Black officials file a discrimination complaint against the federal government with the United Nations
Black officials are stepping up their pressure on the federal government by filing a complaint with the United Nations alleging Ottawa has violated their civil rights.
The complaint from the Black Class Action Secretariat is being forwarded to the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
It follows a class action lawsuit that the same group brought against the federal government, accusing it of systemic racism, discrimination and exclusion of workers.
“This complaint describes systemic and anti-black racism in hiring and promotion within Canada’s federal public service,” said Nicholas Marcus Thompson, executive director of the Black Class Action Secretariat.
“With this complaint, we elevate Canada’s past failures and failure to act in the present to an international body.”
Thompson told a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday that the secretariat hopes the UN Special Rapporteur will investigate his claims and call on Canada to honor its international obligations to black workers by drafting a plan to increase opportunities for black women in government. and develop specific targets for hiring. and promoting black workers.
WATCH: Black officials allege discrimination in lawsuit
Amnesty International supported the complaint, noting that 70 percent of the 1,500 employees who have joined the class action are black women.
“This is contrary to the Canadian government’s feminist commitments,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
In addition to supporting the complaint, Nivyabandi also called on the government to establish a designated category under the Employment Equity Act for black workers. Canada has set up a task force to review this legislation.
The stated purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to “correct the conditions of employment disadvantage experienced by women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.”
Nivyabandi said grouping all visible minorities “invisible” the unique forms of discrimination faced by black workers.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and New Democrat MP Matthew Green attended the Parliament Hill press conference on Wednesday to offer their support.
“On behalf of all New Democrats, as leader of the party, I want to express my full solidarity,” Singh said. “Their call for justice, in this case their call for justice… is something we fully support.”
Mona Fortier, chairman of the Treasury Board, has a meeting with Thompson this week. She said far too many black Canadians still face discrimination and hatred.
“The government is actively working to address harm and create a diverse and inclusive public service free from harassment and discrimination. We have passed legislation, established support and development programs and published disaggregated data – but we know there is more to do,” says Fortier. according to a press statement.
The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that, going back to the 1970s, about 30,000 black officials “lost opportunities and benefits to others based on their race.”
The claim says the lawsuit is seeking damages to compensate black officials for their mental and economic hardships. Plaintiffs also call for a plan to finally diversify the federal workforce and remove barriers that even labor equality laws have failed to remove.
For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – visit Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. Read more stories here.