THE federal government said on Tuesday that the public service has long made diversity and inclusion a core value and continuously reflects on the treatment of Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, and other individuals who face racial discrimination and other barriers in the workplace, and who are often underrepresented at the most senior levels of the public service. While there has been progress, too many public servants continue to face obstacles. It is time to close the gaps and eliminate the barriers that remain, ensuring the public service is truly representative of the people it serves.
The President of the Treasury Board, Jean-Yves Duclos, along with Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, announced the government’s priorities to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service. Among these efforts, there are several key initiatives:
Generating and publishing data for a more accurate picture of representation gaps
Already, the government has released disaggregated datasets, providing first–ever views into the composition of public service employees who self–identify in Employment Equity sub-groups, such as Black or Métis for example.
The annual Public Service Employee Survey, now underway, will generate data and insights to better understand the workforce at even more detailed levels. The results will help the government identify more precisely, in particular demographic or occupational groups for instance, where gaps remain and what actions are required to improve representation.
Increasing the diversity of the senior leaders of the public service
Departments, supported by the Treasury Board Secretariat, will work to increase diversity among senior leaders of the public service and establish a culture of inclusiveness that will combat racism and address systemic barriers. This includes increasing representation through promotion and recruitment and the introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who may currently face barriers.
Ensuring appropriate benchmarks
The Treasury Board Secretariat will continue to work closely with partners, which includes supporting Employment and Social Development Canada on the review of the Employment Equity Act, to ensure that the public service applies appropriate benchmarks for diversity.
Addressing systemic barriers
The Treasury Board Secretariat has initiated discussions with key stakeholders about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at possible amendments to the Public Service Employment Act and to support the review the Employment Equity Act, planned by the Minister of Labour.
In addition to these initiatives, on January 22, the Clerk of the Privy Council and Head of the Public Service, issued a Call to Action on anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the federal public service. The Call to Action sets out common expectations for leaders to take practical actions that will form the basis for meaningful change.
Engagement, and education will underpin all this work. To that end, the President of the Treasury Board and his Parliamentary Secretary held a roundtable last week with employee communities and stakeholder groups that continue to face barriers to representation and inclusion. And the Government of Canada recently launched the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. The Centre, supported by a budget of $12 million outlined in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, will co-develop initiatives with these communities, leveraging the lived experiences of public servants to foster an ongoing dialogue for positive change. At the same time, the Canada School of Public Service is refreshing its diversity and inclusion curriculum and has launched an Anti-Racism Event Series.
The government said that progress will take time, but concrete steps in these areas will bring the public service closer to its goal: to be more reflective of Canada and a model of inclusion for employers across the country and around the world.
Duclos said: “As I’ve said before, I’m committed to achieving this ambitious change, and I know that co-developing our policies and programs with our partners will lead to more innovation, more experimentation, and new ways to address the challenges ahead. In time, we will build a public service that is the true reflection of our pluralism and diversity.”
Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, said: “Representation within all sectors of government matters. To achieve this, we must address all forms of systemic racism so that individuals of all backgrounds can feel safe and truly included within their workplace. The actions outlined today are another step forward in building a whole-of-government approach that is consciously more inclusive.”
Fergus said: “There is much to do before all public servants can feel they truly belong in a public service that values inclusiveness and differences. Outlining these key areas of focus is a key step in taking concrete action.”