Montreal, 19 March 2003 ; Mr. Marvin Rotrand, vice-chairman of the Société de transport de Montréal;s Customer Service

Press release

Within the context of Action Week against Racism
the STM presents its
action plan on cultural and social diversity

Montreal, 19 March 2003 – Mr. Marvin Rotrand, vice-chairman of the Société de transport de Montréal’s Customer Service Committee, has made public the STM’s action plan on cultural and social diversity in keeping with its commitment to improving relations between cultural communities and surveillance officers. This commitment is the result of meetings held since the fall of 2002 with various groups of representatives from Montreal-area ethnic minorities regarding relations between their members and STM surveillance officers.

A company open to the world
Mr. Rotrand recalled that the STM was, in 1987, one of the first enterprises in Quebec to adopt an equal access policy promoting the hiring of women and ethnic minorities. This plan has borne fruit in that the enterprise today includes 1,348 women (17.7 % of the total workforce) and 588 representatives from visible and ethnic minorities (8 %), of which 20 work in the surveillance department, representing 12 % of this department’s workforce.

"By adopting this equal access policy, the STM provided evidence of its adherence to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It adopted hiring practices free from any discrimination and guaranteed all employees the right to recognition and exercise of their rights and freedoms. In return, it required of them that they respect its code of ethics under which any racist or discriminatory attitude or behaviour constitutes a failure to honour the agreement and could result in serious disciplinary action", he pointed out

Creation of a committee on social and ethnic diversity
The action plan that has been approved draws together various measures. The first concerns the creation of a committee on ethnic and social diversity. Presided over by Ms. Brenda Paris, the users’ representative on the STM’s board of directors, this committee brings together five representatives from the STM and three from the city of Montreal, two from Intercultural Relations and one from the Police Department. Its mandate is to evaluate the problem within the context of the surveillance officers’ work environment and to recommend various actions to improve the situation. The committee has already met on seven occasions and plans to draw up an annual schedule of meetings to ensure rigourous follow-up of this approach.

Better understanding of each other’s realities
In order to measure the perceptions that the surveillance officers have of ethnic minorities, and that ethnic minorities have of surveillance officers, it was agreed that focus groups should be held with representatives from the two groups. The results of these meetings are expected in the next few weeks and should guide the committee in the implementation of other measures to promote understanding between the parties.

Increasing sensitivity through training
The training of managers and officers is another method that has been singled out to sensitize personnel in the surveillance department to the multiethnic reality. The managers have already received training, and officers will be receiving theirs between now and the end of the year.

Complaints taken seriously
In 2002, surveillance officers issued 7,900 statements of infraction to people contravening STM by-laws, and officers were the subject of complaints (1 %). More specifically, three complaints of discrimination were brought against them, including one brought by Black Youth in Action denouncing the abusive violence by two officers during the questioning of Winston Roberts on January 10, 2002. This complaint was handed over to the Montreal Police Department for an enquiry that ultimately cleared the two STM officers.

Promoting exchanges and understanding
"The STM is a public company, open to the world, whose personnel are more and more representative of the clientele it serves. It handles 1.3 million trips each day for individuals from various cultures and must provide service free from any form of discrimination. If a problem of perception or understanding affects the relations between employees and the cultural communities, it must be addressed immediately. That’s what we’re doing by implementing measures that can only facilitate exchanges and understanding," concluded Mr. Rotrand.