OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - David Langtry, Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issued the following message to staff today. In the interest of full transparency, he has decided to share it with Parliamentarians and the Canadian public:
"Over the past year and a half, I have engaged the entire staff of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in an ambitious initiative to re-define our vision so as to better serve Parliament and the people of Canada. This has culminated in a restructuring of our human rights work into two basic streams: Protection, and Promotion.
"Protection embraces all aspects of complaint processing, from intake to investigation to litigation before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and the Courts. It also includes our work as auditors of compliance with the Employment Equity Act by federally regulated employers. Promotion includes the work we do to foster understanding of the Canadian Human Rights Act whether through policy development, education, training, stakeholder relations, or public outreach.
"One vital area of our Promotion work flows from a recent Parliamentary amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act to ensure that residents of First Nations communities enjoy the same protections as other people in Canada. This has been the role of our National Aboriginal Initiative, a division tasked with raising awareness of this change and ensuring it is well understood and effectively implemented.
"When Parliament passed the amendment in 2008, the Commission received a commitment to five years of funding to enable this work to proceed. That funding sunsets at the end of this fiscal year. However, our human rights work with First Nations communities and Aboriginal organizations will continue. Since the change, the Commission has received over 500 human rights complaints from Aboriginal people or groups representing their interests. I have said this before and will say it again: the challenges facing Canada's Aboriginal peoples constitute one of the most pressing, if not the most pressing human rights issue of our time. This work will continue.
"The fact remains, however that like other federal departments and agencies, since 2010 the Commission has had to meet rising costs, including salary increases negotiated through collective bargaining, without a corresponding increase in operational funding.
"Beginning next year, we will be facing a shortfall of approximately $1.2 million. We have sought to address this in several ways. An efficiency review has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.
"Sadly, despite these efforts, I have been obliged to notify the Treasury Board and union leaders of the need for a workforce adjustment. Today, 25 highly valued members of our staff will receive affected letters. It is my hope, and conviction, that the vast majority of these employees will be matched to vacant positions in the Commission. Others may be matched with positions left vacant through early retirement or voluntary departure. It is my goal to ensure that as few as possible face job loss, so that our important work can continue with minimal disruption.
"I have the great fortune to be working at an organization that brings together some of the best talent anywhere, one that consistently scores near the top of public service employee engagement surveys. It is a great place to work, because we care about our people. And our people are passionate about their work. It will be a sad day for me, and for all of us, if we are unable to place some employees. We will be working to mitigate that outcome, for the benefit of those we serve: Parliament and the people of Canada."
SOURCE Canadian Human Rights Commission