Decorative photo of Parliament Hill

Feeling Overwhelmed? Nine ideas for managing both the outside world and the world inside your head with confidence

7 minute read

By Jane Hardy, C.E.C.; P.C.C.

At a time when conversations about mental health are actively encouraged, today’s leaders need to pay attention to their own mental health as well as to that of their staff. Author Anais Nin has said, “We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” So we need to become skilled at distinguishing what is an observable fact (the outside world) and the beliefs and assumptions that influence our reaction to what we see (the inside world).

I was a federal public service executive for 20 years, six of them as an Assistant Deputy Minister. I have now been an executive coach for nine years. Based on my leadership experience and in my coaching practice, I see that most of the challenges leaders face are remarkably similar. How each leader responds, however, is unique. For example, a client I was working with recently wanted to explore why she had such a difficult time in a higher level acting executive assignment. She felt she was not well supported or recognized. We concluded that what the organization thought was a gift – a professional development opportunity – she interpreted as being asked to make a personal sacrifice. In another instance, an executive client was struggling with what he perceived as a very demanding, bullying boss. According to him, she was yelling at him about 40% of the time. He felt he could not raise the subject with her because her behaviour had gone on too long and he thought it would make matters worse. He believed the treatment he received was a form of abuse. Eventually, he found another job.

In both instances, the reactions and decisions of my clients were heavily influenced by how they interpreted events, not just by the events themselves. If we are to make good decisions about how we behave in difficult situations, we need to become much better at managing both our outside and inside worlds and knowing the difference.

Managing the Outside World: Five Ideas

  • Strengthen your leadership skills – the more skilled you become, the easier it is to lead
  • Develop a clear vision for what you want your team to achieve, plan ahead and communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Say “Tell me what you think we should do” much more often
  • Become excellent at conflict management
  • Do not let vacant positions stay vacant long

The public service leadership competencies are a good starting point. Develop your own leadership learning plan. Reading, training, coaching, practice and feedback are all readily available tools to support your learning. Make your professional development a priority.

A word about feedback: not all feedback is valuable. You need to consider the source and the motive. If the source is respected, knows your work, and the motive is generous and intended for your professional development, then it is worth its weight in gold. If the source does not know much about your work, has limited experience in the challenges you face and is trying to destabilize you or undermine your confidence, then dismiss it. I have no doubt that you do, and will, know the difference.

Often, I hear from my clients that they are just not sure what the boss wants. Either the boss has not communicated the direction or the boss keeps changing priorities. Having a vision of where you want to take your team can also give them freedom to take initiative now that they know what they are working toward.

One of the challenges leaders can face is having over-dependent teams. Staff can’t do anything without asking the boss what to do. Human beings are addicted to problem solving because it creates endorphins when we come up with solutions – the ah-ha! moment. That is why we are all inveterate advice-givers. But if, as a leader, you are having all the ah-ha! moments, your team is not. And when they are not, you limit their professional development and their confidence. If you have a confident team, they will need less hand-holding. This leaves you free to do your real job which is leading.

Conflict management is an essential leadership skill. Organizations are made up of people. People have misunderstandings. If left to fester, small conflicts can become toxic. A large part of my coaching practice is about how to have difficult conversations, with the boss, with peers, with staff and with stakeholders. Very often, people complain about a demanding boss, or an uncooperative employee. When I ask whether they have talked to the person about it, the answer is almost always a sheepish no, especially with bosses. It is also interesting that when we explore what makes these conversations so difficult, people have generally begun to demonize the other person. It is as though he or she is barely human. I suppose it is tough to talk to a demon. However, if you approach people with respect, really seek to understand their point of view and ask for what you need specifically, chances are the message will be heard. Also, do it early when the problems are small.

You have just lost two of your best direct reports. You are now doing their jobs as well as your own, or working with actors who are still learning. You “do not have time to staff”. Staffing is a difficult, time-consuming business. The temptation is to take the nearest available person or delay doing the work. Don’t. Your hiring mistake will be someone else’s difficult employee down the road. Your delay will jeopardize your deliverables and put pressure on your existing staff. As they say, just do it.

Managing the Inside World: Four Ideas

  • Get to know your personal saboteurs
  • Maintain your composure
  • Change your questions
  • Turn all your adult relationships into equal partnerships deserving of respect and understanding

In his book Positive Intelligence, (2012) Shirzad Chamine identifies ten saboteurs that people acquire as survival strategies from childhood. He says the saboteurs motivate through negative emotions, such as fear. The stress they create is self-generated. You think you cannot be successful without them. The opposite is true. The top saboteur is the Judger. The Judger is responsible for the blame game. The Judger blames the self, others or the situation. The Judger is not a problem solver. The other nine saboteurs support the Judger. They are: Controller, Hyper Achiever, Hyper Rational, Hyper Vigilant, Pleaser, Restless, Stickler, Victim and Avoider. Just by reading the list, you can probably identify one or two of your own saboteurs. The key here is to become aware of ways of thinking that are destructive and replace this inner dialogue with more enabling and productive thinking.

We all face anxiety and stress. Losing your composure just makes people think you are unstable and untrustworthy. It scares your staff and makes them lose faith in themselves and you. It does not make them more careful or smarter. Most people who have composure problems have three to five repeating triggers. Criticism. Loss of control. An enemy. Being surprised. Authority. Not being able to say no. One solution is to write down the last 25 times when you lost your composure. Group them into categories. Ask yourself why these are a problem. Identify and rehearse a more mature response. When in doubt, breathe. The key is to be self-aware. And if you do lose it, apologize. Sincerely.

How we respond to life’s challenges often depends on the questions we ask ourselves. Marilee Adams, in her book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life(2009), talks about two paths: the Judger (yes, that person again) and the Learner. The Judger asks questions such as:

  • Why am I a failure?
  • Why are they so stupid?
  • Why bother?

The Learner, on the other hand, asks these questions:

  • What are the facts?
  • What assumptions am I making?
  • What are they thinking, feeling, wanting?
  • What are my choices?
  • What is best to do?

We are all recovering Judgers. But we need to get much better at following the path of the Learner. It also helps with maintaining composure.

Bosses do not like extreme deference. Peers hate self-promoting competitors. And staff despise controlling autocrats. You gain trust and cooperation by treating people at all levels as valued partners. The commissionaire at the security desk and the cashier in the grocery store are not furniture. People play many different roles in organizations. Whatever role they play, treat people as a valued resource and partner because they are. You probably do this now, but it is good to check in with yourself once in a while.

As leaders, one of the best ways we can promote a healthy work environment is to get better at managing both the real world challenges we face and how we react to them. The better we get, the more we can model this behaviour for others.


Chamine, Shirzad, 2012, Positive Intelligence, Austin TX, Greenleaf Book Group Press

Adams, Marilee, 2009, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, San Francisco CA, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

Decorative photo of Toronto

Governing Past the Next Election: A New Series from the Institute on Governance and Ipsos

2 minute read

By Brad Graham, IOG Vice President, Toronto

The Institute on Governance (IOG) and Ipsos are teaming up to examine critical challenges facing Canada and a new government.

There is little doubt the societal and political landscape is changing in Canada and in western democracies in general. The election of President Trump and the Brexit upheaval in Great Britain are but two examples of developing social divisions. There has been a measurable decline in social cohesion and an erosion of support for government and its institutions, conventions and practices. While the effect is a bit more muted in Canada, we face similar challenges.

In Canada, the Ipsos Disruption Barometer indicates that Canadian society is currently in a state of mild to moderate social, economic and political instability. Ipsos also found that 60% of Canadians have no, or not very much confidence, in government. Political parties fared worse at 74%.

As a result, our traditional understanding of public sector governance and how Canadians and their institutions relate to one another is being turned on its head. We face a policy environment that is incredibly complex. Yet trends such as fake news and the rise of tribalism are strengthening the geographical, generational, urban vs rural, advantaged vs disadvantaged and political divisions among us. This puts our ability to find shared and workable solutions at risk.

The series will not review political party platforms – that’s for the media and others. Rather,we will put big issues squarely on the table to spur debate leading up to the federal election and offer objective and practical solutions for key decision-makers. We will examine major issues ranging from public sector governance, health care, immigration, youth engagement, the environment, housing, and fiscal policy all against a backdrop of declining social cohesion. We will explore positive strategies of how to strengthen social cohesion, democratic participation and the perceived value of government.

Starting in August and running through the federal election campaign to October, the IOG and Ipsos will produce a series of research-based thought pieces related to public sector governance in Canada, merging Ipsos survey-based opinion data with the expertise and insights into governance provided by the IOG.

For each topic, we will address governance issues such as:

· How can government remain relevant, effective and accountable, and preserve its legitimacy in this complex and divisive policy environment?

· What is the impact of Canadians’ differing priorities and expectations on various policy issues?

· What practical solutions can be put forward for a new federal government?

The IOG and Ipsos also working with experts from Dalhousie University, Queen’s University and the University of Regina. The series will be released every 2 weeks leading up to the election.

Learn more about the series here.

Decorative photo of Vancouver

ELP Participants will be Meeting with High-Powered Speakers in August

1 minute read

By Cory Campbell, IOG Program Manager, Executive Learning

The IOG’s Insights on Public Sector Leadership series – housed within our year-long Executive Leadership Programs (ELPs) – seeks to develop in public sector executives the confidence and leadership behaviours necessary to collaborate in a complex public policy environment that has multiple competing interests and values constantly at play. Participants engage with senior leaders in government and discuss openly with them the challenges and opportunities they are all facing in a space where levels and hierarchy are set aside in order to focus on delivering outcomes to Canadians. This is especially important at a time when trust in public institutions is under threat and a federal election is shortly underway and with it a new federal mandate. In August, our three ELP cohorts will meet with three speakers as part of this Leadership series.

On August 21st, Cohort 22 will hear from Secretary of the Treasury Board Peter Wallace. Mr. Wallace has a wealth of experience in all levels of government and will provide the cohort with great insights on public sector leadership in a multi-jurisdictional and complex world.

On August 28th, Cohort 23 will have 2 full days with the Honourable Jocelyne Bourgon, former Clerk of the Privy Council, and her team at Public Governance International (PGI) on the New Synthesis (NS) Initiative. Developed by PGI and delivered in the IOG’s ELPs, NS is an “exploratory initiative dedicated to preparing government for the challenges of serving in the 21st century.”

On August 14th, Cohort 21 will hear from Raj Thuppal, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister at Shared Services Canada. Together, they will explore the scope and challenges of public sector leadership in a digital world.

Decorative photo of Peace Flame

Missan 2020 Budget Presentation Workshop

1 minute read

By Mike Fleet, IOG Senior Researcher

As part of IOG’s work in Iraq, where we work on the fiscal decentralization project, funded by Global Affairs Canada, the IOG and the Missan Province of Iraq hosted the 2020 budget presentation workshop on July 9th of 2019. Participants discussed and refined the budgets of each sector in line with Ministry of Finance requirements. This exercise was attended by 40 participants, with a mixture of budgetary leads from government sectors, the Chair of the Provincial Council, and the Administrative and Financial Affairs Directorate. This work is being done toward building the capacity in the province to better develop and execute on a provincial budget as provinces assume more responsibilities from the decentralization process. On July 23rd, Diwaniyah and Missan presented their provincial budgets to the Ministry of Finance as part of this work.

The IOG is working with the Iraqi provinces of Diwaniyah and Missan and the Iraqi federal government to advise and assist in the decentralization process.

Decorative photo of Montreal

Leadership Program for Law Professionals

1 minute read

By François Gagnon, Vice President – Learning Lab

During the week of July 8, the Institute on Governance offered, in collaboration with the University of Ottawa, our first Leadership Development Workshop for Law Professionals. Topics covered included Interpersonal Effectiveness, Motivating and Engaging Others, Leading a Diverse Workforce, and Creativity and Innovation. The week was a great success with some participants saying it was “the best leadership course” they had ever taken. The Institute will be offering this program twice a year, in November and February, and is seeking accreditation for continuous education from the Law Society of Ontario and le Barreau du Québec. It will be offered to Law Professionals from the private and public sector.

Decorative photo of Ottawa

Leading from Behind: A Meditation on Always Having Your Team’s Back

2 minute read

By Sylvain Souligny, a graduate of the ELP, Cohort 4.

We all constantly hear that “change is the new constant,” but this phrase ignores, or is used to ignore, several factors that play a major role in people’s wellness. As leaders, while we can’t solve all the problems that individuals on our teams may be facing, which more tumultuous periods of change can certainly trigger, I believe that we have a duty to do our best to support those in our orbit. At the same time, as leaders, we must also recognize the need to look after our own wellness.

As someone who has been directly leading several major transformation initiatives for quite some time, I witness every day that there is a burning platform for change in so many different areas – in government as well as the broader world of work, and of course even in how concepts of work are changing in the modern day. My previous experiences in HR, in particular, led me to spend quite some time assessing the impact leaders and their styles have in creating an organizational climate that supports high levels of productivity and engagement. I have also had the benefit of being exposed to powerful leadership.

These experiences have helped me understand the correlation between a leader’s style and how employees perceive the culture of their organization and experience their day-to-day work. Factored over a longer period, though, it is fair to say that there is a sustainability factor associated with different styles of leadership. Sometimes certain leadership styles are adopted given the type of work being led; however, there can be a tendency for leaders (likely inadvertently) to try to force-fit what has worked in the past to a new situation that likely calls for a different approach.

In order to promote the environment I feel is needed for my team and others around us to flourish, I always strive to be upbeat and engaging about the possibilities being offered by our work and through the talented people around. At the same time, it is important to balance an upbeat nature with the ability to be honest and upfront about challenges we are facing, and to encourage others to do the same.

Part of encouraging others to be open includes the need to be ready to pick up on signals that something may be going unsaid for various valid reasons. In these cases, it is about being proactive and reaching out to surface these issues before they turn into something bigger. When it comes to issues affecting someone’s wellbeing, we need to be open as leaders to all the tools available in the modern workforce and workplace toolkit — the tools that sometimes still get advertised far more than they are adopted (although this is changing) like flexible/virtual work arrangements, revised schedules, additional accommodations, as well as plain old-fashioned encouragement.

We all go through priorities changing, seeing certain work getting shelved, and the list of unintended end results goes on. But, regardless of what happens with the work you do and really more than anything else you do as a leader, when you think about the ways in which you can contribute in a positive and even life-changing way to the lives of the people around you, this should give all of us great pause and make us constantly reflect on how we choose to lead.

Decorative photo of Quebec City

Staying Afloat Under Pressure: A Public Servant’s Personal Story of Burnout

3 minute read

An anonymous contribution to the Spotlight on Governance.

Burn-out is something that happens to others, right? When we are appointed to executive positions, we are seen as part of the solution, and we try hard, until we’re down to our last ounce of energy. So how can we recognize that moment when we are sick and need to stop everything?

A few years ago, and it seems like yesterday, I was leading a very political program, in the middle of a government transition. I had a challenging personal situation at home and, as if that was not enough, I was volunteering for a local sports organization. I became sick, very sick. A benign cold turned into a serious infection. After a few days of recovery, I found that I could not go back to work. Even after I healed from that infection, I could not concentrate, I could not find energy to engage in even simple tasks or conversations, I felt the need to isolate myself all the time, and I had developed sleep disorders. My doctor recommended I take some time off.

I’m a very energetic person, always involved in too many projects. However, in that period, I had no energy at all. I would sit on the couch at home trying to motivate myself into doing something simple like going out to have a coffee at the nearby Tim Hortons, to no avail. I could not read, watch TV, or undertake any task that required even a slight cognitive effort. My short-term memory was affected, and my concentration was nonexistent. I felt hopeless! Shame, guilt, distress; I can’t start to describe how bad I felt during that period. My world was crumbling. Everything I had invested energy into, had identified myself with, seemed to me now out of reach forever. What was I going to do with my life? I remember telling someone, in those days of despair, that I understood how someone can come to believe that suicide is a relief. Those are the scariest words that ever came out of my mouth; ever. I can’t believe today that I said this.

I was very lucky to find on my path some very qualified professionals. A therapist who helped me tremendously in recognizing what had value in my life, who got me slowly, 5 minutes at the time, to resume some activities that I had forgotten that I liked: woodworking and music. Slowly, very slowly, increasing the pace 5 minutes at a time. My family doctor was also of tremendous support, encouraging me, pushing all the paper work required by my employer, and ensuring I felt safe. And slowly, very slowly, imperceptibly, a day at the time, I re-emerged. It took only six months; I’ve been lucky.

Of these events that happened over ten years ago now, I cherish two very important lessons. And the most important one is to have things in our lives; hobbies, passions, interests, that give us pleasure, and to carve out some time in our crazy schedules to do them. Despite the pressure, despite the guilt, despite the perception of futility from others, it’s important to take time out for oneself. This is what keeps us mentally healthy, generates endorphins in our brains, makes us feel good, and helps us fight stress. This is how I re-emerged and this is still today how I stay afloat. The second thing is to understand our warning signs. Our body whispers to us before it screams. Understanding my limits and my signals and knowing when to push very hard on the emergency brake when I feel them is also what keeps me afloat. I no longer perceive this as a weakness. To the contrary, it’s a sign of strength.

Decorative photo of Library of Pariament

Walking in Each Other’s Shoes: How Empathy Leads to More Inclusive Policy

4 minute read

By: Catherine Waters, Learning Lab Manager

Innovative approaches and tools have gained considerable traction in public policy development in recent years. Approaches such as behavioural economics, design thinking, co-creation, and collaborative problem-solving, all rely, explicitly or implicitly, on policy-makers’ ability to empathize with diverse perspectives. Empathy is the foundation stone of collaborative working, diversity, cultural competence and inclusive policy techniques, providing both an emotional and a rational basis for understanding and ultimately addressing complex public policy challenges.

Collaborative and innovative policy tools demand a more profound understanding of the actual lived experiences, choices, and behaviours of the citizen or “user” of the public policy. Using an empathetic approach, the policy analyst aims to understand the problem directly and without judgement by empathizing with the stakeholders involved. Through empathy, analysts are able, as much as is possible, to suspend their own judgements and experiences and enter into another person’s view of the world. But what is empathy?

Empathy is about enquiry, understanding, compassion and inclusiveness. By using empathy, we are able to understand a problem or situation through the experiences of those directly affected and thus identify more effective responses. Empathy is not necessarily about agreeing with the person who we empathize with, nor about minimizing or eliminating differences. It is a route to a deeper understanding and inclusive problem-solving, and is particularly important when public policy is directed towards vulnerable or marginalized populations.

Opening up the public policy process to more voices and a wider range of experiences makes it a more difficult path, but a more modern and democratic one, and ultimately a more effective one in terms of policy outcomes. Empathy involves emotional intelligence, as we disengage our own responses to try to understand someone else’s. It is all the more important when we do not agree or sympathize with another’s perspective to be able to acknowledge and try to understand it. It is disruptive to have many players in the policy discussion with different emotions, views and perspectives, and skills such as conflict resolution and negotiation are critical. However, as is often said in the field of diversity, it is important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable; and conversely, to be uncomfortable with being comfortable. If the policy debate is going smoothly and there appears to be consensus, something may be missing!

To empathize in the policy process is also to be highly rational. Empathy is a route to uncovering important data on a problem. Listening skills – so simple, but still so difficult to do – are critical, to ask open and non-judgmental questions and to listen without interruption or argument to the responses. Through engagement, consultation, observation, and shared experiences, policy-makers gather information and come to a deeper understanding of problems.

In Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission inquiry into residential schools and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were based on an empathetic form of enquiry. Both sought witnesses to provide deep insights into the experiences, both physical and emotional, of Indigenous individuals and communities, and to make these insights available for all Canadians. Also, the focus on Gender Based Analysis (GBA+) in federal policy-making highlights the experiences and emotions of vulnerable groups through empathy, to understand the consequences and impact of policy options.

So why is ‘empathy’ so difficult to do? To be empathetic in the public policy field and open it up to diverse perspectives involves sharing the process with sometimes disruptive, conflicting views and challenging perspectives, and losing some control over the policy solution. Empathy is a skill that can be learned, practiced and improved and, in a diverse and complex society, is not only the right way to conduct public policy, but also ultimately the one most likely to lead to successful outcomes.

Decorative photo of Peggy's Cove

Reducing Barriers: How the Parliamentary Internship Programme is Paving the Road for Young People in Canada

3 minute read

By: Samuel Wells, IOG Student Intern

On June 19th, 2019, the Institute on Governance (IOG) hosted the 9thAnnual Jean-Pierre Gaboury Symposium. At this event, the participants of the 2018-19 Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP) were invited to discuss their individual research projects relating to the Canadian political sphere and life on Parliament Hill.

The Parliamentary Internship Programme is an independent, non-partisan initiative established in 1970 that provides an opportunity for ten highly qualified young professionals to work full-time on Parliament Hill for a period of ten months. Participants divide their internships between assignments with MPs from both the government and opposition benches. Interns perform a variety of political staffer duties such as writing speeches, briefing notes, and questions for question period, as well as attending committee meetings, networking functions, and constituency events. Additionally, interns receive the opportunity to travel abroad and, as previously mentioned, write an innovative research paper regarding parliamentary affairs.

PIP’s work highlights the IOG’s July theme of diversity for a number of reasons. As an organization, PIP has been making an active effort to reduce barriers for employment on Parliament Hill. As outlined in their latest annual report, PIP has made recent investments in diversity recruitment and has also made significant changes to the manner in which they seek and select their candidates. In particular, they have focused on the use of more widely-accessible promotional tools such as social media and engagement on university campuses, which ensures that their appeal for highly qualified young professionals reaches less-connected individuals as well as those who have easy access to the political sphere. The program’s strategic plan also includes an Indigenous recruitment strategy and consultation with human rights experts. Furthermore, PIP is actively seeking ways in which they can raise their participant stipends, which will allow greater accessibility to the program for a larger number of candidates, especially those who are in financial need. Finally, as some candidates this year have demonstrated through writing novel essays on topics pertaining to diversity on Parliament Hill, the aforementioned research papers that comprise part of the program can be an excellent chance to discuss the matter of diversity and inclusion in government.

The symposium itself was once again the venue for thought-provoking exchanges and knowledge sharing among governance enthusiasts. In addition to the research presentations, the event features a keynote address from Mr. Charles Robert, Clerk of the House of Commons. More details on the event and its content will be presented in the IOG’s September newsletter, when a new contingent of Parliamentary Interns will be selected.

Decorative photo of Downtown Ottawa

The Need for Data: Understanding the Priorities of the Federal Black Employee Caucus

5 minute read

By: Robin Browne, FBEC Communications Lead

Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice.

This was the title of the keynote speech that Stéphane Dion, Canadian Ambassador to Germany and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister to the European Union, gave at the September 2017 Conference,Inclusive Societies? Canada and Belgium in the 21st century. It is also a simple expression of some of the key concepts that frame the work of the Federal Black Employee Caucus (FBEC).

Yes, diversity is a fact. Actually, it’s a lot of facts. One thing we know for sure is that there’s lots of Black federal employees (they’re our members). We also know almost all of them are kept in lower level positions, sometimes for decades. What we don’tknow is exactly how many Black employees there are and exactly what’s been happening to them in terms of getting jobs and promotions and experiencing harassment and discrimination (two very related topics). To know this for sure, we need to get disaggregated data on Black employees. “Disaggregated” means separated out from categories like ‘Visible Minority’.

That’s why FBEC has two priorities: getting disaggregated data from federal agencies and addressing issues affecting the mental health of Black employees.

We’re actually after three types of data:

  1. the quantitative data departments collect, when Black employees self-identify, on how many apply for jobs or promotions;
  2. the qualitative data on levels of harassment and discrimination experienced by Black employees from the Public Service Employee Survey; and
  3. the currently non-existentdata on the experience of Black employees with programs like the Free Agent Program and the Executive Leadership Development Program.

The data will give us, and the government, all the facts.

However, getting the data is the easy part. The hard part is getting managers across the public service to use it to choose inclusion. This is because all evidence indicates that the public service suffers from the same issues as larger Canadian society. The United Nations identified these issues in its 2017 Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, stating:

Despite the reputation for promoting multiculturalism and diversity and the positive measures taken by the national and provincial governments, the Working Group is deeply concerned by the structural racism that lies at the core of many Canadian institutions and the systemic anti-Black racism that continues to have a negative impact on the human rights situation of African Canadians.

A key reason for FBEC’s success to date (and we’ve had lots) is that, in January 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau became the first Prime Minister to acknowledge that systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism exist in Canada. He also cited the lack of support for Black people with mental health issues. Under his leadership, the 2018 and 2019 federal budgets were the first ever to include money specifically to address these issues affecting Black Canadians. But the Federal Public Service (FPS) has been slow to follow the PM’s lead.

That’s where FBEC comes in.

FBEC supports efforts at the national, regional, and local levels to address issues faced by Black federal public servants. We advocate for the collection and analysis of disaggregated data on hiring/promotion and harassment/discrimination rates of Black employees and recommend ways to improve conditions that detrimentally impact their mental health.

We formed after the December 2017 National Black Canadians Summit in Toronto. Since then, we’ve been steadily building up our membership. In January, 2019, we held our inaugural FBEC Symposium at the Institute on Governance. It brought together Black employees and human resources practitioners to come up with solutions to persistent issues faced by Black employees within the FPS. Symposium attendees numbered over 100 and discussed solutions to issues of harassment and discrimination, representation and advancement, self-care and well-being, disaggregated employment equity data, and Black women. Read the report here.

We followed that up in February with a Senior Leaders Learning Day that gave Deputy Heads qualitative data on the realities of Black FPS employees. We also met with the Clerk of the Privy Council, the President of the Treasury Board, Canada’s Chief Human Resource Officer, and senior management from the Public Service Commission, the RCMP, and several other departments.

Our current focus is getting as many Black federal employees as possible to fill out, and self-identify on, the 2019 Public Service Employment Survey that will be conducted from July 22 to August 30. After advocating for the past year, one of FBEC’s big wins was seeing the option for Black employees to self-identify put back in the survey, from which it had quietly been removed some years ago. Getting this data is crucial as the government has made clear that only what gets measured gets managed.

Armed with this data, FBEC plans to make its presence felt by continuing to ask the question: what are you going to do to help Black federal public servants?