Federal Contractors Program

The Federal Contractors Program (FCP) ensures that contractors who do business with the Government of Canada seek to achieve and maintain a workforce that is representative of the Canadian workforce, including members of the four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act.

  • women
  • Aboriginal peoples
  • persons with disabilities
  • members of visible minorities

The Program applies to non-federally regulated contractors that:

  • have a combined workforce in Canada of 100 or more permanent full-time and permanent part-time employees; and
  • have received an initial federal government goods and services contract, a standing offer, or a supply arrangement valued at $1 million or more (including applicable taxes).

Agreement to Implement Employment Equity

Contractors who bid on an initial goods and services contract, a standing offer, or a supply arrangement estimated at $1 million or more (including applicable taxes) with the Government of Canada must first certify their commitment to implement employment equity by signing the Agreement to Implement Employment Equity (LAB1168) prior to contract award.

Once an eligible contract is awarded to the contractor, the contractor is assigned a unique Agreement to Implement Employment Equity number. The contractor is informed by the Labour Program that it is now subject to the FCP. As a result, the contractor is then required to fulfill the FCP requirements. This obligation is ongoing: it is not only subject to the period of the contract and includes future contracts.

Requirements

Once a contractor receives an eligible contract from the Government of Canada, the contractor must fulfill the following requirements:

Requirement 1: Collect workforce information

The contractor must survey its workforce to determine the representation of the four designated groups in each occupational group. To gather this information, the contractor must develop, distribute, and collect a self-identification questionnaire according to each standards described below. The self-identification questionnaire must be given to permanent full-time and permanent part-time employees.
A workforce survey is required when:

  • The contractor has never surveyed its workforce to determine its representation level.
  • The contractor did not keep its database up-to-date. For example, new employees were not given a self-identification questionnaire; employees who updated their self-identification information were not taken into account; or changes were not made to survey results to take into account those who no longer work there.

1.1 Questionnaire definitions

The self-identification questionnaire includes a definition for each employment equity designated group that is consistent with the following:

  • "Aboriginal peoples" means persons who are Indian, Inuit or Métis.
  • "Members of visible minorities" means persons, other than Aboriginal people, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.
  • "Persons with disabilities" means persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment and who
    • consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, or
    • believe that an employer or potential employer is likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment and includes persons whose functional limitations owing to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace.

1.2 Self-identification questionnaire

The contractor uses a self-identification questionnaire that meets the following criteria:

  • The questionnaire or accompanying documentation clearly indicates that an employee may self-identify as being a member of more than one designated group;
  • The questionnaire has an employee identifier;
  • The questionnaire includes a question on gender if this information cannot be obtained from payroll or personnel records;
  • The questionnaire is available in alternate formats upon request;
  • The questionnaire clearly indicates that answering the self-identification questions is voluntary (although returning the questionnaire can be made mandatory);
  • The questionnaire clearly indicates that submitted information may be changed at any time; and
  • The questionnaire clearly indicates that the information gathered is confidential and will only be shared with other persons within the organization in order to carry-out employment equity obligations.

Any additional questions on the questionnaire must be related to employment equity, be separate from the self-identification questions and it must be clearly indicated that responses to those additional questions are optional.

1.3 Return and response rates

The contractor makes all reasonable efforts to achieve and maintain, at a minimum, an 80 percent return and response rate. If a return or response rate of 80 percent or more is not attained, a strategy to increase the rates will be required.

Return rate: The number of questionnaires returned, either completed or not completed. Only questionnaires with at least an employee identifier may be counted.

  • Return rate = Number of questionnaires returned ÷ Number of questionnaires distributed

Response rate: The number of employees who responded to the questionnaire.

  • Response rate = Number of completed questionnaires returned ÷ Number of questionnaires distributed

1.4 Keeping data up-to-date

The contractor keeps workforce data up-to-date by:

  • providing a questionnaire to employees who request it, those who wish to change previously submitted information, and new employees; and
  • updating the database to reflect new data stemming from the above and from employee hires, promotions and terminations.

1.5 Coding of positions

The contractor correctly codes each employee's occupation using the most recent National Occupational Classification (NOC) and Employment Equity Occupational Groups (EEOG)

1.6 Calculating representation

The contractor determines its internal representation correctly by counting:

  • all its permanent full-time and permanent part-time employees; and
  • only employees who agreed to be identified as Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

Note: Designated group membership for all groups except women is to be drawn from the self-identification questionnaire. Information on gender may be obtained from personnel files.

Requirement 2: Complete a workforce analysis

The contractor completes a workforce analysis that compares its internal workforce representation with external availability estimates to see if there are gaps in the representation of the designated groups. Gaps in representation happen when the internal representation is less than the external availability in a particular occupational group and designated group.

The workforce analysis must be conducted in a manner that meets the following criteria.

2.1 Availability estimates

The contractor establishes availability estimates using data determined by the Minister as relevant labour market information (i.e. the Employment Equity Data Report published by the Labour Program).

2.2 Occupation and geographic levels of comparisons

The contractor selects the most appropriate occupation levels and geographic levels of comparison for establishing external availability estimates.

Note: The table below, Occupational and Geographic Defaults, presents the standard defaults for establishing external availability estimates. Any deviations must be carefully considered and justified.

2.3 Representation levels

The contractor compares the appropriate availability estimates with internal workforce representation data in order to identify the representation level in each occupational group in its workforce.

Table: Occupational and geographic defaults
Occupational groups Occupational default Geographic default
1. Senior managers EEOG National
2. Middle and other managers EEOG National
3. Professionals NOC National
4. Semi-professionals and technicians NOC Provincial
5. Supervisors EEOG CMA
6. Supervisors: crafts and trades NOC Provincial
7. Administrative and senior clerical personnel EEOG CMA
8. Skilled sales and service personnel NOC Provincial
9. Skilled crafts and trades workers NOC Provincial
10. Clerical personnel EEOG CMA
11. Intermediate sales and service personnel EEOG CMA
12. Semi-skilled manual workers EEOG CMA
13. Other sales and service personnel EEOG CMA
14. Other manual workers EEOG CMA

Requirement 3: Establish short-term and long-term numerical goals

The contractor must establish reasonable short-term and long-term goals for the hiring and promotion of designated group members in those occupational groups where under-representation has been identified. The criteria for establishing goals are outlined below.

3.1 Short-Term Numerical Goals

The contractor establishes short-term numerical goals for the hiring and promotion of designated group members in each occupational group where under-representation exists. In establishing these goals, the contractor considers:

  • the degree of under-representation in each occupational group;
  • the availability of qualified designated group members within the contractor’s workforce and in the Canadian workforce;
  • the anticipated growth or reduction of the contractor’s workforce in the period covered by the goals; and
  • the anticipated turnover of employees during the period covered by the goals.

Note: Short-term means a period of one to three years. It is strongly recommended that hiring and promotion goals be set in percentages; percentage goals have the advantage of automatic adjustments taking into account changes in hiring and promotion activities.

Exception: If there is a gap for women in an EEOG where women are represented at 50 percent or more, the contractor is not required to establish a goal, regardless of availability. This exception ensures that the program is not encouraging employers to further categorize certain occupations as "female occupations".

3.2 Long-Term Goals

The contractor establishes long-term goals to close gaps in the representation of designated group members that are not expected to be closed in the short term. These goals are to be achieved in a period of three years or more.

When establishing long-term goals, the contractor considers the same factors as those considered when establishing short-term numerical goals, the effects of those short-term goals and the expected impact of any employment equity initiatives undertaken.

3.3 Sufficiency of goals

The goals established by the contractor are sufficient to ensure reasonable progress towards closing each gap in representation by being above or, at minimum, equal to availability.

Requirement 4: Make reasonable progress and reasonable efforts

The contractor must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that reasonable progress is made towards having full representation of the four designated groups within its workforce.

4.1 Reasonable Progress

The contractor has made reasonable progress by meeting its short-term goals by 80 percent or more, and/or overall goals (cumulative) have been met by at least 80 percent, and/or a fully representative workforce has been achieved.

4.2 Reasonable Efforts

Where short-term goals were not met by at least 80 percent, the contractor demonstrates that reasonable efforts to meet its goals were made.

Evidence of reasonable efforts could include:

  • ongoing senior-level support for employment equity and its implementation;
  • accountability mechanisms were established to ensure that the short-term goals would be met;
  • adequate resources (financial and human) were devoted to ensure that the short-term goals would be met;
  • a strategy was put in place to ensure a barrier-free workplace;
  • initiatives were undertaken to increase representation where gaps in representation were found; and
  • the organization has done all that might reasonably be expected to increase representation, taking into account resources and constraints.

Note: "Reasonable efforts" does not mean the contractor must take action that would cause undue hardship, hire or promote unqualified persons, or create new positions.

4.3 Record Keeping

The contractor keeps records relating to its employment equity obligations for a period of at least three years after the date to which the records relate. For every employee, this includes:

  • designated group membership, if any;
  • EEOG classification and NOC code;
  • salary and salary increases Footnote 1;
  • promotions(s) date(s), if any;
  • employment status (full-time, part-time);
  • location of work;
  • hiring date;
  • termination date, if applicable; and
  • the self-identification questionnaire and related information used for the collection of workforce information.

Compliance Assessments

Compliance assessments are conducted to ensure that the contractor fulfills the terms of its Agreement to Implement Employment Equity by meeting the requirements of the FCP.

Compliance assessments are conducted by Labour Program officers. A first year compliance assessment is conducted after a contractor has been subject to the FCP for one year. Subsequent assessments may be conducted after three years.

During a first year compliance assessment, the officer will assess compliance with requirements 1, 2 and 3. Specifically:

  • the collection of workforce information;
  • the workforce analysis; and
  • the short-term and long-term goals.

During subsequent third year compliance assessment, the officer will assess compliance with all four FCP requirements. Therefore, in addition to the above, the officer will assess:

  • whether or not reasonable progress was made towards achieving a workplace that is representative of the four designated; and
  • in the absence of reasonable progress, whether or not reasonable efforts were made to achieve reasonable progress.

A compliance assessment ends with a finding of either compliance or non-compliance.

For more detailed information about the compliance assessment process, please contact the Employment Equity Division of the Labour Program at ee-eme@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca.

Compliance and Non-Compliance

Compliance

A finding of compliance confirms that the contractor has met the requirements of the FCP. The contractor therefore remains eligible to receive goods and services contracts from the Government of Canada.

Non-Compliance

A finding of non-compliance is made when a contractor does not demonstrate that it has met the requirements of the FCP.

In situations of non-compliance, the contractor will be advised in writing of the factors contributing to the decision and be notified of its right to appeal to the Minister of Labour within 30 days of receiving the warning of non-compliance. If the appeal is accepted, the Minister of Labour will appoint an independent assessor to review the findings. If the results of the independent review support the contractor's position, a new compliance assessment will be conducted. If the results of the independent review indicate a failure to comply, sanctions will be applied.

Sanctions

A finding of non-compliance would result in the contractor's name being placed on the FCP Limited Eligibility to Bid List and the contractor would lose the right to bid on federal government goods and services contracts, standing offers or supply arrangements of any value. Non-compliance with the FCP may also result in the termination of the contract.

To be reinstated to the FCP, a contractor must:

  • collect information on its workforce (requirement 1);
  • complete a workforce analysis (requirement 2);
  • establish short-term and long-term goals (requirement 3);
  • request to the Labour Program that a compliance assessment be conducted; and
  • be found in compliance through a compliance assessment.

Withdrawing from the Federal Contractors Program

If a contractor withdraws from the FCP, it will no longer be able to bid on federal government goods and services contracts, standing offers or supply arrangements of any value.

To withdraw, the contractor must send a written request to withdraw to the Labour Program. After receiving the request, the Labour Program will send a confirmation letter to the contractor and the contractor's name will be added to the FCP Limited Eligibility to Bid List. Furthermore, the contractor's Agreement to Implement Employment Equity number will be cancelled, and all federal departments will be notified that the contractor is no longer eligible to bid or receive federal government goods and services contracts, standing offers, or supply arrangements of any value. Withdrawing from the FCP may also result in the termination of the contract.

Withdrawing from the Federal Contractors Program without Penalty

A contractor may withdraw from the FCP without penalty in cases where:

  • the contractor’s workforce has decreased to fewer than 100 employees and is unlikely to increase to 100 or more in the near future; or
  • the contractor has ceased to operate due to bankruptcy or liquidation, or has terminated its operations.

To withdraw without penalty, the contractor must send a request to the Labour Program, outlining the reason(s) for the request. Once approved, the contractor's Agreement to Implement Employment Equity number will be cancelled and the contractor will no longer have obligations under the FCP.

Federal Contractors Program Limited Eligibility list

Currently, there are no names on the FCP Limited Eligibility to Bid list. When a contractor will be found to be non-compliant, their name will be automatically added to the list.

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