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

Summer 2021 update

Under the Statistics Act, our agency is required to collect, analyze and publish statistics on numerous topics, including on the experiences of the many diverse populations within Canada. From the information Canadians provide us, we have borne witness to the rise of anti-Black, anti-Asian, and anti-Indigenous racism across the land, and within the government. The Clerk of the Privy Council highlighted this clearly in the Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service, stating that “as public servants come forward and courageously share their lived experiences, the urgency of removing systemic racism from our institutions and from our culture becomes more evident.” We know we have a responsibility as public servants to counter racism and discrimination wherever we find it, especially in our own ranks.

This open letter holds us accountable for our commitments to combat racism and foster equity and inclusion among our valued employees. These commitments are not just boxes we need to tick; they are our promise to Canadians that we will work harder than ever to ensure that we lead with integrity and fairness.


One of our first major actions was to draft a multi-year Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. This plan provides clear, specific ways of advancing anti-racism, equity and inclusion initiatives, anchored by measurable baselines and targets. We then made the plan bolder based on feedback we solicited from our Employment Equity networks. Our revised plan sets out stronger actions, higher targets and shorter deadlines.

Our plan’s commitments are transformative. Under senior management’s leadership, all employees – not just those in designated groups – will implement and experience organizational change. We are shifting our work culture from passive disengagement to more personal connections, in order to make our organization psychologically safe, positive and productive. Although we are data-driven, we are going beyond the numbers and connecting the quantifiable with the qualifiable; driving our numbers to be more aligned with our values. Not only must we do more for one another, but we must make equity, diversity and inclusion business imperatives in order to achieve greater success. We must evaluate the agency we are today, the agency we want to be, and the legacy we will leave behind. This evergreen document is a good first step towards lasting change.

Of the nine actions in the Clerk of the Privy Council’s Call to Action, we have focused the most attention on employee recruitment, development and retention. We have made significant progress in the measurement and accountability of our staffing and recruitment efforts.

We have made employment equity a mandatory consideration in our hiring process. Hiring managers must now demonstrate that they have considered all workforce requirements when making staffing and promotional appointments. They are expected to review existing staffing pools first before beginning any staffing process, to ensure that equity-deserving applicants are not overlooked or asked to apply to multiple staffing processes for the same group and level.

To build on this progress, we are testing ways to remove barriers during the evaluation phase of our staffing processes, such as introducing name-blind evaluations in order to reduce the possibility of bias in certain types of staffing, and conducting exams and interviews before we review answers to certain screening questions, as an audit identified that visible minority and Indigenous candidates were ruled out at higher rates during the screening phase. Additionally, we are exploring whether it’s feasible to have the agency commit to mandatory equity-deserving representation (50%) on hiring assessment boards.

We have mapped the Employee Journey to establish a baseline for measuring progress and enable managers to understand the barriers that members of equity-deserving groups might face along each step of their careers. This awareness will allow the agency to be proactive in providing adequate support for all employees in order to build a diverse workforce and a work environment that is inclusive to all.

While the next initiative is still in development, we are moving towards giving Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees prioritized access to official language training so that equity-deserving employees can fully execute their work and progress in their careers, if employees are interested in doing so.

Since the 1990s, with the launch of the Indigenous Liaison Program, Statistics Canada has supported First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in their use of data that enable them to embark firmly on a path to self-determination.

What started with a handful of Indigenous Liaison Advisors (ILA) has grown to our current team of 25 advisors, who collaborate with more than 700 local Indigenous communities and organizations to support the collection of data, and, just as crucially, to enhance the ILAs statistical capacity. In doing so Indigenous communities and organizations can harness the power of data themselves in ways that put decision-making in the ILAs’ own hands, rather than in colonial structures. 

All of our advisors self-identify as Indigenous, or have deep experience in Indigenous engagement. The ILAs’ involvement has helped to make this Census safe and successful. As such, Statistics Canada made early progress on the Call to Action laid out by the Clerk by launching the Indigenous Retention Initiative in February 2021. The initiative recognized that the agency had the ability, commitment and resolve to provide opportunities for our term Indigenous employees to continue their careers with Statistics Canada. The initiative was successful, and we are pleased to announced that our eleven advisors and one national manager will continue working with us under the Center for Indigenous Statistics and Partnerships, delivering statistical training and preparing for the upcoming Indigenous Peoples Survey. This is an important first step as we collectively move forward on many other similar initiatives to help us achieve our EDI objectives.

The agency also made important progress in terms of the recruitment of Indigenous employees. The 2021 Census saw an unprecedented number of Indigenous employees hired by Statistics Canada and the agency is committed to sustaining that momentum for the 2026 Census and beyond.

Measurement and results

Over the past year, we have successfully delivered on commitments outlined in the previous Action Plan around creating a diverse and inclusive work environment for the four designated groups. Statistics Canada’s 2019-2020 achievements include:

Many smaller-scale goals have already been reached. For example, the Chief Statistician met with our Employment Equity Champions and created an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Leadership Accountability Framework, which outlines clear responsibilities and goals for leaders of equity-deserving groups. A senior diversity and inclusion leader at the Director level or higher will be appointed within each field. This person will be responsible for collaborating with the agency’s equity-deserving networks to create strategic plans in order to meet the EDI Action Plan’s objectives and prioritize the Call to Action within their respective fields.

The Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EEDI) team has been involved in projects not only to meet their mandate but to provide employees and managers with extra support. For example, they prepared twenty key messages for employees on subjects ranging from days of recognition to incorporating gender pronouns into email signatures. They have also held mandatory training sessions for all Human Resources personnel on Indigenous Cultural Competency, created a hiring guide for managers, and given presentations to staff and students on the importance of self-identification and how that information is used.

As a result of these actions and our ongoing efforts, we are seeing progress towards becoming a more diverse organization. This year we have seen an increase in hiring for employment-equity groups at the executive level, along with improvement in areas such as promotion rates for our visible minority groups and a reduction in separation rates (see Data Annex). Although incremental, we continue to make progress and remain dedicated to improving the diversity and inclusion of equity-seeking groups at Statistics Canada. 

We are committing to being even more transparent with our data. We are developing dashboards and tools to share near real-time data in order to track our progress with the actions in the EDI Action Plan and to ensure accountability. These tracking tools will be published in Fall 2021 on our internal website so that they will be available to all employees. The dashboard will display key performance indicators and how the agency is meeting them, which include but are not limited to:

While Statistics Canada is actively hiring new employees to counter deficits and keep up with expected increases in workforce availability, we are also working to ensure that employees from employment-equity groups are represented in all fields and at all levels within the organization. Our targets are set at 100%: we aim to meet workforce availability for all equity groups by 2025; eliminate systemic barriers in our policies and practices; prioritize equity and diversity in development and promotion; promote safe spaces and confidential resources for dealing with racism and discrimination; and establish an environment where equity-deserving employees know that they will not be exposed to criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm. We understand that we may not hit all our targets on the first try, but we will not aim any lower. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of the public service.

Through the Public Service Employee Survey and regular internal surveys taken to evaluate progress on more incremental scales, we will be able to accurately measure our progress so we can correct course, if necessary, before we reach our target dates.

Challenges and barriers

We are now building a robust data infrastructure and a diversity and inclusion data strategy that will enable us to collect the data required to respond comprehensively to the Call to Action. One area we are working on is developing the means to collect better data on intersectionality.

In response to a critical request among employees in equity-deserving groups, we are also investigating ways to disaggregate data on visible minorities, so that we can track the status and progress of Black and Indigenous employees in particular. This disaggregation will allow the agency to break down the performance indicators beyond the term “employment-equity group” to represent the specific diverse population groups we are prioritizing. Detailed data allow us to be more transparent in our human resources practices, which our employees have indicated is very important to them.

While we excel at collecting and analyzing data, there is room for us to improve how we share information internally regarding our workforce, so that we may strengthen trust within the agency while ensuring we still strictly adhere to privacy requirements. To maintain transparency and accountability, we will publish Statistics Canada’s human resource metrics regarding workforce representation among employment-equity groups internally on a quarterly basis, as comprehensively as confidentiality policies allow.

Employee response

Throughout Statistics Canada, fields are rising to the challenge of fostering an inclusive work environment. They are co-coordinating the second annual government-wide Diversity and Inclusion Conference as well as an annual event for employees to discuss how they can create a more respectful work culture. They provide informal opportunities for employees to discuss any topic with senior management, build people-centred leadership, and develop training, coaching and workshops around making meetings more inclusive. They’re also developing external communications to promote the diversity of our existing workforce and recruit even more diverse applicants. Additionally, they have created casual virtual spaces for employees to connect, which is particularly important when so many are isolated at home.

As we have been developing our EDI Action Plan: Moving Forward Together, we continue to consult with our employees to make sure our initiatives address their needs and issues, reshaping our agency with a structure that ensures equity for all of its employees while serving the diverse population of Canadians. We are in the final stages of developing an Employee Engagement Portal in order to solicit input from employees on their experiences and perceptions, which can then be compared to management’s intentions and expectations as they evaluate internal demographics and workforce availability. Through this tool, we will conduct regular, short surveys to gather feedback quickly and easily, without burdening employees. The Employee Engagement Portal is designed to be an accessible, one-stop shop for collecting feedback and communicating with employees, and is part of our overall mission to prioritize employee wellness.

Statistics Canada has made a commitment to implement and promote a psychologically healthy and safe work environment. Guided by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, we have developed the Employee Wellness Survey to capture a baseline assessment of psychological health and safety among our employees. Aggregated findings will be shared with directors and senior leaders, as well as with employees, to help them understand the psychological health of their colleagues and develop practical recommendations to foster greater engagement and job satisfaction. Employee participation in both the survey and follow-up focus groups is key to co-creating the future of work at Statistics Canada.

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan will be posted on our agency’s internal website. This plan is being presented in plain language in clear and engaging ways. We want to ensure that all employees can read the plan and are aware of the mechanisms that exist within the agency to hold us accountable to it. We will update this plan quarterly with input from the senior diversity and inclusion leaders from each field so that employees can track our progress.

Awareness of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan will be mandatory. Everyone from senior management to students must understand our commitments and the reasons they are being implemented. We must equip employees to do their part. All employees, not just the ones in employment-equity groups, should see themselves in the plan. Equity, diversity and inclusion are everyone’s responsibility.


There is still more we can do to secure a more equitable, diverse workforce and an inclusive, barrier-free work environment. The Workforce Workplace Branch has developed an Integrated Business and HR Plan outlining their commitments, strategies and accountabilities to execute the EDI Action Plan: Moving Forward Together successfully. This plan leverages our data stewardship expertise as we identify and measure variables in consultation with equity-deserving employees. Starting with the objectives identified in this year’s HR plan, we will use evidence-based EDI metrics to advocate for the changes required to reduce employment-equity gaps and achieve a more diverse workforce. Statistics Canada must ensure that its internal policies and practices support its commitment not only to represent the diverse people of Canada, but also to champion anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable values and enable all employees to reach their full potential.

We are building a Mentorship+ program, which will provide mentorship spaces for members of equity-deserving groups in executive and executive-feeder positions. This program requires sponsors to share networks with their protégés, to actively promote their skills and talents, and to put them forward for new training and employment opportunities. The program seeks not only to remove barriers but also to support meaningful career advancement.

We have created a working group with members of the Visible Minority Consultative Group to further develop our EDI plan. We will work with our Indigenous employees to take a modern approach to recruit more Indigenous talent. We will keep meeting with all equity-deserving groups to ensure that the plan continues to serve their needs.

Each of us plays a role in transforming Statistics Canada’s culture by removing barriers, promoting awareness and advocating for equity. Inclusion is a journey that we are all on together.

Data Annex

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social movements have changed the landscape of how we work. They required the agency’s leadership team to look closely at how we have always operated and to acknowledge that our agency must work harder to be representative of the country we serve.

Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan: Moving Forward Together positions the agency to do just that – change and do better. When setting new objectives, it was imperative that we start by looking at where we are and where we want to be, so that we may chart a path forward and hold ourselves accountable to meaningful goals, both aspirational and challenging. 

Categories on the tables below already incorporate intersectionality such as women and persons with disabilities. Students, casual employees and employees appointed to positions for terms less than three months are excluded from the data.

Senior Level Appointments

Change begins at the top. We are focussed on ensuring that we seize opportunities to hire or promote members of employment-equity groups to the senior management level.

In the five fiscal years between 2015-16 and 2019-20, 7% of all employees appointed to EX positions self-identified as a visible minority or Indigenous. In 2020-21, that figure more than doubled to 15.6%. Similarly, in the five fiscal years between 2015-16 and 2019-20, 10.6% of all employees appointed to Assistant Director positions self-identified as a visible minority or Indigenous. In 2020-21, that figure has increased to 15.7%.


We are seeing improvements in terms of promotion rates among certain groups. Of the employees who were promoted in the fiscal year 2020-2021, 16.2% of them identified as members of visible minority groups; this fiscal year, that figure has risen to 23%.

New Hires

We have prioritized hiring employees from employment-equity groups especially those from the Black and Indigenous communities. Our data reflect that our actions are beginning to have an impact.

Since the start of fiscal year 2020/2021 to the point of submission of this letter, we have hired a total of 111 employees that self-identify as Indigenous or visible minority, a figure that is more than three times greater than the number hired among these two groups in the previous fiscal year.

Separations: Retirement, Termination and End of Term

Statistics Canada is improving inclusion, with a particular focus in the area of retention. In the last fiscal year, retention of visible minority employees improved by 24%. Although we see some progress in this area among Black and other visible minority groups, we are digging deeper to better understand their reasons for separating from the agency.

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