Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission

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Position title:
Chief Commissioner
Ottawa, Ontario
Application Review Date:
June 7, 2022
Opportunity number:

Salary range:                                                     Under review

The Canadian Human Rights Commission was established by Parliament in 1977 as an agency independent of the Government, responsible for the administration of the Canadian Human Rights Act. In 1986, the Commission was designated as the body responsible for enforcing the obligations of employers in the federally regulated sphere prescribed under the Employment Equity Act. Most recently, in 2019, Parliament conferred new responsibilities upon the Commission by virtue of the Pay Equity Act, the Accessible Canada Act, and the National Housing Strategy Act, as well as through amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which designated the Commission as the body responsible for monitoring and reporting on Canada's compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As Canada's national human rights institution, the Canadian Human Rights Commission plays a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level, and in participating in and interacting with the international human rights system, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, treaty bodies and special procedures mechanisms.

Domestically, the Commission proactively engages with Parliamentarians, Indigenous organizations, federally regulated employers and service providers, employee representatives, rights holders, civil society, and provincial, territorial and international human rights bodies, among others, to identify and raise awareness of systemic human rights issues, promote compliance with human rights statutes, and foster inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and anti‑racism.

The Commission is also responsible for receiving, investigating and resolving complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act the Pay Equity Act and the Accessible Canada Act, and, where provided, may refer complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, before which it may represent the public interest to advance human rights for all people in Canada. The Commission also works to ensure compliance with the Employment Equity Act; administer and ensure compliance with the Pay Equity Act and the Accessible Canada Act; and support the implementation of the National Housing Strategy Act with respect to matters falling within the purview of the Federal Housing Advocate.

The Chief Commissioner is the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership to the Commission and its staff. Specifically, the Chief Commissioner is responsible for the delivery of the Commission’s statutory mandates in addressing human rights complaints and issues of systemic discrimination; fostering public understanding of human rights through its promotion, research and policy initiatives; and ensuring compliance with human rights statutes. In this capacity, the Chief Commissioner is also responsible for the stewardship of resources to enable the fulfilment of the mandates of the Pay Equity Commissioner, as provided by the Pay Equity Act; the Accessibility Commissioner, as provided by the Accessible Canada Act; and the Federal Housing Advocate, as provided by the National Housing Strategy Act.

Diversity and Official Languages

We are committed to providing a healthy and accessible workplace that supports one’s dignity, self-esteem and the ability to achieve one’s full potential. With this in mind, all appointees will be expected to take steps to promote and maintain a healthy, respectful, inclusive and harassment-free work environment.

Preference may be given to applicants who are members of one or more of the following groups: women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of a visible minority group.

The Government of Canada will consider bilingual proficiency and diversity in assessing applicants. You are therefore encouraged to include in your online profile your ability to speak and understand your second official language.

To be considered, please ensure that the information provided in your curriculum vitae and cover letter clearly demonstrate how you meet the following requirements:

Education and Experience

  • A university degree in a relevant field of study such as law, human rights or public administration, or a combination of equivalent education, job-related training and experience;

  • Significant management experience, at the senior executive level, in a private or public sector organization, including demonstrated success in strategic and change management, particularly in circumstances where financial and/or human resources constraints were major factors;

  • Significant experience in an oversight function with decision-making authority with respect to sensitive issues and issues relating to human rights matters;

  • Experience in representing an organization, and communicating and engaging at a senior level with a broad range of stakeholders, policy‑ and decision‑makers, as well as the media, both domestically and internationally;

  • Experience in leading organizations through transition, with a strong record of successful cooperation and collaboration with other agencies; and

  • Experience in alternative dispute resolution would be considered an asset.

If you move on to the next stage of the selection process, the following criteria will be assessed:

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Knowledge of sound management principles, the operations of government, and of legal principles, especially in the area of human rights law;

  • Knowledge of Canada's national and international human rights obligations and of the mechanisms to implement and enforce them;

  • Knowledge of the operation of an administrative decision-making body, including the rules that govern its operation;

  • Knowledge of human rights issues and social issues that have potential human rights implications, as well knowledge of the issues and challenges arising from the diversity of Canadian society, particularly the need for appropriate institutional responses;

  • Strong leadership acumen, including a demonstrated ability:

    • to lead and manage a public or private sector organization, to define its strategies and objectives, and to understand and respond strategically and reasonably to complex situations while anticipating short‑ and long‑term consequences;

    • to guide the interpretation of provisions of various statutes, policies and other enabling frameworks; and

    • to engage and maintain cooperative relations with organizations in the public and private sectors, as well as with non-governmental organizations, analyze differing opinions and complex situations, and demonstrate sensitivity to the differing needs and agendas, with a view to making sound decisions that are reasonable and fair.

  • Strong communicator, including a demonstrated ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing;

  • Ability to make sound decisions and provide leadership, including building and maintaining a high level of motivation and morale in employees; and

  • Ability to demonstrate sensitivity to the differing needs and agendas of multiple stakeholders.

Language Requirements

Proficiency in both official languages would be preferred.

If you move on to the next stage of the selection process, we will contact your references to confirm that you meet the above selection criteria and that you possess the following Personal Attributes:

  • Innovative

  • Action-oriented

  • Thoughtful

  • Ethical

  • Superior interpersonal skills

  • Embodies the values of inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and anti‑racism

Eligibility Factors and Conditions of Employment

  • Appointees must comply with the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders throughout their appointment as a term and condition of employment. The guidelines are available on the Governor in Council Appointments website, under Forms and reference material.

  • All appointees will be subject to the Conflict of Interest Act. Public office holders appointed on a full-time basis must also submit to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, within 60 days of appointment, a confidential report in which they disclose all of their assets, liabilities and outside activities. For more information, please visit the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's website.

  • Appointees must uphold the highest standards of probity and are expected to demonstrate behaviours in the workplace that afford respect, equality and dignity, to everyone they interact with at work at all times. The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector outlines the values and expected behaviours for public servants, including valuing diversity and creating workplaces free from harassment and discrimination. Governor in Council appointees are expected to uphold and respect these values and principles in a positive and active manner.

  • If you are appointed to this position, you must reside in or be willing to relocate to the National Capital Region, or to a location within a reasonable commuting distance.

  • If you are appointed to this position, you must be willing to travel across Canada and internationally.

  • If you are appointed to this position, you must not accept or hold any office or employment inconsistent with their duties.

A link to this notice will be placed in the Canada Gazette to assist the Governor in Council in identifying qualified candidates. It is not, however, intended to be the sole means of recruitment.

A list of qualified candidates may be established and may be used for similar opportunities.

How to Apply

Review of applications (more information here) will begin on June 7, 2022. Candidates should apply online via the Governor in Council Appointments website. Candidates are strongly encouraged to submit their applications by this date. After this date, your application will be retained and may be considered up until an appointment to the position is made. Your cover letter should be addressed to the Director of Selection Processes, Senior Personnel Secretariat, Privy Council Office, and should be sent only through the online application.

Instructions on how to apply for an appointment opportunity can be found on the Governor in Council Appointments website.

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