Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 25 - Evidence - April 22, 2013
OTTAWA, Monday, April 22, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 4 p.m. to
study issues of discrimination in the hiring and promotion practices of the
Federal Public Service, to study the extent to which targets to achieve
employment equity are being met, and to examine labour market outcomes for
minority groups in the private sector.
Senator Mobina S. B. Jaffer (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, the Standing Senate Committee on
Human Rights is tasked by the Senate to examine issues related to human
rights, both in Canada and internationally. Today we are starting our
meeting to review employment equity in the federal public service.
In the current session, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has
been authorized to examine issues of discrimination in the hiring and
promotion practices of the federal public service. We have been studying the
extent to which the goals of the Employment Equity Act are being fulfilled
within the federal public service.
The purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to ensure that federally
regulated employers provide equal opportunities for employment to four
designated groups; namely, women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with
disabilities, and members of visible minorities. The act imposes obligations
on employers to assess the degree to which employment equity is a reality in
their workplace and to implement policies to produce necessary changes. It
also provides guidance as to how to make assessments by comparing how the
representation of members of the four designated groups — women, Aboriginal
peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of a visible minority —
within the workplace compares with their availability in the Canadian
In 2004, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights first began to
examine the hiring and promotion practices of the federal service and to
study the extent to which employment equity targets are being met.
In 2007, the committee further studied the hiring and promotion practices
of the federal service and published a report entitled Employment Equity
in the Federal Public Service — Not There Yet. In 2010, the committee
published its most recent report, entitled Reflecting the Changing Face
of Canada: Employment Equity in the Public Service.
The committee's main concern is that, within the public service,
employment equity is still not a reality for the four designated groups:
women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and people with disabilities.
My name is Mobina Jaffer, and I am a senator from British Columbia. I am
Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. The other senators
will introduce themselves.
Senator Ataullahjan: I am Salma Ataullahjan, and I represent
The Chair: She is the deputy chair of the committee.
Senator Oh: I am Senator Oh and I am one of the newest senators,
appointed in January of this year. It is nice to meet all of you.
Senator Ngo: I am Senator Ngo, and I represent Ontario.
Senator Harb: Mac Harb from Ontario.
Senator Hubley: Senator Elizabeth Hubley from Prince Edward
The Chair: The Public Service Employment Act states that the
public service must be representative of Canada's diversity. Under this act,
the Public Service Commission of Canada is responsible for implementing the
requirement of merit in a way that achieves a representative public service.
The Public Service Commission of Canada is an independent body that is
free from ministerial direction but is accountable to Parliament. The Public
Service Commission monitors, among other things, how federal government
departments and agencies exercise their responsibilities under the Public
Service Employment Act, including those pertaining to employment equity. The
Public Service Commission also provides support to public-sector
organizations and develops policies and guidelines.
Under the Employment Equity Act, the Public Service Commission is
responsible for identifying and eliminating barriers in the appointment
system for the four designated groups. The Public Service Commission
published a supplemental report on October 25, 2011, entitled History of
Employment Equity in the Public Service and the Public Service Commission of
In her last appearance before the committee, the former president of the
Public Service Commission, Maria Barrados, stated she had read the
committee's report, Reflecting the Changing Face of Canada, and
agreed with the recommendations. At this time, I want to particularly thank
Ms. Barrados for working with the committee on these very difficult issues.
We found that she worked with us in partnership and we were really able to
relate to each other.
Ms. Robinson, I know we will have the same relationship with you. The
work we do here is not headline grabbing, but it truly changes the lives of
people, so we look forward to working with you as well, Ms. Robinson.
Now I would like to welcome our first group. From the Public Service
Commission of Canada, we have Anne-Marie Robinson, President, Hélène
Laurendeau, Senior Vice-President, Policy, and Stan Lee, Director General,
Personnel Psychology Centre.
I understand you have remarks for us, and then we will have some
questions for you. Ms. Robinson, please go ahead.
Anne-Marie Robinson, President, Public Service Commission of Canada:
Thank you very much for your introduction. We are very pleased to be here
today to discuss employment equity in the federal public service.
The Public Service Commission of Canada is responsible for promoting and
safeguarding merit-based appointments that are free from political influence
and, in collaboration with other stakeholders, for protecting the
non-partisan nature of the public service. We report independently to
Parliament on our mandate.
We also administer programs on behalf of departments and agencies that
recruit qualified Canadians from across the country. Under our fully
delegated staffing system, the PSC provides overall policy guidance and
supporting tools to assist deputy heads, managers and human resources
advisers in making staffing decisions based on merit and that are consistent
with the values of the Public Service Employment Act.
Through our monitoring, audits and investigations, we gather information
on how departments and agencies are exercising their responsibilities. We
report annually to Parliament on the staffing performance of 82
organizations under the PSEA, including recruitment and appointments with
respect to the four designated employment equity groups.
Under the Employment Equity Act, the PSC is responsible for identifying
and eliminating barriers in recruitment and staffing, and for developing
policies and practices that promote a more representative public service.
More specifically, the PSC conducts research and studies on employment
equity to better understand staffing issues and challenges, to take stock of
lessons learned from initiatives and practices in both the private and the
public sector, and to identify possible opportunities for improvement.
For instance, we used the information gathered in our 2011 literature
review on the recruitment of persons with disabilities to engage the top six
recruiting departments in a dialogue focused on identifying best practices.
We also disseminate information to departments and agencies to help them
improve their staffing practices and processes. In addition to posting our
research on the PSC's website, we also highlight initiatives taken by
organizations in our annual report. For instance, Correctional Service of
Canada created advisory committees, developed staffing strategies specific
to each designated group and conducted outreach, which all contributed to
achieving a diverse and representative workforce.
We also conduct detailed data analysis using the PSC's data holdings on
hiring and staffing activities in the federal public service. This year, we
are conducting a study on the rate of promotions from the employment equity
perspective and on how members of designated groups perceive the appointment
process. We are nearing completion of this study and its findings will be
reported and published in our 2012-13 annual report. The PSC also provides
expertise and services in the area of assessment accommodation. We have
experts in our Personnel Psychology Centre who provide advice and
recommendations for assessment accommodations for persons with disabilities.
These accommodations provide equal opportunity for those candidates to
demonstrate their qualifications without being limited or unfairly
restricted due to the effects of a disability. These assessment
accommodations can vary from providing Braille and large-print versions of
exams to the use of assisted technology, such as screen readers.
In 2011-12, the PSC received more than 2,000 requests for assessment
accommodation from hiring managers. During that same period we also
conducted outreach to increase awareness on assessment accommodation by
delivering 15 seminars to HR practitioners in the public service.
Madam chair, I would like to now turn to the recruitment and staffing of
the four designated groups for the year 2011-12. Overall, we are finding
that employment rates, even with reduced staffing levels, are largely
consistent with the trends observed over the past few years.
We are finding that members of three of the four groups continue to apply
and to be appointed to the public service at a proportion exceeding their
respective workforce availability. The exception is for the recruitment of
persons with disabilities, who continue to be under-represented in terms of
applications and appointments.
In our 2011-12 annual report, we found that their share of external
appointments had increased slightly from the year before, from 2.6 per cent
to 3 per cent, as compared to their workforce availability of 4 per cent.
However, the percentage of applicants with disabilities continues to fall,
from 2.7 per cent to 2.6 per cent. This is important because recruitment
into the public service should reflect workforce availability for all of the
Madam Chair, the PSC has undertaken a number of initiatives to respond to
this challenge. We continue to provide specific assistance on a range of
services to hiring managers to support the appointment of Canadians with
disabilities. More departments are consulting our experts on accommodation
We are continuing further research to better understand potential
barriers that may help explain why application rates for Canadians with
disabilities are still low. Those findings will also be incorporated into
our outreach as we work with organizations on best practices to attract more
applicants from members of this designated group.
Madam Chair, as the public service reduces in size through the
implementation of workforce adjustment, departments and agencies must
continue to meet their obligations under the Employment Equity Act.
We worked in close collaboration with the Treasury Board Secretariat and
the Canada School of Public Service, as well as bargaining agents, in order
to provide as much upfront support as possible to organizations in their
preparations for implementing workforce adjustment as a result of Spending
We updated our guides and tools to provide concrete guidance on how to
run merit-based, structured processes in selecting employees who would be
retained or laid off. Along with our partners, we provided intensive
training to some 3,700 managers and human resources advisers based on
specific workforce adjustment situations and decisions.
With sound planning, organizations can meet their obligations under the
Employment Equity Act while implementing work-force adjustment. For
instance, when an organization clearly identifies the need to increase the
representation of a designated group within its planning, this
organizational need can then be used as part of the process for selection
for retention or layoff.
As members may know, the implementation of work-force adjustment has also
resulted in an increased number of surplus employees and laid-off
individuals who are eligible to be appointed ahead of all others to vacant
positions in the public service, provided they meet the essential
qualifications of the position.
We have a priority administration program, which allows the public
service to redeploy skilled and experienced employees.
We have put in place a series of measures to provide greater access,
fairness and transparency, with the objective of placing as many priority
persons as quickly as possible. Priority persons can self-identify as a
member of a designated group. Organizations seeking to increase the
representation of a designated group can use this information in meeting
their employment equity obligations.
There are currently about 2,900 priority persons, an increase of 60 per
cent over last April when 1,800 persons had priority rights. Since April
2012, 956 priority persons have been placed into new positions, most of
them, around 70 per cent, were employees affected by workforce adjustment.
We are closely monitoring placements among the designated groups and
continue to collaborate with organizations to rigorously manage this
The Public Service Commission is committed to working with the Treasury
Board Secretariat, as well as stakeholders, to ensure that the federal
public service reflects the diversity of Canada.
We will continue to adapt our policies, programs and services to support
deputy heads and managers, and promote a federal public service that is
representative of all Canadians and draws on their talents and skills.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I would be pleased, with my colleagues, to answer
any questions that you may have.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Robinson. Did either of your other
colleagues want to make any opening statements?
I would like to start off by thanking you for your presentation. We
supplied you with what information you wanted, and we would like to focus on
those things that we asked you to focus on. To start off with, what do you
say is the workforce availability of Aboriginal people?
Ms. Robinson: Thank you for the question. Workforce availability
is calculated by the Treasury Board Secretariat, so the data that we worked
with in our annual report for the year 2011-12 — the workforce availability
in terms of 2006 data — was 3 per cent of the population.
The Chair: For persons with disabilities?
Ms. Robinson: Again, using the 2006 data, 4 per cent.
The Chair: For members of visible minorities?
Ms. Robinson: 12.4 per cent.
The Chair: Women?
Ms. Robinson: 52.3 per cent.
The Chair: How many are currently being represented in the federal
service, using your 2006 figures?
Ms. Robinson: Yes. I am sure you are aware the Treasury Board
Secretariat will report overall on the population data. The Public Service
Commission measures the inflow into the public service in terms of
appointments to the public service. I can share that data with the
What we saw in 2011-12 and published in our annual report was that in
three out of the four groups, we saw that both the application and
appointment rates exceeded the workforce availability statistics. That was
the case with all groups except for persons with disabilities.
The Chair: What is the representation of Aboriginal people?
Ms. Robinson: Overall in the public service?
The Chair: Yes.
Ms. Robinson: I believe it is 4.9 per cent. I would have my
colleagues at Treasury Board Secretariat confirm in the next session.
The Chair: Persons with disabilities?
Ms. Robinson: 5.7 per cent.
The Chair: Members of visible minorities?
Ms. Robinson: 12.1 per cent.
The Chair: You would agree that that is not the workforce
availability as of 2013?
Ms. Robinson: Yes, senator. We are all waiting for the new data to
come out at the end of this year by Statistics Canada based, I believe, on
the 2011 census. We do expect changes in those statistics.
The Chair: Substantially, right? What is the women's
Ms. Robinson: Again, citing Treasury Board's data, 54.6 per cent,
with labour market availability of 52.3 per cent.
The Chair: Before you started speaking or making your
presentation, I set out the mandate of the Public Service Commission. You
did cover some of those things. Can you please tell us if you are meeting
public service employment equity? What is the status now? It is not so much
about you because it is not just you who does it, but are we meeting that
Ms. Robinson: Thank you for the question, Madam Chair. I would say
that, overall, we are making good progress with respect to employment
equity, but, certainly, we still have work to do.
The Chair: Where?
Ms. Robinson: I could describe some of our activities, but, for
each group, you have to, of course, look vertically to ensure there is
representation at all levels. Then, we would look horizontally across the
public service in different occupations. For each group, you find gaps,
vertically and across different occupations.
The Chair: Can you tell us what the gaps are for the women?
Ms. Robinson: For women, it is generally at the senior level and
in certain occupational groups, for example, in some of the professional
The Chair: And Aboriginal people?
Ms. Robinson: It would be focused, again, on certain senior levels
for all of the employment equity groups and then, in some cases, certain
occupational groups. I do not have that detail with me, but I am sure my
colleagues from Treasury Board can provide that.
The Chair: Are you not concerned that Aboriginal people are
concentrated in just three departments: the Correctional Service, Aboriginal
Affairs and Human Resources?
Ms. Robinson: Thank you, Madam Chair, for the question. We did a
bit of work on that question prior to coming, and I can give you some
broader statistics on where the Aboriginal population is located within the
federal public service.
If I look at the entire Aboriginal population, what our data is showing
is that 16 per cent of the population is at the Correctional Service of
Canada; 16 per cent of the Aboriginal population is at Aboriginal Affairs
and Northern Development; 11 per cent at HRSDC; 9 per cent at National
Defence; 7 per cent at Health Canada; 4 per cent at Public Works and
Government Services; 4 per cent at Fisheries and 4 per cent at the RCMP.
We are seeing some progress in having Aboriginal employees working in a
number of departments across government.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I will go on to have my deputy
chair ask questions.
Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you for your presentation. We
previously heard that women were typecast in certain jobs, such as
administrative roles, and, in general, they had lower-paying jobs and fewer
executive positions than men. Has anything been done to improve this, and
does this also hold true for minority women?
Ms. Robinson: In the federal public service, we have, overall,
done well in terms of meeting labour force availability, based on the 2006
data. Having said that, we do have gaps, at some of the senior levels, for
both of the groups mentioned. That is where I think we need to focus our
attention and ensure that we meet our obligations at all levels in the
Senator Harb: Thank you for your presentation.
When you mentioned Aboriginal people, you gave us a percentage of where
they are. I noticed that no one seemed to work at Finance, Justice or
Treasury Board. Is that correct?
Ms. Robinson: No, I would not say that. I was just showing you the
top seven or eight departments. I think there would be employees in probably
every department, but we could verify that.
Senator Harb: Okay. My question is the following: Overall, you
seem to be more or less there in terms of workforce availability versus how
many people are in the public service. You said yourself that some of the
challenges we have are in terms of positions, where they are in terms of the
hierarchy of the public service. Has your commission undertaken any kind of
study or analysis in terms of the various departments in the public service
to find the good departments that are making a concerted effort to meet the
requirement as set out by your mandate and the departments that are behind
and not meeting the mandate? Have you developed some tools in terms of
incentives, penalties and those kinds of things, in order to meet the
requirement that is set out by your mandate?
Ms. Robinson: Thank you for the question. The Treasury Board
reports on progress by department for employment equity, but, of course, we
look closely at that data, given that we have the responsibility for the
appointment authority. We do work closely with departments. A good example
is a study we did in 2011 on persons with disabilities. We took best
practices and lessons learned and targeted and reached out to those
departments that were the biggest employers at the time. We continue that
work to ensure that they can take those best practices and adapt them to
their work environments. We also do a lot of outreach vis-à-vis the
appointment itself because it is really critical to our responsibilities to
ensure that the appointment process itself is barrier free. As another
example, with respect to persons with disabilities, a key to ensuring a fair
and equitable appointment is having available services around accommodation.
We do a lot of that work. As I mentioned before, we continue to try to
understand what the problems are. We talked a little bit about upward
mobility of persons in employment equity groups. We have almost completed
the study that we will report on in the fall looking at how members of
employment equity groups are proceeding in terms of promotions within the
public service and also wanting to better understand their experience with
this staffing system to find out whether there are any additional barriers,
for all four groups, that need to be addressed.
Senator Harb: As to representation in terms of those groups, when
you put out statistics, do those statistics normally include the casual
workers, like people who are on contract, or are we talking about full-time
positions in the public service?
Ms. Robinson: When we report in our annual report, we include both
term and indeterminate positions. I will go to my data people to see whether
we could send the committee a breakdown for both casual appointments and
students as well. We do report on term appointments and on indeterminate,
Senator Harb: It is a concern that one would find that the
overrepresentation, for example, is in the casual workforce. It is not fair
because you want to have it across the board — those who are casual and
those who are long- term.
My final question is dealing with the successive government hammers
falling on the public service. Every time there is a problem with debt or
deficit, we seem to turn on the public service and eliminate as many
positions as we possibly can, sometimes a little too much. My question is
the following, if you can answer. You may not be comfortable answering. How
did the latest government cut to the public service impact those four groups
that we have? First, how did it impact the public service in general? How
many positions have we lost as a result of government action? Out of those
positions that we have lost, how many were out of the groups?
Ms. Robinson: Thank you for the question. I do not have a specific
answer to your last question in terms of the numbers. The number that the
commission is working with is the 19,800 that was published in the budget.
We have two important roles to play during the downsizing exercise in the
public service. One is that, through the commission's regulations, we set
out the policy for choosing who will be remaining in their post and who will
be laid off. As part of that process, where there is a gap in one of the
employment equity groups, managers can use that to meet their future needs,
so it can be part of the criteria for selection. That is important. We got
out early when the downsizing exercise started and trained 3,700 managers to
ensure that they understood that they needed to still meet their employment
equity obligations while implementing that and that they knew that they had
that tool available to them.
The second part that I think is really important to your question,
senator, is the priority administration system. When public servants are
declared surplus and wish to stay in the public service, they have the right
to go into our priority system and be redeployed to other jobs. My
colleague, Ms. Laurendeau, has statistics on the employment equity
representation within that group and how we are doing in terms of placing.
The Chair: Do you want to share those statistics?
Hélène Laurendeau, Senior Vice President, Policy, Public Service
Commission of Canada: Indeed. One of the things that we have done with
respect to the priority management system is that we have been producing
statistics and tracking the representation of the four designated groups
within the priority system. So far, on aggregate, we have not seen any
disproportion of people joining the priority system.
It does give us an indication that the proportions remain similar except
perhaps when we talk about time-limited priorities where certain groups seem
slightly over-represented and joining the priority system in greater
numbers. The other thing that we have been tracking is the number of
appointments made from the priority system, i.e., people that have been
reappointed in the public service. There again, we have seen that the
figures are comparable to the normal appointment rates and are slightly
above availability, which means that people are being reappointed in the
priority system a little bit above the work-force availability, except maybe
visible minorities who are at par with their representation.
We are concluding that departments are keeping an eye on and, with good
planning, are using the tools available to ensure that they rehire people
and maintain their figures on representation. We are not in a position to
talk about whether it has succeeded. It will be for Treasury Board
Secretariat at the end of the year to compile those figures. The indications
from the movement of the priority system are that we do not see anything
overly worrisome. We are tracking them monthly and sharing them with the
bargaining agents and departments to ensure that they are aware of the
activity as it pertains to the four designated groups.
Senator Hubley: It is quite clear that the focus would be on the
four designated groups you have identified. Does that group change from time
to time? I believe that a minority group has to self-identify. Is a person
who identifies this year as being a member of a minority group still a
member of a minority group in the years to come or does that change?
Ms. Robinson: That policy around self-identification is the
responsibility of Treasury Board. My understanding is that it is voluntary,
but they put out some guidelines to help people to understand what groups
would be eligible to apply for different categories.
Senator Hubley: You had mentioned the information from the 2006
census. I believe you are awaiting the 2011 information.
Ms. Robinson: Yes.
Senator Hubley: You do a lot of detailed data analysis and things
through the departments. Is that catalogued and assessed in your department?
Is that who would come up with that information for different departments?
Ms. Robinson: Generally, in terms of the whole population,
Treasury Board would work with departments and publish the overall data.
However, the Public Service Commission of Canada tracks the appointment data
for indeterminate and term hires into the public service annually. It is
basically the inflow to the public service. That is important because these
are the new folks that are coming in and changing the population within the
I am happy to report that in 2011-12, for example, the appointment rate
of members of visible minority groups was at 22.3 per cent, which is well
above the 2006 labour market availability. Aboriginal people were at 5.3 per
cent above the 3 per cent labour market availability and women were at 53
per cent. The overall appointment of persons with disabilities was below
labour market availability in that year. That is where much of our effort is
Another important thing about the data and a good trend we saw last year,
and I do not have the data for women, was that for the other three groups,
the percentage of applicants is lower than the proportions of people
appointed. It means that persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people and
visible minorities were appointed at a higher rate than the rate at which
they applied. It is a good proxy for what we used to refer to as "the
drop-off measure" and signals to us that the appointment mechanism is
functioning effectively. This is one year's data only, so we have to be
vigilant and continue to watch the data as we go forward. We saw that
positive trend in the 2011-12 data.
Senator Andreychuk: Following up on this question, we heard from
members of the Public Service Commission, who said that the drop-off rate
was when people applied perhaps not correctly to the categories. There was a
lot of drop-off with people withdrawing their applications, et cetera. You
are saying today that we have one year of statistics that show it is better.
Have you done any analysis as to why? Our concerns were that the Public
Service Commission needed to reach out to ethnic newspapers and the rest of
the country to do its advertising rather than in Ottawa all the time and to
make an intense effort. Ethnic, Aboriginal and visible minority communities
did not gravitate to urban centres necessarily.
Are you attributing this growth rate to the fact that you have done some
positive things and people are staying in with their applications all the
way through or is there another phenomenon?
Ms. Robinson: I could not be precise in terms of saying exactly
why; and I think we need to study this further. Much of the effort by the
commission over the past few years is around the appointment process to
ensure that from beginning to end it is barrier free; so I think that has
had a positive effect. As well, there has been some outreach by departments
to the four groups in our communities.
I would cite that is the area where we could do more. We have identified
for ourselves going forward that in order to increase the application rate
of persons with disabilities, for example, the commission and departments
need to do more in terms of outreach to those communities. That is where we
are seeing the application rate below labour market availability.
Senator Andreychuk: The other concept we had been looking at is
the fact that deputy ministers have to take ownership and be committed to
these target groups. Have you done any investigation? What kind of education
or consequence have you put on deputy ministers in that position as opposed
to personnel officers only?
Ms. Robinson: We work closely with deputy ministers. We have
delegation agreements with each department that are monitored under a
staffing management accountability framework whereby departments have to
report to us on progress. We also do audits and investigations from time to
time. If something comes up within the context of those, we have specific
measures that can be taken. Overall, we approach the challenge of working
with departments and helping them by enabling them and providing education,
tools and information so that they know how to use the tools available to
them to increase their representation.
All of the research has shown that planning is core. The departments need
to know where their gaps are and to incorporate that into their human
resource plan; then they have the tools available to them under the act to
improve their representation.
Senator Andreychuk: You are saying that positive reinforcement has
been the tool that you have been using most with the departments as opposed
In one of our reports, we indicated that perhaps reaching the targets
should be tied some way to the bonuses of the people who are supposed to be
administering it in the departments. Has that happened or are you simply
providing information and encouragement?
Ms. Robinson: The Public Service Commission of Canada does not
have jurisdiction over pay and bonuses for public servants or deputy heads.
That is the purview of Treasury Board.
Our oversight authorities relate to the functions of investigations and
audit, which I mentioned before. We use those tools if we find problems with
It is not uncommon in one of our audits, for example, to find that a
department did not emphasize the value of representativeness in their
policies. Therefore, we would take corrective measures through the audit and
then follow- ups to the audit.
Senator Andreychuk: Has that been done on a regular basis or is it
occasionally done? Is there a response already within the departments that
this is in their best interests, or do you still have to encourage them and
point it out?
Ms. Robinson: We have a seven-year audit cycle where we audit
every department over a period of seven years. Then we do follow-ups with
the departments to ensure that our recommendations have been implemented.
That is the mechanism we use to ensure that the policy structures are in
The outreach is an ongoing thing; there are always new public servants in
jobs — new, younger people coming into the public service or people changing
jobs. Outreach is a part of our job, such as informing managers. We recently
did outreach on our accommodation services, and we find afterwards there is
an increase in demand for the service when people are aware of it.
It is an ongoing job to inform people about their ongoing obligations and
responsibilities are, and what tools are available, within their departments
and the commission.
As you said, it is ultimately the deputy heads' responsibility, and their
departments, to implement it. I am speaking about what the commission does,
but each department has a responsibility. I have seen many good examples —
and we published some in our annual report — where departments are very
specifically doing their own plans in terms of achieving the objectives.
Senator Andreychuk: With respect to persons with disabilities, is
there any way that you are reaching out differently to this target group
than you might have in the past? It would be interesting to know if it is a
limitation of what we have done to reach out to them, or if it is their
inability to apply for certain positions, in their own frame of mind.
Ms. Robinson: I would say there are a number of things that have
been done to improve access; there has been some information sharing around
accommodation. There was a lot of work done by many departments, including
our own, to ensure our websites, for example, are fully accessible. Websites
are important because many of the job applications are automated.
I would acknowledge that this is one area where I think the commission
can do more. We have to get out and speak more to groups, particularly about
this issue. It will be a feature of our research plan going forward. As part
of that, we need to get out more and talk to people to understand this
We have made progress in the appointment rate, because we saw for persons
with disabilities that the proportion appointed exceeded the proportion that
applied. That is a good trend. However, I still do not think we understand
well enough the lower application rates, so we must do more there.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
I want to clarify something for the people who watch these programs.
Senator Hubley was talking about minorities. The act specifically covers
visible minorities. Can you define "visible minorities," please?
Ms. Robinson: I do not have that definition with me. That
definition is under the responsibility of the Treasury Board, and I believe
they have a detailed definition.
The Chair: We will ask them.
There were a number of things. I read out your mandate. It says the
government and department and agencies exercise their responsibilities under
the Public Service Employment Act, and you said you do the audit.
Senator Andreychuk talked about the role of deputy ministers, and we have
commented on that before. You have already said that you have put plans in
place and we will have to wait to see how those plans are working.
I know you may not be directly responsibility for self-identification,
but you have spoken about it, and the culture around self-identification.
How are you encouraging people to feel comfortable to self-identify? How are
you encouraging the deputy ministers to build a culture where people feel
comfortable to identify who they are?
Ms. Robinson: There are a number of activities going on, and my
colleagues from Treasury Board who meet on this will have some useful
information to provide to you. I can talk about what the PSC is dong.
For example, we have revised the consent section of our public service
recruitment system to ensure applicants understand how their
self-declaration information will be used. We believe this clarification
encourages people to use and self-declare more often.
As part of our guides and tools when we do department outreach, we also
ensure that managers, HR advisers and EE coordinators understand, encourage
and have systematic ways within their departments to encourage people to
self-identify. In many departments, they have integrated it into their
orientation program; when new employees come into the department, it is
talked about and there are opportunities for people to self-identify.
The Chair: Maybe I did not clarify. I believe one of your
responsibilities is to have a culture where people feel comfortable to
self-identify. How are you doing that?
Ms. Robinson: We ensure that the tools and the information
available to people are readily accessible. We are very clear when we
communicate to and encourage people to self-identify that they understand,
for example, how the information will be used. It is used in an aggregate
way; the information is protected under privacy. If you provide people with
that information and they understand how it is being used and why it is
being put in place, it creates a culture.
That is one of the things. Building it into things like orientation
programs is important because it reminds and encourages people to
The Chair: You brought up appointment rates, as have some of my
colleagues. Having read our reports, you know we are very concerned about
the drop-off rate, and you have addressed the issue of appointment rates.
I would like you to address the other issue, which is the issue of
separation rates. We found that people were appointed, but then there was a
great separation rate. Can you tell us what the separation rate is, and what
are you doing to encourage people to stay?
Ms. Robinson: The retention rates in the public service are the
responsibility of Treasury Board, and so we do not have data on retention
rates. Again, my colleagues who I think will appear next may have that data
to share with you.
Having said that, we work in partnership with Treasury Board, because we
see this as a system. While they run the programs related to that with
departments, it is important that we are aware so we can do anything that is
possible to support people after the appointment.
The Chair: I am a little confused. You are very articulate about
appointment rates. Then I am a little confused as to why you would not be so
articulate about the separation rates. Would it not be part of your mandate to
see that people continue to be represented in the PSC?
Ms. Robinson: Generally speaking, all of the areas related to the
well-being, wellness and other aspects of the work-force beyond the
appointment are the responsibility of the Treasury Board. The commission
does not have jurisdiction, per se, or the mechanisms related to retention.
The Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada has those.
I did not want to signal to the committee that it was not part of our
interest, because it is part of the overall picture in terms of the public
service's ability to retain a representative work-force. However, any
policies around retention would flow from the Treasury Board.
The Chair: I have to admit to you I feel you are living by the
letter of your mandate and not the spirit of your mandate. Would not the
spirit of your mandate be to ensure there is a representation of all the
four groups in the Public Service Commission, and would you not be
interested in knowing the separation rates?
Ms. Robinson: We are very interested. I do not happen to have the
The Chair: Can you provide it?
Ms. Robinson: Yes. We do look at this, because we want to
understand that we are maintaining progress.
The Chair: There is another thing that came up, and it may be
something that is with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
However, I would like your point of view on the non-advertised jobs. We were
concerned about that last time. Almost 25 per cent of the jobs were
non-advertised. From the work that our committee has done, we understand
that has improved. However, I would like you to comment on it. It was
something Ms. Barrados informed us of.
Please let us know what you are doing about the non-advertised rates. I
know there has been some improvement, but I would like your comments on
Ms. Robinson: Yes, this is an area that is a focus of attention
for us. I do have the data from the 2011 survey of staffing. If you look at
the share of advertised appointments for Aboriginal persons it was 4.1 per
cent, and they had a higher share of non-advertised appointments at 5.3 per
cent. We saw the same trend for persons with disabilities where their share
was 3.9 per cent and their share of non-advertised appointments was 6.6 per
We think that for those two groups, managers are using non-advertised
appointments to some degree to help them meet their employment equity
objectives. There may be other reasons they are choosing these candidates,
but one may be to meet those objectives. However, we are seeing that
non-advertised appointments are having a positive impact in those two
For persons in groups of visible minorities, we saw a slightly different
We see the percentage of advertised appointments at 11.6 per cent and the
percentage of non-advertised appointments at 8.1 per cent, so it is a
slightly different trend for persons who are visible minorities.
Again, both of those are below work-force availability. This is an area
where we ensure, in our policies and in our outreach to people, that they
understand one of the criteria you can use a non-advertised appointment for
is as part of your employment equity plan to meet your obligations under the
The Chair: I know you have this concern — and our committee
certainly has the concern — that when we look at work-force availability, we
all know the elephant in the room, especially for visible minority.
12.4 per cent is not the work-force availability and because of the
challenges we have, we are stuck with that. However, we know that is not the
I would like you to tell our committee what you are doing to ensure that
this federal service is representative of the new figure. I accept that you
do not know what the new work-force availability will be, but we all know it
will be more and we know that visible minorities are not well represented in
the federal service. What proactive work are you doing to get better
representation? By that, I mean that when your predecessor was in front of
us she went — you know about this — in a very elaborate way to ensure people
were ready, all the training that was done.
What are you doing to ensure that happens?
Ms. Robinson: We have a list of five or six things that we have
been working on over the year to ensure we continue to make progress and I
do take your point that we anticipate that the targets will be higher in the
One of them relates to appointment, inflow and all the programs
around that. Notwithstanding your comments, we are seeing that persons with
visible minorities and others are exceeding so that is a positive trend, but
we have to be vigilant and proactive.
In addition to the research around persons with disabilities, we are
doing another study to help us better understand the appointment process and
perceptions that employment equity group members have about the appointment
process. That will give us another generation of potential tools or parts of
the appointment process that we can develop policy and direct initiatives
around to help people.
The last year and a half was an unusual year in the public service because,
as committee members would know, we have been in a situation of downsizing
the public service. We wanted to put the emphasis on ensuring that we
continue to respect our obligations, so those tools are used in a positive
way to achieve employment equity objectives. There was a lot of emphasis put
The Chair: You talk about appointments and increasing
appointments. My angst, which we will speak to the next witness on, is about
the separation rates, so I do not think that it quite balances the way you
I would like to comment on one thing and then Senator Andreychuk has a
question. Can you comment on whether Champions and Chairs is working and if it is
helping the under-represented groups in the Public Service Commission?
Ms. Robinson: My colleague would have to comment because it is
Treasury Board who put that structure together. However, I have attended
some of the meetings, both for visible minorities and Aboriginal people. I
did that in the early stages of development so it was premature for me to
have a strong view at that time, but I am hopeful the structure will help as
long as it comes to some sort of action.
You talked about retention and career progression for persons in the four
equity groups and I think you are right. It is not just people coming into
the public service; it is what happens when people are here. I think some
critical components are developmental opportunities, access to mentors and
the normal good structure that you put around strong programs to develop
individuals so they can succeed in the public service.
Senator Andreychuk: It is a question to the chair.
I did not quite understand. You seemed to say that the Public Service
Commission, through its representatives here, was only dealing with the law
and not the spirit. I did not get that from the testimony, so I was not sure
what you were indicating.
I want to be fair to the witnesses and fair to your question.
The Chair: I am not a witness here. I think Ms. Robinson
understood because she was talking about the appointment rates and I wanted
her to comment on separation rates because they go hand in
You have appointments but if people do not say in the Public Service
Commission then the representation goes down.
Senator Andreychuk: You did not mean that they were not
implementing to the best of their ability?
The Chair: I did not say that. Did you understand that, Ms.
Ms. Robinson: I am fine, thank you.
The Chair: If there are no other questions, I have a number of
other questions. The former president of the Public Service Commission of
Canada, Maria Barrados, previously stated before the committee that she did
not "have a great deal of confidence in the
number that is used to calculate the number of visible minorities currently
working in the Government of Canada." She also claimed it was
Do you agree with that statement? If so, what implications does this have
for monitoring employment equity in the federal public service and what
efforts are being made and should be taken to obtain a better estimate?
Ms. Robinson: I would agree that there was historically a
challenge in providing good data because there were two sources. There was
data that came from the Public Service Commission that we would gather when
people entered the public service and applied for our jobs through our jobs
data bank system. Another set of data was generated by Treasury Board
Secretariat. They would ask persons, when they were in the public service,
to fill out forms to self- identify so we had two different data banks.
We implemented a methodology — my predecessor — in May 2010 to try to
have the self-declaration and self- identification data merged.
That work has continued to progress. It has had a few setbacks because it
was very difficult to do technically, but I am happy to report that we think
we have found a methodology to merge the data. We would have just one set of
data to report so Public Service Commission and Treasury Board will have
much more reliable and accurate numbers.
The Chair: Can you tell me what the difficulties were?
Ms. Robinson: The difficulty was they were taken at two points in
time. The PSC would collect the data as soon as the individual would
self-declare on their job application whereas the data on
self-identification collected by Treasury Board was delayed, so there was a
We think, based on some of the research, that people may have had
different reporting tendencies depending on when they were asked the
question. If we can simplify it to one process and have one integrated set
of data, we think we can take out any bias and ensure we report to
Parliament. Our fundamental obligation is to make sure we provide accurate
information to Parliament.
The Chair: The way I understood it, and I would like you to
clarify if I am wrong, is there was one set of data collected when a person applied
and that is what you were looking at. Human resources would look at somebody
who had started working and there was, if I understand correctly, hesitancy
to self-identify once they had the job.
Was that the issue?
Ms. Robinson: That was the issue and I am not sure if it was
hesitancy or an administrative issue, but there were differences. We believe
that the data obtained on applications had a higher proportion than the data
when you asked someone already in their job to self-identify. I think fixing
that will make the difference going forward.
The Chair: I thank all three of you for being here today.
As I said to you privately and would now like to say publicly, we always
had a good relationship with your predecessor, Ms. Barrados. We see this as
a partnership. Our committee is working on the same objectives as you are —
to get the public service representation as per the law — and so we look
forward to working with you in the future.
Thank you very much.
Our next panel is from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. The
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, part of the Treasury Board
Secretariat, is responsible for, among other things, monitoring the
compliance of deputy heads of federal government departments with the human
resources or "people" component of their Management Accountability
Framework, of which employment equity targets form a part.
The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer has been given a mandate
to play a slightly more hands-off role than previously with respect to
ensuring employment equity targets, a fact made clear from the Prime
Minister's first news release announcing the creation of this new office, in
which he stated that the new agency was designed to simplify the
organizational structure for human resources management in the public
service, reduce overlap and duplication and provide deputy ministers with
the primary responsibility for managing the people and resources in their
I would very much like to welcome: Mr. Daniel Watson, Chief Human
Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat; and Ross MacLeod, Assistant
Deputy Minister, Governance Planning and Policy Sector.
Welcome. We are looking forward to working with you now and in the
future, and I understand that you have some opening remarks to make to us.
Daniel Watson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board
Secretariat: Thank you, Madam Chair.
I am pleased to be here before this committee today to speak about
employment equity and the initiatives underway to ensure that the public
service reflects the diversity of Canada. As you mentioned, Madam Chair, I
am here today with my colleague, Mr. Ross MacLeod, Assistant Deputy Minister
at the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.
Achieving a representative and inclusive workplace is a shared
responsibility that involves key stakeholders, such as my office, other
federal institutions and bargaining agents, and, of course, working closely
with the previous witness, President of the Public Service Commission of
Madam Chair, let me assure you and the committee that the government
takes this responsibility seriously; and issues surrounding employment
equity and diversity are top-of-mind for deputy ministers across government.
I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress. Our
ultimate goal is to ensure that the workforce in the federal public service
reflects the diversity of today's society, and is innovative and responsive
to address the needs of all Canadians.
The latest annual report on the state of employment equity within the
core public administration shows that women, Aboriginal peoples and persons
with disabilities continue to be fully represented in the core public
administration, based on their workforce availability.
It also shows that members of visible minority groups have increased
their representation, attaining almost their workforce availability of 12.4
per cent. As for the executive cadre, the representation of women, persons
with disabilities and visible minorities continues to exceed their workforce
These numbers are impressive, but especially so when taken in a
historical context. When I began my career in the federal public service in
the late 1980s, not so long ago, the percentage of women executives had been
about 5 per cent not too long before. That number has increased to nearly 50
per cent today. I remember in the early parts of my career people taking me
aside and saying, "If you work there, you will have a woman manager." No
one today would say that in the Public Service of Canada of 2013 and beyond.
This not only speaks to a changing work environment in the public service
but also one that has evolved with and is reflecting the shifting attitudes
of Canadian society.
Key to this shift in attitudes is our fundamental approach, in which
deputy heads play a leading role in employment equity and diversity issues
within their own departments.
Deputy heads are accountable for achieving excellence in all aspects of
people management in their own organizations.
As for my office, which is part of the Treasury Board Secretariat, we
play an enabling role and have continued to work closely with all federal
institutions to help them meet these requirements.
In order to ensure that this issue remains top of mind for our senior
leaders, my department provides institutions with detailed departmental
employment equity workforce analysis tables each year. This helps them to
integrate employment equity considerations into their integrated human
resources and business planning. In addition, my office holds deputy heads
accountable for excellence in people management. We do that by setting
expectations for people management and measuring the result achieved each
year through the Management Accountability Framework assessment exercise,
which includes employment equity indicators.
I would also like to highlight the progress being made in the
implementation of the new employment equity governance model, which was
created in 2011 to strengthen accountability and financial authority. This
structure consists of three new Champions and Chairs committees that
respectively represent the interest of visible minorities, Aboriginals and
persons with disabilities. These equity groups were previously represented
by three national employment equity councils. I understand that you will
also be hearing from the champions as part of your study in a later session.
But allow me to say how pleased we are with their progress in these early
days. Each of the three committees, headed by a deputy minister, is now in
place and has been working on identifying its priorities and sharing best
Common concerns and challenges have also been raised across the three
committees, such as career development, the creation of a healthy workplace
to address harassment and discrimination in the workplace, accountability
and the implementation of workforce reductions.
Working groups have also been struck to provide recommendations to each
committee on these issues and others.
This model is working. It is the model that, of course, has shown success
in financial management as well. It is a fundamental shift from more telling
towards more doing; which is leading to better results. In this structure,
deputy heads are accountable as they are better and more directly placed to
take the most effective, immediate and local actions to address the
employment equity needs in their departments. This new governance model
gives employment equity groups more access to senior leaders. These
committees are made up of practitioners and interested employees, who are
directly involved in developing the innovative action plans that are
relevant for their respective groups. My department acts as a centre of
expertise and will continue to support this model and this direction. As we
have seen, it is delivering better results.
I would also like to note the excellent work being done through the
Disability Management Initiative, which has generated a number of tools and
services to support departments better in supporting ill or injured
employees, and to contribute to the participation of persons with
disabilities in the workforce. This includes resources such as disability
case management workshops, training programs for disability management
advisers and advisers with responsibility for disability management. To
date, we have trained nearly 400 of these people.
Once again, we are pleased with the progress that has been made through
all of these approaches. The common concerns and challenges have also been
raised in all three committees, including career development and the
creation of a healthy workplace by addressing the problems and challenges we
Madam Chair, I would be delighted to answer your questions.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Watson. Mr. MacLeod, do you want to add
anything to the comments?
Ross MacLeod, Assistant Deputy Minister, Governance Planning and
Policy Sector, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: No further
statements, madam chair.
The Chair: Mr. Watson, one thing came up in the previous
discussion when you were present. For clarification, what is your working
definition of "visible minorities?"
Mr. Watson: In the act, the one we are governed by, a member of a
visible minority group is a person other than an Aboriginal person who is
non-Caucasian or non-White. That is the definition we use from the act.
Senator Ataullahjan: Is voluntary self-identification still an
issue? What are the current hurdles you face? What is being done to
encourage self-identification of persons from the four designated groups?
Mr. Watson: Many steps are taken. Perhaps some are more mechanical
and others more qualitative.
On the more mechanical side of things, when people apply for jobs they
are asked if they wish to self-identify. That is an important first step. It
means that the first time the person is in contact with the federal
government and thinking of working with us, it shows that we think this is
an important issue and that we are interested in knowing these answers. My
colleague, the President of the Public Service Commission of Canada,
referred to those processes earlier.
However, later on if you get a letter of offer, whether it is your first
in the federal public service or your seventeenth over the years, chances
are very good that it will be accompanied by a form offering you the
opportunity to self- identify. That happens each time you get a letter of
offer because you have been promoted or changed positions. In fact, when I
took on my new role in September, I got the form, as does every other
employee who joins Online Registration and Credential Administration, OCRA,
asking if I had self-identified. That process takes place. Departments have
different campaigns at different times to encourage self-identification.
One important part of the work is simply the conversations that go on in
the workplace making sure that people feel comfortable in self-identifying.
People often wonder why they might be asked to self-identify on those forms.
Before people start volunteering that information, they want to know how it
will be used, who will use it and who will see it. Demystifying those
questions is an important part of the process.
The Chair: Are most people willing to self-identify?
Mr. Watson: It is hard to say. I have met many people over the
course of my career who have expressed deep reservations about
self-identifying. However, clearly a significant number of public servants —
in the tens of thousands — self-identify every year. It is impossible to
estimate exactly what proportion that might be. However, we certainly know
there are people who do not self-identify because sometimes they tell us
that they will not do so.
The Chair: I have a supplementary question on that. Now that you
are in a leadership role heading this up, what are you doing to make it
possible to build a culture where people feel comfortable? It is not easy; I
accept that completely. How do you build a culture where people feel
comfortable to self-identify?
Mr. Watson: I think it is important in that context to look at how
Canada has changed, even in the course of my career. As I say, I remember
vividly someone taking me aside in the early stage of my career and telling
me that I should be thinking about going to a particular area because I
would have a woman manager. We would not have that conversation today.
When we go onto campuses and talk about visible minorities, people look
at us with blank stares. They have no idea what we are talking about. It is
a different dialogue than when I entered the public service, for example.
Sometimes I worry with some of the younger people that we talk to that we
are introducing a conversation that has not yet been a part of their world
and it might actually be doing the job of separating them from what they see
as being a part of mainstream society. Other times it is important to
I think having an approach that respects that broad range of perspectives
that people bring to this personal and important question is an important
part of actually making people feel comfortable in the public service.
I also think that the most important part of it is ensuring that those of
us in the public service do our very best to be good public servants, no
matter who we are. There is no example like watching people who come from
backgrounds from all over the world or from all parts of Canadian society
succeed and do brilliantly.
I had an interesting experience in Edmonton a while ago. I had the
privilege of speaking at a citizenship ceremony. There were people from 29
countries around the world. I concluded by saying, "I hope each and every
one of you will at some point in time think about working for the federal
public service, the provincial public service or the City of Edmonton's
public service." What amazed me was the number of people who came up to me
afterwards and said, "Really? Do you think it would be possible?" I said,
"Not only would it be possible, but we would welcome you as citizens."
I think those conversations are important. They need to be open and we
need to be clear that we are open and that we are being explicit. Most
important, we need to show the types of results in that people from any
background in Canadian society can have successful careers in the federal
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you, Mr. Watson, for putting the issue
forward. It is something I think this committee has wrestled with, and
perhaps Canadians have, too; namely, how to make any Canadian with merit get
into the public service.
I think we started with target groups because we needed to include these
target groups to get enough self-confidence to be accepted by the broader
community. Therefore, your comment about whether you would work for a woman
would not be there. It is to change the culture to make it more open, but
the ultimate goal is to get good public servants. I thank you for putting it
out that way.
Are you thinking about what happens at another stage? First, it was to
identify the pluralism in our society and to ensure everyone is included.
However, at some point, as you say, it might become counterproductive
when other people are now getting their confidence in different ways than
when you started the target programs.
Are you looking at how to adjust or change the public service and to
include everyone without using target groups?
Mr. Watson: The way you phrase it — how to include everyone —
includes people who come from a variety of perspectives on this. There are
people who never thought of themselves as belonging to a particular group,
who want to build a better Canada, do that through joining the federal
public service and do great things doing it. There are other people who
wonder if they see the right examples and who wonder if there are reasons
behind them not getting promotions or particular jobs that may not be
related to competence or other things.
Regardless of what the answers are to those questions, I think it is
important that we work with all of them. It is important that we recognize
that we should not expect to see different rates of success from different
parts of Canadian society, as long as people meet the fundamental tests of
merit we have built into our system.
Whatever challenges we may have from time to time in our system, the
concept of merit is firmly and rock-solidly embedded in that, and it is
something that every public servant who hires has had drilled into them. It
is useful to look at these touchstones to see if there is any reason to
believe that we are not reaching that merit.
The underlying philosophy, of course, is that if we do everything in the
open, on the up and up, we will see similar rates of success from all
aspects of Canadian society. I think that is where the numbers can be
useful. However, they are not, in and of themselves, very useful.
Senator Andreychuk: Are you finding your use of these target areas
is reflected in our institutions within our society; in other words, in
business and provincial institutions, et cetera. Is the use of these targets
understood, and is it the tool that Canada uses to get at inclusiveness and
the merit principle, or is it time, as I say, to look at other factors and
look at it in a different way?
Mr. Watson: I have worked for the Government of Saskatchewan, the
Government of British Columbia and have had dealings with many other
governments across the country, as well as a number of private-sector
entities. They all use some form of metrics around this, and the metrics are
an important component of it.
However, if the metrics are the sole story, that creates the question for
a number of people: Do I want to be part of building a better Canada and a
better public service, or do I want to be part of a story of metrics? If it
is a binary conversation like that — and let us go back to the question of
self-identification — we can find there will be people who say, "I would
rather not to be part of a story about metrics but part of the story about
building a better public service and a better Canada."
Senator Andreychuk: Targets are sometimes misunderstood as being
something special. I think what you are trying to say is that the targets
are how to get everyone into the equation, not how to make anyone special or
different. Is that understood that the target groups are to get you into the
service, to have you stay in the service and to be a competent public
servant but that it does not give you any special benefits; it just allows
you to reach the bars that all of us are expected to reach in the public
Mr. Watson: Let me answer that by going back again to the earlier
part of my career. Was there any legitimate reason to believe in the early
1980s that 95 per cent of managers should just statistically not be women? I
do not think there was any rationale behind that from a pure competence and
In the Government of Canada, we typically deal with some of the hardest
questions that Canadians face. All of the public servants we need have to be
special. They have to bring a range and a nature of skills to their jobs
that few other jobs in the country require. Those skills reside in the
entire breadth of the Canadian population, and we need to go look,
relentlessly, to find them wherever they are in Canadian society. There is
no reason to believe that you would find them in only one or two parts of
However, if we do find that we are not doing it in rough proportions, we
know there is some issue behind it that goes back to an earlier day in my
career, and beyond.
Senator Harb: Thank you, Mr. Watson and Mr. MacLeod, for coming.
What percentage of assistant deputy ministers and deputy ministers are
visible minorities, whether men or women?
Mr. Watson: I do not have the exact numbers with me today, but I
know in the executive ranks, the visible minority population is actually
higher than workforce availability. I know the numbers for the EX-01s, 02s
and 03s, which are the levels of director and director general, are higher
than for the EX-04s and 05s.
It is important to remember when you get to EX-04s and 05s that this is an
incredibly small number of people.
Out of 210,000 or 211,000 people, this is about 300, so, when you start
talking about numbers like 4 per cent of 300, one or two people makes quite
a substantial difference on that front.
The numbers are reasonably close there, and we would be happy to provide
any data that we have on that front.
The Chair: When you rely on that, are you relying on the 2006
census of 12.4 as being higher than the work-force availability rate?
Mr. Watson: The only number we have for workforce availability is
the 2006 number, and the only other number that we have available for
employees is the self-identification number, plus any information that we
might have from our work with the Public Service Commission. That is the
The Chair: It is the 12.4 number.
Mr. Watson: Yes.
Senator Harb: As you go along and map out your list in
terms of the work-force availability versus how many from the target group
you have, and then you bring them in and do all of the wonderful stuff you are doing,
have you done any work — and I am sure you have — in order to say, for
example, that the Department of Finance is meeting its target in the four
identified target groups? All across the board in the public service, have
you done that analysis, and, if so, can you share some of the challenges
that you are faced with and what you are doing to overcome those challenges?
Mr. Watson: We have the Management Accountability Framework, which
is an important part of every deputy minister's performance assessment in
any given year. It specifically looks at the extent to which deputy
ministers have a representative workforce in their departments.
We look closely at what departments do, and there are a couple of things
that we look at. On the one hand, we look at the challenges but also, on the
other hand, the things that are going well.
I am pleased to say that there are many more stories of success and
things that are going well than there are things that have represented
The numbers across the system are, generally speaking, very good, and the
trends are headed in the direction that we want. We recognize the limitation
on the data — not having the 2011 data yet — and yes, we will have to look
However, a number of departments are doing interesting things. Health
Canada, for example, was named as one of Canada' best diversity employers
this year, which is something that I think all public servants are proud of
and that Health Canada is justifiably proud of.
Environment Canada, for example, set up the Employment Equity Express
Lane Recruitment Initiative, something that specifically makes it easier for
managers to not only understand what is going on but to help everyone
understand what it means and does not mean to be working in the area of
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for example, has developed a
specific mentoring program in its Nova Scotia regional office.
The Champions and Chairs process that has been set up is designed to talk
specifically and candidly about what is working and not working and to do it
not at the level of theory but at the level of practice.
I tried to mention, in my remarks, the idea of ensuring that there is
less talking and more doing because, at the end of the day, it is action and
results that will be important here.
Senator Harb: My final question deals with best practices.
Obviously, organizations look inward, but they also look outward and find
out who is doing what and what they can learn from A, B or C organizations.
Have you done any kind of an outside search in order to see how we
compare to Australia, the United States and other countries that are
similar, in terms of demographic makeup, to Canada, which is very unique, to
a large extent?
You mentioned Alberta; you mentioned Edmonton. How do we compare if we
look at a provincial level or even at municipalities? Have you done any
study of that sort? If so, can you share the results with us?
Mr. Watson: I do not have any of that information today. My
colleague might have some background on that. We would be happy to take a
look for what we do have.
I am generally familiar with some other governments I have worked either
for or closely with. The general approaches are similar in that respect. I
have worked with a lot of governments from around the world in terms of
meeting with them and with members of their public service and had general
conversations on that front.
It is fair to say that a country that has such a diverse population and
that manages to mirror the data that we have available is not something that
I have seen in many other jurisdictions.
Senator Harb: It might be useful to do such a study because, at
some point in the future, you might appear before the committee again to
give us an update, and you can say, "That is how it is done here, and that
is how it is done there in order to meet the target." You could say that we
are at the forefront of trying to meet those targets or objectives and that
no one is doing it or some are doing it. It might be a useful exercise.
Mr. MacLeod: The experience of Canadian jurisdictions is largely
similar. They use different methods and metrics, but their methods are
fairly similar to what we do.
Other countries, like the United States, take a more affirmative action
approach, which is a heavier hand on the targets, as you are probably aware.
Other countries we have experience and interaction with — and I am
thinking of United Kingdom, Holland, France and so on — are just beginning
to grapple with this, and sometimes diversity there is actually expressed as
a problem rather than as an opportunity, the way we see it.
In the fora where we have been able to interact with those countries, we
can actually present employment equity and diversity as a success story that
they are eager to learn from. However, I think it is an excellent suggestion
that we do a bit more international research because there are always good
practices available there.
Senator White: I appreciated the comments. Thank you both for
I want to thank Mr. Watson in particular. He participates in moving
people through what is called the Vision Awards for human resource
excellence. You have been successful at helping other people to be
successful, so congratulations.
I appreciated the comments on metrics. However, I was involved in a
recruiting strategy in Nunavut to recruit Inuit into the RCMP. It was
thirteen years of failure. In other words, we had not recruited one Inuit
officer, through mainstream recruiting, for 13 years. We did not succeed
until we actually excluded non-Inuit applicants. Talk about heavy handed;
that is about as heavy handed as you can get. If you look at the success in
Northern Ireland around religious recruiting, it has also been successful
because they excluded one religious group for another religious group.
I have not seen us do that in Canada as a practice. I think we have
identified positions, every now and then, where we must.
By the way, I am pleased that, here, we have four out of eight
representatives who are women and five out of eight who are visible
minorities. That is great to see.
However, we have not done it to get that leapfrog effect in Canada.
Would you suggest, Mr. Watson, that it is something that we should
consider in certain areas, from an operational perspective? We have done it
for francophones, but we have not done it from a visible minority or
Mr. Watson: We do have that available as a tool. It is in the
system that the area of selection, as we refer to it, can be limited to a
particular group. It is at the far end of the spectrum. From the perspective
of ensuring that people have the opportunity to showcase their skills and
demonstrate that they actually compete with the best that Canada has to
offer and that their entry into the public service is on the same basis as
any other public servant, we often run competitions that are open to all
There are other approaches that are available too. Appointments without
competition are sometimes possible and used to assist in some cases where
there are representation issues at higher levels.
Occasionally, there have been competitions where the applicants have been
limited to a particular group, but we exceed in three of the four areas
today. We are very close to the data that we have available for visible
minorities, and, in fact, we exceed the numbers available for executives,
according to the data that we have, without having had major widespread use
of that approach.
Is it a tool that is available in the system? Yes. Are there times where
it could be appropriate under particular circumstances, like the ones that
you have described? The system recognizes that. Is it the preferred
approach? No. It is at one end of the spectrum. However, have we been able
to achieve the results we wanted to achieve without using it on a widespread
That question of having everyone understand that the skill sets we need
reside in entire breadth of the Canadian population is actually one of the
most fundamental, good things we can achieve from this. However, from time
to time, as you described, there are circumstances where the use of that
tool at one end of the spectrum may be the way that people need to go.
Senator Hubley: Thank you for your presentation.
You touched briefly on your outreach and on speaking to universities. I
would like you to expand on that a little.
In your sharing of information process with young people, do you make
them aware of the goals that you have as a government to hire certain of our
four target groups? That is something that I would like to know.
Mr. Watson: Thank you very much for the question.
One of the things we talk about is having a representative work-force, so
that is one of the things that we talk about.
Generally speaking, my own personal practice has been that I do not ever
tell somebody that I am aiming to meet certain employment equity targets. It
changes the nature of the conversation with the person I am trying to hire,
and not for the better. That is my own personal experience.
Certainly, the importance of a representative work-force is something we
talk about a lot, not just in terms of the concept of the employment equity
groups but the diversity of ideas that we bring to a set of issues. It comes
to regional diversity in the country and understanding how decisions will
play out that way. However, there is a specific conversation to be had about
being representative in terms of the employment equity groups. We talk about a
representative work-force as being something we mention explicitly, that we
believe in, pursue and hope to achieve.
Senator Hubley: In hoping to achieve that, because you are dealing
with different minority groups, do you recognize in any tangible way that
they may have different culture and practices that they would want to be
assured would not be jeopardized by working for government?
Mr. Watson: Absolutely. In terms of the Canadian Human Rights Act,
a number of provisions require reasonable accommodation for
any number of purposes and sometimes these are religious, sometimes they are
cultural. That is very important to us.
I have spent a lot of my career working in the field of Aboriginal policy
and negotiations. Many things in that environment are important to have as
part of the conversation with employees, both as they consider whether to
join us and ensuring we get the right type of retention as well. Just
because people sign on it does not mean they have to stay. In an environment
where Canada's labour force is actually shrinking and the demand for skilled
people is getting more competitive than the past, we have a duty, need and
desire to ensure we are an attractive place for someone to work, no matter
their background or where they come from.
The Chair: I have a few questions. On page 1 of your presentation
you talked about diversity bing top of mind for deputy ministers across
I know I speak for all my colleagues here by saying we have been pleased
with your presentation. We see that we will be working with you in the
I would like to hear from you as to what leadership you are giving so
that it is top of the mind. Deputy ministers have a lot of responsibilities.
We are aware this is not the only thing they think about every day.
How are you maintaining that interest?
Mr. Watson: It is not difficult. Some of the reasons are very
Canada has a labour force that is shrinking in absolute size. For people
graduating from university today perhaps in a particular year the economy is
not as strong as others, but they have more choices than I ever had when
they come out of university. The importance of being able to attract, keep
and retain every single person that has the type of skills, background and
experience that will make the federal public service, and as a result
Canada, a better place is that much more important.
In the periods where we had great labour surpluses you could be picky and
choosy about whom you took. Today you have to ensure you are always keeping,
retaining and attracting the people that you need.
The work we are doing is harder than in the past. The skill sets we need
are different. The expectations of the public in terms of how we interact
with them, and the innovation around the service, are different than the
stability that marked our services a couple generations ago.
When a deputy minister is confronted with the need to respond to very
high demands and be innovative in doing so to turn around different policies
and programs in short order, having the right people is critical. They come
from all sectors of Canadian society and we are in fierce competition for
those people with other Canadian employers so it is important that we be
ready to do that and be seen as attractive.
The Chair: For a number of years I have been working with the
previous version, when you had the three different groups, and now we have
the Champions and Chairs.
For me, I think the jury is out as to how effective that is. I have some
basic questions before I ask you for more specifics.
How many champions are there in the federal public service and you
appoint them, correct? What is a champion, how do you appoint them and how
many are there?
Mr. MacLeod: There are a number of answers to that question. There
are three deputy minister champions for the three champion and chair
councils, one for people with disabilities, one for visible minorities and
one for Aboriginal people. Those are deputy minister level and for the first
time there is a direct deputy minister to community interaction happening.
For each of those particular EE groups there is a champion per
department. It is a large number because we have about 70 large
organizations in the core public admin, so you would see around 200
champions if there is one per group, per organization.
The Chair: When champions were first announced, I was optimistic
and still am because it means there is direct power, someone who has
authority, credibility — not that the previous people did not.
I understand there are main champions. I will take one deputy minister
for visible minorities and then you have, if I understood Mr. MacLeod, around
200 champions from various departments. Did I understand you correctly?
Mr. MacLeod: Yes and there are chairs of the various EE —
The Chair: I will come to that in a minute. There are 200
champions. How do they give input to the main champion? How does that work?
Mr. Watson: Two things will happen. Inside each department there
will be a person who is chair on behalf of each of the four groups. They
will talk regularly inside a department and one of the things they know —
and that we have relearned — is that many of the issues are similar. There
are some differences and things go on their own particular way, but there
are many things in common.
The good news is they are having a conversation inside that department
where hiring decisions are taken, where accommodation issues are discussed
and where there is access to deputy ministers and a senior person in each of
Then together all of the individuals representing, for example, members
of the visible minority group, will meet with the deputy minister chair on
that front. They will meet on a regular basis.
Mr. MacLeod and his colleagues support that process. I work closely with
the champions and I understand they will be here at a future session to talk
about their work. There is a lot of cross-pollination and discussion both
inside individual departments and across the system as a whole. We are a key
congregating point in supporting that conversation.
The Chair: There are chairs in each department from the employees
and then there is a champion in each department that works with the deputy
minister. Is that correct?
Mr. MacLeod: Typically, that is the case. The champions within the
department are typically members of the senior executive table, so they have
direct access to the deputy minister. We modeled that on our successful
official languages champion program, the champions for official languages
across all federal institutions.
The Chair: I am sure that we will hear more about this in the
future. I compliment Natural Resources Canada because they have done a good
job of opening up the culture.
As you know, I asked the question about appointments and separation. I am
concerned about the drop-off rate. In the appointment process, there are a
number of issues. I will put them on the table and you can help me.
First, we understood in the past through our studies that people have
been selected but not identified for a job and, before the job comes to
them, there is a drop-off rate. Second, someone is appointed to that job and
then leaves for whatever reason. There is a great separation rate.
Mr. Watson: The latest data we have are encouraging for 2011-12.
For visible minorities, overall representation was 12.1 per cent, but the
separation rate was 7.7 per cent. The President of the Public Service
Commission of Canada reported on the hiring side. I believe that she said
the numbers of new hires from a visible minority group were 22 per cent. The
departures were about 7.7 per cent for last year, which is below
availability and is a net gain. For persons with disabilities, the
separation rate was slightly higher. The overall representation was 5.7 per
cent, and the separation was 6.8 per cent — a difference of 1.1 per cent.
For Aboriginal persons, there was a net increase with the overall
representation at 4.9 per cent while the separation was 3.8 per cent. Fewer
were leaving. For women, the largest group, it was reasonably close. The
overall representation was 54.6 per cent and the separation was 55.6 per
cent — out by 1 per cent.
In two cases, we were on the net positive side, and in one case, it was
reasonably close, given the numbers. Obviously, we are interested in
following up on persons with disabilities.
Statistically, we know that disabilities have a tendency to onset with
age, so there may be some correlation between the fact that on average
people tend to be older, have more disabilities and be closer to retirement.
We do not know for a fact that is the case, but if it were something other
than that, we would want to look into it to determine whether any steps
should be taken to address that. Overall, these numbers are either positive
or close, with the one exception, to where we want to be.
The Chair: What is the exception?
Mr. Watson: Persons with disabilities is out by 1.1 per cent.
Given the small numbers, it would be of particular concern. When you get to
the statistical size of the population of women in this group, to be out by
1 per cent has a different statistical significance than any other has.
The Chair: The other concern that the committee has had from day
one is that you may have met the representation rates, but where are the
women in leadership roles? I guess we are getting there. The issue with
Aboriginal people is that they are concentrated in a few departments. I am
sure you are addressing that as well.
You have addressed one of my concerns a bit: people with disabilities. My
perception is that often representation happens because people sadly have
become disabled while public servants, not that they were hired in spite of
their challenges. I would like to hear from you as to what you are
proactively doing to enable people who already have disabilities to come into the
Mr. Watson: On the recruitment side, the President of the Public
Service Commission of Canada would handle many of those pieces. You raise an
important point. The work-force availability overall is 4 per cent and the
representation is 5.7 per cent. If we were even close — if it were 4 per
cent and 4.1 per cent, then I would be much more concerned knowing that
people tend to acquire disabilities over time. There is a substantial
difference on that front.
It is important to show that we are an accommodating workplace and that
we will do what we need to do with our work space organization to deal with
people with any range of disabilities they might have. The importance of
simply talking about this with people, not only with people who have
disabilities but also those who might hire them and work with them, needs to
be part of our workplace conversation.
The Chair: The other thing we spoke about in our report was
non-advertised jobs. If I remember clearly, the impression was that it was
25 per cent for non-advertised jobs. I know that things have improved. Can
Mr. Watson: I do not have that data. Those appointments are run by
the Public Service Commission of Canada. Generally speaking, appointments
without competition is not the norm, obviously, as the public service is
built firmly on the principle of merit and transparency. Competitive
processes are by far the most frequent way of appointing positions. There is
a place in the system for non-competitive processes, but it is clearly a
much smaller proportion of the total.
The Chair: Mr. Watson, the elephant in the room is the data. You
do not have to be an economist or a data collection specialist to know that
the visible minority population in our country has substantially increased
from what it was in 2006. The best you can do is the 12.4 per cent in 2006,
and we know that will change.
What proactive work are you doing to make the public service more
representative of all Canadians?
Mr. Watson: Today's public service is the result of several layers
going back about 35 years of hiring and, in some cases, a little longer. The
composition of each of those years of hiring has changed significantly over
time. The numbers that the President of the Public Service Commission of
Canada was talking about earlier are substantially different than they were
in the past.
In part, that is our ongoing presence on campuses and our ongoing
demonstration that no matter where you come from in Canadian society, you
can make an important contribution to Canada, make a better public service
and be very successful here. There are the supports we talked about in terms
of employment equity hiring, committees to have dialogue on the issues and
the simple education of all public servants about the importance of this
issue and with why it is critical.
Those are the key pillars that will bring about change. Each year we will
see the same kinds of trends that we have seen in recent years, which are
significantly different numbers in terms of who we hire than we would have
found at the beginning of my career.
The Chair: Thank you for being with us today. We hope to continue
this dialogue and we look forward to working with you again in the future.
We see this as the beginning of the dialogue.
Our next panel is from the Canadian Human Rights Commission. One of the
roles of the Canadian Human Rights Commission is to ensure compliance with
the Employment Equity Act through such procedures as conducting audits in
order to determine whether federal employers are meeting their statutory
obligations under sections 5, 9, 15 and 17. If audits indicate that
employers are not meeting these obligations, the Canadian Human Rights
Commission may negotiate agreements with them that set out remedial measures
to be taken.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission also receives complaints regarding
matters of non-compliance with the act. If complaints are not resolved or
the negotiated agreements not properly implemented, then these cases may
proceed before the Employment Equity Review Tribunal, which is empowered to
order these departments and agencies to take more remedial steps.
The commission normally audits employers with more than 500 employees or
those that have previously indicated a below-average employment equity
Today we are looking forward to hearing from you as to how the federal
service is doing and what more needs to be done so that we meet the
requirements of the act. I understand that you have some remarks, Mr.
Langtry. We look forward to hearing from you.
David Langtry, Acting Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights
Commission: Madam Chair, thank you for inviting the Canadian Human
Rights Commission to contribute to your study of discrimination in the
federal public service.
I have three main points. First, the Canadian Human Rights Commission
promotes the core principle of equal opportunity and works to prevent
discrimination in Canada's federally regulated workplaces.
Second, the commission's employment equity compliance audits contribute
to breaking down barriers to employment. And finally, equality of
opportunity in the workplace is a very realistic and attainable goal.
We are responsible for administering the Canadian Human Rights Act and
ensuring that federal organizations are in compliance with the Employment
Equity Act. We receive discrimination complaints regarding employment and
services provided by organizations under federal jurisdiction. This includes
the federal public sector as well as private- sector companies involved in
industries such as transportation, telecommunications and banking.
The commission also works to prevent discrimination, and promotes the
development of sustainable human rights cultures. We do this by providing
organizations with research, policies and tools to promote understanding and
compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The commission's Human Rights Maturity Model is one example of our work
in this area. Collaborating with employers, unions and other stakeholders,
the commission developed a comprehensive roadmap for building better,
healthier workplaces. The model encourages organizations to be proactive and
prevent discrimination through policies and processes that consider people's
This brings me to my second point. Employment equity audits contribute to
breaking down barriers to employment. As mentioned, the commission is
responsible for ensuring compliance with the Employment Equity Act.
Employers are required to look at their policies and practices to see if
they create barriers for people belonging to any of the four designated
groups: women, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities and
At first, this can be challenging. Employers are often reluctant to
believe that there are barriers to employment in their workplace. However,
after reviewing their employment practices, most organizations identify
systemic barriers affecting people from one or more of the designated
groups, and they are able to correct the problem.
When we look at the latest employment equity statistics, the numbers tell
different stories in the public and private sectors. As this committee has
heard, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities, women and
Aboriginal people are well represented overall in the federal public
service. While this is very encouraging, it is important to note that we say
"overall" because we are speaking for the public sector as a whole. This
means that these groups are not necessarily well represented in each
occupational category or each department, so there is still room for
Holding management accountable for employment equity, as recommended by
this committee a decade ago, has contributed greatly to these results. The
commission provides the Clerk of the Privy Council with a progress report
for each department and agency that was audited in a given year. This
information can be used by the PCO during its performance assessment of
The private sector can learn from the advances made by the public sector
in this area. In the private sector, members of visible minorities are the
only group that is fully represented overall. Persons with disabilities,
women and Aboriginal people remain under-represented in the private sector.
After consulting and collaborating with several employers, the commission
changed how it goes about auditing organizations. It now focuses on
employers that are having difficulty achieving adequate representation for
members of the four designated groups. With our new approach, we can follow
up with less successful employers within three years. This is crucial as
many underperforming employers need to continuously monitor their results
and update their employment equity plan.
While there is still work to do, the effect of the Employment Equity Act
and the efforts of all organizations in the federal public sector
demonstrate that achieving equality of opportunity in the workplace is a
very realistic and attainable goal.
Thank you. We would be happy to take your questions.
The Chair: Thank you kindly for your presentation.
Mr. Langtry, I would remind you that we are here reviewing employment
equity in the federal public service, and we would like your comments to
stay within that. I will now go to the deputy chair.
Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you for your presentation.
What I would like to know is the following: What procedure is followed
should it be found that employers are not meeting obligations? What types of
agreements are negotiated with the said employers, and what type of guidance
Mr. Langtry: As you might be aware, our responsibility, under the
Employment Equity Act, in doing compliance audits is to negotiate and try,
by way of persuasion, to have employers meet the requirements of the act. It
is only as a last resort that we would issue a direction and proceed to
tribunal for a hearing. We have not had to go to a tribunal since 2002. It
is usually through persuasion and negotiation that the undertakings are met.
Our statistics would show that when we begin the audit process, when we
notify an employer that we are going to be conducting an audit in the
federal public sector, only 29 per cent of the federal public sector is
fully compliant with the act. The numbers are worse in the private sector,
but I will restrict this, of course, to the federal public sector. It is
only 29 per cent, and that is even if they had been previously audited by
the commission. The numbers are not good. Of course, by the time we complete
an audit, they must be 100 per cent compliant.
Let me also say, though, that one of the issues — and hopefully we will
get into this further — is that when we say "compliant with the act," as
this committee will no doubt be aware, being in compliance with the act and
our compliance audit saying that you are fully compliant does not mean you
have representation. It simply means that you have undertaken the nine
elements that are set out in the act of conducting your review, having an
Employment Equity Act, maintaining statistics and so on and so forth. We are
able to get them to meet the audit requirements, but that does not
necessarily mean they have the representation.
Senator Ataullahjan: Is there any kind of follow-up beyond that,
or is that it, then?
Mr. Langtry: No, there is follow-up. At one time, we commissioners
were being presented with compliance audits, simply saying that we approved
them and saying, "This employer is fully compliant," even if they had very
poor representation numbers. This was a frustration, and it was in working
with employers and with unions that we redesigned the process to say that we
should be more concerned with the results being achieved rather than simply
checking off if they have met the conditions. Not to say that those
conditions are not important; obviously, if they have an employment equity
plan in place, then, presumably, that will address the shortcomings. The
audit process is also to identify the barriers to employment and the reasons
why there is not representation and to provide advice and assistance as to
how the employer might address the gaps in representation.
Now, as I mentioned, just in the last couple of years, with the change in
our focus, in addition to doing the compliance audits, where an employer is
relatively good, both in terms of the results and in comparison with their
own industry or their own sector, we treat them and give them what we call a
status report and say, "Of course, there is room for improvement, but let
us focus on those that we would describe as less successful employers." For
those, we are going back three years later to do a follow-up compliance
There is the monitoring. The undertakings must be complied with to be
brought into compliance, and then, as I say, we do the follow-up,
particularly with the less successful employers.
Senator Hubley: Thank you very much for your presentation.
Is the current legal framework and policy structure for employment equity
in the federal public service proving to be effective? Further to that, does
CHRC have sufficient powers under this framework to effectively fulfill its
role as the body that ensures compliance with the Employment Equity Act? If
not, what would help you to fulfill this role?
Mr. Langtry: I would have to say that, in my view — and I would
certainly look to others — the act has the legal framework in place for us
to conduct a role. Parliament set out what our role is, which is to do
compliance audits to ensure compliance with the requirements of the
Employment Equity Act.
Whether or not it is through negotiation and persuasion and only as a
last resort, the act does provide that last resort if an employer does not
Again, just to repeat: If, in fact, the intention was to have full
representation — because there is nothing in the act, and I am certainly not
advocating it — it is clearly no quota issue. It is by persuasion and
encouragement to have a reflective workplace. The act does not require that
measures be put in place that end up with us being able to enforce to ensure
that the results are there, that they in fact are representative.
The Chair: Mr. Langtry, if I understood you when you appeared in
front of us before and now, if the employer says that they have a plan in
place, then they are in compliance, right?
Mr. Langtry: Correct.
The Chair: How long do you give? I imagine it is in the plan,
whether it is two years, three years. How long do you give before you
revisit the employer? How does the process work once you find them to be in
Mr. Langtry: I should say that it is obviously not simply that the
employer says, "We have a plan." It is a fulsome and sometimes lengthy
process to do the full compliance audit. We would look at each of the
indicators in doing an employment system review. We look at return rates of
identification. If we find that there has only been a 70 per cent rate of
return of declarations, we encourage the employer. We would note to them
that, while they cannot make the disclosure mandatory, if they could require
their employees to complete the declarations and send them in, then, in
fact, their numbers would be better. It is a number of things we look at in
terms of recruitment — whether there are any barriers in their process and
that kind of thing.
We would then review the employment equity plan that is being developed.
Under the act, there is a requirement to consult and collaborate with union
representatives in the development, the implementation and the revision of
the employment equity plan. We would look at that and satisfy ourselves that
the plan, as developed through the audit process or otherwise, will address
those gaps, in our view. For the less successful employers, we are going
back three years later to do another review to see if they have achieved
progress and we would do another compliance audit. However, that would only
be to say they are in compliance with the act.
The Chair: Say you have done the first audit. You and the employer
have come to an agreement, you say they are in compliance and then a few
years later you again go and do the audit. I do not know if it has happened,
so I am just guessing. If they have not achieved what was agreed, what
Mr. Langtry: Then we would be working with them to revise their
employment equity plan — which they should be doing on an ongoing basis — to
address and identify the shortcomings. Much has been talked about. For
example, as a new census comes out, the numbers of availability have
increased. Therefore, we might find, going back three or five years later,
their numbers are worse, even though they have been implementing the plan.
We would try to identify what.
I should also say that to address, in part, that concern of availability
rates, we do that as part of our audit reports as well as speaking to the
employer. They should not be taking the availability numbers — which as you
know are currently 2006 — and be complacent and say, "Well, look, we have
met availability." For example, we say that you should take the
availability and add, in the case of members of visible minorities, 2.7 per
cent as being the real availability based on the difference that we
experience between the 2001 and 2006 census. It may be different again, but
we are saying to employers, "Do not feel necessarily so good. You may be a
bit under, but you may be way under once the 2011 numbers come out."
The Chair: We know that the workforce availability rates will be
different soon. Is the Canadian Human Rights Commission doing any proactive
work with the employer to meet those targets?
Mr. Langtry: We are, in terms of bringing to their attention the
fact that these numbers will be higher in each of the categories, based on
our past experience. Again, in each report, we tell them.
We are also encouraging employers to develop a culture of human rights
through, for example, the Human Rights Maturity Model that we launched
February of last year. It is a voluntary self-assessment tool, but it is to
work with employers to talk about the benefits. Previous witnesses have
talked about the benefits. This is not to force employers to be reflective
of the population for any other reason than it will benefit the employer. It
is reflective of the population and certainly in these days of more
competition for people with skills and development that can contribute to
the workforce, if there is a culture of human rights within the workforce,
not only will they be recruiting but also retaining the people. There have
been concerns about that.
We have a number of policies and programs that we develop which are to
address some of the issues we would see on an ongoing basis in terms of our
complaint-handling process. For example, last year 36 per cent of the
complaints we received were on the grounds of disability. In terms of
persons with disabilities and their representation under the Employment
Equity Act, it would be very important to have accommodation policies in
place. The commission does a lot of work in terms of accommodation policies
and training, as well as in each of the other designated groups.
The Chair: I still am a little confused. There is an audit. Both
sides agree there is compliance. Then there is another audit, perhaps on the
same kinds of issues; not exactly the same, but the same kind. Then there is
compliance and another audit. Does this go on forever? What happens if — I
am saying non-compliance — the plan is not being followed?
Mr. Langtry: Again, the short answer would be yes. It may be
differing reasons that are given. It is hard to say. As I said, they are not
in compliance at the beginning; by the end of the audit process, they are.
Again, the way the act is framed is to ensure that the systems are in place
to eliminate barriers to employment and that kind of thing. However, there
is nothing beyond that, so it would not matter how many times we go in if
they still have gaps, as long as they have developed.
We do provide a challenge function, so it may be to say, "Well, are you
advertising in ethnic media in order to attract?" Employers may tell us
that they do not have members of visible minorities on their selection
boards, as an example. We would say, "Well, that could be a barrier, and so
you should ensure that there are members of visible minorities." We do that
kind of work with them. However, when all is said and done, as long as they
have done the things that are required of them under the Employment Equity
Act, the result of our compliance audit is that they have complied. Often
times it is both the letter as well as the spirit, but they still have gaps
and we work with them to try to develop a plan that will address them.
The Chair: One of the things I have been giving a lot of thought
to when preparing for these hearings is this issue of systemic. Let me tell
you what I mean by that. For me, it is systemic when women are not in senior
positions. I understand and I hear that is changing. For me, it is systemic
when a majority, or a lot of people who are part of the representative group
of disabled people, are people who have become disabled while at the job
rather than being hired with a disability. For me, it is systemic when
Aboriginal people are only in certain departments.
I wonder if the Canadian Human Rights Commission is looking at these
systemic issues on the whole. I understand you do one-to-one work, but are
you addressing this with Treasury Board? There are some systemic issues that
one manager or department cannot necessarily handle.
Mr. Langtry: Sure. To take it even broader, we are focused and
spend a considerable amount of time on dealing with what we are identifying
as systemic discrimination issues. Many times there are policies or programs
in place that may not even be recognized or appreciated as perhaps being a
barrier to employment for groups of people. That is why, between our
policies, programs, and employment equity division and so on, we have the
benefit of receiving the discrimination complaints, whether it is sexual
harassment, disability, Aboriginal peoples.
As you know, we can now receive complaints on matters done under the
Indian Act. These are all fundamentally important issues, and so we are
developing. Even apart from the Human Rights Maturity Model, we do the
accommodation training. We have developed a gender integration framework
within the commission where we can analyze policies and programs to see if
there is any gender bias inherent in it that may not have been intended —
pregnancy, human rights in the workplace policy. We are currently working on
a family caregiver policy in the workplace which disproportionately affects
women in the workforce. Yes, we are addressing those systemic issues. We are
working together with many of the stakeholders, groups, both unions and
employers, to address these and have policies and programs in place that can
eliminate systemic discrimination issues and barriers, which we have
responsibility for under both acts.
The Chair: Your presentation was clear, and we have a better
understanding of what you are continuing to do. We look forward to working
with you in the future. Thank you.
Our next witness is Ms. Carol Agócs, Professor Emerita, University of
Western Ontario, Department of Political Science and a researcher in the
field of public administration. She has published numerous articles
concerning employment equity, including Representative Bureaucracy?
Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada.
Ms. Agócs, I understand you have some remarks for us, after which we will
Carol Agócs, Professor Emerita, University of Western Ontario:
Thank you for inviting me to speak with you. As an academic who has studied
the career of Canada's employment equity policy since the publication in
1984 of Madam Justice Abella's report on the Royal Commission on Equality in
Employment and who has observed both its strengths and limitations over 25
years, I appreciate your committee's long-standing commitment to the success
of employment equity in the Public Service of Canada.
I have reviewed the preparation document for witnesses and noted the
questions that you are interested in addressing in your hearings. I am not
privy to the inside operations of the public service, so I am unable to
address some of these questions except in a general way. I can offer an
outsider's perspective — an overview based on my analysis of information
from government reports on employment equity in the public service. During
questions, I can offer a comparison of my findings with what theory and past
research have shown about factors that may contribute to the effectiveness
of employment equity implementation and conditions that may impede it.
Last year, I initiated a research inquiry into the question: Is the
Public Service of Canada a representative bureaucracy? A representative
bureaucracy is a public service whose membership reflects the demographic
composition of the population it serves and to which its policies apply. The
idea of representativeness is not limited to the overall reflection of
society's various groups within the public service. Representation is not
only about being there but also about participation in decision-making,
equity in career advancement and pay, and an inclusive and respectful
culture. An effective employment equity implementation process is the means
through which a representative bureaucracy can be achieved.
There is evidence that a representative bureaucracy is a key element of
good governance in a diverse society. While there is little Canadian
research on this topic, research in the United States has shown
relationships between the quality, responsiveness and inclusiveness of
policy-making, and service delivery as perceived by women and minorities and
their representation in the public service, particularly in leadership
There is also evidence that the knowledge and competencies that members
of ethno-cultural or racialized groups bring to their work as public
servants can help them to understand and communicate with these communities
and to provide more sensitive and appropriate service delivery. As Canada's
population becomes increasingly diverse, knowledge of diverse languages and
cultures represents merit in the public service. In the eyes of a diverse
citizenry, a representative bureaucracy can contribute to the perception
that government is both legitimate and accessible. There is a parallel here
to the business case for diversity in the private sector, where it is
understood that a diverse work-force is a competitive advantage that
contributes to business success in a diverse society.
Representativeness is important in a democratic society as a
demonstration to citizens that they and their children have access to
government and to the careers it offers, which their taxes support. A
representative public service also helps government to meet its
responsibility to be a model employer that exemplifies progressive human
resource management and development practices, thereby showing the way to
the private sector. It is not reasonable to expect private sector employers
to invest in progressive approaches such as pay equity, employment equity
and work-family balance if the public sector is not leading by example.
The concept of representative bureaucracy has a rather long history in
Canada. Following the 1969 publication of the report on the Royal Commission
on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which documented the under-representation
of francophones in the public service, the federal government introduced and
extended programs to improve recruitment and career development for
francophone Canadians. These initiatives included establishing language
requirements for public servants, language training and ensuring the
provision of services in French. Success in this endeavour required that the
traditionally narrow construction of the merit principle be broadened to
encompass facility in both French and English. As a result of these
measures, in the 1970s the public service made strides toward becoming a
more representative bureaucracy with respect to male francophone Canadians.
By 1983, French was identified as the first official language of 27 per cent
of public servants, rising to 29 per cent in 2010, roughly in line with the
representation of this group in the Canadian population. The representation
of public servants whose first official language was French also grew among
the executive echelon from 20 per cent in 1983 to 30 per cent in 2010.
The progress of francophones in public service employment inspired other
under-represented groups — women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal
people and members of visible minorities — to advocate for changes that
would open employment opportunities to them as well. The Employment Equity
Act introduced in 1986 was in part a response to these demands, which were
backed by research demonstrating discrimination and patterns of inequality
faced by these groups. The success of the public service in becoming a
representative public service for francophones is a powerful example of what
can be accomplished when there is determined commitment to change and
appropriate investment in making it happen, but as reports of this committee
have demonstrated, we are not there yet for visible minorities, Aboriginal
people, persons with disabilities and women. My research provides evidence
of this. I will briefly summarize this evidence now.
The data that I used covered the core public administration employed by
the Treasury Board, which includes nearly 180,000 people working in over 70
departments and agencies. My analysis tracked change over time, starting
with 1997, the first year the Treasury Board was required to comply with all
requirements of the 1995 Employment Equity Act and including data from 2002,
2007 and 2011. Some important changes have taken place since 2011, but my
study does not include these. My data came primarily from the employment
equity reports of the Treasury Board and other government agencies and
census data. My analysis used availability data from the census whose dates
match the public service study dates as closely as possible; that is,
availability data for 2006 to examine representation in 2007 and 2011, and
availability data for 1996 for 1997 comparisons.
There were a number of limitations in the data, such as some gaps and
inconsistencies for various years, and a lack of disaggregated data for
women and men within the visible minority and Aboriginal populations and
among persons with disabilities.
I will now summarize the trends I observed for each of the four
designated groups under the Employment Equity Act, beginning with women.
The representation of women in the public service increased gradually
over the study period and remained in excess of their workforce
availability, suggesting that with respect to access to employment, the
public service is representative of women. However, patterns of inequality
persist. Women tend to be under-represented in indeterminate positions and
overrepresented in term positions. While their representation in the
executive group has increased substantially, it is far from matching their
presence in the public service as a whole. Women have consistently been well
represented among hires and promotions, but overrepresented in the lowest
salary group — less than $50,000 — and under- represented in the highest
salary group — $95,000 or more.
Women continue to be concentrated in administrative support jobs. To
summarize, women have access to public service employment but they have not
achieved equality, even though they have long constituted a majority of
federal public servants.
As is the case for women, the representation of Aboriginal people in the
public service has increased gradually, and consistently exceeded their
labour force availability. In 2007 and 2011, their representation in
indeterminate positions was slightly higher than that of the public service
as a whole, and from 2002 forward their representation in term appointments
These are all positive indicators. However, throughout the study period
Aboriginal people were under-represented in the executive group and in the
highest salary category, and generally overrepresented in the lowest salary
In 2007 and 2011, the trend in the hiring of Aboriginal people turned
negative: Hires were less than availability and the rate of separations
exceeded the rate of hires. In 2011, Aboriginal representation among
employees promoted was less than their representation in the public service.
Throughout the study period, Aboriginal employees were clustered in
departments that provide services to Aboriginal peoples.
In summary, the public service is a representative bureaucracy for
Aboriginal people if we focus only on access to employment, but they do not
have equal access to senior management or the top salary group, and the
hiring of Aboriginal persons is trending downward. The representation of
Aboriginal persons will not be sustained if separations continue to exceed
Furthermore, Aboriginal representation in the external labour market is
increasing, which means that the representation bar will be progressively
The representation of persons with disabilities exceeds their labour
force availability throughout the study period and they are well represented
in indeterminate positions and in the executive group.
From 1997 to 2007, their representation increased, but 2011 brought a
slight drop. It is likely that their representation rate has been sustained
not by new hires but by public service employees self-identifying as having
a disability as they age. The data show that public service employees with
disabilities experience inequality. Their promotion rate is lower than their
level of representation in the public service, and in 2007 and 2011 they
were overrepresented in the lowest salary category and under-represented in
the highest salary group.
In 2007 and 2011, the separation rate of persons with disabilities
increased significantly to more than double their representation among
hires, and their hire rate has been below availability for 10 years. The
trend is negative, and the representativeness of the public service for
persons with disabilities will not extend into the future if this continues,
particularly since employees with disabilities are older and more likely to
retire than other employees.
In addition, the representation of persons with disabilities in the
external labour market is increasing, which again raises the standard for
The representation of visible minorities in the public service has
consistently lagged behind their workforce availability. Given that the
availability data for 2011 are five years out of date and the visible
minority population is increasing rapidly, the indicators for 2011
understate the current gap between representation and availability. Among
public servants who are members of visible minorities, patterns of
inequality are clearly evident. They are under- represented in indeterminate
appointments and overrepresented in term appointments. They are notably
under- represented in the executive group and in the highest salary category
and slightly overrepresented in the lowest salary category. Positive
indicators include a rate of promotion that exceeds their representation
level and their hiring rate exceeds their separation rate, although it falls
short of their level of representation.
Given their overall under-representation, the public service has not been
a representative bureaucracy for visible minorities in any respect, and this
situation will not improve if present trends continue.
The under-representation of visible minorities is probably not due to a
shortage of applicants. Data from the Public Service Commission showed that
from 2008 through 2011 the percentage of visible minority applicants was
considerably higher than their percentage of appointments — a pattern not
shown for the other equity groups.
The commission undertook a survey to investigate whether applicants who
are members of equity groups are eliminated during the appointment process
to a greater degree than other applicants. The study found that this was
true for visible minority applicants but not for members of the other three
equity groups, suggesting that systemic barriers affect hiring for visible
Responses to the 2011 and 2008 Public Service Employee Survey contained
evidence that members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities and
persons of Aboriginal identity experience discrimination and harassment more
than employees who are not members of these groups.
In conclusion, my analysis showed that access to employment in the
federal public service and representation rates have increased over time for
all four equity groups. In terms of presence alone, the public service as a
whole is considered by some to be a representative bureaucracy for women,
Aboriginal persons and persons with disabilities, but not for visible
minorities. However, the representation of Aboriginal people and persons
with disabilities is unlikely to keep up with increases in the
representation of these groups in the external labour market. Moreover, if
we consider factors beyond mere access, including representation in the
executive group and indicators of inequality in salary and appointment
status, all four equity groups face persistent inequality.
In this more meaningful sense, the federal public service is not
currently a representative bureaucracy, and recent and planned government
actions provide no reason to hope this will change. These negative actions
include staff cuts, reductions in hires into indeterminate positions, lack
of tangible government commitment to employment equity implementation and
cancellation of the mandatory long form of the census, which is the source
of labour market availability data which employers use to set their goals.
Looking ahead, the journey toward a representative public service appears to
be getting longer.
Thank you for your attention. I would be pleased to respond to your
The Chair: Thank you very much, Professor Agócs, for your detailed
We will go to questions.
Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you, professor.
I am curious about the upper levels of management. Do you feel the glass
ceiling still exists for the four designated groups to be appointed to the
Ms. Agócs: That is what the data suggests to me, yes.
Senator Ataullahjan: Do you believe the situation has improved for
women but not minority women?
Ms. Agócs: It has improved for women, but there is not adequate
public data available for the breakdown of women versus men in the three
designated groups, including Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and
persons with disabilities. We do not know where women stand versus men in
terms of access to the executive group for each of those populations.
Senator Ataullahjan: Does age play a factor?
Ms. Agócs: I am not sure that age would be a consistent factor for
any of the groups. I believe that the population of persons with
disabilities would be on the older side probably, and they are also
under-represented in the executive group.
I am not sure what the age distribution is of visible minorities and
Aboriginal people, but that could be tested if we had the data to be able to
look at the distribution of the age groups.
Senator Ataullahjan: Could you share some best practices for
employers to ensure a culture of equity and human rights in the workplace?
Ms. Agócs: Yes, I think it is very important to examine the
systemic barriers that all four groups face in terms of access to career
development opportunities, including promotion into the executive group, as
well as the culture of the organization, whether it is inclusive and
welcoming, and also whether the low numbers of some groups in certain parts
of the bureaucracy affect the climate for those groups.
One way to look at the identification of systemic barriers to equality is
to use three diagnostic ideas. One would be employment systems, which are
the decisions made about human resources management throughout the career
development of individual members of the public service. The Employment
Equity Act provides for employers to do an employment systems review, which
is a valuable tool for identifying systemic barriers for any particular
category of employee in terms of their job and for any designated group.
It becomes an empirical process to look at how people progress. Let us
say, if we are looking at promotion, what are the decision points during the
promotion process and are there any barriers at any point in that decision
process? An employment systems review that is well done can answer that kind
of question and can identify systemic barriers that might get in the way of
full access of qualified people to the jobs that they are qualified for.
If we look at organizational culture, this is something that is not
covered specifically in the Employment Equity Act. We know from research
that organizational culture is an important factor in whether a workplace is
inclusive, whether people have opportunities to progress in their careers
and whether decisions are made that are fair.
There are cultural audits done by some employers to look at whether there
is harassment in the workplace, whether the environment is inclusive for all
groups, whether there is an informal culture that is welcoming and whether
information is equitably passed around in the organization. All those kinds
of important parts of the culture of an organization can be assessed, and
barriers can be identified.
When it comes to numbers, we have data on the representation of the
different groups within different parts of the public service, and those
numbers themselves can change the culture, in a sense. If there are very few
members of a particular group, let us say at the executive level, it might
become difficult for members of the executive group that are from designated
groups to feel supported and welcomed within that environment.
Senator White: Thank you for your presentation, it was very
From a representation perspective, have you given any thought to the
reality of the representation? I will use as an example the Aboriginal
representation, where some large tracts of Aboriginal communities would show
that 50 per cent of the population of that community is under the age of 20.
In fact, in Nunavut 50 per cent of the population is under the age of 17.
Has any research been done allowing for those differences so that we have
a true picture of who is available to be employed, versus a population base,
against the opportunity?
Ms. Agócs: There are two important points here. One is that
because the Aboriginal population tends to be younger than the population of
Canada as a whole, we are looking at the future labour force of Canada. We
need to get on this idea of including Aboriginal people in the jobs that are
available because they will be the labour force of the future.
In terms of ability to take the age distribution into account now,
availability data does that. The data that we get from Statistics Canada
that are used by employers to look at availability generally refer to the
population of working age that are in various job categories and in various
locations from which the organization generally recruits.
That age factor is taken into consideration in availability data.
Senator White: Taking that into account, we had some good
presentations this evening talking about appropriate representation, some
higher, some lower, and some departments much higher. Aboriginal Affairs is
a great example when it comes to representation.
Is the picture better or gloomier today? I am not talking about the
future, because I understand that has a lot to do with education and
training, and that can go on. Is the picture better or worse than we would
Typically we just hear the statistics that 3.8 per cent of the Canadian
population is Aboriginal, and then we are told what percentage of the
federal public service is Aboriginal. The numbers might sound okay but, in
fact, based on availability they might be higher than some would expect.
Would that be correct? I do not know the answer. This is not a trick
Ms. Agócs: Aboriginal representation in the federal public service
is at least as good as the availability of that population in the working
age population, but they are not equitably distributed.
Senator White: My background is policing, and I was RCMP for 25
years and mostly in the Arctic.
The challenge faced in some of those departments is that their
expectation of representation is higher than the 3.8 per cent. In fact,
Nunavut has legislation that requires the percentage of federal government
employees to meet the population base. If it is 74 per cent Inuit then they
expect that, over a certain period of time, you will have 74 per cent Inuit
working in federal government employment.
It is almost like we have agreed to a policy, or in this case a
legislation, when Nunavut was formed that would set us up to actually fail
in some cases, since the vast majority of the federal positions would also
fit within Aboriginal Affairs and Parks Canada in the North, as an example.
Should we not have agreed to that? Should we have looked for a more even
distribution across departments, or should we instead take over
overrepresentation in some departments and push for even distribution down
Ms. Agócs: It seems to me Nunavut is a special case because of the
very high representation of Aboriginal peoples within the population from
which employers in Nunavut would be recruiting.
Senator White: However, each province might have the same
argument. Saskatchewan in policing has the same challenges right now of much
higher First Nations population in the RCMP in Saskatchewan than some other
provinces because of the pressure they get politically, both provincially
and from First Nations. I accept that we probably are overrepresented in
some departments. I am challenged, though, to suggest that it is wrong, I
guess. From my perspective, it is about satisfying those we serve, and if
the people we serve are telling us they would like more Aboriginal people in
their area, working in their communities, I am not sure that is the wrong
way to go either.
Ms. Agócs: Yes. It would seem to me that in a province like
Saskatchewan, especially in urban areas where there is a fairly large
Aboriginal population that is becoming more educated all the time, that
there is an opportunity to recruit from that population for jobs in the
public service or in policing or other parts of the economy.
Senator White: Thank you. I was thinking out loud more than a
question. I apologize, Madam Chair.
The Chair: As a supplementary to what Senator White was saying
about younger people, can you define "workforce availability"?
Ms. Agócs: Generally, it would be the data that is made available
by Statistics Canada. That is the usual source of workforce availability
data. The population of working age would be defined, as I understand it,
somewhere between the early 20s and age 54, or something of that nature, in
large job categories from which employers would be recruiting.
For example, let us say you want to recruit for a specialized kind of
professional role in an organization. You might have a nationwide recruiting
pool for that job because you do not have a lot of local people who would be
qualified to serve in that kind of position. However, you might have a
localized availability pool for, let us say, tradespeople or administrative
The Chair: When we are looking for jobs in the federal service, we
are only looking at workforce availability numbers; we are not looking at
the population? Is that correct?
Ms. Agócs: That is right. When employers do their employment
equity analysis, they are comparing their own workforce representation with
the representation of the designated groups in the availability pools from
which they draw when they hire.
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you for your perspectives, somewhat
gloomy, that we are going the opposite direction than the legislation
intended. In other words, you do not think we will reach the targets that
were set. Given that, and given that it is a changing field all the time,
what would you suggest we recommend to the government, other than what we
We have talked about targets, changing the culture, working with
communities, reaching out to the disadvantaged communities if they are not
in the mix, going beyond Ottawa. If you read our reports, we have heard from
many people suggesting a lot of shortcomings but also recommending how to
move ahead. In one of the previous questions I asked if our targets are out
of date now and should we do something else to encourage full inclusiveness
in our public service without detracting from merit, which should be our
goal in professionalism.
What would you suggest we do to reverse what you seem to be saying are
negative trends? Is it to be more consistent or is there something else we
should be doing?
Ms. Agócs: The recommendations contained in the two reports of
this committee are very strong, and if they were followed, you would see
some real improvements. Also, the targets that were included in the
Embracing Change initiative, which comes from the year 2000, could have
produced some change. This report was endorsed by the government but then
My feeling is that employment equity is very strong in terms of the
legislation that we have, except that we are not implementing it with real
vigour and with real determination. If we were to implement employment
equity as the law requires, I think we would see results. However, it
becomes difficult when we are going backwards now. As I mentioned, the
cancellation of the long-form census is a concern because that is the data
from which availability data come, and if we do not have meaningful
availability data, then it is impossible for employers to set employment
equity goals that are realistic.
That is one example, in my view, of how we are going backwards. If we had
the mandatory long-form census back, we would have that tool which is
important in terms of goal setting for employment equity.
You mentioned the possibility of not having targets, but that proposition
worries me in terms of employment equity effectiveness, because if you look
at how businesses make a success of their operations, they set targets. They
set targets for marketing, market share, for profit and so forth. We know
that we are more likely to pay attention to targets that we are accountable
for achieving. If we have no targets and are not accountable for achieving
any targets, we will probably put our energy into other areas in which we do
have targets to meet and are accountable for success.
One of the recommendations of this committee that I really believe in is
that decision makers need to be held accountable for employment equity
results, and I do not think that has generally been the case.
Senator Andreychuk: You put some weight on this information
source of the long-form census data. I do not want to get into that because
I think all information is helpful. My concern is more that the public
service is representative of the community; and so, if there are
impediments, I would think they are not just in the public service; they are
within the community, within our attitudes, the broader scope. Do you have
any recommendations for how we can speed up the process of integrating these
groups, not just into the public service but everywhere, so that it is no
longer a target but is a normal process of having all people achieve and be
part of the constituency of Canada?
Ms. Agócs: That is a beautiful aspirational goal that I think we
all share. We are a long way from being there. We are not in a place right
now where we have equitable opportunities for everyone in society. Until we
do, it is helpful to have employment equity policy and pay equity policy to
help us to make progress toward that aspirational goal, which is ultimately
what we envision for Canada.
Senator Andreychuk: Do you take other laws and societal
attitudes as being important to try and change to make the differences? The
Public Service Commission is of particular interest; it represents Canada,
the Government of Canada, so it is important to set targets and to work at
achieving inclusiveness, but is it not equally important to work on the
other factors the society? We are not going to succeed if we do not do a
little bit here and a little bit there. We will move the yardstick.
Ms. Agócs: Yes. I think we cannot put too much responsibility on
any one institution to change the whole of society. We have many different
institutions in Canadian society and each has a role to play. We look to our
public schools, our schools in general, to try to ensure that children grow
up with inclusiveness as part of the way they look at the world around them.
We have various other institutions that work in their particular ways,
whether it is not-for-profit organizations that try to create a level
playing field for persons with disabilities or various other enterprises
like sports and so on. We have so many institutions that are all working to
make the contribution you are talking about, to try to change society as a
whole, and every bit helps.
However, having said that, I think employers have a special
responsibility because so much of the quality of life for families and for
individuals depends upon their integration into the workforce and into
employment. Employment is a particularly important area where we need to
make all the progress that we can.
Senator Hubley: Thank you for your presentation. In it, you offer
to us a comparison of your findings with what theory and past research have
shown about factors that contribute to the effectiveness of employment
equity implementation and conditions that may impede it. I know the answers
you have given to us have contributed to that. Is there anything else you
would like to add to that?
Ms. Agócs: I think there are some perhaps particular things that
some employers have done that are particularly helpful in terms of removing
barriers and integrating visible minorities into the workforce. One of those
things is to really invest in management training, development and mentoring
to prepare members of designated groups for promotion, and at the same time
to learn their capabilities and what they have to offer.
Large changes are important, but also one-on-one opportunities to be
mentored, to develop one's capabilities and to prepare for career
advancement is an important thing that progressive employers do. That is one
small example. It is not so small, I guess, if we are talking about really
boosting opportunities for progression into senior roles, like the EX group.
It is important to have that management training development and mentoring
Senator Hubley: Were there any conditions that you felt might
impede it, which was the latter part of the question?
Ms. Agócs: One of the things happening in our economy right now is
the greater use by many employers, including the federal public service, of
term appointments, part-time work and term-limited work, which ultimately
leads to turnover and a lack of retention. Because of our population right
now, it is probable that visible minorities, women and Aboriginal peoples
would be among the groups most likely to be employed on a term basis. It is
a difficult situation that we are facing now, and if we are going through a
period where recruiting into indeterminate positions is less and recruitment
into term positions is more, that creates an issue.
The Chair: I have a few questions. The challenge many times is
changing attitudes. One hires people who look like you, who think like you,
that you think are homogeneous. I see one of the barriers, especially when
the responsibility moves to deputy ministers and managers — I am not being
critical of them; it is just the way one hires. There needs to be some
One of the barriers to achieving employment equity, I believe, is the
belief that attitudes of hiring managers do not recognize the value of
diversity. How do you change these attitudes?
Ms. Agócs: I think attitudes are important, but I believe that
behaviour is more important. I do not know whether we can count on changing
all of the attitudes that decision makers have in a big organization, but we
can hope to change some of the behaviours that create barriers for the
progress of the designated groups.
How does one change behaviour? Direction from the top of the
organization, all the way from the PMO and the ministers down through the
organization, putting an emphasis on the importance of diversity in the
public service, why it is important, and the expectations attached to
achieving more diversity will influence behaviour, especially if there are
rewards and sanctions attached to progress in having greater diversity or
the failure to achieve greater diversity. Those kinds of measures create
changes in behaviour.
It is good to have efforts to change attitudes to go along with that, to
have training and opportunities where people in decision-making positions
can learn to be comfortable with diversity, but the main thing is to change
The Chair: The other thing that really preoccupies me is the issue
of self-identification. I myself very much struggle; if I were an employee
in the federal service, I would not self-identify, so I do not criticize
those people who do not do so for 101 reasons. How do you change that?
Ms. Agócs: Influencing the propensity to self-identify depends on
the culture of the organization. Does it feel safe to self-identify? Is it a
culture of respect and inclusiveness where a person expects to be accepted
for who they are? If it is not, then it is not a favourable environment for
people to self-identify.
Another factor that I think might be helpful would be to ask employees
themselves whether they feel comfortable self-identifying, and if not, why
not, and doing so in a safe way so that people do not feel put upon.
Much of the task of barrier removal depends upon learning from members of
the designated groups what the barriers are. People who are not members of
the designated groups and who have not experienced discrimination are often
unable to see the barriers, unable to feel them. Therefore, it is important
to get help from members of the designated groups themselves, including
advocacy organizations representing designated groups, not necessarily
people who are now in the public service, although they could be helpful as
well, to learn what it is that contributes to a safe environment for
The Chair: It is very difficult when one talks about creating
safety and changing culture. Earlier today, the Public Service Commissioner,
Ms. Robinson, was here, and she spoke about letting employees know how this
information will be used and making them feel that it will be used in the
best possible light. How do you change culture? How do you create that
Ms. Agócs: By demonstrating that the culture is safe. The main way
to create a feeling of safety is by demonstrating over time that the
information will be used in appropriate ways and not abused, by
demonstrating that no one will suffer because they have self-identified and
by creating support systems and a sense of inclusiveness. Doing that is a
long and sometimes rather complex process, but it begins with respecting the
diverse employees who are now present in the organization and calling upon
them to give their ideas about what needs to be done to make culture change
The Chair: Earlier this evening we heard witnesses from the
Canadian Human Rights Commission. They told us that if they find
non-compliance when they audit a department, they reach an agreement that
there will be compliance. A few years later they revisit, and if there is
not compliance they come to another agreement.
Employees in that department would find it difficult to see
non-compliance on a regular basis, agreements reached to comply and yet
further non-compliance. What kind of a culture does that create?
Ms. Agócs: It is a culture in which employment equity is clearly
not valued; a culture which does not send a message of inclusiveness and
that employment equity is important.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your very detailed
presentation, upon which I can assure you we will be reflecting. You brought
up many things. We will certainly read your paper as well. We hope that we
can continue to work with you in the future.
Ms. Agócs: Thank you very much. It was a great pleasure to meet