In an unprecedented move to address systemic discrimination within the Federal Public Service of Canada, a coalition of leading organizations announced today a formal complaint against the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). This coalition includes the Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Black Nurses Alliance (CBNA), The Enchanté Network, the Red Coalition, the Federation of Black Canadians (FBC), 613-819 Black Hub and the Black Canadians Civil Society Coalition (BCCSC), united in their efforts to hold the CHRC accountable for its discriminatory practices.
The complaint, rooted in the CHRC’s failure to adhere to the Paris Principles and its violations of international human rights law, marks a critical step in holding the Commission accountable for its discriminatory practices. The organizations have filed for a special review of the CHRC’s accreditation status with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), underlining the urgent need for reform to ensure the CHRC can effectively protect individuals from discrimination.
The coalition’s complaint highlights recent findings by the Senate of Canada Human Rights Committee and the Treasury Board Secretariat, which uncovered systemic racial discrimination within the CHRC, including higher dismissal rates of race-based complaints and exclusion of Black and racialized employees from promotions. These practices contravene core international human rights treaties and underscore the CHRC’s failure to fulfill its mandate.
As the federal watchdog against discrimination, the CHRC’s role is instrumental in combating discriminatory practices within Canada. The organizations urges GANHRI to thoroughly review the CHRC’s adherence to the Paris Principles and reassess its ‘A’ status accreditation.
The organizations remain hopeful that this action will lead to significant reforms within the CHRC, ensuring it can effectively safeguard human rights and foster an inclusive society.
In addition to filing the formal complaint, the coalition jointly calls on the Government of Canada to take significant steps toward rectifying systemic discrimination within its structures:
- Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to create a direct access model, allowing complaints to go directly to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and repurposing the Canadian Human Rights Commission to support complainants with their matters at the Tribunal.
- Amend the Employment Equity Act to better reflect intersectionality and to specifically include Black and other equity-deserving groups as designated groups.
- Appoint a Black Equity Commissioner as an independent officer of Parliament to oversee and ensure equity across all levels of government and public service.
- Ensure Accountability: Following the findings of discrimination at the Canadian Human Rights Commission by both the Senate Human Rights Committee and the Treasury Board Secretariat, it is imperative that those who committed discrimination be held accountable. This includes a thorough leadership review and necessary changes to prevent future occurrences.
Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Executive Director of the BCAS, stated, “Today, we stand united in our demand for accountability and change. The evidence of systemic discrimination within the CHRC is undeniable and unacceptable. Our action today is about restoring faith in our institutions and ensuring that the CHRC becomes a true champion of equality and human rights for all Canadians.”
Chris Aylward, National President of the PSAC, emphasized the importance of this moment, “The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s failure to combat systemic racism within its own ranks strikes at the heart of justice for workers. As representatives of Black federal public service workers, PSAC demands immediate reform to restore the CHRC’s integrity and efficacy. It’s time for action, not words.”
Hodan Ahmed, Senior UN Fellow and Lead for the BCCSC, revised her focus, stating, ” As we navigate through the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, it is imperative that our actions reflect a strong commitment to eradicating all forms of discrimination. The systemic issues within the CHRC not only undermine the values we champion during this decade but also significantly impact the lives of Black Canadians and other marginalized communities. Our call for a review of the CHRC’s accreditation is a step towards ensuring that Canada upholds its obligation and is aligned with its commitments to promote equality.”
Black Class Action Secretariat email@example.com
Canadian Black Nurses Alliance firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Service Alliance of Canada email@example.com
Red Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org
National Union of Public and General Employees email@example.com
Federation of Black Canadians firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Canadians Civil Society Coalition email@example.com