Parole Board of Canada
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

Dear Janice Charette:

As Canadians, we have had several sad reminders recently, as well as cause to reflect on the ways in which Canada has unjustly treated Indigenous, Black and other racialized Canadians over the course of its history.

It is clear that addressing the systemic discrimination of these groups within Canada’s criminal justice system is an essential component to shaping a future that more fully and truly reflects the Canadian ideals that we strive for, both as a federal public service and more broadly as a country.

As a key part of Canada’s criminal justice system, the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) contributes to the protection of society by facilitating, as appropriate, the timely reintegration of offenders and the sustained rehabilitation of individuals into society as law-abiding citizens. The Board achieves this through independent, quality conditional release, record suspension and expungement decisions, as well as clemency recommendations, in a transparent and accountable manner, while respecting diversity and the rights of offenders and victims.

In pursuing our important public safety mandate, the PBC’s values statements guide the perspective and actions of the Board and define its culture and beliefs, as follows:

The PBC is committed to demonstrating leadership in taking action to ensure anti-racism, equity and inclusion in its policies and operations, and to contributing to change more widely across Canada’s criminal justice system.

I am pleased to provide the following information on the various initiatives and actions that the PBC has undertaken over the past year in response to the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion.

PBC’s Approach to Advancing Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion 

The PBC is committed to combatting all forms of racism and discrimination within its workplace. Given the nature of our mandate, and the over-representation of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized and marginalized offenders within the criminal justice system, taking action on systemic barriers within our policies and operations has been a significant part of our focus, while also investing in an inclusive and informed workforce. While many of our initiatives already support anti-racism objectives, in 2020, the PBC sought to develop an overarching targeted and strategic national approach to focus efforts and achieve stronger results.

With that in mind, the PBC and the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) established a Joint Committee on Diversity and Systemic Racism.

The Committee found that significant resources existed in the form of studies on the issue of over-representation of Black Canadians and Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. The Committee reviewed multiple existing reports and recommendations relevant to addressing the unique needs of racialized offenders and aimed at increasing the diversity and inclusion of PBC and CSC employees (see Annex B for a list of documents considered in that review).

Following this review, the Committee identified common themes/objectives and mapped current PBC and CSC policies, programs and practices in place against those themes.

The PBC is now conducting national and regional focus groups/consultations with internal and external ethno cultural advisory groups and organizations to validate findings of that review. The outcome of those consultations will prioritize and inform the PBC’s strategic plan for advancing equity and inclusion, and driving meaningful change over the next few years.

That plan will build on a strong existing framework that embraces diversity and supporting our current efforts to reflect and respect the needs of Canadians, including those of Indigenous, Black and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

Meanwhile, over the past year, within our workplaces, the PBC worked to ensure our team reflects Canada’s diversity, to build skill in recognizing and interrupting racism, to embrace multiculturalism in our communications, and to open frank conversations about race-related issues among our team and with our partners. As an organization, we also found innovative ways to maintain existing initiatives that respond to the needs of racialized groups by overcoming challenges created by the pandemic. Overall, we have pursued many initiatives intended to foster diversity and inclusion, and to respond to your call to action on these important issues.

Pending completion of our action plan, our efforts this year have largely focused on two key areas of this challenge:

Below are highlights of our achievements in these and the other priorities identified in the Call to Action.

Current initiatives

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

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

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

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

Including voices from diverse backgrounds in the identification of systemic racism, discrimination and barriers to inclusion, and the design and implementation of actions to address them

Combating 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

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)

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

Measurements and results

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

At the PBC, mandatory training on Unconscious Bias was implemented in 2020. To date, 376 of 466 employees (80.7%) have completed that training. We continue to monitor and work towards a 100 per cent completion rate. In addition, multiple opportunities such as workshops, training sessions and open discussions were provided to support managers and employees to deepen their understanding and their skills in addressing and preventing racism and related problems.

Elsewhere, a lack of metrics or inconsistent use of metrics was identified as a key challenge by our national Joint Working Group Diversity and Systemic Racism. At present, most employment data is not disaggregated by race. This has made it difficult to obtain detailed information or to compare information across datasets. Still, it is apparent that career progress remains imbalanced for racialized employees. Work is ongoing to gather baseline information that will support comparison and quantitative measurement of progress in future. Going forward, we will work towards consistent and standardized data collection that will allow for more substantive reporting. Available baseline data is included in Annex A.

Key challenges and barriers

As we have seen through the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the criminal justice system has a disproportionately negative history with Indigenous, Black and other marginalized groups. Moving forward, it will be important to build on existing positive relationships with stakeholder groups to expand contacts and deepen relationships with other organizations and opinion leaders to facilitate more engagement and recruitment within racialized communities.

There is limited research available on Black offenders and a lack of Indigenous and ethno-culturally specific assessment tools to inform decision making on conditional release. Work is needed to develop and/or identify resources necessary to support more culturally sensitive and informed operations.

Maintaining our momentum and next steps

Over the past year, the PBC has undertaken many important initiatives that respond to the Call to Action and contribute to a respectful, inclusive and harassment free workplace.

In terms of sustaining the momentum that we have achieved, we will be making efforts to better coordinate many of the initiatives outlined through the efforts of our Working Group on Systemic Discrimination and Racism. This will enable us to undertake these initiatives in a more strategic way, target our efforts in the most effective and efficient manner possible, and allow us to share best practices more widely with Board members and employees throughout the organization.

The PBC’s Internal Committee on Systemic Discrimination and Racism is following up on the review and recommendations from the Joint PBC/CSC Committee whose early work laid a foundation on which to build our action plan, and this work is well underway.


We recognize that through this initiative, we will be part of a coordinated and concerted effort to build a more diverse and inclusive public service where all people are treated with dignity and respect, all people have the same opportunity to contribute and all people are able to realize their full potential. This is a laudable, timely and achievable objective. On behalf of the Parole Board of Canada, I thank you for inspiring this drive to realize this important goal.

Jennifer Oades,

Annex A: Data Annex


At present, drawing from data collected on recruitment and employment equity from the PBC’s Human Resource Management System (HRMS), the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Report on Equity, and PBC Learning Roadmap results, we are able to track progress in some areas, and establish baselines in others:

Relevant information, data and/or metrics that demonstrate your progress in increasing representation through the first four actions in the Call to Action

  1. Appoint Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to and within the Executive Group through career development and talent management:
    • There are 13 executive positions at the PBC. One Black employee currently occupies an EX position with the Board. Eight of the PBC’s 13 executives (62%) are women, including the current Chairperson (the first woman to be appointed to this position), the Executive Vice Chairperson, two Regional Vice Chairpersons, and three Regional Directors General. The Executive Director General of the PBC identifies as a person with a disability and as a member of the LGBTQ2+ community.
    • There are currently 78 Board members currently employed with the PBC: 55% are women, 9% are visible minority and 13% are Indigenous. It is important to note that Board members are appointed through an order in council. That said, the PBC is involved in the identification of candidates for Board member positions. In 2020, the PBC launched a Notice of Opportunity for Board members that resulted in 32.6% of applications from Visible Minorities, 8.8% from Indigenous peoples, and 5.8% from the LGBTQ2+. Finally, 48.3% of all applications were from women.
  2. Sponsor high-potential Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to prepare them for leadership roles:
    • Nineteen of the PBC’s EX-1 received Succeeded +/Surpassed Rating and were automatically offered a Talent Management Plan. Of these 19 individuals, 15 are women and 3 are from a visible minority group.
  3. Support the participation of Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees in leadership development programs and career development services:
    • 45 current PBC employees have completed the Canada School of Public Service development programs (Supervisors, Managers, Executives, Aspiring Director, New Director, New DG). Three of those employees are Indigenous (6.7%) and six are members of a visible minority (13.3%).
  4. Recruit highly qualified candidates from Indigenous communities and Black and other racialized communities from across all regions of Canada:
    • Percentage of new hires (Indeterminate and Term employees):
      • 2019-20
        • 171 new hires: 11 (6.4%) were part of a visible minority group and 11 (6.4%) were Indigenous.
      • 2020-211
        • 124 new hires: 2 (1.6%) were part of a visible minority group and 7 (5.6%) were Indigenous.
    • Indeterminate employees who left the PBC:
      • 2019-20
        • 53 employees left the PBC: 6 (11%) were part of a visible minority group and 3 (5.6%) were Indigenous.
      • 2020-21
        • 38 employees left the PBC: 3 (7.8%) were part of a visible minority group and 2 (5.2%) were Indigenous.

Annex B:

Reports and Recommendations Reviewed by the PBC/CSC Joint Committee on Systemic Discrimination and Racism

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