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BCAS Calls for Policy Changes to Ensure Restorative Justice

Two racialized people at press conference
President of Treasury Board Anita Anand and expert Jude Mary Cénat at press conference in Ottawa. October 23 2023 CPAC

Ottawa, October 31, 2023 — The Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS) acknowledges the recent announcement of experts for the Restorative Engagement Program by the Honourable Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board of Canada. While a step toward addressing systemic racism and discrimination within Canada's public service, the BCAS emphasizes the need for immediate and critical policy changes to ensure restorative justice for Black federal workers, rather than relying on further studies.

Further studies risk delaying the essential and long-awaited policy changes needed to combat systemic racism, discrimination, and harassment within Canada's public service. Reports and recommendations have already identified the root causes of harassment, discrimination, and racism within the public service, along with the cultural transformation required to address these issues.

For instance, the government has the Employment Equity Act Taskforce report, which commenced its review in 2021 and presented its report in the spring of 2023. The BCAS urgently calls upon the government to make this report public and promptly execute its recommendations. Canada's application of the Employment Equity Act is fundamentally intertwined with the systemic discrimination prevalent in federal workplaces. Addressing these systemic issues is critical to achieving restorative justice for all employees in the federal public service.

Additionally, the BCAS highlights the lack of meaningful and accessible dispute resolution mechanisms, particularly concerning discrimination and harassment in public service hiring and promotion practices. Notably, in March 2023, it was revealed that the Canadian Human Rights Commission discriminated against Black workers, and disproportionately rejected race-based complaints. This historical issue led to the commencement of a landmark class action brought on behalf of thousands of Black federal employees on December 1, 2020.

The BCAS calls upon the federal government to resolve the issues raised by the class action as a means to ensure restorative justice for workers, both historically and moving forward. The BCAS urges the Government to prioritize the resolution of these longstanding issues, ensuring that the proposed policies translate into actionable measures that bring restorative justice for workers.

The impact of discrimination and racism on the mental and physical health of workers is profound, and they cannot afford to wait any longer. The time for urgent relief is now. All stakeholders must unite and act decisively to implement real legislative and policy reforms that effectively address the deeply rooted systemic discrimination within Canada's public service. - Executive Director, Nicholas Marcus Thompson

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The Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS) is a non-profit organization committed to combatting systemic racism, with a specific focus on eradicating anti-Black racism and discrimination in both public and private sector employment. Through education, advocacy, policy reform, and legal remedies, the BCAS is devoted to creating a society that is truly equal and just for all.


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