OTTAWA, December 11, 2023 - The Senate Committee on Human Rights and the Employment Equity Act Task Force have both released their findings today and they paint a grim picture of anti-Black racism and Black employee exclusion across the federal public service and particularly throughout the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
The findings of these two review panels highlight the urgent need for change called for in a landmark class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Black federal public service workers in December 2020. The review panel results like the class action highlight the following requirements for change:
1) The need to create a separate category for Black people under the Canada Employment Equity Act to avoid masking disparities experienced by Black workers relative to others and in order to identify and eliminate barriers to the full participation of Black workers across the Federal Public Service is essential;
2) The startling practices of anti-Black racism and Black employee exclusion throughout the Canadian Human Rights Commission have damaged beyond repair the reputation of the Commission as a watchdog for human rights in Canada; and
3) Elimination of the Commission and move to a direct access model that enables human rights complaints to be brought to and adjudicated by an independent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is essential for the fair enforcement of human rights in Canada.
The findings by the 2 separate independent panels highlight the historic failings by Canada to remedy anti-Black racism and Black employee exclusion as pervasive practices across the federal public service for decades.
Class Plaintiffs in the landmark Black Class Action lawsuit are looking both to the federal government and to the Court not only to recognize but to remedy the harms experienced by Black workers for decades owing to the insidious effects of anti-Black racism and Black employee exclusion which have pervaded the public service and deprived Black workers of fair and just opportunities for hiring, promotion and equal treatment for decades.
The need to implement the recommendations of the independent review panels and to concretely address the claims set out in the landmark class action lawsuit are essential requirements to enable Black workers to move forward in federal work environments free from significant systemic and institutional barriers that have injured and held back Black workers for decades.