Diversity in the Government of the Northwest Territories

8 février 2012
Déclarations et discours de ministres

February 8, 2012 - Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to establishing a Public Service that is inclusive of all people and that accurately represents the population it serves. Today I would like to provide Members with an update on initiatives launched under 20/20: A Brilliant North, The Public Service Strategic Plan, that focus on diversity in the Public Service.

Mr. Speaker, there are several Government initiatives currently under way aimed at increasing the number of persons with disabilities in the Public Service. This is a segment of the population that we understand has historically been under-represented in the GNWT workplace based on the limited information we have.

Since the spring of 2010, the GNWT Advisory Committee on Employability has been advising on ways for the Government to promote, support, and increase the participation of persons with disabilities. Working closely with the Committee, the Department of Human Resources is now developing a Framework to increase the Representation of Persons with Disabilities in the Public Service. This framework will guide efforts to promote the Public Service as a place that welcomes people with disabilities and ensures that our workplaces remain inclusive and accessible to all.

To support this work, the Department of Human Resources surveyed government employees in January to encourage employees with disabilities to anonymously identify themselves. This survey will provide us with more accurate base-line statistics and correct a long-standing gap in our data. With this information, the Department will be able to better plan for increasing the participation of persons with disabilities.

New disability awareness training sessions are starting this month, available to all Government employees in all regional centres at no cost. This training provides participants with an understanding of biases and assumptions about the employability of persons with disabilities and helps build a spirit of inclusion and acceptance among Government employees.

Mr. Speaker, two new policies directly related to employees with disabilities were implemented in 2011.  The Duty to Accommodate Injury and Disability Policy ensures that Government employees are provided with the disability-related accommodations they need in a timely and reasonable fashion. The Harassment Free and Respectful Workplace Policy outlines our commitment to a workplace which is free of harassment and disrespect. The Department of Human Resources is now providing training for Public Service employees on accommodation and respectful workplace issues.

Mr. Speaker, another form of diversity that is vitally important to our Government and central to the Public Service Strategic Plan is the representation of Aboriginal persons within the Public Service. Since early 2010, the Department of Human Resources has been working closely with the Aboriginal Employees Advisory Committee, which was set up to provide advice on ways to promote, support and increase the representation of Aboriginal employees in the Public Service.

In February of last year, the GNWT also completed a consultation with Aboriginal organizations on Aboriginal cultural awareness among Government employees.  Information from this consultation is now forming the foundation of an Aboriginal cultural awareness training framework aimed at increasing awareness of Aboriginal history and culture within the workforce and promoting an understanding of Aboriginal issues among all employees.  This is something that has never been offered within the GNWT before.  The first phase of training will consist of online learning workshops and in the future we will be considering classroom and on-the-land training opportunities.

In addition, the Department of Human Resources is also developing an Aboriginal Employment Framework, which includes initiatives to assist Aboriginal people across the NWT in applying for jobs in the Public Service. Creative marketing plans that communicate employment opportunities to Aboriginal people are also being developed.

One of the most important initiatives to come out of this work is the Associate Director/Superintendent Program. This program, currently in its second year, is designed to increase the number of Aboriginal employees at the senior management level by providing targeted training and developmental positions.

Mr. Speaker, 2012 will be an important year for diversity in the Public Service, with a number of new initiatives joining those already in place. As we strive to develop and maintain a representative workforce, by ensuring that the Government of the Northwest Territories is an attractive employer to all, diversity in the Public Service is a goal we can all get behind.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.