In 2001, the labor force numbered 16.4 million workers. In 2000, services accounted for 74% of those workers, with 15% in manufacturing; 3% in agriculture, 5% in construction, and the remaining 3% in various occupations. The rate of unemployment was estimated at 7.6% in 2002.
In 2002, about 29% of the civilian workforce was unionized. All together there were 235 national unions in Canada, and 62 international unions. The public sector is the most highly organized. The largest unions include the Canadian Union of Public Employees, National Union of Public and General Employees, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. All workers have the right to strike except those in essential services.
Child labor legislation, standard work hours, and minimum wage rates vary from province to province. Most provinces prohibit employment for children under the age of 15 from working without parental consent, at night, or in hazardous conditions. All provinces limit the regular workweek to 40 or 48 hours, with at least 24 hours of rest. Minimum wage rates in 2002 ranged from C $5.50 to C $7.20 per hour. A family with only one wage earner at the minimum level would fall below the poverty line. Federal and provincial laws effectively protect the health and safety of workers.