Feds revise Public Service Employment Act

‘This is an important step to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service’

Feds revise Public Service Employment Act

The federal government has amended the Public Service Employment Act to address systemic barriers for equity-seeking groups.

Receiving Royal Assent on June 29, the amendments reaffirm the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and strengthen provisions to address potential bias and barriers in staffing processes, according to the government.

“This is an important step to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service,” says Jean-Yves Duclos, president of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Under the revised rules, permanent residents now have the same preference as Canadian citizens when appointments are made through external advertised hiring processes.

Also, new or revised qualification standards must be evaluated for bias and barriers for members of equity-seeking groups, and the design and application of assessment methods must include an evaluation of bias and barriers, and reasonable efforts for mitigation.

The amendments also give the Public Service Commission explicit authority to audit for bias and barriers that disadvantage members of equity-seeking groups. The commission and deputy heads will have explicit authority to investigate bias and barriers for members of said groups.

More than half (56 per cent) of Canadians say there is evidence of racism within the organization they work for, according to a report from Edelman.

Inclusion efforts

The federal government previously committed $12 million over three years towards increasing equity-seeking group’s representation and leadership development in the public service.

Last year, the government also began releasing disaggregated datasets that provide first-ever views into the composition of public service employees who self-identify in Employment Equity sub-groups.

Also, the annual Public Service Employee Survey now includes questions that help to better understand the workforce and workplace at more detailed levels.

The treasury board is also coordinating vacant ADM positions across the core public administration to identify opportunities to increase diversity at the most senior levels. As of last month, 34 institutions are implementing the Mentorship Plus program, which supports career progression for equity-seeking groups. The program was co-developed with equity-seeking groups and enhances traditional mentorship by adding the element of sponsorship.

Previously, Canada launched an online survey that covers a variety of key areas, including financial security, employment, disability-inclusive spaces, and building a modern approach to disability within the federal government.

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