PSAC presses government to address systemic racism in staffing

In the January 2021 mandate letters, the federal government committed to prioritizing making the public service more inclusive and representative as part of a whole-of-government approach to addressing systemic racism.  

In support of this, PSAC’s recent submission to Treasury Board on staffing issues identifies several areas that must be addressed proactively to ensure a more representative public service at all levels, including: 

  • Non-advertised appointments and positions: There is an unacceptably high reliance on non-advertised hiring processes to hire preferred candidates without any competition. These processes have often excluded Indigenous, Black and racialized workers with more knowledge, education and experience.  

  • “Best fit” criteria: Managers employ the highly subjective “best fit” criteria to hire people like themselves, which excludes Indigenous, Black and racialized workers who are not “suitable” for promotions even though they may have the experience, knowledge and education. These decisions are difficult to challenge because of managers’ discretion on hiring decisions.  

  • Ineffective formal and informal staffing complaint process: The staffing complaint process is widely viewed as ineffective, lacking in transparency, and unfair.  

  • Arbitrary and discriminatory assessments: Assessment tools used in competitions often fail to account for whether barriers for Indigenous, Black and racialized workers are present. Moreover, processes are often designed at the discretion of managers who make it difficult for Indigenous, Black and racialized workers to succeed while making it easier for their preferred candidates.   

  • Devaluing of foreign credentials and experiences: There is often a tacit assumption that a candidate will not succeed in a particular job because they lack ‘Canadian experience’, forcing them into jobs with lower levels of responsibility than what they are qualified for. 

Moreover, an anti-racist lens and framework must be front and centre as the federal government moves forward in reviewing the Public Service Employee Act and the Employment Equity Act.  

Fighting systemic racism is a priority for the union. PSAC will remain closely engaged with the government’s work and provide regular updates to members on our submissions. 



March 19, 2021