The goal of Employment Equity is to ensure that no person is denied employment opportunities and benefits for reasons unrelated to ability. The Employment Equity Act of the Canadian Human Rights Commission currently requires employers to correct disadvantages in the workplace experienced by members of four designated groups: Aboriginal peoples; persons with disabilities; visible minorities; women. In addition, employers must agree to implement special measures that accommodate differences. Some examples of the special measures employers must provide are: disabled parking or a wheelchair ramp easily accessible to a disabled employee’s workplace; granting deferral of renewal, tenure and promotion decisions for employees on family leave; purchasing a computer screen reader for a visually impaired employee.
Realizing equity is both an individual and a collective responsibility. One of AUFA’s priorities for the next round of collective bargaining is to take a leadership role on our campus by negotiating strong equity provisions on issues such as an Employment Systems Review, elimination of systemic discrimination, and reasonable accommodation of differences. Such policies and practices should apply to all employee groups at Acadia, but our only means of ensuring that they are adhered to for AUFA members is to include provisions on equity in our Collective Agreement. This does not preclude us from continuing to work with other employee groups on campus to create a more equitable workplace for all students, faculty, and staff at Acadia.
In order for Acadia to become a truly inclusive university we need to be active in promoting equitable employment policies and practices. Many barriers to equitable employment opportunities continue to exist, such as unvoiced or systemic biases and assumptions, employment and education inequities, and lack of accommodation. We need to begin by acknowledging inequity and take a proactive approach to create policies and practices aimed at redressing the effects of systemic discrimination by negotiating strong, clear language in our Collective Agreement.