Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

Dear Ms. Charette:

On January 22, 2021, Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, released the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service (Call to Action). It called on leaders across the Public Service to take practical actions that would be the basis for systemic change. We are happy and proud to take part in this important initiative.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is a regulatory agency that endeavours to protect privacy rights in a digital environment without territorial boundaries. It carries out its mission to protect and promote the privacy rights of individuals. The OPC is an agent of Parliament with approximately 213 employees. We are a small organization with few executive positions and so there are limited opportunities to offer career advancement to all employees. Like many organizations, we also have struggled to get a clear picture of our workforce’s diversity because not all employees chose to self-identify.

However, with reform of privacy laws a likely possibility in the near future, the OPC expects to grow significantly, which will create significant opportunities to enhance the diversity of our workforce. Shortly after the publication of the Call for Action, we have adopted a three-year Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) action plan that will offer advancement opportunities to our employees, not only when our organization grows but also in the shorter term.

The established action plan focuses on three (3) pillars: Communication and Engagement; Leadership and Accountability; and Recruitment, Development and Retention. All three pillars are derived from the Call to Action. For each pillar, expected outcomes have been identified to guide our actions. The first pillar focuses on increasing education on equity, diversity and inclusion to create an environment where conversations are encouraged and supported. The second pillar ensures leaders play an active role in ending all forms of discrimination, and that equity, diversity and inclusion are included in all aspects of our business. Lastly, a pillar that centers around attracting and retaining a workforce that reflects Canada’s diverse population and linguistic duality.

Appoint Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to and within the Executive Group through career development and talent management

At OPC, there are currently 18 permanent executive (EX and LC) positions. For the past two (2) years, there has been no movement in executive positions. As a result, no staffing actions at this level have been required.

A temporary executive (EX) position was created with the purpose of meeting temporary needs. In order to support career development and talent management, acting opportunities for this position have been given to one (1) Black employee and one (1) racialized employee.

Sponsor high-potential Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to prepare them for leadership roles

At OPC, we have used our current Talent Management program to promote and advocate on behalf of highly qualified and high performing employees. The OPC has sponsored high potential racialized employees and provided them with access to developmental opportunities to prepare them for future leadership roles. These employees, who are part of Black and racialized groups, were given acting opportunities in order to gain the necessary skills and competencies for future leadership roles.

Included in our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion action plan is the alignment of the talent management approach with the GC-Wide initiative to ensure it reflects the needs and challenges for EE-designated groups.

Support the participation of Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees in leadership development programs (for example, the Executive Leadership Development Program) and career development services (for example, official language training)

At OPC we believe in learning and development, and we fully support our employees when it comes to learning and career activities. We have supported the participation of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized employees in leadership development programs as well as career development services. Managers actively promote internal and external initiatives intended to develop skills and knowledge when meeting with Indigenous, Black, and racialized employees. Managers also have one-on-one discussions with employees on the topic of training and other development opportunities, ensuring that any necessary accommodations are implemented.

Some of our Indigenous/Black/racialized employees are participating in several development programs offered by the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), such as the Manager Development Program and the Supervisor Development Program.

Second Language training is offered to all employees at the OPC. We have seen an increase in the participation of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized employees in this type of training. This training assists employees in becoming fluently bilingual, therefore facilitating access to other and higher positions within the organisation and the federal government. As a feeder group for leadership positions, talented Indigenous, Black, and other racialized employees are prioritized to get access to language training. 

Recruit highly qualified candidates from Indigenous communities and Black and other racialized communities from across all regions of Canada

With approximately 213 employees, movements (i.e., staffing movements) within the organization have a great impact on the numbers and the representation of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized employees. Our employment equity statistics can change substantially and rapidly as we gain and lose employees who are part of the four (4) employment equity groups.

Statistics on Human Resources as of March 31, 2021

Analysis by Employment Equity Groups Women Aboriginal Persons with Disabilities Visible Minorities Total Employees
Management Category 7 1 - 2 19
Scientific, Professional 20 1 1 3 34
Administrative Services 98 7 8 21 157
Admin Support 1 - 1 1 3
Quantity Total 126 9 10 27 213
% of represntation within OPC 59.2% 4.2% 4.7% 12.7%  
% of the Canadadian Labour Market Availability 53.4% 3.1% 9.1% 15.3%  

In 2020-2021, 12.5% of the new indeterminate employees who joined OPC were members of the Indigenous or Black community. Since January 2021, this number has increased to 16.6%. We did not have any departures in 2020-2021, nor since January 2021 from Indigenous or Black communities.

Organizational-specific targeted recruitment approaches will be established and carefully delivered in order to attract and retain Indigenous, Black, and other racialized employees. This has been included in our three year EDI action plan.

Committing to personally learning about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity and inclusion, and fostering a safe, positive environment where these conversations are encouraged throughout our workplaces

All supervisory-level positions have an objective in their performance agreements related to EDI. This objective is intended to prompt conversations between senior management and holds them accountable for fostering a diverse, safe and inclusive environment. The OPC is committed to helping all employees learn more about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity, and inclusion. Since January 2021, employees have been regularly encouraged to take part in the Anti-Racism Learning Series and the Indigenous Learning Series offered by the Canada School of Public Service. There has been an increase in the number of OPC employees taking part in these learning activities since January 2021 and we will continue promoting these initiatives throughout our workplace and organization.

In order to encourage conversations and foster a sense of inclusion and support, many communications (e.g., emails, communiqués) were shared with employees to promote learning activities, events, and courses about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity, and inclusion. The Champion of EDI and the Commissioner released communiqués to start conversations and mark important events such as Black History Month, Pride Month, and National Indigenous Peoples Day. Since January 2021, approximately 15 messages on EDI topics have been shared with employees. There have also been a variety of Microsoft Teams background images shared with employees so they can help promote and support these important events.

Additionally, as resources are made available, these are shared with all OPC employees. For example, we shared the Pride Season calendar, which promoted events happening in the public service. These concrete actions have led to frequent discussions on equity, diversity, and inclusion at the Executive Management Board, and at all other levels in the organization. Promoting and fostering equity, diversity and inclusion are included and embedded in all aspects of strategic decisions.

Combatting all forms of racism, discrimination and other barriers to inclusion in the workplace by taking action on what we have learned, empowering employees to speak up about bias and oppression, and better equipping managers to address these issues

Managers have spoken to their employees about the importance of a work environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. These discussions are in team and one-on-one settings, and employees are encouraged to bring forward any feedback. An objective to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion was included in all employee performance agreements to empower them to speak up and take part in improving the work environment. Employees are also encouraged to participate in forums for discussion such as the EDI Committee.

In January 2021, one of OPC’s directorates organized a half-day workshop with an external facilitator on best practices to uncover unconscious bias and lead inclusively. The objective for this session was to increase knowledge, skills and awareness about best practices to uncover unconscious biases and lead more inclusively, resulting in increased motivation, improved performance, and a sense of purpose and belonging.

Mandatory training related to EDI topics, such as unconscious bias, will be included in the OPC’s learning roadmap for all employees to empower them to speak up about bias and oppression.

Enabling and advancing the work of grassroots networks and communities within the Public Service by providing necessary resources and bringing them into discussions at senior executive tables

The OPC has created a diverse EDI Committee in order to enable employees to work together in advancing EDI initiatives in the organization. The Committee, under the governance of a recently appointed Champion, allows for open discussions about building EDI in the Public Service. One of its mandates is to foster a spirit of belonging for all OPC employees and engage staff on the actions required to contribute to the government-wide diversity and inclusion initiative.

The OPC also has a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) group, lead by the GBA+ Champion, that includes employees from various areas of the organization. This group examines the impact of our programs on diverse persons, and makes recommendations for meaningful changes.

Members from both groups regularly share information on activities and initiatives with their teams to promote their respective mandates. The committees we have are diverse and committee members are involved in rethinking the impact of diversity and inclusion within our organization.

Measuring progress and driving improvements in the employee workplace experience by monitoring disaggregated survey results and related operational data (for example, promotion and mobility rates, tenure) and acting on what the results are telling us

The OPC’s Strategic Human Resources Plan 2020-2023 included directions on employment equity and diversity. As a complement, a streamlined EDI action plan was approved in April 2021. This action plan includes clear concrete actions. The OPC has started implementation of priority actions for Year 1, and will continue with subsequent planned actions over the next few years. Additionally, the plan includes the monitoring of performance indicators such as PSES results, promotion and mobility rates, rates of self-identification, and participation in development programs.

Next Steps and Conclusion

During the current fiscal year, our focus will be on the Office’s three-year Employment Equity Strategic Plan, which will be finalized in the coming months. A few of the key activities include increasing the targeted recruitment of employment equity groups and providing support to managers in this area, providing specialized development opportunities, and increasing education opportunities on EDI topics for all employees.

In the coming months, performance indicators will be reviewed in order to allow us to measure our progress on this and other people management initiatives. These indicators will help us determine and observe improvements in the employee workplace experience.

We will leverage the newly formed diverse EDI Committee to engage employees, internal partners and support the completion of the EDI Action Plan. 

The early actions taken so far are only the beginning. We acknowledge that much work needs to be done. However, we will continue to move forward and make adjustments along the way, all with patience and understanding. The OPC will also continue to support and promote Government-wide People Management initiatives and activities in EDI.


Daniel Therrien

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