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psaee discussions & developments

Recruitment and Hiring in the Public Sector

Hiring discrimination in the public service can have a significant impact on visible minority citizens. When individuals from minority backgrounds are not fairly considered for jobs in the public service, it can perpetuate systemic inequalities and limit their opportunities for advancement. This can also lead to a lack of representation of diverse perspectives in the public service, which can negatively impact decision-making and service delivery for communities who are underrepresented. Moreover, discrimination in hiring can cause feelings of alienation and marginalization among visible minority citizens, which can lead to distrust in government and a lack of civic engagement. It is important for the public service to have policies and practices in place to ensure that hiring decisions are based on merit and that candidates from diverse backgrounds are given equal consideration. Since 2020 the PSAEE has been working to have these discussions with various HR departments and elected representatives. The PSAEE is the first non-profit organization aimed at facilitating the development of a representative public service by focusing on the hiring processes and policies. 

Challenging "minimum experience" criteria in the job posters 

Proving that a claim of a bona-fide occupational requirement is false can be difficult, as it often requires demonstrating that the requirement is not essential to the performance of the job or that it disproportionately excludes certain groups of people.

One way to prove that the claim of a bona-fide occupational requirement is false is to gather evidence that demonstrates that the requirement is not necessary to perform the job. For example, this could include evidence of individuals who have performed the job effectively without meeting the requirement, or evidence that the requirement is not necessary to ensure the safe and efficient performance of the job.


Another way to prove that the claim is false is to demonstrate that the requirement disproportionately excludes certain groups of people, such as those who have pursued continuous education and have limited work experience. 


Additionally, it's worth noting that an individual or organization can file a complaint to the relevant human rights commission if they believe that a bona-fide occupational requirement is being used in a discriminatory manner. The commission will investigate the complaint and may make a determination on whether discrimination has occurred.


In any case, it's important to gather and present evidence that supports one's claim, and to have a clear and convincing argument, that the requirement is not necessary to perform the job and disproportionately excludes certain groups of people.

Minimum experience criteria in the public service should be challenged when it is believed that the criteria are discriminatory or unjustified. This can happen in a few different situations:

  1. When the criteria disproportionately affects certain groups of people, such as visible minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, or aboriginal persons, and is not related to the duties of the position.

  2. When the criteria are not job-related and do not accurately measure the qualifications required to perform the duties of the position.

  3. When the criteria are arbitrarily applied and are not consistently enforced among all applicants.

  4. When the criteria creates barriers for candidates who have obtained their qualifications through non-traditional routes, such as on-the-job training or self-study.

  5. When the criteria are used as an excuse to exclude certain groups of people from the selection process.

Considerations for BIPOC job seekers

When considering applying for a job in the public service, it's important to consider the area you want to work in and the historical hiring outcomes of the department. Some departments have a history of hiring patterns that show preference for certain groups of people over others, particularly in terms of citizen identity and race. This may be reflected in the department's lack of diversity.

For example, if you are applying for a role in business administration, your chances of meeting the merit criteria may be different than if you were applying for a role in policing. The RCMP, for example, has a history of not hiring visible minority citizens at the same rate as other groups, and so if you were to apply, your probability of not meeting the merit criteria would be higher. This is a systemic issue, and while HR may try to justify it by pointing to individual deficiencies, it is important to consider the bigger picture.

On the other hand, if you identify as a visible minority and you apply for a role in the IT sector, which is traditionally more receptive to diversity, your chances of success may be different. 


Document everything carefully without delay​.


Create a Word document. Keep detailed records of all job processes you participate in. This is very important. This should include:

  • Dates, Durations, Chronology of progression 

  • Original job poster, the resume you submitted in response to it, and cover letter (if any)

  • Any conversations/communications with HR throughout the process 

  • Store the (i) grading rubric and any (ii) informal feedback you received

  • Make notes on any documents that you sign during the process

  • Note any 'technical issues', 'mistakes', 'delays', 'revisions', or 'cancellations' that occur during the process

If you identify as a visible minority citizen and have concerns about the job process, it is very important that you first document it properly. Discrimination is often difficult to prove, but when different individuals document their issues and it emerges that the same administrative configurations are affecting a group of people, it becomes more readily apparent.  

Challenging Hiring processes Of the Public Service which tend to "Screen Out" Rather than "Bring In" citizens of colour

Any Canadian citizen of colour who is rejected in a public service competition and comes to hold a reasonable concern over discrimination, unfairness, or error in the hiring process is encouraged to write to us. It would be important for you to maintain detailed notes of everything (dates, times, persons, communications, job poster, reasons provided, etc). Our office is fully aware of the complex challenges that Canadian citizens of colour face in proving discrimination. When you explain the circumstance to us, we will know immediately. We are here to help. We are not a legal clinic. If you find yourself out of options, and have a mind to challenge discriminatory treatment, come to us - this is why we are here.

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