Working in Canada: Labour Rights in the Workplace

Are you an OFW currently working or planning to work in Canada? If so, it’s important to know your labour rights in the workplace. Canada is known for its strong labour laws and regulations, which aim to protect workers from exploitation and unfair treatment in the workplace.

As an OFW, you may have questions about your rights, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and workplace safety standards. In this topic, we will explore the labour rights of workers in Canada and how these laws can help protect and empower you in the workplace. Whether you’re a temporary foreign worker or a permanent resident, understanding your rights can help you build a better future for yourself and your family.

So let’s dive in and learn more about what working in Canada can offer you.


Working in Canada: Labour Rights in the workplace

In Canada, workplace fairness and the elimination of discrimination are essential values that are protected by laws and programs.

The Canadian Human Rights Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that prohibits discrimination based on factors such as gender, race, and ethnicity.

Additionally, the Employment Equity Act and the Federal Contractors Program mandate that employers must take proactive measures to improve job opportunities for underrepresented groups in Canada.

The Canada Labour Code outlines the rights and obligations of employers and employees in federally regulated sectors, and foreign workers in Canada are also safeguarded under federal or provincial/territorial labour laws.

Canada is committed to providing a fair and equitable working environment for all by ensuring that workplaces are free from discrimination and that labour rights are respected.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment and services within federal jurisdiction. This applies to:

  • the Federal government,
  • First Nations governments, and
  • private companies regulated by the federal government, such as banks, trucking companies, broadcasters, and telecommunications companies.

Employers and service providers must ensure that this law treats all employees equally.

Duty to accommodate

To prevent discrimination, employers may need to make changes to an employee’s work environment or duties. This is known as the duty to accommodate and applies only to needs based on discrimination. However, there are limits to the duty, as accommodation that causes undue hardship for an organization may not be required.

The Employment Equity Act

The Employment Equity Act is a vital piece of legislation that promotes workplace fairness and equality by requiring federally regulated organizations and businesses in Canada to provide equal employment opportunities to four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.

This Act aims to address the underrepresentation of these groups in the Canadian workforce and ensures that employers take proactive measures to eliminate discriminatory barriers that may exist in their hiring and promotion practices.

For Filipino workers in Canada, this Act can offer significant benefits. As members of visible minorities, Filipino workers may face barriers in obtaining equal employment opportunities due to cultural or language differences.

The Employment Equity Act helps to address these barriers by requiring employers to take active steps to recruit and promote individuals from underrepresented groups. This may include targeted outreach to diverse communities, offering training programs to help employees develop new skills, or implementing flexible work arrangements to accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities.

Additionally, the Employment Equity Act requires employers to conduct regular reviews of their workforce to identify any gaps in representation of the four designated groups. This review process helps employers to identify areas where they may need to focus their efforts to ensure that all employees have access to equal employment opportunities.

For example, if an employer identifies a significant underrepresentation of women in management positions, they may implement mentorship programs or leadership training opportunities to help women develop the skills needed for promotion.

The Federal Contractors Program

The Federal Contractors Program (FCP) is designed to promote equal employment opportunities for underrepresented groups in Canada. It aims to help reduce systemic barriers in employment practices that these groups often face.

The program is specifically targeted at employers who have been awarded a federal government contract for goods and services worth $1 million or more and are under the jurisdiction of a province. The program requires such employers to implement measures to increase the representation of four designated groups, including women, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, and members of visible minorities, in their workforce.

The FCP requires employers to develop and implement an employment equity plan that includes strategies and targets for increasing the representation of the four designated groups in their workforce.

Employers must collect data on the representation of these groups in their workforce and in the external labour market. They must also conduct a workforce analysis to identify barriers to employment for these groups, such as discriminatory hiring practices, lack of accommodation for disabilities, or inadequate recruitment efforts.

Employers must then take proactive measures to remove these barriers and increase the representation of the four designated groups in their workforce. This could involve activities such as targeted recruitment and outreach, accommodation for disabilities, training and development programs, and mentoring and coaching initiatives.

For Filipino workers in Canada, the FCP provides an opportunity to increase their representation in the Canadian workforce. Many Filipinos face systemic barriers to employment due to discrimination, language barriers, and other challenges. The FCP can help to level the playing field and ensure that Filipino workers have access to equal employment opportunities in Canada. For example:

  • Employers could develop targeted recruitment programs to attract Filipino workers to their organizations.
  • Employers could offer language training programs to help Filipino workers improve their language skills and better integrate into the Canadian workforce.
  • Employers could provide accommodations for disabilities to ensure that Filipino workers with disabilities have equal access to employment opportunities.
  • Employers could offer mentoring and coaching initiatives to help Filipino workers develop their skills and advance their careers.

The Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP)

For Filipino workers in Canada, it’s essential to understand the Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP) and how it affects their job opportunities. LEEP requires federally regulated organizations and businesses to report annually on the number of individuals from four designated groups who are employed in their workplaces. These groups are:

  • Women
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Visible minorities

The goal of LEEP is to ensure that federally regulated employers reflect the diverse composition of the Canadian labour force. This means that they must take active steps to improve the representation of these four designated groups in their workplaces. For example, employers may need to consider providing:

  • Language training programs for new immigrants and visible minorities
  • Accessible facilities and accommodations for persons with disabilities
  • Recruitment strategies that target Indigenous peoples and women
  • Anti-discrimination policies and practices to foster an inclusive work environment for all employees

The Labour Program administers and enforces LEEP under the provisions of the Employment Equity Act.

Employers who fail to comply with LEEP’s requirements may face penalties and sanctions. As a result, many employers in Canada have taken steps to implement employment equity programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Filipino workers who are employed by federally regulated organizations or businesses can benefit from LEEP’s provisions. LEEP can help create more job opportunities and foster a more inclusive work environment by promoting greater representation of underrepresented groups in the workplace.

Additionally, LEEP can help ensure that Filipino workers are not discriminated against based on factors such as race, ethnicity, or gender, and that they are provided with fair and equitable treatment in the workplace.

The Workplace Equity Information Management System

The Workplace Equity Information Management System (WEIMS) is a powerful online tool that has been designed to help employers who are covered under the Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP) or the Federal Contractors Program (FCP) fulfill their legal obligations.

This innovative application provides employers with a comprehensive suite of features that can help them easily manage their employment equity initiatives, from tracking progress to generating reports.

If you’re an employer who is covered under the LEEP or the FCP, the WEIMS application can be an essential tool for ensuring that your workplace is fair and equitable. Here are some examples of how WEIMS can be helpful to Filipino workers in Canada:

  • Tracking progress: The WEIMS application allows employers to track their progress in meeting their employment equity goals over time. For example, if you’re an employer who is committed to hiring more Filipino workers, you can use WEIMS to track how many Filipino workers you have hired and how your progress is trending over time. By keeping track of this information, you can ensure that you’re making meaningful progress towards your employment equity goals.
  • Generating reports: With WEIMS, employers can generate detailed reports showing how their workplace is doing regarding employment equity. This information can identify areas where improvements can be made and demonstrate to employees and stakeholders that your organization is committed to fairness and equality. For example, you can generate a report that shows the breakdown of your workforce by gender, ethnicity, and other factors and use this information to identify areas where you need to improve.
  • Compliance: As an employer in Canada, it’s important to comply with the various laws and regulations that govern the workplace. By using WEIMS, you can ensure that you’re meeting your legal obligations under the Employment Equity Act, the LEEP, and the FCP. For example, you can use WEIMS to ensure that you’re meeting your obligations to hire and promote employees from underrepresented groups, such as Filipino workers.

The Canada Labour Code

If you’re a Filipino worker in Canada, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities under the Canada Labour Code. This piece of legislation covers approximately 12,000 businesses and 820,000 employees, which amounts to about six per cent of all Canadian workers. Here’s what you need to know about the Canada Labour Code:

  • Industrial Relations: The Canada Labour Code outlines the process for union certification, the relationship between management and labour, collective bargaining, and unfair labour practices. This ensures that employees have a voice in their workplace and can negotiate fair terms and conditions of employment.
  • Workplace Health and Safety: The Canada Labour Code sets out standards for workplace health and safety, which employers must follow to ensure the safety of their workers. For example, employers must provide training and protective equipment to workers who handle hazardous materials and maintain a safe work environment.
  • Employment Standards: The Canada Labour Code defines employment standards, including general holidays, annual vacations, working hours, unjust dismissals, minimum wage, layoff procedures, and severance pay. This ensures that workers are treated fairly and are compensated appropriately for their work.

Some examples of Filipino workers in federally regulated sectors in Canada are those in:

  • Air transportation, such as flight attendants and ground crew
  • Banking, including tellers and customer service representatives
  • Interprovincial transportation, such as truck drivers
  • Broadcasting, including journalists and production crew
  • Telecommunications, such as call center agents

However, it’s important to note that businesses and services outside of these federally regulated sectors are governed by their respective provincial or territorial ministry of labour.

If you’re unsure about your rights and responsibilities, reach out to your employer or consult a legal professional. By understanding your rights and responsibilities under the Canada Labour Code, you can work towards building a better future for yourself and your family in Canada.

Rights for foreign workers

As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Canada, it’s essential to know that Canadian laws protect every worker in the country, including foreign workers. These laws guarantee that every worker, regardless of their nationality, is entitled to certain basic rights and protections in the workplace. Here are some of the key rights that foreign workers have in Canada:

  • Be paid for their work: Foreign workers are entitled to receive fair pay for their work. This includes being paid at least the minimum wage that is set by the province or territory where they work. For example, the current minimum wage in Ontario is $14.35 per hour.
  • Have a safe workplace: Canadian employers are legally obligated to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, including foreign workers. This means that employers must take all necessary steps to prevent workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Employers must also provide workers with the necessary safety training and equipment to perform their jobs safely.
  • Keep their passport or work permit: Employers cannot take away a foreign worker’s passport or work permit as a condition of their employment. Workers are entitled to keep their personal documents safe and secure at all times.

Federal labour and employment laws cover several sectors, including the federal government, banks, companies transporting goods between provinces, telecommunications companies, and most businesses owned and run by the federal government.

However, most other occupations are covered under provincial and territorial laws. Every province or territory has an office that deals with labour and employment laws. These offices can provide information about fair pay, hours of work, rest periods, and working conditions.

Foreign workers have the right to call or visit these offices for support or advice. Employers cannot punish a foreign worker or have him or her deported for contacting an employment standards office. To find your local office, you can check provincial and territorial employment standards offices.

Video: Alamin Para Walang Sisihan | CANADA Temporary Foreign Workers Rights By Soc Digital Media

The video posted by Soc Digital Media provides a comprehensive guide to employment and labor rights for foreign workers in Canada. The video covers a range of topics related to employment contracts, employee-employer relationships, and workers’ rights, including:

  • Reviewing employment contracts: The video emphasizes the importance of thoroughly reviewing employment contracts before signing them, and highlights common problems that foreign workers may encounter when they arrive in Canada.
  • Problems with employment contracts in Canada: The video describes some of the most common issues that foreign workers face with their employment contracts, including clauses that restrict their ability to change employers or leave their jobs, and agreements that require them to pay fees to recruitment agencies.
  • Solutions to employment contract problems: The video offers practical advice on how to address problems with employment contracts, including seeking legal assistance and reporting abuses to government agencies.
  • Employer-employee relationships in Canada: The video explains the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in Canada, and highlights the importance of maintaining positive and respectful relationships in the workplace.
  • Temporary foreign worker rights: The video outlines the rights of temporary foreign workers in Canada, including their right to fair wages, safe working conditions, and protection against discrimination.
  • Employer must-dos and cannots: The video lists some of the things that employers are required to do to protect the rights of their workers, as well as actions that are prohibited, such as withholding wages or seizing personal documents.
  • Injury and health and safety at work: The video explains the procedures for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses, and outlines the measures that employers are required to take to ensure a safe working environment.
  • Workers’ compensation in Canada: The video provides an overview of the workers’ compensation system in Canada, which provides financial and other support to workers who are injured or become ill as a result of their work.
  • Reporting abuses at work: The video provides information on how to report abuses or violations of labor laws to government agencies, and emphasizes the importance of speaking out against mistreatment.
  • Losing your job: The video describes the steps that workers can take if they lose their jobs, including applying for unemployment benefits and seeking legal assistance.
  • Changing employers in Canada: The video explains the process for changing employers in Canada, and highlights some of the factors that workers should consider before making a change.
  • Seasonal or agricultural workers: The video provides information on the rights and protections that are available to seasonal or agricultural workers in Canada, including their right to fair wages and safe working conditions.
  • Housing rights: The video explains the housing rights of foreign workers in Canada, including their right to live in safe and clean accommodations.
  • Open work permits: The video provides an overview of Canada’s open work permit system, which allows workers to change employers without having to obtain a new work permit.

With these things in mind, you can better prepare yourself for the challenges of living and working in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are my rights as an employee in Canada?

As an employee in Canada, you have a range of rights that are protected by federal and provincial laws. These include the right to a safe workplace, protection against discrimination and harassment, the right to a minimum wage, the right to overtime pay, and the right to rest and meal breaks, among others.

2. How do I know if my employer is violating my labour rights?

If you feel that your employer is violating your labour rights, it’s important to document any incidents or situations that you believe are not in compliance with the law. You can also seek advice from a union representative, a lawyer, or a government agency such as the Canada Labour Program or the provincial Ministry of Labour.

3. Can I be fired for asserting my labour rights?

No, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee for asserting their labour rights or filing a complaint about workplace violations. If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, you can file a complaint with the relevant government agency or seek legal advice.

4. What should I do if I am being harassed or discriminated against at work?

If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination in the workplace, it’s important to report the behavior to your employer or a union representative as soon as possible. You can also file a complaint with the relevant human rights commission or tribunal in your province.

5. Am I entitled to paid sick leave in Canada?

Yes, depending on your province or territory of employment, you may be entitled to paid sick leave. The number of paid sick days varies by jurisdiction, so it’s important to check the relevant legislation or consult with your employer or union representative.

6. What is the minimum wage in Canada?

The minimum wage varies by province and territory, with the lowest being $12.50 in Nunavut and the highest being $16.00 in Yukon as of 2021. It’s important to check the minimum wage for your specific location, as it may change over time.

7. Can I be required to work overtime in Canada?

Yes, employers can require employees to work overtime, but they must pay overtime wages for any hours worked over the standard workweek or workday. The overtime rate varies by province and is usually 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

8. What is a union, and can I join one in Canada?

A union is an organization that represents workers in negotiations with their employer regarding wages, benefits, and working conditions. You have the right to join a union in Canada, and it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you for exercising this right. If you are interested in joining a union, you can contact a union representative or a labour organization for more information.

Final Thoughts

Remember, your labour rights are an essential aspect of your work and livelihood, and knowing them can help you make informed decisions about your career in Canada. By understanding your rights, you can ensure that you are treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace, and that your employer is upholding their legal obligations. Don’t hesitate to seek out information and support if you need it, and know that there are resources available to help you protect your labour rights as an OFW in Canada.

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