2 July 2003
Pay Equity: NO GOOD NEWS.
NRC and the RCEA are no longer going to conduct a joint pay equity study. NRC HAS DECIDED that it will not put out the money to do this, given their view that there would be NO GUARANTEE that the results would be accepted by either the Canadian Human Rights Commission or Treasury Board. Our response – when is there ever a guarantee that results will be accepted?
Where does this leave us now? We have had two recent meetings with the CHRC. They, all of a sudden, are under pressure to do something about their outstanding complaints. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has several roles. Like NRC, it is a government agency. It is also a Commission, which is made up of government appointees, who are charged with upholding the Canadian Human Rights Act. This “Commission” can be viewed as similar to the actual council of the NRC.
In pay equity cases, the CHRC investigates complaints. It then writes a report of its findings and makes a recommendation to the Commission of the CHRC as to whether the complaint could be upheld or should be denied. It can also recommend that there is enough in the complaint to warrant its referral to a Tribunal. If the Commission accepts this recommendation, it will order that a Tribunal be convened to hear the complaint. Conversely, the Commission can determine that there is nothing to a complaint and simply deny it. If a Tribunal is convened, the parties then have to make their case to the Tribunal. In the past, when this happened, when the CHRC had recommended that a file go to Tribunal, particularly in large pay equity files, the CHRC provided the legal representation. This is no longer the case, as the CHRC (as well as most Human Rights agencies across the country) has seen their funding and mandates drastically reduced.
The CHRC has indicated that they will now conduct an investigation of the complaint, as written. Our complaint, as written, states that there has been a pay inequity for the AD group (and its predecessor CR and ST groups) since 1985. The CHRC will now do an investigation, but not necessarily a full pay study, to determine if there is enough to recommend that the complaint be sent to a full CHRC Tribunal for a hearing. If they do recommend that it go to Tribunal, there is no guarantee that the CHRC will represent the RCEA at the hearings. In the past, where the CHRC has sent a matter to Tribunal, they have often acted as the representative of the complainant. Presently, in Canada, this is changing. The CHRC is redefining its role and will not necessarily represent all complainants.
If our case is referred to a Tribunal, we will have to try and convince the CHRC to represent us. If we are left to represent ourselves, we will have some problems. We will have to generate sufficient data to prove to the Tribunal that the pay inequity exists and how large it is. This may cost more than all the total reserves of the RCEA. We are hopeful, however, that this fact and the whole issue of systemic discrimination will convince the CHRC to, in fact, represent us.
We are in the process of reviewing all our files and forwarding relevant information to the CHRC. In our view, there might already be enough information and data in the files to support the contention of a pay inequity back to 1985-88.
We may be bloodied but we have not given up hope. We will be doing everything that we can to both prove our case and convince the CHRC to represent our interests. We have lost faith, however, in the NRC. We have been patient. We will now only be dealing with the CHRC and our own legal counsel. In our view, NRC has succumbed to Treasury Board pressure. They don’t want us to get good results. They don’t want to pay back to 1985. And Treasury Board certainly does not want to see that kind of result, given the fact that they are currently being challenged in the courts by the PSAC for some of the other separate employers. Once again Treasury Board and NRC are stonewalling the pay equity situation.
This is a matter that goes back to 1985. For whatever reason, the RCEA at that time did not file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. There is no point in second guessing that decision. What we have been trying to do, since 1999, is to rectify that situation. Clearly the time gap between 1985 and 1999 is proving to be a very large issue. We have explored, and will continue to explore, every possible avenue to remedy this situation.