Glen Abernethy: Canada’s Best Diversity Employer for 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce that the Government of the Northwest Territories has, for the fourth year in a row, been chosen as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2016. This recognition by the Globe and Mail and Mediacorp Canada Incorporated distinguishes organizations that strive to include women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender peoples in the workplace. Receiving the award places the GNWT among an exclusive group of Canadian employers who have demonstrated a commitment to create a workplace where all employees feel comfortable, valued and ready to achieve their full potential.

The Government of the Northwest Territories defines itself, in part, by its commitment to building a public service that is representative of the population it serves. By way of example, as a goal of the NWT Public Service Strategic Plan, 20/20: A Brilliant North, the GNWT has undertaken a host of initiatives to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce. Key among these initiatives are:

  • The government-wide Traditional Knowledge Policy which ensures that Aboriginal knowledge, values and experience are handed down from generation to generation.  The GNWT has committed to using traditional knowledge in the design and delivery of governmental programs and services, underscoring the importance of maintaining Aboriginal knowledge and values;
  • The GNWT’s Advisory Committee on Employability which provides advice on ways to promote, support and increase the representation of persons with disabilities in the GNWT workforce, reduce stigma and foster a spirit of inclusion;
  • The Aboriginal Employees Advisory Committee that provides advice on ways to help increase workforce representation of Aboriginals at all levels in the public service and to create a working environment that supports and promotes Aboriginal employees in the GNWT;
  • The biennial employee engagement and satisfaction survey which includes inclusiveness questions designed to better understand employee perceptions on disability and employment in the public service;
  • An Aboriginal Management Development Program which provides developmental opportunities for Aboriginal candidates to enhance leadership and management skills in manager and senior management positions to meet the GNWT’s future leadership needs; and
  • The Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training which aims to enhance employee understanding of Aboriginal culture and reaffirms the fundamental importance the GNWT places on including Aboriginal values in program design and delivery for all employees in the public service.

Mr. Speaker, when we are able to draw on the talent and wisdom of a workforce that represents the population it serves, we are better able to understand and meet the needs of residents of the NWT. A diverse workforce in an inclusive environment will improve both individual and organizational performance and result in better value and service to residents and other stakeholders.  Being chosen as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers again this year is a testament to the importance the GNWT places on a public service that reflects the diverse make-up of the North. While there is still more work to do and indeed we must ensure sustained commitment on this front, this recognition is positive confirmation that, government-wide, we have made real progress toward eliminating barriers to employment for all Northerners. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.