CHRC reassigns staffers linked to anti-Black racism

Employee who experienced racism called for resignations of the commission's senior leaders

CHRC reassigns staffers linked to anti-Black racism

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has made changes in response to the Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) findings that racism is rampant within the commission.

The CHRC has reassigned staffers behind anti-Black racism at the commission from their previous posts – although they still have their jobs, the commission’s acting head told senators on Monday during the public hearing.

"They are no longer in the same positions that they were before," Interim commissioner Charlotte-Anne Malischewski told senators on the Red Chamber's standing committee on human rights, according to a CBC report.

Malischewski could not go into details because of confidentiality requirements, but said that the commission took "prompt and appropriate corrective action".

Recently, a former senior human resources director filed a case against international conglomerate Honeywell International, claiming age discrimination during his term of employment at the company.

Step down

The move, however, falls short of what is appropriate, according to a CHRC employee who has experienced racism in the workplace.

"It's the last place where I thought I would discover racism," Betchi told senators, adding that her experience left her “speechless”.

And she wants those in leadership positions at the commission to step down. Specifically, Betchi called for CHRC executive director Ian Fine to resign since much of what's being investigated at the commission happened under his watch, according to the CBC report.

"If we go and proceed with the structural changes and remove the people that are leading that institution, I think that there's hope that we can bring true and meaningful reform," Betchi said.

Fine, however, do not plan to oblige to the suggestion.

"I have no intention of resigning. I'm here to finish the job and get this organization responding to the concerns that have been raised," Fine said.

Independent third-party 

Malischewski also committed to ordering an independent third-party workplace assessment – which Betchi and others have demanded. But the acting CHRC head didn't commit to making that report public.

"I want to be very clear — this is something that unions have called for and, therefore, something we would be discussing with the union," Malischewski told CBC News after her testimony.

In March, the TBS found that the CHRC discriminated against its own Black and racialized workers.

The TBS came to the conclusion after investigating policy grievances filed by the AJC and other bargaining agents in October 2020. The legal claim alleged “Black and racialized people working at the Commission continue to experience the adverse impact of policies, procedures, practices and attitudes that serve as barriers to their advancement, health, safety, and overall wellbeing”.

In September 2021, the AJC along with other bargaining agents, wrote to the Auditor General and federal parliamentarians about their concerns, suggesting that an audit of the CHRC could help the institution regain the trust of Black and racialized Canadians.

Recently, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed a worker’s claim of discriminatory comments from his supervisor due to an absence of any evidence.

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