Statement on action taken to further address harassment, discrimination, and other barriers in the federal workplace
September 29, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
The Honourable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board, made the following statement today following the Black Class Action Secretariat’s announcement that it will file a complaint with the United Nations and request the appointment of a special rapporteur to investigate discrimination against Black employees in the Public Service:
“The Government of Canada is actively working to address harms and create a diverse and inclusive public service free of discrimination and harassment. Our workforce must be representative of the communities we serve, our federal workplaces should be welcoming, safe and supportive environments. We recognize that many Black employees are frustrated and want to see action to address issues of discrimination. We are listening and taking concrete steps.
That’s why we are taking steps to develop a restorative engagement program (REP) for employees who have suffered harassment and discrimination to share their personal accounts and lived experience in a safe, confidential space and contribute to systemic change. The knowledge, ideas and insights shared by employees would support organizational culture change and assist the government in developing further initiatives and programs aimed at addressing issues of workplace harassment and discrimination. This work will be led by a diverse expert review panel to work with various stakeholders, including employee networks and unions, to design the program.
Furthermore, the Government of Canada is reviewing systems and processes for addressing current and historical complaints to ensure employees can continue to make valuable contributions to Canada, in a safe and healthy workplace.
Recognizing that Black public servants can face barriers in career advancement, as well as distinct mental health challenges, the Government of Canada has begun working with Black public servants to co-create a Black Mental Health Fund and plan to address other barriers in the workplace. Budget 2022 committed to $3.7 million to support this work.
At the same time, in response to feedback from employees and stakeholders, we are making important progress in removing discrimination from our institutions by amending legislation, introducing new programs, and collecting disaggregated data. This includes:
- Amending the Public Service Employment Act to address systemic barriers in the public service staffing system that may exist for equity-seeking groups.
- Co-developing the Mosaic Leadership Development program, which focuses on preparing leaders from under-represented groups to take on executive positions.
- Introducing the Mentorship Plus program to support equity-seeking employment and ensuring that Executive Leadership Development Programs have at least 50 per cent of its participants from equity-seeking groups.
- Selecting diverse executives through deliberate talent management for Assistant Deputy Ministers positions to lead organizations throughout the public service.
- Raising the visibility of diverse talented employees who have the skills, experience, and potential to take on senior leadership roles through mentorship, sponsorship and engagement opportunities.
- Collecting, analyzing and publishing disaggregated data to support evidence-informed policies and programs to tackle discrimination and other barriers.
- Working collaboratively with stakeholders, partners and networks including Canada’s Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat to align initiatives to reduce bias and racism, and to promote diversity and inclusion in the public service.
- In parallel, the Clerk of the Privy Council is advancing work in this area, specifically in implementing the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service.
The path forward is being guided by the lived experience of employees so that solutions are meaningful and target root causes.
At the same time, a dedicated Taskforce, in consultation with stakeholders, is reviewing the Employment Equity Act and its related programs with the goal of modernizing and strengthening the federal employment equity framework.
Discrimination is a painful reality for too many people. The work of eradicating bias, barriers, and discrimination, which have taken root over generations, demands ongoing, relentless action. We are steadfast in our commitment to improving the experiences of all public servants so that they can realize their full potential.
Employees deserve to feel valued and empowered by being a part of workplaces that are truly inclusive as well as safe places where they can thrive in an environment free from harassment and systemic discrimination. While progress is being made, we know there is still more to do, and we’re committed to it.”
Office of the President of the Treasury Board of Canada
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
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