Results from the 2016 Nunavut Government Employee Survey were released last week, and there are some missing details that interested parties would like to see included.

Aluki Kotierk: “As Inuit of course we speak Inuktut among ourselves (at the office). How do we actually get to a point where we can achieve Inuktut as the working language of the public service?”

The numbers are likely “kind of skewed” because a “ridiculous” number of Inuit land claims beneficiaries who work for the Government of Nunavut are casual employees and have been limited to casual status for years, according to Nunavut Employees Union president Bill Fennell.

He said it would be helpful if the survey revealed statistics on full-time, part-time and casual employees.

“If they’re going to use (the survey results) and train beneficiaries so they are promoted from within, that’s a good thing,” Fennell said. “Hopefully this new government will be different and they will move on some of the things we have been pushing for, like making the beneficiaries whole, so the numbers are real rather than artificial.”

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated president Aluki Kotierk also expressed the need to reflect the voices of casual GN employees, referring specifically to approximately 900 Inuit substitute teachers across the territory, who were not included in the survey.

As well, Kotierk was alarmed at the survey figures showing a greater number of non-beneficiaries receiving formal workplace training.

“Although the Government of Nunavut talks about Inuit employment being a priority… if it truly is a priority, one would think that there would be proactive efforts to ensure that Inuit got more training so that they can take on jobs with more responsibility and have promotions,” Kotierk said, adding that she hopes to see a reversal in those numbers by the publication of the next survey.

She also wonders about results showing that Inuit GN employees are largely satisfied with the use of Inuktut in the workplace. Specific questions about whether work duties can be completed in Inuktut, whether one can converse with a supervisor in Inuktut, and whether the workplace encourages the use of Inuktut would be more illuminating, Kotierk suggested.

“As Inuit of course we speak Inuktut among ourselves (at the office),” she said. “How do we actually get to a point where we can achieve Inuktut as the working language of the public service?”

One significant disparity that Kotierk said requires further examination is the much greater number of Inuit women than Inuit men in the government workforce.

“I think there needs to be more thinking about how we support Inuit men,” she said.

A GN spokesperson wasn’t available to comment on the survey prior to Nunavut News’ deadline.

Statistics Canada conducted the voluntary GN employee survey by email in 2016. The questionnaire was completed by 4,724 government workers, a response rate of 35.5 per cent.

“I think it just shows that people don’t see a use in it,” Fennell said of the low participation rate.

Despite what she identifies as shortcomings, Kotierk said she believes the survey is a valuable exercise overall.

“I think it’s the first step of us trying to gather more information,” she said. “As I said, there’s some gaps, but I think it’s a good component towards achieving the Nunavut Inuit Labour Force Analysis.”

That analysis would identify supports and training required to reach the representative 85 per cent Inuit workforce within government. Inuit representation in the GN stands at 51 per cent, according to the most recent statistics available.

Survey findings:

– Among beneficiaries, Inuit women make up 82 per cent of the GN workforce

– Among non-beneficiaries, the government workforce gender split is 50.2 per cent men to 47.2 per cent women, which is more representative of the general population

– 53 per cent of non-Inuit government employees are concentrated in education, law/social sciences and community/government services. Meanwhile, Inuit government employees constitute 38.5 per cent of workers in that same category and another 34.4 per cent are in business, finance and administrative occupations

– 32 per cent of beneficiaries were successful in getting the last promotion that they applied for, compared to 41 per cent of non-beneficiaries

– Within the year prior to the survey, formal workplace training was provided to 76 per cent of non-Inuit survey respondents and to 52 per cent of Inuit survey respondents

– 87 per cent of Inuit employees reported they are very or somewhat satisfied with use of the Inuit language in the government workplace

Source: Statistics Canada

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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