President of the Public Service Commission—Marie-Chantal Girard Received in Committee of the Whole

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, Quebec

Senator Bernard: Thank you, Ms. Girard. Coming last, I know some of my questions have already been asked. I want to take some of those further. I noticed in your opening remarks you referenced the Pay Equity Act and the Public Service Employment Act, but you did not mention the Employment Equity Act. I was surprised by that, especially given the report of the task force that was released yesterday that speaks to the title, A Transformative Framework to Achieve and Sustain Employment Equity.

Some research has highlighted the fact that, up to now, the Employment Equity Act has helped White women shatter the glass ceiling. Black people, other racialized people, Indigenous people and persons with disabilities have faced concrete ceilings.

Ms. Girard, in your first 90 days in the role, what specific actions do you envision that you would take to remove biases and barriers that are rooted in systemic racism and discrimination?

Marie-Chantal Girard, nominee for the position of President of the Public Service Commission of Canada: Thank you for your question, honourable senator. I did look at those numbers, and I extracted the delta between the difference for men and women, visible minorities, non-visible, Indigenous people and so forth to see what the difference is.

The report of the task force was just released, and I will look more closely at each of the recommendations but will take on to implement those that fall under the purview of the Public Service Commission.

Immediately, by widening the equity-deserving group, it means that the measures we have started to implement with regard to removing biases and barriers, we will also apply to the two new communities that they have identified, that they suggest we have. Then it means that the surveillance — the reporting and the research that we do — is also inclusive and builds on the recommendations of the report.

At this point, the report was just released and I am not at the commission yet. I would like to consult and look at the data. Certainly, what falls under the mandate of the commission will be taken extremely seriously and approached diligently.

Senator Bernard: We know that leadership and language matter. I’m sure there are several equity-deserving group members that are anxiously waiting to hear what new ideas you will bring to the Public Service Commission to make a difference, because people have been waiting a long time for things to change.

Ms. Girard: We now have a number of initiatives that have collectively been put in place and are aimed at shattering the ceiling you’re talking about. We have the Mosaic program. From last year’s cohort, 50% of the participants are now in new positions in the public service.

We have the Mentorship Plus program. I have been a mentor and participated in Mosaic myself. Through the work of the commission, we have made and improved the tools to assess and make official languages more accessible. It’s through those efforts that we’re seeing, for example, more executives — people at the working level who are now achieving their goals to occupy executive positions and are moving into all sectors and areas of the public service.

More efforts will need to be made. Looking at the data and feedback from the diversity networks that we work closely with, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and Black people are not achieving the same results with what we have done so far, so we need to work harder at it and find different, adapted ways to go about it.

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