PSAC stands with Black public service workers in class action lawsuit

The Public Service Alliance of Canada supports the legal action taken on behalf of nearly 30,000 past and present federal public service workers who identify as Black, Caribbean or of African descent. PSAC intends to serve as an intervener in the class action lawsuit filed against the Government of Canada by Black public service workers who have been subjected to discriminatory hiring and promotional practices.

Anti-Black racism is prevalent in Canadian society and the federal public service has not been immune. For far too long, many of our members have experienced the pain of Black employee exclusion; the systemic practice of limiting skilled Black workers from career advancement opportunities and being disproportionally underrepresented in management and high-ranking positions in the federal public service.

The class action, which has been filed with the Federal Court of Canada, argues that Black employee exclusion has led to economic and psychological harm for thousands of public service workers since the 1970s. The claim calls on the federal government to implement a plan to truly diversify the federal public service and provide restitution to tens of thousands of Black public service workers.

PSAC’s support of this class action strongly aligns with the union's ongoing fight against anti-Black racism.

“Canada’s public service presents itself as a ‘merit-based, representative and non-partisan organization that serves all Canadians,’” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “While laudable as a principle, many Canadians, particularly Black Canadians, have experienced a different reality. The government must do what is necessary to right these wrongs and ensure that these injustices do not continue.”

PSAC echoes the calls of our Black public service members. The federal government must identify and tear down systemic barriers in its human resources practices. It must take action to increase diversity and inclusion within its ranks, especially in positions of leadership. We also expect the government to listen to Black workers and take their lead on how to correct this gross injustice.

The federal government has acknowledged that systemic racism is prevalent in Canadian society and within government institutions. If this government is truly committed to tearing down systemic racism, it must begin with its own hiring and promotion practices. Canada’s public service is richer and better served when it is made up of workers with diverse perspectives and lived experiences.


December 4, 2020