CIMM – Opening Remarks for the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration – March 24, 2022

Differential Outcomes

March 24, 2022

Good morning/afternoon, Madame Chair.

I’m pleased to join the Committee, and would like to take a moment to acknowledge that the land from which I speak is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation whose rich heritage is integral to this land.

Let me begin by saying that, at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, there is zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, or harassment of any kind. However, we know that across the public service and in our department, these concerns do exist.

True and lasting change begins with acknowledging this reality. That is why creating safe spaces and an inclusive and healthy workplace is a priority for me, the IRCC Deputy Ministers and for the entire Department.

We have an obligation to listen and act because Canada’s diversity is a major strength, and we all benefit when we reflect that diversity in our public service.

This is true for all federal agencies, and especially for IRCC, given its mandate to welcome new Canadians.

The Department is committed to diversity and inclusion, not only regarding its employees, but in all our work, and including the fair and non-discriminatory processing of all applications we receive from people of various backgrounds.

I’d like now to outline the actions we are taking to address this ongoing commitment.

IRCC Anti-Racism actions and commitments

IRCC’s first major step towards this commitment was to create, in 2020, our Anti-Racism Task Force. It guides the Department’s elimination of racism and applies an Anti-Racism lens to all our work, policies and programs.

Overall, IRCC has been actively reviewing its Human Resource systems, so that Indigenous, Black, racialized peoples, and persons with disabilities are better represented across IRCC at all levels.

To that end, we have established 12 departmental commitments to make IRCC a more equitable and diverse place of employment, to hold the Department accountable for its progress, and to shift workforce composition by 2024.

We have also established six Anti-Racism service delivery commitments to measure, analyse and assess the impact of bias in service delivery – and this includes a review of our operations serving African clients.

These commitments are important because what gets measured is what gets done.

As well, to deliver on our commitments, we have put in place numerous initiatives and training programs that support decision makers across different lines of business.

For example:

I want to emphasize that we are committed to the fair application of immigration laws.

As such, all immigration applications received by IRCC are assessed on an individual basis, based on the documentation provided by clients.

IRCC actions to support employees

IRCC has also taken a number of steps to make real and lasting changes within the Department, to ensure our actions support our commitments.

We have established a three-year Anti-Racism strategy which includes in its plans:

We are also focused on targeted recruitment processes to help meet higher representation levels and are implementing Anti-Racism commitments in our leader performance agreements.

To this end, IRCC is initiating a new three-year hiring and retention strategy to address the diversity of our workforce.

We are also developing a Talent Management Bank where employees can register to be considered for opportunities within IRCC.

Through such initiatives, we have begun to see encouraging trends in employment equity, especially at the entry levels.

But we do need to make more progress at the middle manager and executive levels, so we achieve a workforce that is more representative of the Canadian population.

We need to develop this diverse workforce so that racialized individuals can contribute to our department, especially as leaders, and can inspire others to pursue leadership roles.

Supporting diversity in the senior ranks of an organization can help to challenge conventional thinking and ultimately, lead to better decisions and outcomes.

That’s why this is the right thing to do AND the smart thing to do.

Through such actions, we can help our public service to develop policies and programs that serve all Canadians in all of their diversity.

Final Thoughts

Before closing Madame Chair, let me also add a few other measures we have taken to address Anti-Racism.

We have launched the Black Employee Network, which joins existing groups such as the Indigenous Peoples Circle, Pride@IRCC, the Racialized Employee and Allies Network, Persons with Disabilities Employee Network and the Women’s Network.

IRCC’s letter of offer to new employees contains a commitment to uphold the objectives of the department’s Anti-Racism policy.

And employees, middle managers and executives who have delegation authority in the Department, must take mandatory unconscious bias training and have anti-racist work and training objectives included in their performance agreements.

I should also add that, as the honorable members are probably aware, the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) is surveying its members on racism at IRCC.

We take such surveys very seriously and will take all necessary actions to address CEIU’s findings.

But I would like to note that IRCC has already carried out similar Anti-Racism surveys of our employees, and many of the initiatives I’ve mentioned are in response to these findings.


Madame Chair, true and lasting change regarding racism begins with acknowledging the difficult reality that discrimination and racism exists all around us, including in the Public Service.

We have an obligation to our employees, and to all Canadians, to do better – and we will.

Systemic racism and intolerance have no place in Canada.

And to demonstrate our commitment to this, the Government will continue to provide the support that is needed to address this important issue.

Thank you Madame Chair.

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