Racial discrimination confirmed at the Canadian Human Rights Commission

March 7, 2023 - On March 6, 2023, the Treasury Board Secretariat found that there was discrimination and systemic racism at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) in a decision issued on a policy grievance filed by the Canadian Association of Profession Employees (CAPE) - and similarly by the Association of Justice Counsel (AJC) and Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) - concerning discrimination against Black and racialized employees of the CHRC. In its decision, the Treasury Board invited the parties to participate in mediation to seek a meaningful resolution. 

While CAPE remains open to mediation, in the interest of protecting its members’ rights, on March 29 CAPE referred its grievance to adjudication before the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board as its grievance was only partially upheld. The two other unions also referred their policy grievance to adjudication on the same day.

“While we are pleased with this outcome, we are obviously deeply disappointed that an institution such as the CHRC, whose mission is to ‘protect the core principle of equal opportunity and promote a vision of an inclusive society free from discrimination’, would fail in its duty” said Greg Phillips, President of CAPE, which represents many Black federal public sector employees. “Whatever course we take, we will pursue the implementation of corrective measures for the CHRC to ensure that their Black and racialized employees are treated fairly and equally going forward.”

The decision by the Treasury Board recognises systemic racism and the challenges facing Black and racialized employees. The CHRC will be expected to take concrete steps to right the wrongs in its policies and practices.

CAPE, the AJC and the PSAC have and continue to be committed to assisting and supporting members who have experienced racism, systemic barriers and other forms of discrimination, and will be determining next steps in consultation with members. 

Back in September 2021, all three bargaining agents had jointly written to the Auditor General and federal parliamentarians raising their concerns, suggesting that an audit of the CHRC could help the institution regain the trust of Black and racialized Canadians. 

The fight against anti-Black racism and racial discrimination is an ongoing battle within federal institutions. CAPE continues to advocate for diverse and inclusive workplaces while pursuing violations of the Canadian Human Rights Act in the workplace. Read more