MLA asks what is stopping the NWT government from hiring more aborigines
Before the NWT implements a new plan, the territory should understand why its affective action policy isn’t working, says Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson.
Affirmative Action is a government policy that gives priority to hiring Aboriginal and Northerners. It was launched in 1989 with the goal of creating a public service that represents the people it serves.
Last week Treasury Secretary Caroline Wawzonek announced that her department was considering a replacement for the policy, which she said had not evolved since it was first developed.
Simpson said before the government revisits the program, it should understand its obstacles.
“Is it because of the level of education? Because of the nature of the positions available? Because of the location of potential indigenous workers? Because we have a young population that is not of working age? he asked in the Legislature Wednesday.
“Whatever it is, we need to know what those barriers are before we develop something that we may or may not need.”
Simpson asked the minister how the department had measured the success of the current policy and how it had involved indigenous governments, NGOs, communities and residents in the review process for the new policy.
Wawzonek cited an analysis of the workforce conducted in June 2022 and research conducted by the government prior to the Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Framework.
“So there was a lot of research going on,” she said, although she didn’t identify what obstacles that research found.
Wawzonek agreed it was clear the current system wasn’t working.
“We all know it didn’t deliver because the needle didn’t move,” she said.
Wawzonek said the affirmative action policy is not the only one working to increase Aboriginal representation in the territory’s workforce.
She said the area also has Indigenous training and recruitment programs, as well as the framework mentioned above, which partially sets hiring targets for Indigenous posts within territorial government departments.
Regarding engagement, Wawzonek said her department has already heard from some indigenous governments about the policy review and will hold public engagement meetings in nine communities through February and March.
She said there was also an open feedback policy survey and welcomed further feedback via email.