Good afternoon, Madam Chair, and members of this committee.
I am very pleased to be here on behalf of the Privy Council Office and with my colleagues from the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer. I understand you are interested in how the public service is preparing for the challenges that lie ahead.
As you know, the public service is an essential part of our democratic institutions and is also Canada's largest employer. In an increasingly complex world, the public service of Canada needs to be both capable of adapting and actually adapting in order to remain a relevant and high-performing institution.
A strong public service is critical to the continued success of our country. Strengthening the capacity of the public service to provide high-quality advice to the government and excellent services to Canadians is an on going priority for all of us. This is why public service renewal is our top management strategy. This is especially true in the context of fiscal restraint when difficult decisions will need to be made and implemented.
I will speak briefly about the role of the Clerk of the Privy Council as the head of the public service, focusing on two of his key responsibilities--first, public service renewal, and then the overall management of the community of deputy ministers.
The clerk as head of the public service supports the Prime Minister and cabinet, and plays a key role in ensuring that the senior leadership of the public service has the necessary capacity to advise on and deliver the government's agenda. He sets the overall strategic direction for the public service through his annual reports to the Prime Minister, and he is responsible for succession planning, talent, and performance management for the senior leadership cadre.
As a large, complex, national institution, the public service faces considerable pressures, such as: the globalization of most policy issues and the need for collaborative decision-making; the impact of ever-changing technologies on the way we do business and even the nature of our work; and the demographic realities of an aging and increasingly diverse population.
Public service renewal is our response to this changing and unpredictable environment. Fundamentally, it's about making sure that the federal public service continually improves its ability to deliver on the business of government, no matter how circumstances change.
Starting in 2006-07, the strategic foundation for the renewal of the public service of Canada has been set out in the clerk’s annual reports to the . The strategy has been built on four pillars of renewal: better planning, targeted recruitment, effective employee development, and infrastructure improvements to enable our workforce.
Two important committees were established to guide the work on these priorities: the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Public Service, co-chaired by the Honourable Paul Tellier and the Honourable David Emerson; and the Deputy Ministers' Committee on Public Service Renewal, which is chaired by the associate secretary to cabinet.
Framed by these pillars and grounded in annual public service renewal action plans containing specific commitments each year, we have made good progress and have achieved results.
We have embedded integrated business and human resources planning in departments as a fundamental management practice to improve HR capacity across the government.
We have consistently met our post-secondary recruitment goals and are steadily increasing our diversity.
We have strengthened the public service brand and sense of common purpose through enterprise-wide career fairs and an improved job seeker website.
We have created a leadership development framework for all employees, and we are aligning our development programs within this framework.
We're also moving forward with pay modernization to replace our 40-year-old system, laying the groundwork for other improvements to our back office systems.
We have changed the way human resources are governed by creating the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, streamlining the central agency roles, and making deputy ministers clearly responsible for managing their people.
These are steps we have taken as a result of a sustained and consistent strategic focus and the active participation of public service leaders, managers, and employees. These were accomplished without new funds, simply by looking at things differently.
In a period of fiscal restraint, renewal becomes even more important. We still face the demographic pressures, the complexity of the issues, and the requirement for ongoing development of our employees and leaders. The need for restraint provides a further incentive and an opportunity to review how we do business and to become more efficient and effective in support of government and the provision of services to Canadians. Our capacity to rethink the way we work, to plan, to reach out to others for good ideas, and to work together within and across departments will sustain a high-performing public service.
The clerk's 2009-2010 annual report to the Prime Minister will be tabled this week and will set out how we will continue with our efforts going forward. The deliberate focus on people management will continue—that is, better planning, recruitment and employee development. Integrated business and human resource planning is the underpinning for effective decision-making about the allocation of departmental resources and the delivery of outcomes. Recruitment must continue to meet our demographic challenges, but must be targeted, strategic and rooted in the results of integrated planning.
We must continue to develop employees and our leaders and strengthen our performance management system across all levels of the public service. A strong learning culture promotes innovative ideas as well as organizational efficiency.
Our managers community is an extremely important determinant of our future in the public service, since they are the carriers and creators of the culture change necessary for successful renewal.
While continuing to emphasize people management, there will also be a new emphasis on what we call the renewal of the workplace. We need to pay greater attention to how we work, the business processes, the tools we work with, and what we do. The engagement of public servants and the harnessing of new technology are key levers to drive workplace renewal.
In this multidimensional context, the development and support of senior leaders for the public service of Canada is essential. Given the demographic challenges, we have made substantial improvements in our talent management and succession planning processes for the most senior executives. These have helped us deepen our understanding of current and future needs through better workforce analysis for our assistant deputy ministers and deputy ministers.
We have also made the performance management program for senior leaders more rigorous to improve alignment with priorities and focus on results.
The advisory committee in its fourth report stated:
||We believe we are now seeing tangible results of the concerted efforts to renew the Public Service. First launched in 2006, public service renewal continues to be the top management priority led by the Clerk of the Privy Council. The past year has proven the value of having this strategy in place.
A systematic review of renewal priorities and a clear reporting of progress has been published each year through the clerk's annual reports to the Prime Minister. This has served us well, providing a means for demonstrating accountability, maintaining the momentum for change, and deepening the engagement of senior leaders, managers, and public servants in this endeavour. The sustained focus on renewal will continue so that the public service is well equipped to serve the government and Canadians now and into the future.
Merci, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I am the Chief Human Resources Officer. With me is the Assistant Deputy Minister, Compensation and Labour Relations, Hélène Laurendeau.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk about the public service, which is such a vitally important part of life in this country. The public service provides thousands of individual programs and services to Canadians in 1,600 points of service across Canada and in 180 countries. Public service employees work in dozens of different occupations. We have space explorers, Arctic explorers and almost everything in between. This includes food inspectors from Health Canada, volcanologists with Natural Resources Canada, and forensic scientists with Canada Border Services.
The range of jobs is incredibly vast, and we employ some of the most highly skilled people in the country. Many are internationally recognized for their expertise and their accomplishments. This makes us a key to Canada's competitiveness in a global economy.
This afternoon I would like to give you an overview of the size and composition of the public service, but first I'll start with my role and responsibilities.
As the chief human resources officer, my role is to represent the Government of Canada as the employer on human resources issues. I also provide strategic, enterprise-wide leadership on human resources management. In my employer role I am responsible for negotiating 27 collective agreements for the core public service, the largest single workplace in Canada.
My office also manages the largest pension and benefit programs in the country. In terms of enterprise leadership on human resources management, my office tracks and assesses overall performance in people management and promotes excellence in this field. We also establish common processes and policies for human resources management in the Government of Canada.
My office was created just over a year ago as part of the new regime announced by the to improve and streamline the management of human resources. This new regime is putting accountability for the management of human resources back in the hands of deputy ministers, where it belongs. My office plays a key role in ensuring that deputies have the flexibility to do this.
Parliament may be aware of our work through our extensive reporting. In fact we table eight reports annually, covering a number of topics, including employment equity, official languages, and human resources management.
I would now like to talk about trends in the federal public service. As indicated in the chart we distributed, the federal public service has about 523,000 employees. But for the purposes of our discussion today, I will be focusing on the roughly 274,000 employees who work in the federal public service.
The federal public service includes line departments like Health Canada, for which Treasury Board is the employer. It also includes separate agencies like the Canada Revenue Agency, which conduct their own negotiations with unionized employees. All these organizations are subject to similar human resources rules.
When we look at the 274,000 employees of the federal public service, we see that the vast majority of them—approximately 60%—work outside the National Capital Region or even outside Canada. Contrary to what many believe, the majority of public servants do not work in the National Capital Region.
As well, the vast majority of our employees are full-time. These employees are also called indeterminate and they make up about 86% of the workforce. However, this workforce is aging. On average, federal public service employees are 5.3 years older than workers in the general labour force. Despite these statistics, we expect that the number of public servants leaving government will stabilize at about 5% per year, which is 13,000 people.
Madam Chair, a well-planned and well-structured public service has great value. It is crucial to the success of our country in an increasingly complex world.
I am confident that the human resources changes we have made over the past few months will ensure that we continue advancing our commitment to renewing the public service and developing the next generation of employees.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much to the witnesses for being with us here today.
My questions are going to be specifically for the PCO and Ms. Hassard. They will follow on some of the discussions we had with the president of the Treasury Board with regard to the PCO budget a little while ago, because, as you know, the title of our investigation is the study of the freeze on departmental budget envelopes and government operations.
If I may, I want to put a question into the record that I don't think you'll be able to answer today because it's asking for very specific numbers; however, I'd like to read it into the record so that at least we have it, and then I can ask you to provide the answers. This has to do with what is referred to as the third element of the government's plan to return the budget to balance, that element being to undertake, continue with, and, in some cases, augment a number of review processes aimed at reducing costs while improving efficiency, the idea being that over time this should result in a reduction in the size of the public service.
With respect specifically to the PCO, we had main estimates asking for a $13.4 million increase to $74.5 million in the PCO departmental budget for support and advice, which is a 22% increase. There was another increase specifically for advice and support to cabinet and cabinet committees. I think overall that meant a $15.1 million increase to $144 million.
If I can just read it into the record, this is one question: can you provide a detailed breakdown for PMO and PCO office expenditures for every year from 2005-06, so it would be on the public record? I'm asking because we are having a very hard time comparing line-by-line items. There seem to be differences year over year, and we're having a challenge making the comparison, so we're asking for your help in that. We would like a detailed breakdown of those expenditures on a line-by-line basis and, in that sense, the similar information for this past year, because it won't have been published. It would be based on this past year's budget numbers, I expect, until they get finalized, and then also as they fit with this current set of main estimates.
Madam Chair, could that be in the record, as well as a request to provide that information?
Do you have any sense of how long it might take to provide that kind of information for us?
Brilliant. That would be terrific. Thank you very much.
I would also like to ask...and maybe you can answer now, but it might also take time to provide it. When we had the here, he had been quoted in...referring to some of these increases.
As you may know, we expressed concern that budgets were being significantly increased this year, before the anticipated freeze next year. There was a worry that there was an element of padding so that by the time we hit the freeze next year, it wouldn't really affect the PCO the way it would affect other departments.
I note in your report that it sounds very positive. In one case the minister referred to $6.4 million being used to redress a “chronic underfunding”, which doesn't necessarily jive with your report today. He also referred to certain items that were extraordinary, such as winding down offices for the Olympics, and the G8 and G20.
We really would like a confirmation of what items are being regarded now in this budget as requiring increases because they're extraordinary, and which ones are not, and therefore which ones we can look at as not being included in the frozen amounts.
If that could be included in that information, that would be great.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good afternoon, ladies. I am very glad to see you back before our committee.
Ms. Hassard, almost a year ago, to the day, you were here. It was at that time, I believe, that you took up your position. I kept the documents in which you told us that you were very sensitive the need to give the public service all the tools that it needs to work with a certain degree of comfort. You have a great deal of experience with people in the public service. Your presence here today is very important to me. I would like you to be aware of certain practices which, in my opinion, are not necessarily of the kind that you wanted to implement in the management of the public service.
Since 2006-2007, various clerks have been informing us about the strategic foundations of the renewal. Indeed, on March 31, 2009, Mr. Lynch told us that the implementation of some elements was expected, including the improvement of the infrastructures that help staff to do their work better. In your presentation, you said that you had launched the modernization of the remuneration system which has been in place for the past 40 years. It was absolutely necessary.
Now I have the following question: you launched this modernization, but are you going to carry it through at a time when budgets are being frozen?
I will have a couple of further questions, but first, Madam Hassard, you have indicated that we anticipate receiving the annual report to the Prime Minister very shortly; it will be tabled this week. Frankly, I look forward to receiving that report as well.
Comments earlier surprised me. A member opposite asked questions about documents from the PCO to cabinet and whether they were either available or could be shared. As you would know, all documents from PCO to cabinet are deemed confidential. So just to be clear on this—I'm sure my colleague actually knows that—this is just to put it on the record.
Madam Meredith, what I am concerned about is this. One of the things we were going to have today was a dialogue with a demographer, to give us a sense basically of the challenges in our population changes—baby boomers retiring and all. That didn't happen, for reasons of scheduling; it means we have a little more quality time with you.
If I have a concern, it's that from what I have read... There are a couple of things: first, that we have a retirement factor: it seems to occur much earlier in the public service of Canada than in the private sector. Are you aware of the details of this, and does it cause you any concern?
I certainly appreciate you taking the time to appear before us today, and for giving us some clear testimony.
My question is a follow-through on the last question you answered, which is that you will continue to hire.
I'm a little confused here. I'm going to use Stats Canada numbers, because everywhere I look there are different numbers for the public service. So I'm going to stick with Stats Canada. In 2006, for example, Stats Canada said there were roughly 380,000 employees. As of last year, there were 419,000. Those are Stats Canada's numbers. I took them off their website.
You went from 380,000 to 419,000, which is significant, almost a 40,000-person impact in terms of net increase in jobs. Of course, there was some attrition there as well.
Now we're starting to talk about some of the factors, for example, attrition, in how this budget is going to be balanced or come close to being balanced. For example, Treasury Board president Stockwell Day was at the Economic Club of Canada today, and he talked about how freezes and cuts to the public service will--I think these are his words--“take us to zero on the budget by 2014”. He said that today to the Economic Club.
Now, I think the Parliamentary Budget Officer doesn't see that it's going to go to zero, but let's take it at face value that it will go to zero by 2014. But he did talk about freezes and cuts to the public sector.
I just heard you talk about how you'll likely have to continue to hire. There's a renewal within the public service. We know about attrition. I'm sure, like business people, of which I'm one, you've been planning for the last 20 years for this demographic blip.
I know you receive Treasury Board submissions from departments on a regular basis. My question is where's the impact from this budget freeze? Is there an across-the-board reduction in the annual reference level updates? Is it by program? Can you explain how you're going to do it, based on the fact we've now heard on this issue?
I'm hearing from you that you're going to have to continue to hire. I understand that. The increases over the last four years have been roughly 10,000 per year. It could have been more, earlier, but it's been 40,000 over the last four to five years. I'm anxious to hear how you think that's going to occur.
You're the one with the Treasury Board submissions, so you would know more than me.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would appreciate it if we spoke about the same thing. It seems to me that we are discussing two different levels.
Ms. Hassard, we can read on page 12 of your document that our performance management system must be strengthened. And on page 12, it also says that managers are the transmitters and creators of change in organizational culture. A little further on, on page 14, it states that you have also provided a more strict performance management plan for senior officials.
If I understand correctly you, ladies, have the task of managing officials and deputy ministers. You are not managing human resources, namely the employees who work under the orders of officials and deputy ministers. Consequently, you had some difficulty in answering us when my colleague asked you if you could reassure us that there will not be a certain number of people leaving for retirement and that it will all go smoothly. You tell us that it will all go smoothly because you are managing the officials.
Besides, Mr. Kevin Lynch, in his annual report for the exercise ending on March 31, 2009, explains to us the model for evaluating the performance of deputy ministers. I will present it for the benefit of my colleagues. It includes several elements. First of all, there are three broad categories of commitments: the results of policies and of programs—to verify if the deputy ministers have done their management work in compliance with the planned activities of the organization and with the broad objectives of the government—the results of management and the results of their leadership.
On the other hand, the evaluation process consists in four basic elements. First there is self-evaluation, which means that they give themselves a mark. Then, there are the evaluations of management. This is a qualitative and quantitative overview of performance. I imagine that they look at how much money there was to spend, how much money was spent and whether he spent $500,000 less, to see if he is a good manager. This is what I understand. Then there is the peer review. Other deputy ministers from other departments make the evaluation. Finally, there is feedback and if the results are satisfactory, there is a premium. You can imagine that officials, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers in 2005-2006, earned a 6.5% performance bonus. In 2006-2007, it was 9%, and in 2007-2008, 9.4%. Did the bonus increase in 2008-2009? It is quite possible.
We are studying the issue of the freezing of ministerial envelopes and of its impact on human resources and service to the population. That is right. I have nothing against these ladies, but they cannot give us any answers because they are managing the deputy ministers. However, we should have the 124 deputy ministers of the 124 ministries here before us.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Again, to our guests, I'd like say thank you for your candour and participation today.
I want to stress, if I may, something that Madam Meredith said in response to a query by my colleague, Mr. Julian, and I'll quote her directly, where she said, “It's not actually a cut in spending; it's a freeze in spending.” I think that's the key I'd like to stress with the committee today.
Madam Hassard, I have a question for you, if I can. In the text of your presentation, and very good remarks, you made a couple of very strong comments. You said that “Public Service Renewal is our top management priority”. A second thing you said in regard to the renewal was that “it is about making sure that the federal public service continually improves its ability to deliver on the business of Government”. I think that's well said.
During Mr. Warkentin's questions, I think perhaps both of you indicated that you were working towards a more efficient and more effective public service. I'm trying to get a sense from you if you have any estimates of the savings from that process of strategic renewal, beginning a couple of years ago, basically.
That may not be fair to you, Madam Meredith, because you just recently came into your role, but I'm trying to get a sense of how effective that policy has been in terms of financial savings and personnel.
Thank you for the question. I do have a number of things I wanted to say.
As I mentioned, there were four pillars of our renewal initiative. I think probably the most important one was planning, in that our HR planning was done in isolation from our business planning. So we made it a commitment that these two exercises would be integrated. With integrated planning you have a better sense of where your gaps are, where your priorities are, and how you allocate your resources. And I think that it's fair to say that now, after our third year, we have embedded a culture of much more sophisticated planning in each of the departments.
I think in terms of recruitment, we've had a series of very successful enterprise-wide job fairs across the country, and these have improved the brand of the public service, which was a little tarnished. We've engaged students and some of our new recruits in excitement about being in the public service, and I think it's given them a bit of pride and has actually made us a more attractive employer. We've also steadily been improving our diversity within the public service.
In terms of employee development, that was another one of the pillars: every single employee within every single department must have a learning plan. I think in the first couple of years the deputies were reporting that they actually had done learning plans; the question was whether they were appropriately linked to what the business needs are. I think that as we remain consistent, we remain committed, every year we see progress in that regard. And of course when you have employees who are motivated by being developed in their positions, you have a much more engaged workforce that's going to be more creative and more committed to your mission.