The purpose of the Employment Equity Act is: “to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.” The Employment Equity Act is intended to ensure that all Canadians are provided with fair employment and promotion opportunities, and are treated with respect. The Act is designed so that the outcome of its implementation is an equitable representation of designated groups- women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities in workplaces across Canada. The first Employment Equity Act came into force in 1986. It covered federally regulated employers in the federally regulated private sector and Crown Corporations with one hundred or more employees, operating primarily in the banking, transportation and communications industries. In 1996, the EEA was amended to apply to the federal public service. The Federal Contractors Program (FCP) The Federal Contractors Program (FCP) was initiated by a cabinet decision in 1986. Like the Act, the program is intended to promote employment equity for the four disadvantaged groups. It applies to provincially regulated employers with a Canadian workforce of 100 employees or more who receive contracts from the federal government valued at $200,000 or more. The standards applied must be equivalent to those for employers under the Employment Equity Act. As a condition for bidding on large federal contracts, contractors are required to certify in writing their commitment to employment equity and, if successful in their bid, undertake the steps to implement a plan.
Under the Act, every employer is required to implement employment equity by: (a)identifying and eliminating employment barriers against persons in designated groups that result from the employer’s employment systems, policies and practices that are not authorized by law; and (b)instituting such positive policies and practices and making such reasonable accommodations as will ensure that persons in designated groups achieve a degree of representation in each occupational group in the employer’s workforce that reflects their representation in: (i)the Canadian workforce, or (ii)those segments of the Canadian workforce that are identifiable by qualification, eligibility or geography and from which the employer may reasonably be expected to draw employees.
Since the implementation of the Act, there has been a gradual increase in the representation of the designated groups in the Canadian work-force.