Question Period: Canadian Human Rights Commission

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, the Treasury Board of Canada has ruled that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has discriminated against its own Black and racialized employees. This revelation is even more disturbing considering that yesterday marked the United Nations’ seventy-fifth International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. After these brave employees have come forward with their stories, Black Canadians can no longer place their trust in the Canadian Human Rights Commission to handle complaints of anti-Black racism.

My question to you, Senator Gold, is this: What actions will the government take to address anti-Black racism in the Canadian Human Rights Commission to ensure the complaints process is equitable for Black Canadians?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your questions. The fact that a grievance was brought and the positive response to the grievance are deeply troubling and disappointing, especially given the context of the institution that is involved. Canadians deserve to be free from racism everywhere in our country and in every space they inhabit, especially in their workplace. Racism has no place in our institutions.

As you know, the government is working to appoint new leadership to the commission, as the chief commissioner’s position is vacant. Dealing with the outcome of the findings of the Treasury Board will be an important part of the responsibilities of the new leadership of the commission.

I’m also informed, colleague, that Minister Lametti had a frank conversation with interim Chief Commissioner Malischewski earlier this week to discuss the steps the CHRC is taking to address this very important issue.

Senator Bernard: Senator Gold, I would be really interested — and I think this chamber would be interested — in knowing what steps the government is taking to ensure that the Canadian Human Rights Commission is indeed a workplace where Black and racialized employees will not experience the harm of anti-Black racism.

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. This is important to the government and is a priority for the government.

To answer your question directly rather than speak in more general terms, in addition to the steps I have already described, one way the government is taking action in terms of working towards the appointment of a new leadership and making that a priority for the leadership is through the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat. The secretariat combats discrimination and tackles the effects of discrimination on people and communities across the country, including in the workplace and health care spaces. This is another measure the government is taking more broadly to do its part to reduce — and, ideally, eliminate — racism in the workplace and other spaces in this country.

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