Clerk’s remarks at Transformation, an event to mark International Day of Person with Disabilities


Check against Delivery
December 4, 2017

Good afternoon everyone, it is an honour for me to be here today.  Thank you for inviting me.

Back when I was the Deputy Champion for the Persons with Disabilities Community, as it was then called, I participated in events like this one today for many years. It is very important for me to be here today. I only wish I could have spent a more time with you, but I know that the organizers will do a deep dive on the results. I look forward to hearing the fruits of your discussions and your feedback.

To begin, I would like to offer a few words of thanks.

First of all, thanks to all of those individuals who act as champions and give of their time in their departments and agencies. There are about 300 organizations across the federal Public Service and we are all extremely busy delivering results for Canadians. The fact that these public servants take the time and energy to make their workplaces a little better is recognized and very much appreciated. Thank you all for your efforts!

Some of that requires nudging and leadership from a couple of people around the table today. So I want to thank Lori Sterling, the Deputy Minister for Labour, for her leadership in helping ministers drive forward a very ambitious accessibility agenda. Indeed, 2018 promises to be a historic year for Canada.

I also want to thank Yazmine Laroche for being a tremendous champion. She is a long-time friend and colleague who has been pushing the accessibility agenda very hard to make sure the federal Public Service—as the largest workplace in the country—is leading by example.

There is a lot of work to acknowledge and many things to look forward to.

We are, as I keep saying, the most effective public service on the planet and that has been measured by the International Civil Service Effectiveness (InCISE) Index 2017.  One reason is that we are not satisfied with status quo and as such, we are always learning and striving to be better.  We learn from our mistakes and we get feedback from stakeholders, media and our employees.

There is a lot of unfinished business around inclusion and diversity in the Public Service. Canada is diverse and so is our Public Service. That is a fact.

Inclusion is an act of will that requires effort. It requires culture change as well as coming in every day and trying to make sure that no one is left out, that no voice goes unheard and that no talent is overlooked. It is hard to change culture and attitudes. I know you have talked about that today. There are technological and physical solutions and I hope that we have generated another wave of ideas in that area. Inclusion is going to be about culture change and that is something we all have to strive together.  We need a much more open public service, and one that is less top down, flatter, more participatory, and of course more inclusive.

Certainly among those pieces of unfinished business is making sure that we have a full accessibility agenda. We also need to make sure that all of those talents and voices are given a chance to contribute. I am not happy with where we are on a number of things, and I do not think any of you are.

The big point about inclusion is about the journey to get there. I am happy to do my part and be a spokesperson and an ambassador, but it is really together that we are going to do this.

The one phrase that stuck with me most out of the conversations last year was “Nothing about us, without us”.

That is really what I want to accomplish over the next few months, to make sure that we take that journey together and that the people directly impacted are involved in shaping the policies regulations, practices, tools and programs that affect them.

That is really the message. Encouragement. Thanks. Hope. Optimism for 2018.  And a little bit of humility, because there is still much to be done on this journey that we are on together.

Thank you.

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