Government of Canada’s Action Plan to support Black public servants


February 21, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Government of Canada committed close to $50M through Budgets 2022 and 2023 to creating career development programs and a mental health fund for Black public servants. In June 2023, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer established the Task Force for Black Public Servants (task force) to oversee the development and implementation of the Action Plan for Black Public Servants (Action Plan).

This Action Plan, focused on increasing opportunities for career mobility and improving the psychological health and safety of Black public servants, was guided by lived experiences and is a result of the invaluable work of several Black public servants’ networks accomplished in 2022.

The following initiatives are the first steps in this Action Plan, and will support the mental health, well-being and career development of Black public servants:

Enhancements to the Employee Assistance Program

Health Canada is receiving nearly $6 million from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) to introduce Black-centric enhancements to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which provides support to more than 90 federal departments and agencies. These enhancements include:

  • ensuring a sufficient roster of Black counsellors able to provide culturally-competent and trauma-informed, short-term mental health supports to public servants and their immediate family members;
  • training for EAP counsellors and staff on anti-Black racism, as well as trauma-informed and culturally competent approaches to counselling;
  • collecting self-identity data for counsellors to respond to client requests for specific counsellor identity factors, training and/or experience;
  • strengthening engagement to raise awareness about the EAP as a trusted resource for Black employees and their immediate families.

Health Canada has assembled a Black-led team to design and implement this important work, which will include meaningful consultation and engagement on a regular basis with various groups, including Black employees and employee networks.

An executive leadership program for Black leaders.

Following a successful 12-month professional development program pilot for 17 Black and Indigenous executives, the Canada School of Public Service is launching an executive leadership program for Black leaders. The school is receiving nearly $7 million in funding to support career advancement of Black employees who are currently at the EX-01, EX-02, or EX-03 levels.

There will be 4 cohorts with up to 25 Black executives in each over 2 years, starting in summer 2024. The purpose of this initiative is to:

  • advance the development of key leadership skills, deepen understanding of the fundamentals of government decision-making, and sharing lived experience in a trusted and well-integrated community of Black peers;
  • form sponsor networks;
  • foster mentorship opportunities;
  • integrate talent management and career progression goals; and
  • offer ongoing learning and development opportunities through the school.

The program will launch in summer 2024. This new Black-centric program will complement efforts already undertaken to increase the number of Black participants in existing leadership development programs.

Career and leadership development for Black public servants

As part of its current services, the Public Service Commission (PSC) is supporting the career and leadership development of public servants, including those from equity-seeking groups, by providing individualized assessment, counselling and coaching services.

Through additional funding of $1.1 million over 3 years, the PSC will increase its activities regarding the individualized assessment, counselling and coaching services to Black public servants. The PSC will also work collaboratively with TBS on the early stages of a pilot that will contribute to career development opportunities for all levels of Black public servants. As part of the pilot project, the PSC will continue to gather feedback to improve the inclusiveness, application, and approaches to the delivery of its assessment and development tools, as well as coaching and career counselling services.

Ongoing engagement on the Action Plan

The views and voices of Black public servants will continue to shape current and future initiatives. In the coming days, weeks, and months, the task force will engage through check-ins with employee networks, surveys, and discussions with Black public servants. Ongoing engagement will enable continuous improvement on these and future initiatives to best meet the needs of Black employees.   

The action plan builds on other work undertaken to support equity seeking groups.

TBS launched government-wide initiatives 3 years ago to support equity-seeking groups and these initiatives are producing concrete results.

The Mentorship Plus Program pairs members of under-represented groups with executives and provides them with an executive sponsorship component for more equitable access to career development opportunities. To date, there are 57 departments and agencies taking part in the program across the federal public service and 648 sponsorship relationships established across government.

The Mosaic Leadership Development Program addresses key issues of under-representation in EX positions. The first cohort included 38 participants.

Of the 38 participants, Cohort One had 36 graduates, 25 of which have already been appointed or are acting in EX-01 or equivalent positions. 7 participants or 18% of Cohort 1 identified as Black. Cohort Two of the Mosaic Leadership Development Program was launched on September 13, 2023, with 50 participants, 15 of whom identify as Black.

In addition to new initiatives under the Action Plan, existing leadership and career development programs will continue to remain open for participation from Black public servants.

The government has also made important changes to the Public Service Employment Act to address systemic barriers for equity-seeking groups. The Government of Canada has also made strides in providing more disaggregated data to better inform analysis, programs and policies.

TBS will be working with other government organizations to support the government’s response to the recommendations of the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force, which include creating a new designated group for Black people under the Act.

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