Statement by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour


Today, the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, issued the following statement regarding Labour Day:

“On Labour Day, we celebrate Canada’s workers. We celebrate the contributions that they have made to build our country, a country that we love. We also salute Canada’s labour movement, which has fought tirelessly for better wages, workplace safety and equal rights for all Canadians.

Together, every day, we are building on the labour movement’s efforts to improve health and safety, worker’s rights, labour laws, employment equity and diversity in Canada’s workplaces. We thank Canadian workers for their incredible contributions and hard work that have made Canada a prosperous country. We need to continue to build on our successes and make further progress to make sure workers enjoy even better conditions and wages in the future. To this end, I am working to ensure a $15.00 minimum wage for federally regulated workers.

I have taken a highly collaborative approach to my role as Minister of Labour. I know that we solve problems best when we solve them together. I have convened calls with my provincial and territorial counterparts, and have met regularly with representatives of organized labour and employers. I have also convened meetings bringing government officials, organized labour and employers together. As the way we work evolves, the key to creating the greatest benefit for Canada and for all Canadians is to both seize new opportunities and ensure that workers are protected.

We are currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the great challenge of our times. Frontline workers have stepped up, keeping essential services and products available to Canadians. From grocery clerks, to truck drivers, to workers in health care, transportation and telecommunications, I want to salute everyone whose work puts them out in contact with people every day. We must celebrate the commitment, hard work and self-sacrifice of frontline workers over the past few months. As we enter this recovery phase, we will continue to rely on their commitment to our prosperity and safety. Our frontline workers deserve our gratitude and respect.

Women are on the frontline, serving and supporting their communities during these difficult times. I recognize that women are among the hardest hit in this pandemic. That is why closing the gender wage gap remains a key priority for the Government of Canada. To this end, we continue to work towards implementing the Pay Equity Act, which is planned to come into force in 2021. It will ensure that women and men in federally regulated workplaces receive equal pay for work of equal value. Further to this, we are raising awareness of the wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities through new pay transparency measures. The new measures will prompt employers to take action to examine their practices and show leadership in reducing these gaps. These are concrete ways to make sure that everyone is treated fairly in the workplace.

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of millions of Canadians, leaving no part of society untouched, changing the way Canadians work across the country. As Minister of Labour, my number one priority throughout this pandemic has been the health and safety of Canada’s workers. I have worked closely with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), which has provided valuable guidance to Canadian workers and businesses to help them operate during a pandemic: tip sheets, e-learning courses available free of charge and an online space, Pandemic Info Share, where businesses can share resources and advice.

COVID-19 has also disconnected us from our regular support networks. I am committed to making mental health a key component of occupational health and safety. Our government has taken a number of important steps to protect and support Canadians experiencing stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, launching, among other initiatives, Wellness Together Canada, an online portal that provides access to a virtual network of psychosocial supports. Continuing to support the mental health of Canadian workers will be critical as we move forward.

Both our ability to contribute to society and our mental health are deeply affected by how others treat us. Harassment and violence in the workplace cannot be tolerated. Our government has made changes to the Canada Labour Code and created new regulations to better protect Canadian workers, including the most vulnerable, from harmful behaviours. We are also on track for the new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations to come into force in January 2021.

The workplace has changed significantly over the past few decades, particularly as more employees have shifted to working virtually through digital platforms, which have made it easier for us to respond effectively to the COVID‑19 pandemic. It is important that we continue to gather data and evidence to be able to plan a thoughtful and prosperous way forward into the future world of work and the “new normal.” We have to make sure that workers, whose status is not clearly covered by federal or provincial laws, are not falling through the cracks. We also must ensure that the many people who are now working from home are able to achieve work-life balance, and are protected by labour laws. It must be possible for workers to disconnect at the end of the workday if they choose to, without fear of repercussions.

As we reopen and continue to build a stronger, more resilient country, I will continue to consult and work with unions, workers, employers, government colleagues, experts, Indigenous partners and my provincial and territorial counterparts to take the steps needed to create healthy and safe workplaces for everyone during the pandemic and our recovery.”