Category

Anti-racism

Changes to the Public Service Employment Act (June 2021)

By Anti-racism

Before rising for summer break, Parliament made changes to the Public Service Employment Act in June in order to, “address systemic barriers for equity-seeking groups in public service staffing.”

Treasury Board said this was a result of, “too many Canadians continuing to face bias, barriers, and discrimination based on their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or other factors.”

These changes were outlined in April’s federal budget but because the Public Service Employment Act is a law, legislative changes have to go through the Parliamentary process first, being passed by both the House of Commons and the Senate.

The list of changes are:

+ The Public Service Commission now has explicit authority to audit for bias and barriers that disadvantage members of equity-seeking groups.

+ The Commission and deputy heads will have explicit authority to investigate bias and barriers for members of equity-seeking groups.

+ All new or revised qualification standards must be evaluated for bias and barriers for members of equity-seeking groups.

+ The design and application of assessment methods must include an evaluation of bias and barriers, and reasonable efforts for mitigation.

+ Permanent residents now have the same preference as Canadian Citizens when appointments are made through external advertised hiring processes.

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries. Refugees who are resettled from overseas become permanent residents through government programs. A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.

Treasury Board said these latest changes are meant to, “help departments take measures in their staffing actions to reduce barriers and encourage more inclusive recruitment practices. They are just one part of a set of initiatives and activities to increase diversity and inclusion in the public service so that it is reflective of the Canadian population it serves and a place where all public servants feel a true sense of belonging.”

An action plan to to increase representation and leadership development in the public service was first announced in the 2020 Speech from the Throne with $12 million being committed over three years towards these goals.

Then earlier this year, Clerk Ian Shugart sent a message to Deputy Ministers on a “call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the federal public service.”

Most recently, Interim Clerk Janice Charette sent a message last month to departments, notifying them that they have until the end of August to submit departmental reports to the Clerk outlining the concrete actions they’ve taken to implement meaningful change around anti-racism and also equity and inclusion in the public service.

Other links:

News release: Taking Action to Address Potential Barriers in Staffing: Public Service Employment Act amendments receive Royal Assent

Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service

Budget 2021

2020 Speech From the Throne

Public Service Employment Act

Understanding more about permanent resident status

Message from Clerk to departments: departmental progress reports on anti-racism due August 31

By Anti-racism

On Monday, the Interim Clerk issued a message to departments: they must submit a report outlining the concrete actions they’ve taken to implement meaningful change around anti-racism and also equity and inclusion in the public service.

This follows the “Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service” from the Clerk to departments earlier this year, which “set common expectations for leaders across the public service to take practical actions that will be the basis for systemic change. It is about getting going on actions that are long overdue.”

For their reports, the Interim Clerk asked departments to apply an intersectional lens, considering the interconnected dimensions of identity (e.g. race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identification and expression, and physical or mental ability).

These reports will be made public for all to see and determine which departments have been advancing real change and which ones have the most work to do.

The Interim Clerk said the purpose of this is to be authentic and transparent but also, “to learn from each other, surface key challenges, and identify best practices to tackle barriers and generate and sustain the momentum necessary to achieve meaningful results. Success requires us to do things differently, and this extends to the way we share our progress.”

“I have also heard that barriers remain and entrenched mindsets are obstacles to necessary progress.”

– Janice Charette, Interim Clerk, June 28, 2021

At a Canada School of Public Service virtual event back in April titled, “Systemic racism and the public service,” the Interim Clerk gave opening remarks and acknowledged the slow, uneven progress on anti-racism efforts and recognized that the public service doesn’t look like the public it serves, in terms of representation.

Public servants have been speaking in the media about their truths and about their experiences of racism and discrimination in the federal public service, specifically at: Rideau Hall; the Canada Revenue Agency; Indigenous Services Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and; even the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In addition to her message on Monday, the Interim Clerk also provided departments with guidance on how they could structure their reports with questions to answer, specifically about Indigenous, Black, and other racialized employees.

The Interim Clerk suggested departmental reports could be organized into the following sections:

  • Actions
  • Measurements and results
  • Challenges and barriers
  • Employee response
  • Momentum

The Interim Clerk also encouraged departments to provide a “Data Annex,” a section based on facts with metrics to clearly show how departments have been increasing representation and to answer questions such as:

  • How many Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees:
    • joined your organization in 2020/2021 compared to the total number of employees who joined in 2020/2021*;
    • left your organization in 2020/2021 compared to the total number of employees who left in 2020/2021*; and,
    • were appointed to Executive positions in 2020/2021 compared to the total number of employees appointed to Executive positions in 2020/2021*?

* A comparison to the previous fiscal year may also be illustrative, if available.

  • What department-specific recruitment approaches do you have that are geared towards Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees?
  • What department-specific sponsorship, leadership or other career development services are available to Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees?

Departments have until August 31 to submit their reports to the Interim Clerk.

Other links:

Message and guidance for letters on the implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service

Clerk admits slow, uneven progress on anti-racism efforts in the public service

By Anti-racism

Interim Clerk Janice Charette recently spoke about systemic racism towards Black, Indigenous and other racialized employees in the federal public service at a virtual event titled “Systemic racism and the public service” for public servants.

Public servants have been speaking in the media about their truths and about their experiences of racism and discrimination in the federal public service, specifically at: Rideau Hall; the Canada Revenue Agency; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and; even the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

There is currently a class action lawsuit against the federal government being led by 12 representative plaintiffs on the basis of, “wrongful failure to promote Black employees in the Public Service, and for unjustly subjecting Class Members to the systemic, unlawful practice of Black employee exclusion.” More than 500 current and past Black public servants have joined the claim.

The claim seeks long-term solutions to permanently address systemic racism and discrimination in the public service of Canada:

  • Apology: the Prime Minister of Canada shall issue a formal apology to all present and past Black employees of the Public Service for the injustices suffered in the past;
  • Self-declaration: the federal government shall amend the self-declaration of ‘Visible Minority’ to create a separate category for Black employees;
  • External reporting mechanism: the federal government shall establish a mechanism to ensure that Black employees in the public service have access to an external and independent body to report harassment or misconduct. This body should have the power to investigate and make binding recommendations;
  • Black Equity Commission: the federal government shall appoint a Black Equity Commission to serve as the central coordinating entity to carry out an investigation of the challenges facing Black employees as well as the power to implement solutions and hold all Government entities accountable. The Commission will also provide a strategy for the development of a “Diversity Lens” model for the public service as it relates to the hiring and promotion of Black employees. The Commission will also be tasked with creating a framework for present and past Black employees to have their stories and voices heard with the goal of providing recommendations to address historic injustices and eradicate systemically racist practices;
  • Compensation fund: the establishment of a fund to address the psychological, pain and suffering and financial losses of both past and present Black employees, within the past 50 years.

Black public servants have said that they believe, “the situation is hopeless” for Black employees in the public service and have detailed specific examples of mental abuse, physical abuse, racism and discrimination across the federal public service.

Earlier this year, Clerk Ian Shugart sent a message to Deputy Ministers on a “call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the federal public service.”

However Clerk Janice Charette admittedly pointed out that there is still a lot of work to do, progress has been too slow and too uneven across the public service, and recognized that the public service doesn’t look like the public it serves, in terms of representation.

Nearly 8,000 public servants across the country tuned in to this virtual event on systemic racism and the public service.

Public servants can also visit the Black Class Action website for “Canada’s Public Service in 2021” for a visual snapshot of the underrepresentation and lack of diversity at the senior levels across the public service.

Budget 2021 also proposed legislative amendments to the Public Service Employment Act in order to help address potential bias and barriers in staffing processes.

Watch:

UPDATE: The Canada School of Public Service had made a recording of the virtual event on systemic racism and the public service available publicly on their YouTube page: https://youtu.be/HEo26YngHmg which we had embedded here but has since made the video private.

CBC’s The National: Black federal public servants allege discrimination in government lawsuit

Other links:

Black Class Action

Civil servant says he was assaulted on job and faces discrimination because he is Black

Black civil servants allege discrimination in proposed class-action lawsuit against Ottawa

Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service

Message to deputy ministers, heads of separate agencies, and heads of federal agencies

An open letter to federal Black employees

Federal Black Employee Caucus

Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat

Budget 2021