Legislation and Policies

Human rights legislation is put in place to protect people from discrimination. It seeks to guarantee people equal treatment regardless of a particular identity or historical oppression in relation to employment, offers of employment and in other instances not related to employment.

Most human rights complaints come from the workplace. As organizations strive to create better communities through their missions, it is important that they also work at creating inclusive workplaces that are respectful and welcoming of diversity. Legislation outlines legal requirements of employers. However, the greater goal is not just about legal compliance but nurturing a cultural of acceptance in our workplaces.

HR Management Standard 4.4 

The organization is committed to promoting an inclusive workplace.

 In this Section:

Federal legislation

Two pieces of federal legislation set the groundwork for creating workplace diversity and supporting an inclusive workplace:

The Employment Equity Act

Encourages improved job opportunities for four specific groups: women, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities and people with disabilities.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

Entitles all individuals to equal opportunities without regard to race or colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, family or marital status, sex (including pregnancy or childbirth), pardoned conviction, disability (either physical or mental, or as the result of dependence on alcohol or drugs) or sexual orientation.

Provincial and territorial legislation

Jurisdictions: Practically all ECEC organizations fall under provincial/territorial jurisdiction for human rights legislation.

Important: Each province has slightly different grounds for discrimination. Please see the Human Rights Legislation page of the HR Toolkit for links to provincial and territorial websites regarding human rights.

Workplace diversity policies

It is very important to support intentions with policies and procedures. Policies and procedures both communicate the values of your organization and provide everyone with a consistent process to follow.

Good Practice: 

In general, creating an inclusive and supportive workplace involves:
  • Leading by example with a clear commitment from the top down that diversity is important
  • Adopting policies and procedures to support diversity, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment
  • Promoting (both internally and externally) the organization's commitment to diversity
  • Holding all staff and volunteers accountable
  • Providing training and awareness in the workplace
A policy on workplace diversity:
  • Makes a commitment to anti-discriminatory practices and fosters equal opportunity through the removal of systemic barriers
  • Can reinforce compliance with human rights legislation
  • Is a statement of an organization's values