Minorities are a minority in public service: report

Public servants in Canada are less likely to be visible minorities than workers in the private sector and that is worrisome, says a report released Tuesday.

Publicservants in Canadaareless likely to bevisible minorities thanworkers in the private sector and that is worrisome,saysa report released Tuesday.

The report was released by the country's Public Service Commission, an independent agency that is supposed to ensure Canada'spublic service is competent, non-partisan and representative of the population.

Maria Barrados, president of the commission, found three main areas of concern in this year's report:

  • the "unmonitored movement" of employees between positions in the civil service and positions in ministers' offices
  • the underrepresentation of visible minorities in the public sector
  • questionable ways temporary staff gained longer-term and permanent positions

Minorities underrepresented

In one of its main concerns, the report found that in 2005, fewer minorities worked in the public service than worked in the private sector.

As of March 31, 2005, only 8.1 per cent of federal public service employees were members of visible minorities, even though they make up 10.4 per cent of people looking for work.

In addition, the report said the commission remained concerned about the "persistent gap" in the representation of visible minorities in top level jobs.

Patronage creates cynicism: MP

The report also gave several examples showing that the public service was not following its principle of being non-partisan while the Liberals were in power.

It found 100 civil servants worked for years in ministers' offices during the last decade before returning to public service posts.

In addition, a commission investigation found two Liberal staffers had been "inappropriately" handed "phantom" positions in the civil service that they never actually worked in.

That meant they would keep jobs in the civil service when the Liberals lost power without having to compete for the posts against other candidates.

The commission revoked the positions.

NDP Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar said practices like that create cynicism about the public service.

"It undermines the merit principle, it undermines the workplace and it's just plain wrong," Dewar said.

Following the release of the report, he called for an investigation into hiring practices at all federal departments and Crown corporations.