The Employment Equity Act Review: CAPE makes its case before the Task Force

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - OTTAWA – On July 14, 2021, the Government of Canada launched a Task Force to review the Employment Equity Act to study the Act and consult with stakeholders, communities and Canadians on issues related to employment equity. The goal is for the Task Force to make “concrete, independent and evidence-based recommendations to the Minister of Labour on how to modernize the Act.”

It is against this backdrop that on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, CAPE National President, Greg Phillips and Karen Brook, Labour Relations Officer, appeared virtually before the 12-member Task Force to highlight some of its recommendations. Prior to this appearance, CAPE submitted 12 recommendations as part of the Employment Equity Act Review Submissions.   

CAPE highlighted the following four recommendations:

  1. Amend the number of Employment Equity Groups to include the LGBTQ2+ Community as a designated group.
  2. Amend current terms such as "Aboriginal peoples" and "members of visible minorities" to reflect the language and terminologies currently used by those communities.
  3. The Employment Equity Review Tribunal must be replaced with an Employment Equity Commissioner with similar duties, functions and processes as the Pay Equity Commissioner recently established at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
  4. Amend the Employment Equity Act and related legislation (i.e.: the Public Service Employment Act, the Financial Administration Act, and the Public Service Modernization Act) to strengthen the roles of central agencies to reduce and eliminate systemic barriers faced by equity-deserving groups.

Following the presentation of these key recommendations, dialogue with the Task Force members ensued. Noteworthy were discussions around union consultations existing under the current Act, which could be argued lack teeth. Meaningful consultation should be spelled out in the Act and even go as far as to define what such consultations will involve so that there is no room for ambiguity. Real consultation with CAPE’s constituents and community is key in getting feedback on important aspects like how an employment equity group wants to be called.

CAPE also highlighted its role in pushing for disaggregated data to ensure that the Public Service Employee Survey better reflects the situation of Black public service employees. Having disaggregated data ensures that decisions and positions are evidence-based. However, disaggregated data is not always available in publicly available information which hurts CAPE’s ability to defend its members’ rights.

As part of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee work, CAPE is reaching out to various equity deserving groups within the federal public sector to collaborate around knowledge exchange and to increase their voice within our own community for better representation. The Task Force indicated an interest in receiving any information around barriers or good practices that come out of CAPE’s discussion with various equity deserving groups.

CAPE will continue to stand up for and defend our members' interests and looks forward to the Employment Equity Act Review Consultation report due to be released in Fall 2022.

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CAPE’s Employment Equity Act Review Submissions

In attendance

Participants from CAPE

Greg Phillips                                       National President
Karen Brook                                       Labour Relations Officer
Jennifer George                                 Senior Advisor to the President
Dina Epale                                         Senior Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor