Trudeau government considers legislative changes to make public service more diverse

Of note. The most significant aspects IMO are:

  • ongoing improvements in data (the disaggregated data for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities is incredibly useful);
  • the push for increased diversity among executives is buttressed by the DM performance commitment on diversity and inclusion;
  • review of the Employment Equity Act and representation benchmarks (review of the Act will likely generate some debate from all quarters although it’s approach of self-identification and annual reporting has resulted in increased in ongoing increased representation of the EE groups);
  • Review of the Public Service Employment Act and possible amendments to reduce systemic barriers (unclear what that will entail): and,
  • It remains to see how effective the various consultation and related initiatives such as the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion will be in affecting change.

For my analysis of disaggregated data see my What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service … and What the Public Service Employee Survey breakdowns of visible minority and other groups tell us about diversity and inclusion:

The Trudeau Liberals are eyeing changes to the law governing public service hiring to help make federal departments and agencies more diverse.

They also plan to do further research on the makeup of the federal public service and will try to hire more senior leaders with varied backgrounds.

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos and his parliamentary secretary, Greg Fergus, are spelling out the priorities today to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service.

The government says while there has been some progress for Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples and others who face racial discrimination in the workplace, too many public servants continue to face obstacles.

The Treasury Board Secretariat has begun discussions about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at “possible amendments” to the Public Service Employment Act.

The act is intended to ensure federal hiring is fair, transparent and representative.

The move would complement a review of the Employment Equity Act planned by Labour Minister Filomena Tassi.

The government recently released data that provides more detail about the composition of the public service.

Duclos and Fergus say the annual public service employee survey will help the government identify more precisely where gaps remain and what is needed to improve representation.

The government plans to increase diversity through promotion and recruitment, including introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who might currently face barriers.

The government says although progress will take time, the public service can be a model of inclusion for employers across the country and around the world.

“In time, we will build a public service that is the true reflection of our pluralism and diversity,” Duclos said in a statement.

Just last week, Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart issued a call to action on anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the public service, setting out federal expectations for current leaders.

The government has also launched the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, supported by a budget of $12 million, to create an ongoing discussion about change.

“There is much to do before all public servants can feel they truly belong in a public service that values inclusiveness and differences,” Fergus said.

“Outlining these key areas of focus is a key step in taking concrete action.”

Source: Trudeau government considers legislative changes to make public service more diverse

And the TBS announcement of the government’s strategy of January 26:

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, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, along with Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, has 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 us 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, 2021, 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 $12M 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.

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. 

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/news/2021/01/government-announces-priorities-for-action-to-increase-diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-public-service.html

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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