New Initiative Aims to Tackle Workplace Discrimination in Federal Public Service

The federal government has unveiled a new initiative aimed at combating discrimination, violence, and harassment within the federal public service. President of the Treasury Board, Anita Anand, announced the formation of a panel of experts tasked with designing a “restorative engagement program” to address these critical issues. 

The announcement comes on the heels of a report by the auditor general of Canada, Karen Hogan, which highlighted the shortcomings in addressing workplace inequalities, particularly for racialized employees.

The panel, composed of recognized experts in clinical psychology, mediation, dispute resolution, and restorative justice, includes individuals such as Jude Mary Cénat, Linda Crockett, Gayle Desmeules, and Robert Neron, all of whom bring diverse perspectives and experience to the table.

The restorative engagement program is a pivotal part of the government’s broader strategy to identify, address, and prevent harassment, discrimination, and violence in the workplace. The program’s goal is to promote healing and drive cultural and systemic change within the public service by placing individuals at the center of the process and focusing on understanding the root causes and impacts of harm.

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This initiative is backed by $6.9 million in funding from the federal government’s 2023 budget. It will offer employees a safe, confidential space to share their experiences of harassment, discrimination, and violence. 

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According to the budget, certain groups of public servants, including those identifying as Black, racialized, women, Indigenous, persons with disabilities, or 2SLGBTQI+, are more likely to experience these issues in the workplace.

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The panel’s work is projected to cost approximately $550,000, and it is expected to deliver a public report on its findings in early 2024. The recommendations generated by this panel will be crucial in shaping the design of the restorative engagement program and, hopefully, contribute to a more inclusive and respectful workplace within the federal public service. 

Anand emphasized that addressing discrimination in the public service is not merely a public relations exercise but a critical mission for the government.

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