Anti-Racism Resource Centre

What is Employment Equity?

Employment Equity is the term developed by Judge Rosalie Silberman Abella, Commissioner of the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment (1984), to describe a distinct Canadian process for achieving equality in all aspects of employment.

This term was meant to distinguish the process from the primarily American "Affirmative Action" model as well as to move beyond the "Equal Opportunity" measures available in Canada at that time.

Recognizing that systemic discrimination was responsible for most of the inequality found in employment, the Commission outlined a systemic response and chose the term "Employment Equity" to describe the process.

 Employment Equity is an on-going planning process used by an employer to:

  • identify and eliminate barriers in an organization's employment procedures and policies;

  • put into place positive policies and practices to ensure the effects of systemic barriers are eliminated; and

  • ensure appropriate representation of "designated group" members throughout their workforce.

The goal of Employment Equity is to:

  • eliminate employment barriers for the four designated groups identified in the Employment Equity Act: women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities;

  • remedy past discrimination in employment opportunities and prevent future barriers;

  • improve access and distribution throughout all occupations and at all levels for members of the four designated groups;

  • foster a climate of equity in the organization.

In Canada, there are two Federal Employment Equity Programs:

Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP):

Under the LEEP, the following employers are subject to the Employment Equity Act:

  • All federally regulated employers with 100 or more employees, including organizations in industries such as banking, communications, and international and interprovincial transportation. In 2000, there were approximately 394 such employers (private-sector employers and Crown corporations), representing approximately 612,344 employees.

  • All federal departments, representing approximately 155,360 employees. Other parts of the public service, including the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police may be specified by order of the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Treasury Board, as being required to comply with the EE Act.

Click here for more information about the Legislated Employment Equity Program.

Federal Contractors Program (FCP):

Under the FCP, employers with 100 or more employees who have secured a federal goods or services contract of $200,000 or more are required to sign a certificate of commitment to fulfill their mandated goal of implementing employment equity in their workplace.

As of May 1, 2002, there were approximately 891 federal contractors, representing approximately 1,082,184 employees.

Click here for more information about the Federal Contractors Program.

For more Employment Equity information, click on the following:

  From Human Resources and Skills Development Canada