There’s an “alarming lack” of a clear strategy with explicit goals for LGBTQI2S inclusion practices across federal workplaces, according to a new report, which notes the RCMP is only “at the very beginning” of those inclusion efforts.
The report from the LGBT Purge Fund — released Monday to coincide with the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — provides 23 recommendations to improve training and inclusion across the federal government, and calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold his ministers accountable for implementing those recommendations.
The fund was established as a result of the 2018 settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by LGBTQI2S members of the federal civil service, RCMP and military who faced harassment, discrimination and were often fired on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The final settlement agreement from the case required the fund to hire experts — Egale Canada and Fondation Émergence — to make recommendations on existing diversity and inclusion initiatives and training in federal workplaces, including the RCMP and Canadian armed forces.
LGBTQI2S refers to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Two Spirit.
“Thus far, much of the work to improve inclusive practices for LGBTQI2S people is coming from the victims of this discrimination themselves, and often on a voluntary basis,” the report notes.
“It is essential that the government take a proactive approach moving forward, so that it can truly reconcile the harm caused to LGBTQI2S communities and move beyond the Purge.”
Because there’s no clear, overarching strategy with “measurable outcomes” for LGBTQI2S initiatives across government, it can lead to a lack of resources, “with little attention” paid to effectiveness, the report found.
The report noted there is “very little onboarding” for employees so that they’re aware of available LGBTQI2S resources and supports, with “significant numbers of staff” still unaware of such initiatives, including LGBTQI2S employees themselves. There are also “very few efforts” to expand LGBTQI2S representation through recruitment and retention.
Aside from the RCMP and the Canadian armed forces, the report also looked at a number of other federal workplaces including the Canada Revenue Agency, Global Affairs Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Recommendations to the government include greater consultation with LGBTQI2S employees and experts, publishing explicit goals for inclusion initiatives with metrics to monitor progress, mandate and incentivize training, more resources including funding, and gender-inclusive facilities throughout government.
“We’ve given them a roadmap for change, and we expect that they will want to implement these recommendations if they’re sincere in their effort of wanting to be a better employer, and therefore serve Canadians better,” said the LGBT Purge Fund’s executive director, Michelle Douglas, in an interview.
A Canadian armed forces veteran and purge survivor, it was Douglas’ legal challenge in 1992 that formally ended Canada’s policy of discrimination against LGBTQI2S service members.
Douglas said the “federal public service and the Canadian armed forces were much more engaged throughout this process” than the RCMP, with the report’s authors noting that the police force is “at the very beginning of efforts towards LGBTQI2S inclusion.”
The report recommends, among other things, developing RCMP-specific training on LGBTQI2S issues and employing equity staff at all sites. The report’s authors noted some challenges in dealing with the RCMP, including a lack of policies being made available for review.
“I don’t believe they took full advantage of the opportunity we gave them to participate in this research, so we still have a ways to go with the RCMP, but we’re not giving…