IRCC Anti-Racism Strategy 2.0: “Energy, Conviction and Courage” [too preachy for my taste]

Apart from the overly preachy tag line, this strategy reflects considerable work and reflection (disclosure I know some of the people involved). Like so many government reports, far too much emphasis on process and general messaging, but the strategy includes 24 specific action items under four pillars: leadership accountability, equitable workplace, policy and program design, and service delivery.

While it may be churlish to note, reading this detailed over 30 page strategy that clearly involved significant resources across the department is in sharp contrast with IRCC’s inability to deliver on its core responsibilities as seen in immigration and citizenship backlogs and the lack of oversight over Service Canada’s failures on passport.

A large department like IRCC should, of course, be able to “walk and chew gum” at the same time, but, as in so many areas, these kinds of initiatives, valid as they are, further distract or make it harder to deliver on core responsibilities.

Concrete measures highlighted in the report are highlighted below.

Starting with representation, the main gap is with respect to executives with the greatest gap being non-Black visible minorities.

In relation to the overall populations (Census 2016) – Indigenous 4.9 percent, visible minorities 22.3 percent of which Blacks represent 3.5 percent – Black representation at all three levels is the strongest. While the population of Black and non-Black visible minorities will likely be about 10 percent higher in the 2021 Census, the revised numbers are unlikely to change the overall picture significantly.

Usefully, the report provides a clear benchmark to measure success: the degree to which IRCC anti-racism initiatives moves the needle on the percentage that feel that “IRCC implements initiatives that promote anti-racism in the workplace.” Current numbers highlight the issue – only 65 percent of Blacks and 76 percent of non-Black visible minorities compared to 83 percent of not visible minorities.

But if the range of initiatives, engagement and comprehensiveness do not move the needle and reduce disparities, one will have to question their effectiveness, the reasons for lack of progress and the reasons why the perception by employees that not much has changed.

Failure to move the needle may also call into question the Clerk’s Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service, as in many ways IRCC was a model department in responding to the call.

And of course, service delivery failures in immigration and citizenship have a greater impact on Black and other visible minorities than than IRCC employees.

Source: Anti-Racism Strategy 2.0

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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