CEIU demands action from IRCC after report on departmental racism

CEIU leaders met today with the Deputy Minister and senior management of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and demanded answers and action, after a report on workplace racism was published in the media on September 23, 2021. The news article revealed details of an internal IRCC document at that contained shocking examples of racism within the department.

“We were shocked and disturbed to hear about such blatant examples of racism in the workplace,” said Eddy Bourque, CEIU National President. “Although we were aware of complaints from our members about experiences of racism, this report shows that the culture of systemic racism at IRCC runs very deep.”

Management at IRCC had not shared the report with the union and, in fact, has been delaying our requests for meetings on equity for months.

“We have repeatedly asked the department to meet to discuss employment equity and to be consulted on these issues, but they keep delaying,” said CEIU National Executive Vice-President Crystal Warner. “Providing us with a link to this report on the Library and Archives Canada website does not constitute a transparent and collaborative approach on this issue.”

Report details many examples of racism

The May 2021 report, entitled IRCC Anti-Racism Employee Focus Groups: Final report, summarizes interviews with Black and racialized employees, who gave examples of racist insults, stereotyping, and demeaning comments from supervisors, managers, and coworkers.

The report also includes complaints about discrimination and racial bias in hiring and promotion within the department as well as in IRCC’s programs, policies and client services.  

Employees interviewed for the study also stated that they do not have confidence in IRCC’s ability to deal with the systemic problems, citing: 

  • the lack of clear guidelines or training for managers on how to handle complaints of racism
  • a history of racism with little to no accountability
  • very little racial diversity at the management level

IRCC must take immediate and meaningful action

The report itself notes that “it will take bold, decisive actions to convince employees there is a real management commitment to change.” CEIU agrees.

We are calling on the IRCC to immediately take action, in consultation with union representatives, on the following:

  • Carry out a thorough employment systems review to examine all policies, systems and practices relating to hiring, promotion, training, and separation to identify and remove systemic biases and barriers.
  • Complete a review of IRCCs programs, policies and client services to address systemic racism in service delivery.
  • Conduct a survey of all employees at IRCC about racism, discrimination, harassment, and micro-aggressions.
  • Provide mandatory training to all managers, supervisors, and anyone who sits on a hiring board on systemic racism, implicit bias, and anti-oppression.
  • Review the make-up of hiring boards to ensure they are diverse and knowledgeable about removing biases and barriers in the hiring process.
  • Provide mandatory training for all employees on implicit bias, micro-aggressions, anti-racism, and human rights.
  • Create a mentoring and development program for racialized and Indigenous employees.
  • Implement a complaint process that provides a clear, fair, and expeditious process for complaints of racism and discrimination.

CEIU is also asking to meet with department officials urgently to discuss this report as well anti-racism and equity at IRCC. We will keep our members up to date on our progress.