FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2022
Executive Director of the BCAS Nicholas Marcus Thompson announces complaint.
OTTAWA – Today, representatives of the Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS), together with partner Amnesty International Canada (Amnesty), announced the submission of a complaint to the UN Commission for Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The BCAS and Amnesty have joined forces to shed light on the historic and ongoing human rights violations faced by Black employees in Canada’s federal public service. These workers have endured anti-Black hate and anti-Black racism, both covertly and overtly, over the course of decades in the service of their country. This is contrary to the right to non-discrimination found within several international conventions ratified by the Government of Canada.
On behalf of all Black workers, we are elevating Canada’s past and ongoing failures to the United Nations. Black Canadians are suffering and we will be relentless in our pursuit of justice on their behalf. Nicholas Marcus Thompson Executive Director of the BCAS
Each of us believes the government of Canada must be held accountable.
Together the BCAS and Amnesty are calling on the Special Rapporteur to investigate Canada’s violation of its obligation to abide by these international treaties. This includes calling on the federal government to:
· meet its international obligations,
· establish a coherent plan to address hiring and promotional gaps for Black Canadian workers,
· develop a plan to increase opportunities for professional development, and,
· initiate a study and report on systemic discrimination in labour and employment to help identify why this persistent culture exists.
Black women make up 70% of Federal employees who have come forward with allegations of discrimination in the public service. These experiences are not only an affront to the inherent dignity of the people who uphold the Government’s functions daily. They are contrary to Canada’s obligation under international law to eliminate discrimination in employment. We unequivocally support Black Class Action’s call for justice, and urge the government not wait for the UN’s response to start enacting much-needed change. Federal workers, and millions of Canadians who rely on their efforts, cannot wait. Ketty Nivyabandi Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada
Canada’s New Democratic Party, under the leadership of Jagmeet Singh and Matthew Green, MP – Hamilton Centre, have joined with fellow workers advocates, including the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in supporting the objectives of this complaint and the pursuit of justice for Black workers.
“Black Canadians continue to face barriers and discrimination by our institutions and the blocking and continuous double speak from the federal government as it relates to Black workers in the public service fighting for fairness is appalling” said Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. “Not only does the federal government need to get to the table to respect Black public service workers who have faced and continue to face discrimination at work, they must take a leadership role in understanding how policies continue to impact Black communities and contribute to systemic racism. New Democrats support the Black Class Action Secretariat in their efforts and recommit to fighting anti-Black racism in the public service and all our institutions.”
In December 2020, a class action was filed against the Canadian government on behalf of more than 45,000 Black federal public service employees who have been subjected to systemic racism, discrimination, and employee exclusion.
To continue the push for justice, this complaint to the UN outlines the Canadian government’s failure to protect Black Canadians has contravened:
· the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
· the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
· the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, and,
· the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
With over 1,500 class members from across Canada, the Black Class Action has garnered the support of major international organizations like Amnesty International and Canadian associations, including the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. Click here to view the full press conference.
For further information or media inquiries please contact:
Black Class Action Secretariat
Amnesty International Canada: