Canada’s unions call on federal government to eliminate systemic racism in employment

March 21, 2021

Canada’s unions are marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by urging the federal government to ensure its efforts to modernize the Employment Equity Act address the significant inequities experienced by racialized workers as a result of systemic racism and discrimination.

“Strengthening the Employment Equity Act is an important step towards addressing disparities in employment, and the systemic barriers faced by racialized workers,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the CLC. “But in order to be effective, this process must include meaningful consultation and engagement with members of equity-seeking groups covered under the Act. This must also include bargaining agents who represent them in the workplace.”

Historically, racialized workers have had fewer employment opportunities than their non-racialized counterparts and were often limited to service sectors, regardless of their educational achievements or qualifications. Today, racialized workers still face barriers in all aspects of work, from hiring, to advancement, to retention and workplace supports.

In modernizing the Employment Equity Act, the federal government must:

• Address the distinctive experiences of discrimination and racism faced by equity-seeking populations, rather than grouping them all together as “visible minorities” as it currently does;
• Expand coverage to LGBTQ2SI populations. Despite facing systemic barriers and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, these workers are not currently included as a designated group under the Act;
• Recognize the reality of the multiple identities workers may hold. These identities can intersect and impact their access to employment as well as the barriers they may face in the workplace. Nuanced and accurate analyses of employment inequities experienced by members of designated groups would allow for the development of more effective and targeted solutions to systemic racism and discrimination in employment.

Canada’s unions continue to call for the government to invest in building a stronger, more inclusive and sustainable economy for our families and the next generation.

A commitment to advancing employment equity is a part of the process, but it is only one piece. Visit to learn more.

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