Blind Canadians Demand Halt to the Attack on Employment Equity

News Release August 5, 2010

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is calling on the Federal Government to stop its attacks on Employment Equity.

“All fair minded Canadians object to recent insinuations that unmerited candidates from equity-seeking groups are taking over all the jobs of ‘qualified white candidates’, thanks to Federal Employment Equity measures”, says John Rae, 1st Vice President of AEBC, a nationwide organization of blind and partially sighted Canadians. “If this were true, statistics would tell us that whites are no longer being hired by the federal public service, but no one has had the gall to suggest this,” adds Rae.

The AEBC Board points to recent statements from two government cabinet ministers. “Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board, has insinuated that the Federal Employment Equity program is barring qualified Canadians from job opportunities in the federal public service. And Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, recently stated that all Canadians should have an ‘equal opportunity to work for their government based on merit, regardless of race or ethnicity’”, says V.P. Rae.

“Employment equity programs are designed to foster merit-based hiring by helping to remove barriers to employment,” states the AEBC Vice President. “They were put in place because all too often, qualified candidates from racialized and disability communities were not being hired because of race or ethnicity. Even today the representation rate for persons with disabilities remains far, far below our percentage of the population.”

The government’s own latest figures show that more women, First Nations peoples and visible minorities worked in the public service last year than the year before, while the low proportion of employed people with disabilities stayed the same.

As of March 2009, women made up 54.7 per cent of the federal workforce, First Nations peoples made up 4.5 per cent, visible minorities made up 9.8 per cent, and people with disabilities made up 5.9 per cent. Yet the percentage of people with disabilities in the population as a whole, is about 14%.

“Employment equity has helped, contrary to the Ministers’ assertions”, Rae continues, “but much more effort is needed to bring more persons with disabilities into the public service of Canada and other workplaces across the country”.

“Rather than attacking programs that have helped, we need a government that puts time and resources into developing new programs aimed at increasing our level of representation in the federal public service and in all other workplaces across Canada”.

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For further information, contact:
John Rae, 1st Vice President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians:

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians is a nationwide organization of Canadians who are blind and partially sighted, whose work focuses on improving public attitudes and providing input on issues of public policy that affect our lives.