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Yukon will try preferential hiring to increase Indigenous representation in public service

The Yukon government is trying a preferential hiring policy aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous people working in the public service.

'Our public service should reflect the population that we serve,' says minister

The pilot project begins Oct. 1 and will last 18 months. (Steve Silva/CBC)

The Yukon government is trying a preferential hiring policy aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous people working in the public service.

Starting Oct. 1, all Yukon government job postings will give priority to qualified Yukon First Nations and other Canadian Indigenous people, provided they meet the required qualifications.

"Our public service should reflect the population that we serve," said Yukon Minister of Public Service Commission Richard Mostyn in a press release. 

The Yukon government says about 15 per cent of its employees identify as Indigenous, yet Indigenous people make up 22 per cent of Yukoners who are of working age. 

"We have a substantial recruitment gap," said Ashley Kayseas, director of diversity and inclusion with the Public Service Commission. He says the government has a long way to go to ensure Indigenous people are fairly represented in the civil service.

The project will run for 18 months, Kayseas said, after which officials will determine whether it is effective.

The system will give qualified candidates first priority if they are of Yukon First Nation ancestry and second priority if they are of Canadian Aboriginal ancestry.

The hiring preference will be applied at the end of the process after all other assessments are finished, said a government release.

Candidates must still meet all the job qualifications and skills, the government says. (Shutterstock / PolyPloiid)

"Ensuring Yukon First Nations are proportionally represented in the public service — Yukon's largest employer — is an obligation of the Final Agreements," said Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston in a release.

The Yukon government is the territory's largest employer, with 5,000 workers as of 2018.

The plan was made in collaboration with Yukon First Nations governments, the release said, and "addresses the Government of Yukon's legal obligation under the Final Agreements to develop and implement a representative public service plan."

Kayseas says priority hiring has always been available to government departments, but its use varied depending on the job and department.

With files from Chris Windeyer.

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