Employment equity has been an ongoing priority for PSAC women. In the 1980s, as part of the National Employment Equity Network (a coalition of equality-seeking groups), PSAC called for new laws to address the under-representation of women and other equity groups in the federal public service.
Together with the Canadian Labour Congress and other unions, PSAC took an active role in the consultations of the Abella Commission. The recommendations in Justice Abella’s report led to the federal Employment Equity Act (EEA) in 1986.
This law imposes mandatory review of an employers’ labour force and provides for measures to ensure a better representation of four equity groups – women, visible minorities, people with a disability and Aboriginal persons. Because the law did not apply at first to the federal public service, PSAC played a critical role in having the law changed during a subsequent review of the Act to include the largest employer in the country.
PSAC’s work on this important issue continues through its participation on the National Joint Council (NJC) Employment Equity Committee. The union was successful in ensuring that the NJC Travel Directive recognized traditional Aboriginal custom adoption practices. It has also taken on the issue of accessible parking for PSAC members with a disability.
The union continues to monitor the application of the Employment Equity Act and regularly provides information and recommendations to Parliamentary Committees.