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, I call this
meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights to order.
The committee is tasked, by the Senate, with
examining issues related to human rights, both in Canada and
internationally. Today we are reconvening our committee to review employment
equity in the federal public service.
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights
has been authorized to examine issues of discrimination in 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 this 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 the necessary changes.
The act also provides guidance in 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 visible minorities — within a workplace compares with their
availability in the Canadian workforce.
In 2004, the Standing Senate Committee on Human
Rights first began to examine the hiring and promotion practices of the
federal service and also 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 public service and published a report
entitled Employment Equity in the 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 the fact that
employment equity is not yet a reality in the federal public service for the
four following designated groups: women, aboriginals, visible minorities and
I understand that, originally, there were three
separate employment equity groups, which were: The National Council of
Visible Minorities, the National Council of Federal Employees with
Disabilities and the National Council of Aboriginal Federal Employees. Since
September 2011, there have been three national champions. Further, there are
Champions and Chairs Committees in each department, which will identify
issues, develop strategic and report on results, through the Treasury Board
Secretariat's annual Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada
report. It is my understanding that a woman's champion has not been
In her 2012 appearance before the committee,
Daphne Meredith, former chief human resources officer of Treasury Board
Secretariat, suggested that the employement equity Champions and Chairs
Committees would allow "for better networking and sharing of better
practices among departments and more direct access for employees to
employment equity deputy minister champions and departmental management, who
are in a position to act on the recommendations."
We are pleased that, today, we have three
champions, and we now want to hear what they have been doing since 2011 to
make the public service truly representative of the Canadian public.
My name is Mobina Jaffer, and I am a senator
from British Columbia and chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human
I will ask my colleagues to introduce
themselves, and I will start with Senator Hubley.
Senator Hubley: Welcome. My name Elizabeth
Hubley, senator from P.E.I.
Senator Oh: I am Senator Oh. I am
Senator Buth: Senator Joanne Buth, from
Senator White: Vern White, Ontario.
Senator Ngo: Senator Ngo, from Ontario.
Senator Oliver: Don Oliver, from Nova
Now I want to welcome our first group from the
Government of Canada, Mr. George Da Pont, Employment Equity Champion for
Visible Minorities (President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency); Mr. Alan
Latourelle, Employment Equity Champion for Aboriginal Federal Employees
(CEO, Parks Canada); Ms. Linda Lizotte-MacPherson, Employment Equity
Champion for Federal Employees with Disabilities (President, Canada School
of Public Service).
I understand that all three of you will have
statements, and we will start with Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson.
Linda Lizotte-MacPherson, Employment Equity
Champion for Federal Employees with Disabilities (President, Canada School
of Public Service), Government of Canada: Thank you, Madam Chair. Good
afternoon. We are the deputy minister champions for the three employment
equity Champions and Chairs Committees. I am the deputy minister champion
for persons with disabilities. Alan Latourelle is the DM champion for
Aboriginal Peoples, and George Da Pont is the champion for visible
I will provide an overview of the committees.
Each one of my colleagues will then discuss how the committees are working
and the impacts seen so far.
Achieving a representative and inclusive
workforce is a shared responsibility that involves a number of key
stakeholders, including deputy heads, policy centres and the employment
equity Champions and Chairs Committee. Madam Chair, the three deputy
minister employment equity champions and the government take this
responsibility seriously. Issues surrounding employment equity and diversity
are foremost in the minds of all deputy ministers.
As you are aware, the new governance structure
for the employment equity committees was implemented in the fall of 2011,
following a review in 2010-2011.
The purpose of that review was to explore ways
to improve the overall governance and to clarify accountability, planning
and decision making. During the review, each of the three former employment
equity councils was consulted, including the National Council of Visible
Minorities, the National Council of Aboriginal Federal Employees and the
National Council of Federal Employees with Disabilities. In addition,
members of the Human Resources Council and the bargaining agents were also
The highlights of these consultations were that
the EE groups really wanted more direct access to deputies, to DM Champions
and to the policy centres. They wanted to influence the agenda and raise
issues with those in a position to act on the recommendations. They also
needed a mechanism that gave them the ability to hear the unfiltered
messages from the grassroots of the community.
The membership of each committee consists of
departmental champions and chairs from about 49 departments and agencies.
There is one interdepartmental committee for each group which is chaired by
a DM champion, the three of us.
The mandate of each of these interdepartmental
committees is to support the government's employment equity objectives by
serving as a forum for networking and sharing of EE best practices among
departments and agencies. Our role, as DM champions, is to set the agenda
for respective EE meetings. We also chair those meetings. We act as a key
liaison with the deputy minister community by, for example, reporting back
to the deputy ministers or by raising issues at various DM tables or with
the policy centres. In essence, we are acting as spokespeople for our EE
community, and we are the government-wide champions.
Each department is responsible for establishing
committees, in their own organization, for each of the three employment
equity communities. Departmental champions are usually at the senior
management, assistant deputy minister or director general level. The chairs
represent employee networks in their department. The role of the
departmental champions is to bring issues and best practices to the senior
management table in their department for discussion, decision and
They are also responsible for promoting EE
within their immediate surroundings in order to eliminate barriers that
impede progress. They also represent the views of the regions, based on
discussions with their members, and they attend their departments’ EEC
meetings and actively participate in, and share information at, the
interdepartmental committee meetings. Finally, they are responsible for
submitting an integrated vision to their deputy head, managers and staff.
The departmental chair, on the other hand, has
a slightly different role. The departmental chair is often a person from the
EE community. They are also responsible for attending departmental and
interdepartmental meetings, and bringing forward issues and best practices
for discussion. They also liaise and consult directly with their
departmental champion on issues impacting their department or organization,
and they represent the views of their networks or their communities.
In June 2011, the former Chief Human Resources
Officer sent proposed guidelines to deputies to consider when selecting
departmental representatives to sit on these committees.
In guidelines that she proposed for the
committees to be effective, legitimate and representative, she outlined the
qualities that these individuals need to demonstrate, and she recommended to
deputy heads that, when selecting their departmental representatives, every
effort should be made to ensure that individuals are members of the
designated group they represent.
Representatives should be selected through a
process that will be seen by the department or agency as credible and
legitimate, and that allows for good regional input.
The current membership of our three
interdepartmental committees varies between 90 and 100 individuals, and
participation in meetings has been good.
I know you heard from representatives of a
number of organizations last week, but here is a short reminder of their key
roles, because we work very closely with them. I will start with the
Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada and the Office of the Chief Human
Resources Officer. They represent the employer and, subject to the role of
the PSC, are ultimately responsible for promoting and monitoring employment
equity performance in core public administration departments. They are also
responsible for reporting to Parliament on the results. They establish the
policy framework, provide program coordination and give policy advice to
departments, and they coordinate the exchange of best practices. They also
monitor and evaluate the implementation of employment equity initiatives, as
well as the progress achieved.
The Public Service Commission is accountable
for the appointment of qualified persons to and from within the public
They are also responsible for conducting
activities related to the implementation of employment equity and for
reporting on those activities. The PSC is also responsible for developing
new, and examining existing, public service-wide recruitment and appointment
policies to ensure they are barrier- and bias-free.
Finally, the Canadian Human Rights Commission
is responsible for undertaking audits of all government departments and
agencies, and to seek correction in areas of noncompliance. They also
monitor departments and agencies for reasonable progress to ensure the
departments are achieving progress in the hiring and promotion goals, which
were set out as a condition of compliance. They may also assess employment
equity plans where progress is not being achieved, and they can also apply
enforcement measures, as appropriate.
Each deputy head is responsible for promoting
and supporting employment equity within his or her organization.
My DM colleague Alan Latourelle will now
provide more information on how the new model is working.
Alan Latourelle, Employment Equity Champion for
Aboriginal Federal Employees (CEO, Parks Canada), Government of Canada:
I am pleased to report that collectively 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.
Based on our collective experience in this
first year, we can say that this new model is working. It has increased
financial management accountability and generated reduced costs but more
importantly has created a government-wide forum where senior executives and
departmental chairs of employment equity groups are provided the opportunity
to have meaningful discussions on common challenges, opportunities and learn
together from best practices.
There has been a shift from discussing issues
and challenges to identifying clear priorities and working collectively on
potential solutions which lead 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.
However, the new model allows for a different
kind of government-wide dialogue, such as responsibility for issues,
advancement of solutions and the sharing of best practices. Each committee
will establish priorities and take stock of progress against employment
Areas of focus across all three committees
include recruitment, retention, career development, mentoring and
advancement. In addition, all three groups have been discussing the effects
of the implementation of the deficit reduction action plans on employment
equity groups in the federal public service.
I now yield the floor to my colleague George Da
George Da Pont, Employment Equity Champion for
Visible Minorities (President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency), Government
of Canada: Like my colleagues, it is a pleasure for me to be a part of
your meeting. I am going to discuss the impacts of the new model. We are now
just into the second year of this new governance model so it may be too
early to draw definitive conclusions on how well it is working.
However the initial indications are promising.
There are several areas where I feel it is an improvement and where we are
beginning to see some positive benefits. First, it has strengthened the
mandate and role of the various champions and chairs. They have better and
direct access to their deputy heads and their senior management teams who
are accountable for employment equity and who are in a position to act on
recommendations and advice.
Second, I think the new model is more
inclusive, as my colleague mentioned. All departments and agencies are
represented, and there seems to be far better representation and
participation from individuals outside the National Capital Region than was
previously the case.
Third, it is a larger forum at which to share
best practices, and it brings a broader range of views and perspectives to
the table. In addition, it is supported by better electronic tools to enable
communication and to keep information up to date.
Finally, as the deputy minister champion, I
have to say it gives me confidence that, when I am bringing forward their
ideas and their advice, it is indeed reflective of the views of the broader
community. Still, I want to emphasize that while I believe the new model is
off to a good start, we still need to work to further strengthen and
consolidate these improvements.
I also believe that the new governance model
has already had an influence on broader government directions. Perhaps I can
give the committee one example to illustrate the point. One of the early
concerns that came up in all three of the employment equity groups was that
the implementation of the government's deficit reduction measures might
impact negatively on the gains that have been made in representation in
As champions, we collectively took this concern
to our colleagues and to the Chief Human Resources Officer. The result was a
letter to all deputy heads that emphasized the overarching importance of
employment equity, asked all deputy heads to undertake active monitoring of
the impacts and outlined some actions that could be considered if negative
impacts were observed. I believe this action drew the concern on
representation to the attention of all deputy heads early in the process so
they could take it into consideration as they were working out their
implementation plans. In addition, we champions meet twice a year with the
chief human resources officer to report on the work of the committees and to
reflect on progress in emerging issues. We also report to our deputy
minister colleagues and to the clerk.
As my colleagues have noted, much of the early
focus of the departmental champions and chairs committees has been on
organizing the new structures, agreeing on priority areas for focus and
clarifying the roles. Over the next year, we expect the focus will be on
providing advice on those key priorities. I believe that the more frequent
and more structured mechanisms for reaching into the deputy minister
community will prove to be very helpful in ensuring that advice is heard.
That concludes our joint opening remarks. We
would be pleased to take your questions.
The Chair: Thank you for your remarks and
for making yourself available today. I speak for the whole committee when I
say that we are looking forward to working with you. We see this as a
partnership as we have the same goals, and we look forward to working with
you in the future. There are some things that I want to clarify. One phrase
used often was "best practices." Can you explain what you mean by "best
Mr. Da Pont: Since my colleagues are
looking at me, perhaps I will start.
At each session of all Employment Equity
Champions and Chairs Committees, and I will speak for the one that I chair
on visible minorities, we ask a department or an agency that is seen as
having a best practice that is working effectively in a particular area to
come to the committee to share their approach and to disseminate it; and
then there is follow-up in terms of posting it on an electronic site. I will
give you two very good examples: We had an excellent presentation from the
Department of Justice on how they could put together a good, sustainable
mentoring program that met the needs of not only visible minorities and the
employment equity groups but also all employees in the Department of
Justice. There have been many experiences over the years, but the Department
of Justice has an approach that is more systematic and seems sustainable.
They have evaluated it, as it has been used for several years, and it shows
good results. That is one good example of putting out a best practice that
interested a number of other departments.
A second very interesting example was from
Treasury Board Secretariat. From reading some of the transcripts of this
committee, I know that there is always concern about how to get good data
and how to set good, forward-looking goals. Treasury Board Secretariat's
approach was to set goals that go beyond labour market availability. They
shared their approach with all of the other departments and agencies. It
struck a real chord. We are meeting again next week and one of the key
agenda items is to drill down into that approach to see if it is
transferable to other departments and agencies.
Those are two concrete examples of real
practices that seem to be working very well in those departments and
agencies. We will see if they can be adapted across the rest of us.
Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson: If I may expand,
another term we often use is "leading practices." In some cases, clearly
best practices are head and shoulders above what other organizations are
doing. In other cases, there may be some leading practices that are
exemplary, but whether we can say they are the best practice is not always
100 per cent clear. For example, at our last meeting for persons with
disabilities, the theme was accommodation and duty to accommodate. Eight
departments shared their leading practices from their organizations; and all
of those practices were posted on the electronic platform.
The Chair: For clarification, the other
phrase that has come up quite a bit is "deficit reduction measures." Do you
mean last in first out?
Mr. Da Pont: No. It was in my presentation
that those were the decisions that the government took.
The Chair: I know the government took those
decisions, but what does that mean on the ground?
Mr. Da Pont: On the ground it meant that
the employment equity committees were concerned that as those were
implemented and various departments and agencies reduced some of their
staff, there might be a disproportionate impact on visible minorities,
people with disabilities and Aboriginal employees for a variety of reasons,
possibly last in, last out. However, the concern was whether it would have
an impact and reduce the gains. That was the issue. In response, we moved to
much more active monitoring to try to ensure that that is not the case and
that deputy ministers, as they implement the plans, take that into
Senator Hubley: I would like to know the
role that statistics play in the decision-making process. Who would be
responsible for collecting the statistics and how is that done?
Further to that, are the findings that you come
forward with supported by those statistics? In your view, how reliable are
current statistics pertaining to employment for the four designated groups
within the federal public service, in particular with regard to appointment
rates, representation rates, advancement rates to the executive level,
retention rates, attrition rates and the drop-off rate during the
application process? Do you have any concerns about the data or the
methodology used in generating these statistics?
Mr. Latourelle: I will use the champions
and chairs committee for Aboriginal employees as an example. We have been
using a lot of the information generated by Treasury Board or the Public
Service Commission. The point I will make is that it is supplemented by the
experience and knowledge of the champions and chairs from all participating
departments. We use the data provided in terms of retention, executive
representation and so on; but that is only one part of the information. The
other part is from the knowledge that each member brings to the committee or
to the circle our case. In our case, that information base is traditional
knowledge, in some aspects, and the data provided by central agencies. We
have identified key priorities or areas for further inquiry.
Senator Hubley: Are you comfortable with
the availability of statistics to meet your needs?
Mr. Latourelle: Yes. In our committee, we
look at the impacts of the changes to budgetary levels for each department.
Once we get that information, we want to look at that to see if there are
additional actions we need to take as a circle. As Mr. Da Pont mentioned
earlier, the three of us worked with the chief human resources officer to
ask that a letter be sent to the deputy ministers to monitor the situation
across the public service and in each agency.
Mr. Da Pont: I would offer some thoughts on
that. I believe the committee is aware that Statistics Canada sets labour
market availability upon which various departments and agencies base their
plans. The collection of data is largely
departmental, so that is done within the departments and within the
agencies, and then it is reported to the Treasury Board and to the office of
the Chief Human Resource Officer and is reflected in the various reports
that I think you have seen.
In addition, the Public Service Commission
collects data on new entrants into the public service, and I know this
committee has already had some discussions about those data sources.
The issues around data are certainly ones that
have been raised in the visible minority champions and chairs committee, for
a variety of reason. Obviously, it is largely based on self-identification,
and several concerns have come out. One is that, increasingly, younger
people are not always comfortable with the concept. From the committee,
there is a desire to see whether there are better data sources that could be
put together that would be more accurate.
The other concern is in the data itself. I can
certainly speak from my own personal experience, but I think many of the
departmental champions and chairs have said the same thing. When they
conduct self-identification campaigns in their respective organizations, you
generally see, for a period of time, a jump up in the statistical data, but
it is often not sustainable. One of the things that visible minorities
champion and chairs committee has identified as something that they would
like to work on together is to look at the data sources and options and see
if there is some advice and suggestions that they could provide on how to
Senator Hubley: Thank you very much.
Senator Buth: Thank you for your
presentations today. I have a couple of questions.
Mr. Latourelle, you commented in your speaking
notes that there has been a shift from discussing issues and challenges to
identifying clear priorities and working collectively on potential
solutions. Could you or your colleagues please give some examples of
identifying clear priorities and solutions?
Mr. Latourelle: Yes, I can. As an example,
I was the DM champion before the new structure for Aboriginal employees in
the federal public service in the former council. In that role, we had a lot
of discussions and a lot of progress, but often we may focus on some of the
challenges and issues. The change that I have seen, by bringing the
champions from every department and the chairs together across all
government, is that we are identifying these issues but we are also creating
working groups where, again, different participants from every department
participate to find solutions and share outcomes.
For example, in the case of the circle for
Aboriginal employees, executive representation is a challenge, so the
discussion that we have had through the working group that has been
established is we have identified some areas for solutions, for example,
creating a role model and a mentoring program of Aboriginal executives,
because we do all want to see that increase over time. That is one practical
example of the solutions that are coming forward.
We have also had discussions about the
Aboriginal leadership development programs that are effective and best
practices. We had a presentation by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada, which is more the middle manager, one level below the
executive development programs. Parks Canada was asked to present our
Aboriginal leadership development program. We are looking at what is out
there and what the creative solutions are, and then bringing that into a
strategy that we can bring forward.
Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson: At the first
meeting for the committee of persons with disabilities, we actually spent
time coming up with our priorities for the committee, and that has been
influencing what we have been working on. They needed to get to know each
other, first of all. I was surprised at how few knew each other, so the
networking was important, as was the sharing of best practices.
They wanted to be consulted early by the policy
centres on potential policy or legislative changes that were being
contemplated. For example, the Department of Labour consulted them on the
review of the modernization of the Government Employment Compensation Act.
Another priority for them was issues around
mental health in the workplace, and there we brought in the expert, Bill
Wilkerson, and he shared his latest research with the group, because
evidence and data is very important to this group. That is a priority they
They also want to increase their understanding
around duty to accommodate and accommodations. They wanted to hear from the
policy centres on the disability management initiative and some other
That has been the focus, and now we are
starting to shift gears and coming up with some working groups. We focused
on solutions, but we have already identified the topics that, for example,
the Public Service Commission is going to come and the consult the group on.
We can see from the data that the intake numbers, the inflow for persons
with disabilities, is lower than work force availability, so the PSC wants
to consult with the group to see if they have any insight into that. We want
to look at Web 2.0 and how we can use it creatively. Another area is some
myth busters to help deal with some of the invisible barriers, such as other
people's perceptions. It is a structured agenda based on how the
participants want to work and what the priorities are to help them back in
We have an ever-growing list of priorities and
speakers coming in, but the agenda is the really set by them.
Senator Buth: Thank you. That is helpful.
Have you set up performance measures for the committees, and what might
Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson: In my committee, we
have not set up performance measures specifically. We have talked about
whether we should be looking at that. We do monitor the statistics, if you
will. When there is new data that comes out, we would have the experts come
in and share, but it is probably something that will come up as part of our
planning for the next year and whether we feel we should be developing over
and above some of the performance measures that TBS and PSC keep.
We definitely track our work plan and
attendance and participation, which we think is really important to keep the
participation really high. The other key measure for us is, do the
individuals have access inside their department? That is something. Are they
meeting at least once a year with their deputy head, and do they have access
to their executive table? That is as far as we have gone in my committee,
but those are big indicators.
Mr. Da Pont: I think they are similar in
terms of the visible minority committee. The focus has been on many of the
same things that my colleague was mentioning. Are we getting good solid
participation at the meetings? Do the deputy champions and chairs indeed
have effective access to their deputy ministers and to their senior
management table? I think the third performance item that we have focused
on, or the committee is focused on, is more in connection with can we get
better performance measures to assess overall progress, and it is tied to
the issue of better data that I spoke about a few minutes ago.
Senator Buth: Can you remind me again how
often you are meeting?
Mr. Da Pont: For the visible minority
committee, it meets four times a year, for one afternoon each.
Mr. Latourelle: For the champion and chairs
circle of Aboriginal employees, we met five times in the last year.
Senator Buth: Thank you very much.
Senator White: Thank you very much for your
I wanted to focus on whether, under employment
equity, you have designated positions. For example, career development is
one of the areas you are focusing on. Have you designated positions within
career development, for example, education, training, language training in
particular, for the target groups, and in particular, Mr. Latourelle for
Aboriginal target groups?
Mr. Latourelle: Every department and agency
has a different challenge or opportunity, so it really is at the
departmental level that the objectives and the specific positions are
Again, what we have looked at, in our
committee, at this point, is really what the challenges are, and executive
representation is one. We have come up with some solutions that can then be
adopted by several departments and agencies. Within Parks Canada, for
example, different parks have different realities, but 50 per cent of them
were cooperatively managed with Aboriginal Peoples. In several cases, we
have land claims and obligations that are very specific in terms of numbers.
We have development programs, in those cases, and several other programs.
Currently, as an example, 12 per cent of our
executives within Parks Canada are Aboriginal.
Senator White: Thank you.
The Chair: Before I go to our next
questioner, I want to recognize Senator Oliver's work on this issue. He has
worked very hard on issues of employment equity and was a member of the
Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights when this study was originally
suggested in 2004. We welcome you to this committee again, Senator Oliver,
and you had some questions.
Senator Oliver: Thank you very much, Chair,
for those remarks.
The question that I wanted to ask has already
been started because the areas of focus, for all three committees, are
recruitment, retention and so on. I know what recruitment and retention are,
and I understand mentoring and advancement. However, the key, to me, of all
the things you have said, is career development. Each week, I receive a
number of emails and calls, from visible minorities in particular but also
from other target groups in the public service, telling me about how they
have been left behind and how others who are less qualified have been given
a chance to have their careers develop and have been promoted. I read two
very bad cases last week, which were very depressing.
For all the categories, what is specifically
being done for the disabled, visible minorities and Aboriginals for career
development? What types of programs are there? I do not mean just for
language but also for other things in their career development. For me, it
goes to the key to having a more representative public service in Canada.
Mr. Da Pont: I will start with that,
Senator Oliver, because the sorts of situations that you have talked about
have actually been highlighted and are reflective of two of the four
priorities that the visible minority committee has set.
The points you made have been expressed in two
different categories. One is the issue of fairness and staffing, and you
raised that issue, I think, in one of your examples of someone being
First of all, the visible minority committee
has set up a working group to focus on that particular issue, but, from the
discussion to date, a lot of the sentiment is that we have, over the years,
developed some good tools to ensure fairness in staffing. There was an
objective eye exercise a number of years ago, and a lot of the tools are
there. The most important one that has come out of the committee discussions
is to try to ensure that the boards that are being set up to select people
are, in fact, diverse and reflective of diversity.
I think the sentiment is that we have the tools
but that they are neither necessarily being used consistently by all
departments and agencies nor necessarily being used all the time.
Obviously, we will see what the working group
comes up with in specific recommendations. However, I think the sentiment is
that we have the tools and are not using them, so how do we improve that?
In terms of career development, it is a bit
different in the sense that we have had several presentations of good
practices from a variety of departments and agencies, and they all have
models that have had some result. There are two that come to mind very
quickly. One is from Natural Resources Canada, which had, a couple of years
ago, put in place an exercise to develop and prepare people for entering
into the EX community. Another was from the Public Service Commission, which
had a similar exercise to create a visible minority EX pool that was
applicable across government.
Each department and agency is looking at its
own internal situation and what areas to focus on. The group that has been
set up, again through the visible minority Champions and Chairs Committee,
is really focusing on sort of going through all of these and seeing if there
are some real leading or best practices that they would want to recommend,
government-wide, in that area.
I think the other sentiment that has come out
on the career development side is that visible minorities are not a
homogenous group. There is a lot of diversity within the visible minority
community, and, when developing some of these tools and programs, you have
to take that into account as well. That is the stage they are at at the
Mr. Latourelle: I will echo Mr. Da Pont's
initial points. In terms of practical examples of what is being discussed in
our committee, language training was identified as a challenge in terms of
advancement. If you do not have access to language training how do you
become a supervisor or a manager? That has been identified, and the working
group will be looking at whether this is perception or fact. I am not
downplaying it. I think it is a serious issue, but they will just be getting
the facts in terms of who has access and who has not and what we have to do
differently in the future so that these individuals and communities can seek
advancement. Often, the position might have a bilingual requirement. That is
one practical example.
In terms of recruitment, for example, science
departments have collectively raised an issue. They have made numerous
attempts and have spent a lot of energy trying to increase representation
for Aboriginal people, for example.
In the scientific field, they are having some
challenges, so what we are seeing through our working groups is these
departments working together trying to find collective instead of individual
solutions and to build on each other’s strengths.
Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson: If I may also
expand in terms of some of the work of the school, it can, as the common
learning organization, help to build capacity. We work really closely with
OCRO, the PSE and the different functional communities. They really
determine the learning needs, and they help in terms of developing the
learning products that we deliver.
We are continuing to expand our lists of
courses that deal directly with employment equity-related topics. There are
a number of courses, but, for example, this year, we partnered with Canada
Revenue Agency and TBS to offer a course on duty to accommodate in
disability management. That is focused at HR specialists.
We also offer a course on orientation to
employment equity and diversity. That is also targeting HR specialists.
We are also continuing to offer a course,
Leading a Diverse Workforce, which is looking at the leadership competencies
that you need to have to lead diverse teams.
We also have an online course on the Employment
Equity Act to help enhance the knowledge of employment equity.
This year, we have also been working with TBS.
It is a new version of the disability management case workshop. It used to
be delivered by TBS, but, because there is such as a demand, it has been
brought into the school and will be a regular offering. That will also
include a module on workplace accommodation.
The principles of inclusiveness and fairness in
hiring and people management practices are really interwoven throughout the
leadership development programs that we have for all levels, but, in
particular, there is an emphasis in our management and human resources
The other thing that we are doing with TBS is
the Disability Management Initiative. They are coming to the end of this
phase of the work. They have heard a lot from departments and from the
committee that they need some learning and development so we will be working
with them on some learning products.
As a school, we are also developing an
accessibility strategy. That means looking at all of our delivery and the
online content to the physical access to our different locations; there are
seven areas that we are looking at. I have asked them to come in and consult
with the disability committee, as well.
There is a wide range of activities going on at
Senator Harb: Thank you very much for your
I guess my question to you is with regard to
visible minorities. First, are you satisfied with the representation at the
executive level, and could you share with us some statistics? I am talking
director general level and up, not at the lower level.
Mr. Da Pont: We do have statistics for the
executive category. The work force availability is set at 7.6 per cent.
Overall in the public service, we are at 8.1 per cent, so we do exceed the
work force availability overall in the public service.
That varies from department to department; some
still have issues while others are in pretty good shape. Overall, as a
public service, we are doing well in that area.
Senator Harb: Work force availability for
visible minorities is over 15 per cent, from my understanding.
Mr. Da Pont: It is 12.4 per cent overall,
but work force availability is set. It varies depending on which part of the
country you are in. To use an example for visible minorities for British
Columbia, the work force availability is much higher than the availability
in Newfoundland, for example.
We are talking about government-wide
statistics, but when you go into each department or agency, or you go to
their locations, it can vary a bit.
Senator Harb: What about at the executive
level — director general and up? What percentage of people do we have who
are ADM or deputy ministers who are visible minorities? Can you give us
Mr. Da Pont: I cannot give you numbers for
that because I have it for executives as a whole. I do not know if it is
available by level, but I will check with our colleagues at the Office of
the Chief Human Resources Officer. If it is available by level, we will
forward to the committee.
Senator Harb: My last question deals with
the number of departments and representation of visible minorities in
various departments. Out of the 51 or 52 departments we have, would you say
the visible minorities are well represented all across? Are there some
departments doing better than others? If so, can you share that with us?
Mr. Da Pont: It varies by department, but
you can find all of the statistics by department and agency regarding
employment equity in the Public Service Commission Annual Report, and I am
sure it is available to the committee. That report breaks it down by
department, region of the country, occupational categories and by age.
I think you would find that a very
comprehensive set of statistics that would give you the exact ratings for
each department and agency, and where they stand. It does vary.
Senator Harb: The previous Public Service
Commission representative appeared before this committee some time ago and
stated that she was not satisfied at all with the number of visible
minorities who are in executive positions, as well as in terms of the
capacity to retain and so on.
From information that I have, out of the 51
departments, there are 26 departments in which we have an
under-representation of visible minorities.
Do you agree, first, with the statement of the
former President of the Public Service Commission that the numbers are not
as accurate as we are led to believe, and do you agree that we still have a
lot of work to do for visible minorities in the public service?
Mr. Da Pont: Not knowing exactly what she
said, I would say that the overall statistics as I just presented to you do
seem to suggest that we are doing reasonably well in the public service
overall. We are doing reasonably well.
I think you are right: It varies considerably
by department and agency. Some are very strong and others are not so strong.
I would say very much that there is significant work to do. I would not be
complacent about the overall numbers, because I think the variation among
the departments and agencies is an important consideration.
I would say that all of us should be pleased
that there are good signs of progress, but I would not declare victory in
any way, shape or form.
The Chair: Mr. Da Pont, you are looking at
figures but the statistics that we are relying on are from the 2006 census.
Hopefully we will have new data soon. I would imagine that will make the
situation look even worse, because you are relying on 2006 data; is that
Mr. Da Pont: Yes, the work force
availability comes from Statistics Canada, and so the last overall
availability targets were set in 2006. We are expecting actually very soon a
new set of targets based on the recent census, and I would expect that they
should be higher.
There is one thing that gives me some
encouragement. In talking to my colleague at the Public Service Commission —
and I think she made the point at this committee when she was here last week
— their statistics show about 22 per cent of new entrants into the public
service are visible minorities. I think that is the number she put out. If
that is the case, I think it certainly would suggest that in terms of new
entrants, we will be able to accommodate an increase in labour market
The Chair: With the greatest of respect,
she did say that there was 22 per cent. However, the representation at the
moment in the public service is 12.4; it is not 22 — it is 12.4.
Mr. Da Pont: I agree. I think she said the
The target overall on the 2006 work force
availability is 12.4 and the actual representation is 12.1, so we are not
yet at what the availability rates that were set at a number of years ago.
The Chair: We have a long way to go.
I wanted to ask you a question, Ms.
Lizotte-MacPherson. I have a real concern when it comes to issues of
representation of people with disabilities. From what I understand, the
statistic for appointments to the federal service is 3 per cent now. If you
look at the representation, it is 4 per cent, so my concern is that it is
decreasing. That is my first concern.
My second concern is that, from everything I
have read, there is not necessarily an active hiring of people with
disabilities. Sadly, people become disabled while working with the public
service and then they become part of that number. I have concerns that we
are not actively hiring people who already have disabilities. That is one
area where the hiring is weak, where it has gone to 3 per cent.
Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson: I think overall the
aggregate number for the work force availability for persons with
disabilities, based on the latest numbers that we have, is 4 per cent, and
the overall representation is 5.7.
You are right that in the case of hiring, the
number is below the work force availability. I have had a discussion with
the head of the PSC to try to understand what is going on. They need to
better understand why the inflow is low. They have started work on that, and
they have also asked if they can consult and come and meet with the
committee of persons with disabilities.
I think that will be helpful, but they have
more research to do and some consultations to do to understand why the
hiring is where it is. Is it simply that people are not aware? Is there an
issue in the recruiting process? Perhaps it is an accommodation issue. They
do not really know. It is an area where they are very focused and involved.
In the case of separations, the number is
higher. Anecdotally, we see it later in age as people have more health
problems. That may be part of the explanation for the higher separation
rate; but we are not sure. The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
is looking at that.
The Chair: Mr. Latourelle, I have one
question about something that bothers me a lot in terms of the
representation of Aboriginal people. The best way I can describe it is to
use the word "clustering." It is my belief that in some departments where
Aboriginal people are being serviced, there is a representation of
Aboriginal people just in those departments. They are clustered in areas
rather than across the federal public service. What is your committee doing
to address this issue?
Mr. Latourelle: I must say that it has not
been raised at our committee; but I think you are right because Human
Resources and Skills Development Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada, Correctional Service of Canada and Parks Canada are the
four largest employers of Aboriginal people. Like all employment equity
groups, every department and agency has a different result so far.
For example, across Canada we are doing well
with Aboriginal peoples because of where our places are located and the
regional availability of the workforce. We have more challenges in terms of
visible minorities, so we are developing strategies and programs and working
with others, such as Canadian Heritage, which has had much success. It is
about learning from other results on how we can improve our performance.
There is a cluster, but each department has a plan as they move forward.
More and more in the Public Service of Canada we are seeing solid human
resource planning. In the past, we did a lot of recruitment, but today we
have some solid human resource plans that will assist all of us to achieve
The Chair: I thank all of you for being
here today. It takes a lot of passion to do your work. The committee
certainly appreciates that these issues are about changing people's
attitudes and having more representation for the values we believe in as a
country. I thank all of you on behalf of the committee for the work you are
doing on the Employment Equity Champions and Chairs Committees. We look
forward to working with you in the future.
Our next witnesses, from the Public Service
Alliance of Canada, are Robyn Benson, National President; and Seema Lamba,
Human Rights Officer; and from the Professional Institute of the Public
Service, are Al Ravjiani, Ontario Regional Director; and Ryan Campbell,
Policy Analyst. We look forward to hearing from you how to make the public
service more representative of our population. I hope you will address two
issues: representation in terms of the numbers we have in the public service
and where we are in the public service because just sitting at the desk is
not enough. I would appreciate it if you address those issues. Ms. Benson,
Robyn Benson, National President, Public
Service Alliance of Canada: Thank you. On my right is Ms. Lamba, Human
I thank you for inviting us to appear again
before the members of the Human Rights Committee. I will not read our entire
submission, but I will highlight some of the key points. I believe you all
have a copy of our submission.
The most current data in the latest Treasury
Board annual report on employment equity does not give us any reason to
celebrate. In our written submission, we have outlined the data showing the
under-representation of equity groups in the public service, including some
If we were going to have a fully inclusive
federal public service and build on the gains made in employment equity, we
need to have accountability and transparency. Unfortunately, these two
important factors have gone by the wayside. Treasury Board's last two
employment equity reports contain too little information and lack critical
data and analysis. It is hard to have a meaningful discussion about
employment equity when their reports contain the bare minimum required by
the act. While this committee has asked the office of the Chief Human
Resources Officer to publish more statistics, such as retention rates and
trends, this has not happened.
An example of how employment equity is no
longer a priority is the way in which the government has dealt with it in
the workforce adjustment process. PSAC and other federal bargaining agents
have asked Treasury Board for data on all aspects of workforce adjustment,
including the number of affected, surplus, opting and laid-off workers by
equity group. Treasury Board has said they do not have the information and
rely on the departments, who only provide it sporadically. Treasury Board
refuses to direct the departments to actually provide us with the data.
The Public Service Commission is only
responsible for overseeing staffing and maintaining priority lists, so their
information on the impact of workforce adjustment is very limited. Simply
put, we do not have the numerical evidence to show whether there is
discrimination when it comes to workforce adjustment. We do have anecdotal
evidence from our members of situations where the workforce adjustment
process has been used to discriminate against them.
Other developments are also having an impact on
employment equity in the federal public service. In 2009, Treasury Board
started a review, and it was the review process of all of its existing human
resources policies. Current policies outline in detail the obligations of
deputy head and Treasury Board and the processes that are needed to comply
with the policies. Treasury Board has told PSAC that a workplace policy and
a workforce policy would replace existing policies, including those on
harassment, duty to accommodate and employment equity. These more
comprehensive policies will be reduced to a few paragraphs. While deputy
heads have been given more responsibility for human resource management, the
draft workforce policy also reduces their responsibility for employment
equity to a few broad principles. Where is the direction? Where is the
Another critical development for employment
equity is the management of employees with disabilities under the disability
management initiative. In 2011, Treasury Board produced the Disability
Management Handbook for Managers in the Federal Public Service. In 2012,
they launched the Workplace Wellness and Productivity Strategy.
We believe Treasury Board's strategy is simply
to reduce costs and deal with employees who are seen as a financial and
productive burden on the public service. Here is an example: Under the
Public Service Employment Act, managers have had the option to backfill a
position if an employee has been on leave without pay for over a year. If
the position is backfilled, the employee has no job to come back to when
they are able to return to work. They are placed on a priority list for
leave of absence. In the past, most managers would wait until the person was
able to return to work and actually accommodate that person on their return,
if required. Now, anecdotally, we find there is less flexibility, and
employees are either forced to retire, to resign or to return to work before
they are ready. Employees who cannot come back to their substantive
positions due to their disability are placed on a leave of absence priority
These days, disability management is not
focused on the prevention of illness or improving accommodation in the
workplace so that workers with disabilities can be integrated productively.
Instead, it encourages pushing workers back into the workforce before they
are ready or forcing them to retire or resign. If they want to remain
employed, they wait on priority lists, wondering whether they will have a
job when they are ready to return because their job has been backfilled.
From our experience, the largest number of our
members' discrimination grievances and complaints are from members with
disabilities who are not properly accommodated back into their workplaces.
This committee may wish to find out whether the high rate of separation of
employees with disabilities is related to the lack of accommodation or to
problems with reintegration into the workplaces after an absence.
We are also very concerned about the large
increase in the number of disability insurance claims related to mental
health issues. We believe these numbers will only grow as public services
and jobs are cut, while demands and workloads increase. Even the increase in
claims does not provide a true picture. Many employees with mental health
issues will not report them or seek assistance because of the stigma and,
more recently, the fear of being targeted during the workforce adjustment
In closing, we have a number of recommendations
that are outlined in our submission, and I would like to touch on a few of
We are very concerned that the decentralization
of human resources and the dismantling of Treasury Board's role to develop
and monitor service-wide policies have weakened the central oversight of
employment equity in the federal public service.
We are also very concerned about the change in
shift of the Canadian Human Rights Commission from proactively conducting
audits to allowing employers to do a self-assessment and then basing their
decision on whether to conduct an audit on that assessment.
We need to know how the cuts in the federal
public service are affecting the members of the equity groups. We believe
there needs to be a stand-alone, comprehensive employment equity policy, and
Treasury Board and departments must be accountable.
Treasury Board must examine the impact of
forcing people with disabilities out of their jobs because they have been
away from the workplace for a period of time.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to
appear here today. We welcome any questions you may have.
The Chair: Ms. Benson, we will ask you
questions in a minute, but because there are people watching you speak as
well, can you please clarify what you mean by "backfilled?"
Ms. Benson: When an individual goes off on
disability, for example, or they are going to be away for more than a year,
an employer has an opportunity to hire someone else in their place. If they
hire that person indeterminately, it has been backfilled indeterminately,
and the person who is on disability now does not have a job and must go on a
The Chair: We will now hear from
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, Mr. Al Ravjiani, who
has been here many times before the committee. We welcome you again.
Al Ravjiani, Ontario Regional Director,
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada: Ryan Campbell,
who is also our economic analyst, will be speaking to some of this, but I
The Professional Institute of the Public
Service of Canada is a union representing approximately 55,000 public sector
professionals across Canada. Over 45,000 work directly in federal public
service. We represent IT professionals, scientists, engineers, architects,
auditors, doctors, nurses and a variety of other professionals.
The institute appreciates the opportunity to
participate in this forum to discuss the status of employment equity within
the federal public service. The institute values the work of the Standing
Senate Committee on Human Rights. We participated in this process in 2008
and stand behind most of the committee's past recommendations.
The empirical data represented in the most
recent employment equity report shows much positive movement toward more
equitable workplaces. The statistics clearly show that the federal
government has significantly improved the representation of all designated
groups. In 2012, the percentage of representation for women and persons with
disabilities far exceeded the representation of these groups in the Canadian
labour force. Despite significant progress, visible minorities still are
under-represented in the federal public service, especially in the
executive, technical and operational occupational groups. There are also
lower proportions of Aboriginal women and women with disabilities being
Improved representation within the scientific
and professional occupational category has been a particular high point in
our opinion. Today, the representation of three of the four EE groups
exceeds their respective workforce availabilities in this category. Five
years ago, only 42 per cent of the people working in scientific and
professional occupations were women. Today, this number has risen to 50.4
per cent. It is undeniable that the employment landscape of federal public
service has become fairer over the last two decades. That being said, many
improvements remain to the made, including the need for vigilance to prevent
a return to less equitable practices. We will now turn our focus to a few
issues that, in the institute's opinion, represent significant challenges
that must be addressed to ensure that the public service remains a truly
Ryan Campbell, Policy Analyst, Professional
Institute of the Public Service of Canada: Thank you. I will briefly go
over some of the concerns that have been brought to us from our members and
The first one is outdated statistical
benchmarks. The government's annual employment equity reports no longer
represent an entirely objective picture. In fact, due to the lack of data
resulting from the cancellation of both the mandatory long-form census and
the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, the government's
employment equity reports still refer to 2006 census data for the four
employment equity groups.
Because the Canadian labour force is constantly
changing, using 2006 data means that the government's 2012 employment equity
report is not a true representation of the current situation. The Treasury
Board should use rigorous statistical estimation techniques to determine the
percenatges of the four employment groups in the Canadian labour force.
Our next issue is discrimination and
harassment. Despite is the positive results achieved by the federal public
service showing continuous improvement in the representation of all EE
groups, more effort needs to be dedicated to fight the rise in workplace
harassment and discrimination. The results of 2011 Public Service Employment
Survey show the continuation of a troubling trend, where a disproportionate
number of EE workers feel that they have been victims of discrimination
and/or harassment. The failure to properly respond and reduce harassment and
discrimination might result in a drop of representation rate of all
designated EE groups in the medium- and long-term. In addition, management's
failure to address ethical problems in the federal public service might also
lead to mental health problems, such as depression, stress and burnout.
In terms of workforce adjustment, the positive
results achieved during the last 10 years might be severely affected by the
recent government workforce adjustment process. Some of the latest figures
show that employment equity groups seem to be strongly affected by the job
cuts. The current workforce adjustment directive does not require the
employer to maintain representation of employment equity groups. This
increases the vulnerability of these groups and could lead to a significant
decrease in their rate of representation in the federal public service.
As for pay equity, in our opinion equitable pay
leads to equitable representation. In 2009, the government introduced the
Public Service Equitable Compensation Act, also known as PSECA. The intent
of PSECA is to replace the existing complaint-based system, wherein the
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal handles disputes. There is a great deal of
fear that PSECA is imposing unfair and restrictive definitions that will
disqualify many potential complainants before the process even starts. In
the past year, PIPS has stood behind members during the resolution of a
$150-million pay equity complaint. It is unlikely that this is the last
group of workers whose claim deserves fair review.
Another issue we have is with contracting out.
The abuse of contracting out provisions remains one of the biggest threats
to the integrity of the federal government's equitable hiring practices. In
2010, the Public Service Commission reported that government managers are
overusing these provisions, which circumvent established staffing
principles. In 2012, the Auditor General echoed the sentiment of the PSC,
further criticizing departments for not abiding by established policy. As
long as the loopholes that facilitate these practices exist, the assertions
made in the annual employment equity reports should be suspect. The lack of
available information makes it impossible to know the extent to which tens
of thousands of temporary staff skew the demographic makeup of the public
Our last point refers to political pressure
from external forces. Employment equity legislation and regulation, in our
opinion, is necessary in order to correct a systemic bias against certain
groups. The end result is that deserving individuals get paid more.
Anti-public service advocates use this added cost to exaggerate certain gaps
between the wages and benefits in the public sector and those in the private
sector. In reality, most gaps can be explained by more equitable pay for
groups that are marginalized in the private sector. If these interest groups
are successful in advocating for public sector practices that align more
closely with those in the private sector, the result will be a less
equitable federal government workplace.
Mr. Ravjiani: I will go over the
recommendations that we have. The first recommendation we have is that
workforce availability statistics from 2006 are no longer relevant. The
Treasury Board must adopt updated statistical benchmarks to replace
information lost with the elimination of the long-form census.
We request more transparency and consistency
when dealing with harassment and discrimination cases. It is essential that
offenders are held accountable for their actions and that victims feel as if
their grievances are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. Workforce
adjustment directives should include strategies to ensure that employment
equity objectives are being upheld. In general, more information needs to be
available to stakeholders throughout the adjustment process.
There needs to be a mechanism in place that
forces departments to abide by existing contracting out policies. The
federal government needs to actively defend the benefits of equitable
employment to the public and protect these good practices by encouraging
more equitable employment within the private sector.
Thank you. We will now take your questions.
Senator Harb: Thank you for your
I take it from your presentation that, despite
what management has told us so far about the fact that everything is so
rosy, you take the opposite view that everything is gloomy or not as rosy as
they have put it. Would that be your position?
Mr. Ravjiani: One of the discussions I had
with Senator Oliver, before he left, was about the fact that, being on the
ground in the public service, I work 50 per cent of my time with my
employer. I see a lot of cases that take a significant amount of time — our
time, the time of the union, the time of the personnel involved. We go
through hoops and through these cases, and, in the end, be it five years,
six years, seven years down the road, what happens is that these guys come
up with a mediated settlement. That is what I told Senator Oliver. In the
end, it is a gag order. You do not hear any jurisprudence, and it is
settled. That is the frustrating part about some of these things. If you are
going to settle it that way, you will not be able to hear too much more
information. Being on the ground, we are able to know the process that the
cases involved. This is why it is very intimidating that, in the end, there
are these kinds of settlements that create a rosy picture, if I may say so.
I just want to give you that. I will let my colleagues speak, but we have
the same kind of problems. I am not just talking about CRL. I have been on
the board of directors for PIPSC for eight and a half years, and I have been
on the ground for 15 years. Therefore, believe me, we have seen these cases
and it is frustrating.
I just wanted to give you that.
Ms. Benson: In the presentation from PSAC,
right on the first page we give statistics. This information is data from
the 2011-12 Treasury Board annual report on employment equity. If you look
at that, you will see that women are under-represented in 11 out of 20 of
the largest departments. Racialized workers are under-represented in 26 out
of 51 departments. Treasury Board uses 12.4 per cent as the work force
availability rate for the racialized group even though the work force
availability rate is 15.3, according to HRSDC.
You can look through at the various statistics.
Having worked on employment equity for many years as a local representative
— and this is going back years, I think, when departments actually paid
attention to employment equity — we as the union had meaningful consulting
at a local level, at a regional level and at a national level. I do not see
that now with just having employment equity champions.
Senator Harb: Whenever there is a dispute
or an issue between the employer and the employee, and there are grievances
and people come to you, perhaps you can give us a little synopsis in terms
of the demographics of those people in terms of percentage of women, visible
minorities and persons with disabilities. Who are the people that normally
come to you with complaints?
Mr. Ravjiani: Complaints come from everyone
— from the mainstream, from visible minorities. The important thing to
remember is that employment equity protects people who are in the disabled
group. The key that we have to remember is that disabled group includes
everyone, including the white male, because the disabled group is the group
looking after everyone who has an accommodation problem. Therefore, we find
there are issues from all categories.
The problem is really significant when the
person is disabled. Then the question comes up as to which medical
practitioner do these people go to to be able to comply with the procedures
of the department. The frustration comes into the picture when, initially,
you have gone to your own doctor and your doctor has declared that you have
an issue. It does not matter which group you are from. Then they want to
send you for a Health Canada assessment, and even at that point there is an
issue and the process becomes more intimidating, depending on who you are
dealing with. It is a tricky process.
When it comes to staffing for complaints, you
see a lot of people with merit — how do you qualify merit, especially when
you talk about best fit? Who defines what is what best fit is? When the job
posters are put out there, they put terminology such as "employment equity
may be used as a placement criterion." To me that is a frustration right
there, because now you are getting everyone excited on something that will
not even happen.
These are the points I wanted to bring across.
These kinds of loosey-goosey stuff are not good when you go out and do your
working procedures on a daily basis, because it frustrates everyone out
Ms. Benson: I will turn it over to Ms.
Lamba because we have statistics from the PSAC.
Seema Lamba, Human Rights Officer, Public
Service Alliance of Canada: We have close to 400 disability-related
grievances at the national level. There could be hundreds more that do not
ever come to us that we are reviewing. Disability is the biggest area that
we are seeing, whether through the grievance process or even the human
rights complaint process.
We have grievances related to harassment.
Again, this is just at the national level, so there are many that we never
see. Harassment is a big area.
We are starting to see more grievances around
family status, for example; that is an emerging area. That is related to
women but it could be related to other groups, as well. We are seeing more
Those are the statistics.
Of course, we are still seeing discrimination
cases based on race and ethnicity, but the largest one is still really with
the disability group.
Senator Hubley: Could you share with us the
process of making a grievance and how it is handled, from the initial
grievance until — is there a time limit that it has to be dealt with? Who
deals with it and what are the steps it would go through?
Ms. Lamba: If discrimination happens, there
is a time limit in the collective agreements as to when you can file it from
the last incident of discrimination — if we are using discrimination — in
the collective agreement. You have to file the level one. There are a number
of levels — level one, two and three. It goes to your manager and then it
Then there is a final level, which is usually a
senior manager. I am generalizing here. That senior manager would make a
decision. If they did not allow the grievance to go forward, then it would
come to the national office and we would review it to see if it would go to
arbitration and whether we will recommend it.
We believe a lot of the grievances do get dealt
with at the more local level. That is where we would like to do it; we do
not want to necessarily go through arbitration and adversarial processes,
because it can take years. It can cause a lot of hardship for that
particular member we may have.
Senator Hubley: The initial steps could
move reasonably quickly, though, could they not?
Ms. Lamba: If the timelines in the
grievance process were followed, they could be processed very quickly.
However, we do have members whose grievances — accommodation, for example —
that have not been dealt with for a long time, to a point sometimes where
they are forced go out of the workplace and go on sick leave or DI.
It could be reasonably quick, if there is a
good process and the manager is willing to process that, but we have seen
the opposite as well.
Senator Buth: Thank you very much for your
My question is for Mr. Ravjiani. You commented
that improved representation within the scientific and professional
occupation category has been a particular high point, and that
representation of three of the four employment equity groups exceeds the
respective work force availabilities.
Can you comment on the fourth group, and what
do you think could be done to change the situation to bring it up to a
higher representation within your categories?
Mr. Campbell: The fourth group is women,
and it is still slightly below the work force availability figure — the ones
presented at least. Even though it is below and that is troubling and we
want it to be higher, over the last five years, it has gone up considerably.
We are hoping that the trend will continue. We will have to wait until the
next year's results come out, but we are hoping that the momentum will carry
that number over or to the work force availability figures.
Senator Buth: Do you look at what would be
the issues that would result in women being under-represented, and do you
then develop recommendations to the government in those particular cases?
Mr. Campbell: I think the major issue with
a certain group being under-represented is that they are likely undeserving
to be under-represented and they should be there in higher numbers.
Mr. Ravjiani: I will give you a follow-up.
We have similar instances in CRA where women are under-represented in
certain EE categories, and it is the same with science. I have been working
with some of the science groups at the employment equity level. Normally,
they have specific competitions for women only. They do it by bringing in a
feeder group. They then try to mentor these women into categories so they
can move up the ladder. That is similar to what they have done at CRA. They
hire at the universities and work their way through so they can get the
The challenging part, and not just for that
particular group, is that we cannot rely on the data we have. Everyone is
struggling over whether the data are good enough. We need to continue, and
the only way we can do that is to ensure that we recognize that we have
these gaps because the gaps will only get bigger. We need to do more work at
the entry level, which we have been doing.
We do lectures at universities and different
institutions or work in a forum where we see science-based opportunities. At
these lectures, we encourage people from different groups to attend. It
encourages and it works.
We have a science conference at PIPS, for
example. We invite prominent speakers, like David Suzuki, Preston Manning,
and others, as well as groups from academia. We let them know what kinds of
programs are being used and they take that information back to their
universities. They have scientists out there who work for almost nothing
because they are passionate about what they do. They have many connections
with schools and universities because they do papers and mentor students.
That is the only way this particular employment group can grow and the gaps
can be decreased. That is what we do.
Senator Buth: That is helpful. Some of the
issues are complex in terms of who is available and what their background
is. I come from a science background. The issue that I have experienced over
the years is that there are not as many women in a particular profession or
coming through a particular faculty. If you are talking about workplace
availability, does it go down to that level? Are there particular issues
with the number of women coming through some of the professional programs
Mr. Ravjiani: The frustration with thefeeder groups is that it takes almost three to five years before you see
the results. We saw that in the auditing group at CRA, a similar type of
situation, so we increased our numbers significantly in that area.
Senator Buth: It is a good example of
something where you are starting to see progress.
Senator Hubley: My question falls under the
paragraph headed "Workforce Adjustment." For clarification, the Public
Service Commission of Canada figures show that some employment equity groups
appear to be strongly affected by job cuts. It says that the current
workforce adjustment directive does not require the employer to maintain the
representation of employment equity groups. Is that absolutely the way it
happens? Is there a sense of discrimination in those two sentences?
Mr. Ravjiani: I will give you a good
example of what has happened. I was at a conference in Saskatoon last year.
The key to workforce adjustment is: When you make a decision about how to
adjust the work force, the question comes up about who will decide.
Decisions normally come from the top. We have been hearing at active
workforce committees that if a decision is made in Ottawa on the ground,
they will try to say, "We need to go in and reduce people at the offices
that are not in Ottawa." That is just one example.
However, we have heard comments and there has
been a lot of discussion on cutting jobs at lower levels. At the lower
levels we have had the highest representation in the public service for
these groups; and that is our worry. If you are not willing to provide us
any kind of data or you are not using employment equity, the frustration
comes up when you start cutting these jobs because you will have skewed
We need to be proactive in trying to promote
this at the lower levels so we can get the adequate documentation and take
measures to ensure that everything we worked for — the equity numbers — is
relevant. That is the frustration we are experiencing.
Ms. Benson: I am a co-chair for the
National Workforce Adjustment Committee with Treasury Board because I am
president of the largest federal government union. We have asked many times
at our meetings for statistical data with respect to equity members and with
respect to the workforce adjustment.
SERLO, Selection of Employees for
Retention or Lay-Off, is how every department determines who will stay and
who will leave. We have heard from our members because each department can
do it differently. I have had discussions and sent examples to Mr. Clement
with respect to what we believe is discrimination. We have difficulties
where individuals who have been with the government for 21 years have
actually come out and said they have an invisible disability, are fully
bilingual and have secret security clearance; yet they are unable to be
successful at SERLO.
I have members, young women expecting their
first child, who are afraid to tell their employer that they are expecting
because it will impact them in the SERLO process. Some individuals wonder
why they are unsuccessful in the SERLO process if they have to have
workplace accommodations. I believe we have a few statistics.
Ms. Lamba: This is an important issue for
us so we have been asking the PSC for some statistics. As we said, they
cannot give us the full picture because they capture only certain
priorities. Once a person is affected and made surplus, there is a process
that they go through.
We know that in Option A, a person is made
surplus and is in 12 months or plus status. We know that three of the equity
groups, visible minorities, Aboriginal and those with disabilities, are more
represented than the workforce availability in taking that option. That is
concerning, but to analyze that, we would need more data. It is incomplete.
How many in the whole group are choosing that
option? We would need to know who is choosing the other options and who is
not choosing those options. We have incomplete data. However, from the data
we have, it appears that there may be discrimination with three equity
groups because they are overrepresented in taking that option than their
working force availability rate.
Senator Hubley: Why are you lacking data?
Ms. Lamba: Treasury Board refuses to give
the data to us. They say they do not have the resources. They say it is not
their responsibility. They give us a variety of reasons when we ask for the
data. We think they are capable of getting it and being able to analyze it.
They have told us to wait until the 2012-13
Treasury Board annual report, which usually is issued at the end of this
year or next year. Almost one to two years after the process, we will find
out how equity groups have been impacted when we actually see the
representation rates go up or down or how they are impacted. We do not think that is good enough. We want them to be
proactive and to be doing it and monitoring it as they go along.
The Chair: One of my concerns is that there
are the three champions for three groups, but not for women. I find that
difficult. Why would there not be a champion for women? Women have many
issues. I would like both panels to comment on that.
The second question is related to that. Are the
champions and chairs able to present an independent voice?
Ms. Benson: I will start, and Ms. Lamba can
continue for me.
Certainly many years ago, and I do not want to
age myself but it is 20 plus years ago, the very first employment equity
committee, if you will, was for women, so it is very disconcerting to hear
now that there is not a champion for women. You need only look at the
statistics that we have provided and that PIPSC has provided to show there
is an underrepresentation. Certainly the work needs to continue to be done.
From my perspective, having a champion for all
four of the groups is very interesting in that I do not see it at the
grassroots level. I do not see the committees how they used to be, in the
individual workplaces where that information flowed up. I look at this, and
I can be corrected, but it looks very much top down. For us, our membership
is certainly wanting to be able to have their voices heard.
Ms. Lamba: I will add to that. The previous
committees, the NCVM, the NCAFE and the NCFED, were employee-driven, so they
had a space where they could air their issues as a group. If they had
issues, they could come and talk about it and have speakers. Often they
would invite people from senior management to come. They had conferences,
and they were accountable to themselves, in that essence.
We did not hear that. Even in the previous
speakers, it is all about it being at the top. They are talking among
themselves. Where is the employee input? We do not see very much bargaining
agent input in that process either, so I think they are talking amongst
themselves. Not that there is not a forum for that, because there needs to
be accountability and you want them to be doing something, but there needs
to be a link from the ground up with the top so there can be a discussion
Under this current climate with the work force
adjustment processes and the fear of people losing jobs, employees are
afraid to actually voice their concerns. They could be stigmatized or
labelled, so why would they actually approach their champion or whoever is
taking that leadership role and talk about the issues they might have? It
may not make that department look good, so there is a fear going on at well
at the same time.
Mr. Ravjiani: We need to keep a couple of
things in mind, and one is that when you look at the work force adjustment
and start analyzing some of the information, you find that even though there
is no link between under-performers or people who are perceived to have
issues with the employer, you could see some kind of links, but you cannot
really point it out because statistic are not given to you. As the previous
speakers said, it is very difficult when you have to deal with an
environment where it is top down.
When we had the NCVM and organizations of that
sort, together with other stakeholders like the alliance, we went out there
on our own sometimes and created what we called workshops and seminars,
without even using the unions. We went out there, and we used our own
talents. We called in people like Senator Oliver and Senator Jaffer. We had
those forums because public service 2017, and we are not there yet, was
created by advocates like myself. We wanted to ensure that we were ready for
that particular occasion because we knew a lot of retirements were going to
be taking place.
What is the obstacle? Well, it is at the
Senate, Bill C-377. The Rand formula will be under attack. These kinds of
scary things that take place withdraw us back from doing this kind of work
because everyone is fearing for their job. Right now, even though we know
that Canada is prospering, as far as the banks with their profits and
everything else, they went the other way. Instead of going for growth, they
went the opposite way and went for workforce adjustment.
To me, I find it frustrating, sitting here in
front of a body and saying we were doing all this good work, trying to build
momentum for 2017, and where are we today? We are talking about workforce
As far as I am concerned, it is not about
statistics but the reality of trying to suppress the bargaining agents from
doing good work such as looking after Bill C-377. We are now so worried
about Bill C-377 that our focus on going into all these other issues is
lost, and that is the frustrating part.
The Chair: Ms. Benson, one of the concerns
I have is we have workforce availability of women at 52.3, and there is
representation of women at 54.6, and yet 79.1 per cent of the administrative
support positions are held by women. It looks like there is a good
representation of women in the federal public service, but it is very much
at the bottom end. Can you comment on that?
Ms. Benson: I certainly will, because the
majority of them will be PSAC members. I think we are 60 some odd per cent
women within our union. That has been the discussion, and I am disheartened
that there is no committee for women. For years we have talked about
enhancing women's careers and having them come out of clerical and program
administration into the management and the EX category, and that certainly
has not been what we have seen of late.
Ms. Lamba: One of the statistics we have is
around the mental health issue and disability insurance claims. We have seen
an increase of mental health related disability claims. It was close to 50
per cent in 2011, and close to 70 per cent of those claims are women. There
is something going on with respect to women. We need to dig deeper and have
a place to be able to address those issues.
The Chair: Can you clarify for me? If the
Treasury Board were to revise the employment equity policy, what would it
look like and how would it differ from the present? You did speak about
accountability and transparency, but what more should we be recommending?
Ms. Lamba: Right now, we are just in a
place trying to convince Treasury Board to have a stand-alone employment
equity policy because they are getting rid of it into two or three broad
principles in this workplace/workforce policy. Our focus has been trying to
maintain what we have.
If we were going to make it stronger with the
current policy, we would definitely want stronger employment equity
committees and stronger consultation and collaboration with bargaining
agents, because that is inconsistent across departments and across the
country. Some departments do it better than others, and some regions will do
it better even within departments. We think that is an excellent forum to
deal with employment equity issues that come up. That would be one. We would
like to see more direction on that.
You have already talked about the strong
mechanisms and accountability. Those are really important. Currently the
direction is to go under the MAF, the management accountability framework,
as you heard last week, and we do not think employment equity is a strong
enough criteria under that, so the policy should be strengthened, the
accountability and consequences.
There needs to be detailed resources, financial
and human, that needs to be outlined. It cannot be just an issue that
someone deals with off the side of their desk. They might even have the
title "Employment Equity," but what they do with that, we are not sure. For
example, Treasury Board does not even a section any more dealing with
employment equity themselves. If you actually went to GEDS, you would not
find an employment equity officer for Treasury Board any more. Different
people do different parts of that work.
It is really outlining in greater detail what
should be there in respect to implement systems review or workforce
analysis. That would be helpful. Yes, it is in the legislation, but it is
nice to have it in the policy to strengthen that and to add to that.
Mr. Ravjiani: I want to make a quick
comment. From the 2011-12 report, we went in and further broke down some of
the statistics. We have it in our article, which we have brought for your
reference. We find that the statistics are really good when we talk about
certain employers, like the RCMP, for instance. It is excellent, with 72 per
cent representation. HRSDC is around 69 per cent. Then we get into Fisheries
and Oceans, and it is 36 per cent. National Defence is 39 per cent and
Natural Resources is around 44 per cent. We recommend that perhaps we should
be going and looking at the best practices of these departments that are
doing really well and seeing what they do well.
We will share that document with you, because
we have it as an article in our spring magazine. It is all broken down into
different categories for different groups. I thought it was really good
information, and this is where we need to go with it. I know the previous
speakers who were here were talking about 8.9 and 12.1 when it came to the
executive, and we have all this stuff.
It is important for us to be able to look at
the best practices in different departments and try to go in and share those
with the departments that are not doing so well and perhaps maybe mentor
them and perhaps go out and find out what their problems are.
The Chair: Please forward that article to
the clerk. I thank all four of you for coming this afternoon. We really look
to you for guidance, and you balance some of the things we hear. We count on
your support on a regular basis. You are very supportive of our work. I know
I speak on behalf of the whole committee in thanking you for your continuing
support. Thank you very much.