on the representation and availability of members of the designated groups for all federal public sector organizations. It also tables the federal public sector annual report on employment equity to Parliament.
  • The Public Service Commission develops federal public sector policies in the areas of staffing and recruitment. It ensures the proper application of the Public Service Employment Act by all departments and agencies.
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