Racism and Discrimination at the City of Montreal : zero tolerance can no longer be just a slogan
Outraged by the investigation published this week in Le Devoir on the racism and discrimination suffered by employees of the public service at the City of Montreal, the elected officials of the Official Opposition held a press briefing this morning during which they called on the City to take concrete steps to change the culture of its public service. In particular, they called for an independent investigation into the work climate experienced by employees from diverse backgrounds at the City of Montreal, as well as into the complaint-handling processes, in order to provide a complete diagnosis of the problem.
Official Opposition is also urging the City of Montreal to review its processes and introduce an actual zero-tolerance policy. To do this, a thorough examination of the allegation(s) must systematically take place the moment a complaint is filed by an employee.
Finally, Ensemble Montréal wonders if the Systemic Racism Commissioner of the City of Montreal is able to exercise ample power over this issue. Since they were hired more than two years ago, progress has not occurred as quickly as was hoped. The long-term action plan with realistic and quantifiable objectives, as recommended by the Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal in 2020, is still progressing far too slowly and so no improvements can be noted by employees from diverse backgrounds at the City. Moreover, the 12 commitments for inclusion in Montreal ultimately turned out to be disappointing – they boil down to the creation of executive positions, management divisions and guidelines all without objectives or a timetable.
In short, measures must quickly be deployed in order to restore the confidence of racialized employees at the City of Montreal. Montreal’s elected officials have never been as diverse as in the 2021 general municipal elections. If it is possible to change the face of Montreal’s democracy, so too is it possible to change the culture of the City’s public service.
“The testimonies given by the City of Montreal’s employees surrounding the racism and discrimination they experience are truly disturbing. The horrendous comments and despicable treatment they can attest to experiencing are unacceptable. What we remember is that there are biases in the whistleblowing process,” lamented Alba Zuniga Ramos, City Councilor for the Louis-Riel district in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and spokesperson for the Official Opposition in Legal Affairs.
“An independent external investigation will allow us to determine the scope of racism and discrimination suffered by employees from diverse backgrounds at the City of Montreal. By having a complete diagnosis, we will be able to take the correct actions and change the culture of Montreal’s public service,” added the Mayor of Saint-Laurent and spokesperson for the Official Opposition in human resources, Alan DeSousa.
“Two years ago, we learned that there was discrimination and racism in Montreal North. We responded by conducting an independent investigation. In light of racism and discrimination still being present elsewhere, the process must now apply this process to the entire City of Montreal,” insisted Abdelhaq Sari, City Councilor for the district of Marie-Clarac in Montréal-Nord.
“It is intolerable that complaints surrounding racism and discrimination are downplayed and swept under the rug. Civil servants and officials must be accountable for their actions as well as their inaction,” said Stephanie Valenzuela, City Councilor for the Darlington district in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.