Black civil servants file discrimination complaint against federal government with United Nations
Black civil servants step up their pressure on the federal government by filing a complaint with the United Nations alleging that Ottawa has violated their civil rights.
The complaint from the Black Class Action Secretariat is sent to the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
This follows a class action lawsuit the same group has filed against the federal government accusing it of systemic racism, discrimination and employee exclusion.
« This complaint details systemic and anti-Black racism in hiring and promotions within Canada’s federal public service, » said Nicholas Marcus Thompson, executive director of the Black Class Action Secretariat.
« With this complaint, we elevate Canada’s past failures and inability to act in the present to an international body. »
Thompson told a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday that the secretariat hopes the UN special rapporteur will investigate his allegations and call on Canada to meet its international obligations to black employees by laying out a plan to increase opportunities for black women in government and developing specific targets for hiring. and promotion of black workers.
WATCH: Black officials allege discrimination in lawsuit
Amnesty International has thrown its weight behind the complaint, noting that 70% of the 1,500 employees who have joined the class action are black women.
« This goes against feminist commitments made by the Canadian government, » said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.
Along with backing the complaint, Nivyabandi also called on the government to create a designated category under the Employment Equity Act for black employees. Canada has set up a working group to review this legislation.
The stated purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to “correct conditions of employment disadvantage experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities”.
Nivyabandi said the grouping of all visible minorities makes the unique forms of discrimination that black employees face « invisible. »
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP MP Matthew Green were at Wednesday’s press conference on Parliament Hill to offer their support.
“On behalf of all New Democrats, as leader of the party, I want to express my full solidarity,” Singh said. « Their call for justice, in this case, their call for fairness… is something we fully support. »
Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board, is scheduled to meet with Thompson this week. She said far too many black Canadians still face discrimination and hate.
“The government is actively working to address harms and create a diverse and inclusive public service free from harassment and discrimination. We’ve passed laws, created support and development programs, and published disaggregated data, but we know there’s still a long way to go,” Fortier said. said in a press release.
The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that, dating back to the 1970s, approximately 30,000 black public servants lost « opportunities and benefits granted to others based on their race. »
The statement says the lawsuit seeks damages to compensate black public servants for their mental and economic hardship. The plaintiffs are also asking for a plan to finally diversify the federal workforce and break down barriers that even employment equity laws have been unable to remove.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.