Wednesday 21 April 2021

Breaking News From Ottawa re: Black Class Action Lawsuit

Federal Budget acknowledges the reality of systemic discrimination and Black employee exclusion from the Federal Public Service of Canada

In its 2021 budget, the Government of Canada signaled an intention to address the painful realities of systemic racism faced by Black Public Service Workers. There remains much to be done to address the staggering underrepresentation of Black employees in the upper echelons of the Public Service and to take down barriers to the full inclusion and equality of Black Public Service employees. Much more must also be done to address the past harms of the practice of Black employee exclusion, and its impact on thousands of Black Public Service workers.

The Government’s budgetary commitment included $285 million over five years toward the collection of disaggregated data which will benefit all Canadians, including Black Canadians and members of the Public Service in future public policy decisions. The budget further proposed amendments to the Public Service Employment Act which is a necessary first step in moving toward a diverse and inclusive workforce that addresses systemic barriers to hiring and promotion. 

This response by the Government arose in the context of the Black Class Action lawsuit filed on December 1, 2020. This suit seeks to remedy the practice of Black employee exclusion and to strike down systemic barriers to the hiring and promotion of Black employees in the Public Service. The suit also seeks to secure just and equitable compensation for exclusionary practices in hiring and promotion on the part of the Government. All of these elements must be urgently addressed in order to achieve true fairness and equality for Black Public Service employees.

According to PSAC National President Chris Aylward "PSAC welcomes the proposed changes to the Public Service Employment Act in the federal budget,”. It’s an important first step in acknowledging decades of painful exclusion and discrimination experienced by thousands of Black public service workers. We hope this is a sign that the government will take the necessary steps to correct past injustices and create a fair and equitable Federal Public Service.” 

Lead plaintiff for the Black Class Action, Nicholas Marcus Thompson, also issues a similar call to the Government; “Black Public Service Workers renew their offer to work with the Government and all political parties in a collaborative manner to eradicate the practice of Black employee exclusion and to redress the harm to Black public servants over the past 50 years.” 

Since filing of the claim in December on behalf of 12 plaintiffs, over 700 class members have stepped forward and 12,900 supporters have signed the Black Class Action's online petition calling for the Government to end the plight of present and past Black Public Service workers. The class action is supported by various Unions including the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), who recognize the great contributions of Black public service workers in helping to shape Canada, and the need for much needed change to the system of hiring and promoting Black employees, whose representation remains woefully disproportional to their numbers in the general population and in the Public Service.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has on numerous occasions recognized and committed to end Anti-Black systemic racism and discrimination in the Public Service and in Canada. This Class Action presents a golden opportunity for Canada to finally reconcile the historical inequities and ongoing exclusion faced by Black Public Service Workers, in order to move forward in creating a more representative Canadian Public Service, which is to the benefit of all Canadians. 

For further information or media inquiries please contact: 

Sara Fonseca

(416) 972-9472

circulated on behalf of

by Stephen Weir