For nearly 100 years, the Canadian Employers Council (CEC) has been the official voice of Canadian business on the international stage, in respect of the world of work. Over this time, the work of the CEC has evolved from involvement in standard-setting processes at the International Labour Organization (ILO) to a range of diverse activities that have emerged within a globalized world.
It is indeed a globalized world, one in which a fundamental challenge is in finding a balance between economic development and social progress. It is not a case of one or the other – it is about advancing both. This search for balance is of fundamental interest to all Canadian businesses. International trends are creating not just a new order for the global economy (and all those operating within it) but also redefining the domestic landscape in response to these new international developments.
No business is untouched by this reality. All need to understand the shape and substance of these international phenomena. It is through this understanding that business leaders can help influence outcomes of benefit to their individual organizations.
This is where the CEC works best. Consider the following snapshot of some of the CEC’s recent work:
- The CEC serves as the exclusive representative of Canadian employers within the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the ILO, which is the United Nations agency responsible for international labour standards. Because of the ILO’s tripartite structure – which gives government, business, and organized labour official status – CEC members participate in developing and implementing international labour standards that are referenced by governments and courts when developing and interpreting domestic laws.
- The CEC represents Canadian employers on hemispheric labour and employment issues through its involvement in the Organisation of American States Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour (IACML) process. This event hosts discussions – on the labour and social dimension of international trade negotiations – between the Ministers of Labour among the 34 IACML member countries in the western hemisphere.
- The CEC participates in forums led by international organizations like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which play increasingly important roles in developing standards for corporate conduct in the areas of business and human rights.
- The CEC intervenes in relevant court cases. In 2014, the CEC was the only national employer association granted leave by the Supreme Court to intervene in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, which considered whether the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects a “right to strike.”
- The CEC acts as the representative of Canadian employers in dealings with the Government of Canada on international issues. The CEC interacts with Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Labour – at the federal, provincial and territorial levels – on business perspectives related to domestic and international labour issues.