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CBC 'not happy' with hiring record


Dana Wagg, Windspeaker Staff writer, Ottawa







Page 5

The CBC admits it's not happy with its progress in hiring Natives and other visible minorities.

But it's been tough to find openings for them, because thousands of jobs have been lost to corporate belt tightening over the last five years, said CBC spokesman Richard


The Canadian Human Rights Commission filed a discrimination complaint against the CBC and Bell Canada last month after both failed to meet a deadline for agreeing to a joint

review of their employment practices.

"We're not happy but out record has been good. We have not consciously gone out of our way to discriminate against the targeted groups," said Chambers.

"The results are not as satisfactory as the targeted groups would like, as we would like, as the Human Rights commission obviously would like. We recognize work has to be done.

We're not happy with the bottom line statistic," he said.

Plans are under way to increase the percentage of people from minority groups working at the CBC, he said.

"The CBC is committed to the hiring of groups designated by the government for employment equity," Chambers said. "Where there's disagreement is on what should be done next."

But Chambers believes the solution must be viewed as a two-way street.

"If people, who are members of those groups want to work for us, but haven't approached us or knocked on our doors or made themselves known to the managers, who do the

hiring, and have expressed no interest in working for us, how are we supposed to hire these people in the first place?" He asked.

Commission spokesman Sally Southey said Statistics Canada figures indicate 4.1 per cent of the Native population in the prairie provinces is available and qualified to work in

semi-professional and technical jobs at the CBC.

But only .1 per cent of the people working for the corporation in those jobs on the prairies in Native.

"We have reason to believe there are problems. Until we go in and look at the stats (in more detail), we can't say anything about it," Southey said.

"We're not saying these companies are discriminating. We're saying we have reasonable grounds to believe there are discriminatory practices. These reasonable grounds are the

employment equity stats," she said.

All federally regulated companies are required to file annual reports on the number of workers from the four target groups (the disabled, visible minorities, Natives and women) the


"Almost everybody has problems" with having a low percentage of employees from those groups, said Southey. "There are few who don't.

"You can't say CBC and Bell Canada are worse than the others," she added.

CBC and Bell were the only two companies of 19 major employers, which the commission said it was "not able to persuade to take a hard look at their employment practices and


By filing a complaint, the commission can now investigate whether the CBC is guilty of discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, nationality, ethnic origin or color.

"The target groups won't benefit as quickly (as they would have) through a cooperative venture," Southey said.

"But it's clear we were nowhere near an agreement with the (the CBC) after negotiating for more than seven months."

Human Rights chief Max Yalden said he discussed the issue with CBC president Pierre Juneau and there had been many contacts with the CBC in attempts to reach an agreement.

Juneau, 66, stepped down as president last month after seven years in the position, citing the frustrations of continual budget cuts as a reason for his retirement.

"E don't go looking for legalistic, confrontational approaches. We'd prefer to proceed in a cooperative way. But we were not making any headway with CBC," Yalden said.

"We felt obliged to act as we said we would," he said.