A major federal department has temporarily banned the hiring of able-bodied white men in an unusual move critics say could spark a backlash against the very disadvantaged groups it is meant to help.
Managers in the Public Works department must hire only visible minorities, women, aboriginals and the disabled, except with written permission from their superiors, David Marshall, the deputy minister, ordered in an e-mail circulated yesterday.
The policy, designed to address shortfalls in the department's employment-equity goals, will last at least until the end of next March and be reviewed then, the memo said.
"I think it's creating a possible backlash against equity groups and then it's not helping these people to get into government," said Nycole Turmel, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
"It's even creating more frustration or anger from the workforce as well as from the population ... I am quite sure the people they hire will be competent and good employees, but that is not the point here. They will be seen as targets, and then people will question their hiring, and I don't think it will help them."
She also charged that many of those hired over the next few months may well be laid off once the department reaches its targets by the end of the fiscal year in March.
Everyone knows that white men are supposed to get the shaft under every affirmative action scheme, but no one is supposed to put that statement on paper. Whoever approved telling the plain truth instead of using the weasel word disclaimer will find his (her? its?) position suddenly open under the scheme on Monday for blatant honesty.
Moreover, even the union can see right through the champions of one of their favourite causes. Managers can leave the executive level positions open or in the hands of acting managers until March, and meet the quota through labourers and clerical staff through temp agencies, who can then all be laid off at the same time.
If managers can follow the order to the letter while ignoring its spirit, they will.
A question mark has just been placed beside the names of every woman and minority who gets hired at that department from now on: is this person really qualified for the job?
Hardly a way to build trust and confidence in a public service that has increasingly become a closed shop for those born in genuinely bilingual regions of Canada and other government-favoured groups.
Source: National Post