Employment Equity Report to Parliament Exposes Serious Gaps in Government Hiring

by NationTalk on February 9, 20081109 Views

OTTAWA, Feb. 8 – The picture of employment of historically marginalized Canadians in the federal public service is not as rosy as the government would like to have us believe, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a union representing more than 100,000 federal public service workers.

“The report submitted by the Canada Public Service Agency to Parliament on Employment Equity support many of our arguments that we presented earlier this week to the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights,” says Ed Cashman, the PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region. For example, the government claims it is meeting its targets with respect to the representation of persons with disabilities relative to their labour market availability. However, the number of persons with disabilities who are hired into the government is below their labour market availability rate.

“In other words,” says Cashman, “the federal government is meeting its legal obligation not through proportional hirings but through injury and illness of workers already on the job. Some workers become persons with disabilities through the course of their careers.”

Even more unacceptable is the number of hires of persons with disabilities in 2005-06 was 2.6 per cent, but the number of terminations was almost triple the rate at seven per cent. This was an increase from the termination rate in the previous year of 6.6 per cent.

Racialized workers represent 8.6 per cent of the federal public service, below the labour market availability (LMA) rate that the government uses of 10.4 per cent. However, the PSAC argues that the LMA rate should be closer to 12 per cent. The government’s LMA is based on 2001 Census and is therefore outdated, and it excludes non-citizens even though the vast majority of these obtain their citizenship within three years. Furthermore, by 2017, racialized Canadians will reach 20 per cent of the population. How will the government square this number with its glacial pace of hiring racialized workers?

The PSAC further points out that 77 per cent of Aboriginal workers in the federal public service work in departments which have a legislative or policy mandate related to Aboriginal people, such as Indian and Northern Affairs and Health Canada. Only 23 per cent are scattered among the remaining departments, which does not establish a sincere commitment to representivity of Aboriginal peoples across the entire public sector. Moreover, the number of Aboriginal people hired into the government, at 3.8 per cent, was lower than their departure rate, which was at 4.2 per cent.

As for women, although they comprise 53.5 per cent of workers, they are under-represented at the executive levels (39 per cent). Also, the PSAC argues that it is typical in our culture for women, as parents, to be required to strike a balance between family and work demands. The failure to identify such policies as inflexible work schedules as barriers to the hiring and promotion of women, is again, the failure of employers to meet their employment equity obligations.

“Employment equity is about more than representativeness,” says PSAC National Executive Vice-President Patty Ducharme. “It is also about employment polices and practices that serve as barriers to hiring and promotion.”

For further information: Joselito Calugay, PSAC communications officer, (613) 560-4235, (613) 293-9324

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