This article examines labour standards violations and enforcement activities in Canada’s federally regulated private sector (FRPS) between 2006 and 2018. Drawing on an administrative data set (known as the Labour Application 2000 (LA2K)) from the federal Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada – we illustrate the dominance of a complianceoriented approach to labour standards enforcement in the federal labour inspectorate. This compliance- oriented model of enforcement assumes that most labour standards violations result from lack of knowledge on the part of employers, and that violations are exceptional rather than a regular feature of contemporary business practices geared to cost-containment. Further, the dominance of a compliance-based enforcement strategy is rooted in the historically unique working conditions, industrial composition, and social demographics of the FRPS. In short, the sector has been characterized historically by a disproportionate number of large firms, and a highly male-dominated workforce, engaged in full-time permanent employment. However, numerous labour standards violations are evident in growing pockets of precarious employment, particularly among small firms in the trucking sector. We argue that the litmus test for the regime’s efficacy should be the degree to which it serves employees in the most precarious employment situations. The inspectorate devotes relatively little time to proactive workplace inspections. Those violations that inspectors do uncover through proactive inspections are principally non-monetary and are rectified primarily on the basis of securing employers’ written commitments to bring their practices into compliance with minimum standards. By way of conclusion, the article outlines the ways in which reliance on a compliance model of enforcement in the FRPS may be contributing to the erosion of labour standards, particularly for those workers in industries where small firms dominate and precarious employment is concentrated, and calls for a more deterrence-oriented approach.