Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to rise in the House for the first time in debate. As it is the first time for me, I want to thank my constituents in Markham—Stouffville for having confidence in me to represent their interests. I want to let my my constituents know that I will be working as hard as I can to represent their best interests in my time here.
In relation to this motion, I will start by extending my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque. It is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with them. It has been said many times in the House today and I simply want to add my deepest condolences.
This is a case that has, understandably, brought a very emotional response from the public, as well as important questions about the corrections and conditional release systems in Canada. I will spend most of my time for my remarks on the selection process as it relates to Governor in Council appointments. I want to clarify how that appointment process is today.
In February 2016, our government announced a new approach to appointments, which applies to the majority of full-time and part-time positions on commissions, boards, Crown corporations, agencies and tribunals across the country. This new approach was introduced to ensure the process of appointments would be open to all Canadians, providing them with an opportunity, should they be interested and have the required qualifications, to participate in government organizations and make a contribution to Canada's democratic institutions by serving as Governor in Council appointees.
The selection process is based on merit. It is designed to identify highly qualified candidates who meet the needs of the organization and are able to perform the duties of the position to which they would be appointed. It seeks individuals who have the qualifications, education, experience, knowledge, skills, abilities and personal suitability to fill the position. We also ensure that they meet any statutory or other conditions.
Finally, we look for diversity. Our recruitment strategy seeks to attract qualified candidates who will help achieve gender parity and reflect Canada's diversity in terms of linguistic, regional and employment equity groups. By that, of course, I mean indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities and members of visible minority communities, as well as members of ethnic and cultural groups.
Based on individual self-identification, representation of employment equity groups has increased for all appointees since the new, open, transparent and merit-based approach to GIC appointments was announced in February 2016. This process includes officers and agents of Parliament and the Parole Board, among many others.
A notice of appointment opportunity is developed, outlining the selection criteria for and requirements of the position. As noted in the notice, members appointed to the board must be sufficiently diverse in their backgrounds to be able to collectively represent community values and views in the work of board and to inform the community with respect to unescorted, temporary absence, parole and statutory release.
The notice of opportunity is posted on the GIC appointments website and the website of the organization that is filling the position. A link to the notice is also published in the Canada Gazette while the application period is open.
At the same time, a recruitment strategy is developed for selection processes where there is a need to conduct outreach regardless of the position type. This may also include targeted outreach to communities of interest, such as professional associations.
All interested Canadians can submit their applications for the positions posted on the government's appointment website.
This government is very mindful that we want the best and most qualified people possible for these important roles. To this end, the selection committee undertakes a rigorous assessment process. A number of factors determine the composition of a selection committee, including the type of position, the mandate and type of organization. Generally, a selection committee is comprised of key decision-makers, including the responsible minister's office and the responsible organization. In the case of the Parole Board, this is the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Turning back to the selection process for all GIC positions, the process includes screening candidates' applications against the education and experience criteria in the notice of appointment opportunity.
For administrative tribunals such as the Parole Board, written exams are administered. The exam tests key criteria such as analytical and decision-making skills. It also measures the ability of applicants to interpret the provisions of various statutes, regulations, policies and other documents in a quasi-judicial context and assess the relevance of precedents in order to render decisions.
It is also recommended that applicants visit the Parole Board website for additional information on a day in the life of a board member, the role and responsibilities of a board member and contributing to public safety.
A short list of qualified candidates is then established and the candidates are interviewed by the selection committee. Third party reference checks are also undertaken. This process eventually results in the identification of qualified candidates.
Following the assessment of candidates, the selection committee submits to the responsible minister an advice letter identifying the candidates found to be the most highly qualified for appointment. Upon consideration of this advice, the minister then makes a recommendation to the GIC for appointment.
GIC nominees must undergo background and security checks to determine their suitability for public office. Nominees must also sign a document certifying that they acknowledge and will observe the ethical and political activity guidelines for public office holders as a condition of their holding office in the Government of Canada.
Over 30,000 applications have been received since we began our open, transparent and merit-based selection process, and some 1,380 people have been appointed. Currently, over 50% of GIC appointees are women, over 8% are visible minorities, over 6% are indigenous peoples and over 3% are persons with disabilities.
To bring this back to the Parole Board, based on individual self-identification, nearly 60% of incumbents to GIC positions on the board are women, more than 7% are persons with disabilities, over 11% are visible minorities and over 14% are indigenous peoples. In comparison, in 2015 only 30% of board members were women, 4% were indigenous people and 1% were visible minorities.
While we maintain our confidence in the open, transparent and merit-based appointment process, any change can always benefit from a review of its effectiveness. Part of this motion actually speaks to that.
The process we have in place allows us to find the most qualified people for the positions our government needs to fill. When we appoint people to GIC positions they are working in the best interest of their country as well as fellow citizens and residents.