Open letter to Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna
“Let this government take the lead on Inuit employment by enacting an Employment Equity Act”
After observing the last sitting of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly and the number of questions raised on Inuit employment within the government, I am taking the opportunity to propose a means to better implement Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
The article requires initiatives by Inuit and government with the objective of increasing Inuit participation in government employment in the Nunavut settlement area to a representative level.
One way to implement the article is to enact an Employment Equity Act.
As the Languages Commissioner, my mandate is to ensure that there is equality between official languages. Hiring and retention of those who speak official languages directly impact the language services the government is able to provide. More importantly, it affects the administrative and policy importance that is placed on languages.
Inuit employment levels have largely stagnated over the last 10 years within the territorial public service. Indeed, this is largely due to educational levels of the population.
However, it does not mean more cannot be done to hire, and retain Inuit employees. The NLCA does not limit governments from legislating to implement the provisions within it. In fact, it could be used as a great tool to strengthen the provisions.
Currently, the NLCA requires a five-year review of whether Article 23 is being properly implemented. A five year gap in reviewing the provision allows for the potential for non-fulfillment to go unnoticed for a long period of time.
If an Employment Equity Act were to be enacted to implement the article, this could include a better monitoring and evaluating regime and it would provide an opportunity to include more stringent requirements for employment equity including training and promoting.
Other things could be built into the act including provisions on whistle blowing and provisions for underrepresented groups such as francophones.
When Nunavut was created it was envisioned that there would be a workforce that was representative of the population and spoke the language of the population.
As such it is incumbent on us as leaders to ensure that we strengthen the provisions of the NLCA and bring life to them for the betterment of all Nunavummiut. Let this government take the lead on Inuit employment by enacting an Employment Equity Act.
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