In advance of today’s federal election, the five parties currently holding seats in the House of Commons have made platform commitments on employment law and related issues. Below are some highlights for employers to keep in mind as Canadians head to the polls.

The Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party of Canada’s platform includes, among other things, platform commitments to:

  • table legislation to protect businesses and organizations from a legal challenge if they require proof of vaccination from employees and customers;
  • work with federally regulated employers and labour groups to develop a new policy for the right to disconnect, so that workers can disconnect at the end of a workday without worrying about job security;
  • amend the collective bargaining process by introducing legislation to prohibit the use of replacement workers in federally regulated sector;
  • include mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety under the Canada Labour Code and require federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury; and
  • introduce amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide 10 days of paid sick leave for all federally regulated workers.

The party’s platform can be found here.

The Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada’s platform includes, among other things, platform commitments to:

  • pay up to 50% of the salary of new hires for six months, following the end of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy;
  • require gig economy companies to make contributions equivalent to Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance premiums into a new tax-free “Employee Savings Account” every time they pay their workers;
  • increase the Employment Insurance sickness benefit from 15 weeks to 52 weeks;
  • encourage employers to add mental health coverage to employee benefit plans by offering a tax credit for 25% of the cost of additional mental health plan coverage for employees, for the first three years; and
  • introduce legislation to provide priority to pensioners over corporate executives during any bankruptcy or restructuring.

The party’s platform is available here.

The New Democratic Party of Canada

The New Democratic Party of Canada’s platform includes, among other things, platform commitments to:

  • establish a permanent “safety net” of paid sick leave across the country, starting with immediate amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide 10 paid sick days in federally regulated workplaces;
  • set a federal minimum wage at $15 an hour, and rising to $20 an hour, indexed to the cost of living;
  • increase access to paid job training, including a requirement that employers spend at least 1% of their payroll on employee training annually;
  • continue wage subsidies for small businesses as the pandemic continues; and
  • enhance the Employment Insurance program, including extension of sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50 weeks, and broadening eligibility criteria for access to Employment Insurance benefits.

The party’s platform is available here.

The Bloc Québécois

The Bloc Québécois’s platform includes, among other things, commitments to:

  • introduce measures to address labour shortages, such as suspending the Canada Recovery Benefit save for targeted sectors and job categories where recovery remains slow (e.g., the cultural and aeronautics sectors);
  • undertake a comprehensive reform of Employment Insurance that protects all workers and takes into account the realities of self-employed or special status workers, as well as seasonal workers; and
  • introduce legislation to prohibit the use of replacement workers under the Canada Labour Code and allowing certain paid leave for expectant birthing parents.

The party’s platform is available here (only available in French).

The Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada’s platform includes, among other things, commitments to:

  • replace every high paying fossil fuel sector job with a high paying green sector job through wage insurance, retraining programs and early retirement plans;
  • extend wage and rent subsidies until COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions are fully lifted;
  • create a Guaranteed Livable Income program for every person in Canada, with payments set at a “livable” level for different regions of the country;
  • enact legislation on green jobs training programs, such as the creation of a youth climate corps; and
  • introduce laws that incentivize green investment and the creation of green jobs (such as in sustainable transport and energy efficiency), and that disincentivize unsustainable investments (such as by raising taxes on environmentally harmful goods and services).

The party’s platform is available here.

Takeaway for Employers

Each of the parties currently holding seats in the House of Commons have set out certain employment law priorities in their platforms. Whether, and to what extent, these priorities are actioned will depend on both the outcome of today’s election, and the initiatives of the government and Parliament to follow.