Fact Sheet #4a) Basic Training on the CHRA and the EEA

Level 1

Element: Capacity Building and Resources

Outcome 4: Organization has adequate capacity and resources to address Level 1 outcomes of each element.

Indicator 4a): Senior leadership has attended awareness sessions or presentations on the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA).

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Number of management training/awareness sessions on the CHRA, EEA and the employment equity (EE) audit process.
  • Participation rate of senior leadership members in related training event.

Indicator Description

In general, the literature on organizational change indicates that a strong leadership from the top that is prepared to continually review and develop the organization is essential to successful change. There should be a shared vision among senior leadership of where the organization is heading and an understanding that the change will be a long-term process. [1] 

Because leading is so essential, a human rights culture change requires leadership behaviour to be aligned with the values being proposed. Therefore, it is critical that senior leadership of the organization understands the basic requirements of the CHRA and the EEA before laying the groundwork for a human rights culture. Senior leadership should ensure that the obligations and responsibilities of the organization in relation to these two acts are effectively met, and communicated throughout the organization.

At Level 1 of the Human Rights Maturity Model, senior leadership should have more than just an awareness or standard knowledge of the obligations and duties required by the organization under the CHRA and the EEA. These acts, along with the equality provision in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, form the basis for a human rights culture in the workplace.

Suggested Approach

Training on the CHRA and the EEA should be provided by subject matter experts, with a minimum of a full day of instruction time for each participant:

  • The training should cover the following concepts:
    • Principle of hierarchy of laws in Canada, supremacy of the Charter and human rights legislation, concurrent jurisdiction. 
    • sections 15 (no discrimination) and 1 (notwithstanding clause) of the Charter.
    • Overview of the CHRA and the EEA – when proclaimed, basic summary of bodies created, protections, scope.
    • Explanation of distinction between the Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) – roles, powers, functions, authorities, with respect to both acts.
    • The Commission’s mandate under the CHRA and the EEA.
    • Explanation of difference between federal and provincial jurisdiction, listing of industries under federal jurisdiction, explanation of organizations subject to the EEA.
    • Section 2 - purpose of each Act, principle of “purposive interpretation.”
  • CHRA specific learning should include:
    • Listing and description of the 11 prohibited grounds.
    • listing and description of 9 discriminatory practices.
    • Definition and examples of discrimination, harassment, and duty to accommodate.
    • Statistical information on complaints accepted by the Commission.
    • Information on what constitutes a complaint, who can file a complaint, what components are necessary for a complaint to be accepted, and examples of accepted complaints.
    • Description of the complaint process at the Commission.
    • Description of the process, mandate, and remedies of the Commission.
    • Description of the appeal rights available for CHRC and CHRT decisions.
    • Listing of resources, publications, websites, etc. for further information.
  • EEA specific learning should include:
    • Listing and definitions of the four designated groups.
    • Description of the employers to which the EEA applies.
    • Description of employer’s duty under Section 5 to implement employment equity, and the limit of its duty under Section 6 (undue hardship).
    • Description of employer’s duty under Section 9 to conduct an analysis of its workforce, identify employment barriers to employment of the designated groups, and (Section 10) create an employment equity plan to correct under-representation of designated group members  identified in its analysis.
    • Description of the employer’s duty to develop short-term and long-term goals to reach representation, and a monitoring and evaluation process
    • Description of annual reporting requirements.
    • Description of the CHRC’s duty to conduct compliance audits of employers to enforce the obligations imposed on employers by sections 5, 9 -15, and 17 of the EEA.
    • Description of Compliance Officer powers to collect information.
    • Description of the Employment Equity Audit process, including remedies prescribed for non-compliance (employer’s written undertaking, Commission direction to employer, Court order, monetary penalties).
    • Statistical information on audits conducted by the Commission.
    • Listing of resources, publications, websites, etc. for further information.

Promising Practices

  • Engage with expertise: Obtain information or training presentations from the Commission on the CHRA and the EEA.
  • Plan for a human rights culture: Incorporate a human rights training segment to your business planning session, or regular board meetings.
  • Make human rights and diversity part of your vision: Plan a retreat whereby senior leadership will be receiving training and articulate the organization's vision and communication strategy.
  • Become a learning culture: Stress the importance of the continuous learning process while changing the existing culture.
  • Know human rights are core values: Include training on human rights principles in the orientation for new senior managers.
  • Assess for human rights competencies: Include human rights competencies in the performance assessment of senior managers.
  • Evaluate the impact of human rights on your organization: Conduct a human rights planning session to identify organizational units, processes, and policies that are affected by the learning from the human rights training.

Useful links and tools

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Employment Equity Act

Canadian Human Rights Act

Human Rights Legislation and the Charter: A Comparative Guide - Parliamentary Research Branch - Government of Canada

Guide to Screening and Selection in Employment - Canadian Human Rights Commission

Frequently Asked Questions about Employment Equity - Canadian Human Rights Commission

Employment Systems Review (archived) - Canadian Human Rights Commission

What is Discrimination? - Canadian Human Rights Commission


Employment Equity Act

Canadian Human Rights Act

[1] Senior leadership should include all management levels with decision-making authority for the direction of the organization, across all organizational units.

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