Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 51

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


President of the Public Service Commission

Anne-Marie Robinson Received in Committee of the Whole

On the Order:

The Senate in Committee of the Whole in order to receive Ms. Anne-Marie Robinson respecting her appointment as President of the Public Service Commission.

(The Senate was accordingly adjourned during pleasure and put into Committee of the Whole, the Honourable Senator Oliver in the chair.)

Senator Jaffer: Welcome, Ms. Robinson. As the chair of the Human Rights Committee, I am certainly looking forward to working with you. As you are aware, one of your responsibilities is employment equity in the Public Service Commission, which affects women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and visible minorities. I know you are aware that the three branches, the Public Service Commission, the Treasury Board and Canadian Human Rights Commission, are the pillars. I would like to ask you, since you have worked in the Public Service Commission before, how do you see the employment equity goals being achieved? It has now been 26 years, and we are still waiting.

Ms. Robinson: Thank you for raising this issue because I, too, consider this a very important issue and a priority for me during my time, if I am nominated, at the Public Service Commission.

I would say that there are many things the commission can do. One thing I have seen since I arrived is that the commission has done very useful research in better understanding what types of things in a selection process could provide barriers for people from different equity groups being appointed to those positions. I am very committed to continuing that research. Then, when we find those best practices, it is critical that we share that information with departments so that they can incorporate it into their day-to-day planning and that we also ensure that they take targeted measures when necessary.

I think the key to being able to do that well is data. It is extremely important for us to work with the Treasury Board. Efforts have been made over the last while to collectively improve the way we collect the data so that we understand where we have gaps and can target interventions appropriately where we still have difficulties.

Senator Jaffer: I really appreciate your focus on the data because, as you know, every time Ms. Barrados appeared in front of our committee, the big issue was the lack of data collecting especially when it came to the issue of visible minorities and the self-identification issue. That has always been an issue. The last time she was here before our committee, she said:

Improved methodology and more reliable data are essential for getting a more accurate picture of employment equity in the public service and for reducing the reporting burden on organizations.

She went on to say that she would monitor how this data was collected. I look forward to your focus on collecting the data.

Another thing I am very concerned about, especially in this downsizing, is jobs. I understand that 50 per cent of the jobs within the federal public service are not advertised and 50 per cent are. I am wondering if you have given any thought to how you will be advising on this issue?

Ms. Robinson: I do not have the data about the proportions of positions that are advertised or not advertised, but I am very happy to do that research and send that information to the committee. I can say, though, that during the implementation of the deficit reduction action plan, the commission is already working with departments to ensure that the processes put in place in terms of our role for managing that will ensure that there are no barriers that could have a negative impact on groups under the Employment Equity Act.

Senator Jaffer: In 1984, Justice Abella said that equality and employment will not happen unless we all make it happen. We look forward to your leadership, especially with the employment equity groups. Thank you.


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