The Canadian Employers Council (CEC), on behalf of its member companies and associations, is currently focused on four key areas of priority:
- Business and Human Rights Since the 1990s, a series of initiatives has established guidelines and standards for corporate conduct that impacts labour and employment-related rights. Today, these initiatives are being put into practice, in such documents as the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Looking ahead, the implementation of these initiatives – including the creation of human rights ‘due diligence’ processes and other tools for guiding corporate conduct – will play a central role in influencing how Canadian companies and their suppliers do business abroad.
- New Forms of Global Labour Relations The labour movement has reorganized along global lines. Unions are now establishing formal legal relationships with companies globally. Examples include International Framework Agreements (IFA), of which there are now over 100, and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which seek to establish enforceable labour and employment requirements across major companies’ global operations. Canadian employers must be aware of these developments to effectively manage their own cross-border relationships and operations.
- Labour Provisions in Free Trade Agreementss The whole approach of globalization, which features the modern Free Trade Agreements (FTA), is under close scrutiny at the moment, especially in the United States. The way in which globalization, as we now know it, is altered or reformed on both the trade and social/labour policy fronts, will be of considerable interest to Canadian employers, both in terms of their trade abroad and the way in which they structure themselves to do business. Canadian employers should participate in the ongoing debate over the restructuring of FTAs.
- International Labour Standards in Canadian Courts Canadian courts, labour tribunals, and arbitrators place increasing importance on international labour and employment standards in local disputes. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) held that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides “at least the same level of protection” as international labour standards. By 2015, the SCC defined ‘labour rights’ under the Constitution of Canada to include the rights to organize, bargain collectively and to strike consistent with an interpretation of international developments. International labour law and standards now heavily influence employers’ domestic labour and employment law obligations. Canadian employers should, therefore, be active in policy-making at the international level.