g steps to address the issuethrough a wide
g The Success Of ThThe Employment Equity Act: A Short Paper Evaluating The Success of the Act.Canada has a population of approximately twenty six million people.With the introduction of the federal government’s multicultualism program, thesocial demographic make up of Canada is quite vast, bringing together peoplefrom many different nations to join those already living here.
Taking thepopulation as a whole into account, it is no secret that historically, certainmembers of this social order have been denied fair access to employment system.The federal and provincial governments had undertaken steps to address the issuethrough a wide range of programs such as equal employment and other affirmativeaction programs to “promote equal opportunity in the public service for segmentsof the population that have historically been underrepresented there.” Todaythose designated groups, underrepresented in the labour force include women,Aboriginal peoples, disabled people, and persons who are, because of their raceor colour, is a visible minority in Canada. In October 1984, Judge RosalieSilberman Abella submitted a Royal Commission Report on equality in employment(the Abella Report) to the federal government. “The Commission was establishedin recognition of the fact that women, visible minorities, the handicapped andnative peoples were being denied the full benefits of employment.” Based onthe findings of the Abella Commission, the federal government implemented “TheEmployment Equity Act” in 1986. This short paper will evaluate the success ofthe “Act” and will argue that although some progress has been made, the CanadianLabour force still does not reflect the demographic composition of Canada as theAct had targeted.
For the purposes of implementing Employment Equity, certain individualsor groups who are at an employment disadvantage are designated to benefit fromEmployment Equity. The Employment Equity Act describes the designated groups as”women, aboriginal peoples; Indians, Inuit or Metis, who so identify themselvesto their employer, or agree to be so identified by an employer, for the purposesof the Employment Equity Act. Persons with disabilities; are people who,because of any persistent physical, mental, psychiatric, sensory or learningimpairment, believe that they are potentially disadvantaged in employment, andwho so identify themselves to an employer, or agree to be so identified by anemployer, for the purposes of the Act. Members of visible minorities arepersons, other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour, and who so identify themselves to an employer, or agree to beso identified by an employer, for the purpose of the Act.
“The designated groups, in particular women, have essentially beendiscriminated against for a substantial period of time. A 1977 study of womenin federal Crown Corporations conducted by the Advisory Council on the Status ofWomen, reported that the federal government is the largest employer in Canada,with almost 40% of it’s employee’s (excluding the Army) employed by federalCrown Corporations. At that time, employees of Crown Corporations were notsubject to the Public Service Employee Act, which prohibited discrimination inall aspects of employment including personnel hiring and promotion. The studyshowed that women made up 37% of the Canadian labour force population and 33% offederal public service employee population. However, only 15.4% of the totalemployee population of federal Crown Corporations were female.
Theunderrepresentation of women in federal Crown Corporations are clearly evidentin the two charts indicated below. According to the 1981 census, women were ata disadvantage in a number of ways. In comparison to men, women have higherunemployment rates, lower participation rates and are concentrated in lowerpaying jobs, regardless of their level of education.Company Men Women % of WomenCN 71,369 4,434 5.9Air Canada 14,867 6,073 29.6CBC 8,015 3,094 27Atomic Energy Canada 5,000 778 13.5Cape Breton Development 3,822 78 2.
0Number of men and women working for Crown Corporations in 1977Company Men Women % of WomenCN 1,014 2 0.2Air Canada 158 1 0.6CBC 116 2 1.7Atomic Energy Canada 78 0 0Cape Breton Development N/A N/A N/ANumber of men and women in senior managementThere is also evidence that the other designated groups were at adisadvantage to fair access to employment.
Studies have shown that aboriginalpeoples, have significantly lower participation rates and higher unemploymentrates than those generally experienced in the Canadian labour force. They alsohave significantly lower levels of education and are paid lower average salaries.The 1981 census indicate that “of the total aboriginal population, 50.4% workedin the Canadian labour force in 1981.”Persons with disabilities have also been at a disadvantage in theCanadian labour force.
Like the aboriginal people, they too have higherunemployment rates, lower participation rates and lower levels of education.1981 census statistics for disabled person in the labour force were not readilyavailable, however it has been suggested that whatever the figure was, between”1984 and 1986 their participation in the labour force had increase by 11%.”Although members of visible minority groups have relatively high levelsof education and relatively high participation rates, they are generallyconcentrated in particular occupational groupsThe Abella Commission found that the essence of the problem with respectto why women and the other designated groups were not reaping the full potentialbenefits from their participation in the labour force was “systemic” in nature.In other words, “the prevailing socio-economic system in which all Canadiansworked had a set of social and political values and institutions in place whichoften unintentionally discriminated against these groups.
” The AbellaCommission harboured the opinion that the discriminating systemic barriers couldonly be eliminated through systemic remedies, thus, “comprehensive programs hadto be adopted and put in place to enable target groups to overcome the systemicbarriers of employment. . . . . .
. . .and that a new term ’employment equity’be adopted to describe programs of positive remedy for discrimination in theworkplace.”In 1986, the federal government passed the Employment Equity Act. TheAct required that all “federally regulated employers with 100 or more employeesto implement equity programs and provide for minimal commitments on the part ofemployers to file bare census information on their work force with the CanadaEmployment and Immigration Commission and to develop their own definedemployment equity program to remedy systemic discrimination.
“On September 1, during the same year, the federal government implementedthe Federal Contractors Employment Equity Program, requiring that allcontractors with 100 employees or more, tendering for goods and services withthe federal government to implement employment equity within their organization.The Acts essentially aimed at making the demographic characteristics ofthe Canadian labour force to be representative of the demographic base of Canada.”In it’s full sense, employment equity is a comprehensive planning processdesigned to bring about not only equality of opportunity but equality in results.
Its primary objective is to ensure that the Canadian work force is an accuratereflection of the composition of the Canadian population given the availabilityof required skills. This objective is essentially an ethical goal based on thevalue of ensuring equity.”Although some progress has been made since the enactment of theEmployment Equity Act, to date the target groups are still underrepresented inthe labour force, in addition there are other difficulties facing these groupsin relation to the Act.Provisions were made in the Act requiring mandatory reporting ofprogress in the companies affected by the Act (all federally regulated companieswith more than 100 employees). From the information provided by these companies,which approximates 350, the Minister of Employment and Immigration Canada isrequired to compile an annual report, to analyse and monitor the progress of theAct and to ensure compliance.Although annual reports exist from 1987 to 1992, while researching thispaper, only the reports for 1989, 1990 and 1992 were readily available forexamination.
As such is the case, only the data contained in these reportswsill be used in this paper.The 1989 report indicated their had been an increase over the previousyear in representation in the work force by each target group. Women increasedtheir representation from 40.90% to 42.12%. Aboriginal peoples increased theirrepresentation from 0.
66% to 0.73%. Persons with disabilities increased theirrepresentation from 1.59% to 1.71% and members of visible minorities increasedtheir representation from 4.99% to 5.69%.
Of the women employees that had tobe reported by employees under the Act, they constituted 42.12% of the workforce. This constituted a 1.22% increase over the previous year. Theirrepresentation under the act remained lower than their representation in theCanadian labour force which is 44%.
Aboriginal peoples in the work force under the Act increased veryslightly in the same period and remained underrepresented. They represented0.73% of the work force under the Act compared with 2.1% representation in theCanadian labour force.10,289 persons with disabilities were reported by employers andconstituted 1.71% of all employees reported under the Act.
Like the women andthe aboriginal peoples, they too remained underrepresented in each province forwhich employees provided a report.A slight increase in representation was reported for the visibleminority group, however, the report indicated that despite the increase, theyremained underrepresented in the work force under the Employment Equity Act.The 1992 Annual Report shows that two of the four target groups exceededrepresentation in the work force under the Act, compared to representation inthe Canadian labour force. Both the women and visible minority groups achievedthis mark, however the aboriginal peoples and persons of disability remainedunderrepresented in the work force under the Act.
Women increased theirrepresentation to 44.11% which is about the same now as it was for the Canadianlabour force (44%) at the time of the 1986 Census. Aboriginal peoples increasedto 0.96%. The representation of persons with disabilities increased from 2.
39%in the previous year to 2.50%. And Visible minorities increased to 7.55%,slightly higher than it was for the Canadian labour force (6.
3%) at the time ofthe 1986 census.Though the government may want to pat themselves on the back and claimpartial success of the program, in reflecting on the achievements of the womenand visible minority target groups, there is a concern that factors other thanthe Act may have influence the rise in the participation rate of these twogroups.In occupations that were traditionally male dominated, i.e.: lawyers andnotary publics etc.
, women have been slowly but gradually playing catch up.This is in part due to the fact that more and more women are graduating fromuniversity. In 1987, Canadian universities granted more than 103,000 degrees atthe bachelor level.
This number represented growth of more than 21 % from 1981.Female graduates out numbered male graduates for the seventh year in a row andby 1987 accounted for 53% of those receiving bachelor’s degrees. The questionthen is did the doors to accessible employment open to women because of theEmployment Equity Act or did the women provide access for themselves byattending university. Unless there is some equity program in place foruniversity attendance, it would be unreasonable to summize that the EmploymentEquity program was the sole vehicle for allowing women fair access into theworkplace.But even still, there is no real success to speak of.
Although gaps arebeing closer to being closed, women are still underrepresented in someoccupations such as upper level managerial positions and overrepresented intraditionally female occupations. For example, under the Act women comprise0.21% of upper level managers compared to 1.53% of men. And they comprise60.
97% of clerical workers compared to 14.59% of men. Much of the indicatorsare similar for that of the visible minority groups.As indicated previously, there are other problems associated with theAct. Complaints have be raised from “public servants and from their unions thatthe equal opportunity programs violate the merit principle and discriminateagainst candidates outside the target groups for appointment and promotion.
“White males in particular feel that they have become victims of reversediscrimination. As such problems occur when they retaliate against the systemby employing candidates in the target group who are sometimes not competent forthe position hired, in an attempt at hindering that persons oppotunities foradvancement within the company.Another problem that becomes present is that when a qualified candidatein a target group is promoted, concerns are raised among those outside thetarget group, that the candidate did not excel because of his or her merit butrather, because of the affiliation to one of the target groups.Employment equity was initially seen as good social policy. Most peoplewould agree that it is unjust and unacceptable for a society to have individualsfacing barriers to employment opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability.These people were underemployed because they are women, aboriginal peoples,members of visible minorities, or persons with disabilities.
Despite thegovernments efforts to address the issue, and although some gains have been made,there is still a significant number in the target groups that still face thesystemic barriers. Perhaps the government has not done enough to change thestatus quo. Perhaps allowing the employers to set their own goals and timetables was an error and should be reviewed.
But given the data presented thusfar in their own annual reports and the continuous controversy surrounding theissue, the Employment Equity act as far as I am concern has only partiallyattained its goal.BIBLIOGRAPHYKernagan,K et al, Public Administration in CanadaScarborough, Ontario, Nelson Canada 1991Kelly, John G.Human Resource Management and the Human Rights ProcessCanada, CHH Canadian Limited 1991Annual Report: The Employment Equity Act.
1989, 1990,1992Ottawa, Ministry of supply and Services Canada