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Prime Minister’s Message

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Over the past year, the Government of Canada has faced a range of new challenges. Among the more significant is the fallout from the worst global economic downturn in half a century. In this context, the Privy Council Office played a key role in supporting the Government as it addressed the economic situation and delivered on its priorities. By providing non-partisan analysis and advice to the Government, the Privy Council Office helped prepare for our new mandate and respond to the domestic and global challenges.

The Privy Council Office played a key role in helping the Government develop Canada’s Economic Action Plan. It supported the Government in streamlining the policy process to ensure faster approvals, facilitated a First Ministers’ Meeting on the economic situation, and helped Canada demonstrate leadership on the world stage at the G8 and G20 meetings. Throughout this period, the Privy Council Office assisted the Government in responding to the recession with timely and meaningful measures aimed at helping Canadian families and businesses weather the crisis. The Privy Council Office also delivered regular, quality reporting on the implementation of Canada’s priorities and signature projects in Afghanistan through quarterly reports.

The Privy Council Office supported the Government’s engagement with the new U.S. Administration across key issues, including the impact of the economic downturn on the automotive sector and energy policy. The Privy Council Office also coordinated President Barack Obama’s February visit to Canada—his first international visit—which marked a productive start to bilateral relations with a new Administration.

In short, the Privy Council Office played a central role in supporting the Government in delivering priorities for Canadians in particularly challenging times. I would like to thank the staff of the Privy Council Office and the thousands of federal public servants across the country for their dedication and professionalism in this work.

I am pleased to present the Departmental Performance Report for the Privy Council Office for the year ending March 31, 2009 and the Departmental Performance Report for the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat, included in this report.

Section I: Overview

Summary Information

PCO’s Raison d’être

The mandate of the Privy Council Office (PCO) is to serve Canada and Canadians by providing the best professional, non-partisan advice and support to the Prime Minister, the Ministers within the Prime Minister’s portfolio and the Cabinet.

PCO supports the development of the Government’s policy agenda; coordinates responses to issues facing the Government and the country; and supports the effective operation of the Cabinet.

As the head of the Public Service, the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet serves as the principal link between the Prime Minister and the Public Service.

Organizational Information

The Privy Council Office reports directly to the Prime Minister and is headed by the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet.

As the individual who forms and leads the government of the day, the Prime Minister provides leadership to the ministry in setting and achieving the government’s agenda while maintaining the confidence of the House of Commons. Areas of prime ministerial responsibility include:
  • appointments to key positions, including Ministers, deputy ministers and heads of government entities;
  • the organization of government, including the structure of Cabinet and its decision-making processes;
  • the broad direction of government policy and expenditure;
  • federal-provincial-territorial relations; and
  • national security matters.

For more information on PCO’s main roles, please visit PCO’s website at

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture for 2008-09

Figure 1: Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture for 2008-09

Risk Analysis

PCO’s work and the challenges it faces in meeting its priorities are greatly impacted by its operating context. When the 2008-09 Report on Plans and Priorities was drafted in the winter of 2007-08, the scale of the global recession and the outcome of the 2008 U.S. presidential election were unknown. These two factors have greatly affected the work of PCO, particularly in meeting its first operational priority to support the Prime Minister in exercising his overall leadership responsibility.

Global Economic Crisis

The year 2008-09 marked the most synchronized recession and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Despite its resilience and strength, the Canadian economy, which is highly interconnected with the global economy, entered a recession in the fourth quarter of 2008, although by comparison with other G71 and emerging economies, this recession occurred later and was less deep. The increasing turmoil and uncertainty within the global financial markets have led to rising job losses and declining confidence on the part of business. As a result, investors and the public at large have called for the Government of Canada to develop an economic stimulus plan of unprecedented scale.

Working with the Department of Finance, PCO helped develop the Economic Action Plan (Budget 2009) and communicate it to Canadians. The Plan is designed to limit the depth of the recession and its impact on Canadians, while creating the conditions for future long-term economic growth. Details of the Plan are available at:

PCO has supported the Government’s agenda and helped to sustain confidence within the institutions of government by working closely across federal departments and sectors to ensure effective and efficient solutions. This work, as outlined in PCO’s first priority, included providing the Prime Minister with accurate and timely information and policy advice regarding the economy and economic conditions, as well as supporting effective Cabinet decisions on economic policies to help respond to the recession.

Canada-U.S. Relations

The Canada-U.S. economic relationship is the largest in the world. In 2008, its two-way merchandise trade totalled $602.5 billion with approximately $2 billion in goods and services moving across the Canada-U.S. border each day. The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Canada and the primary destination for Canadian investment abroad. Canada is the biggest supplier of oil, natural gas, uranium and electricity to the U.S., which accounted for 99 percent ($91.1 billion) of all Canadian energy exports in 2007.2

The bilateral relationship is a priority for the Government and affects the work of many departments and agencies including PCO. PCO supported the Government in setting and advancing priorities for the relationship and coordinated action across federal departments and agencies to ensure policy coherence, as reflected in PCO’s work with Industry Canada, Export Development Canada and other departments in the development of support strategies for the automotive sector.

The new U.S. Administration presents an important opportunity for Canada to renew and build upon our strong partnership. During President Obama’s official visit, he and the Prime Minister set out a framework for strengthened cooperation on the economy, the border, climate change and energy, and international priorities, including Afghanistan.


PCO’s second priority was to focus on key policy areas and strengthen medium-term policy planning. An example of efforts under this priority is PCO’s work in helping to create a Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, supported by a newly established Deputy Minister coordinating committee and an Afghanistan Task Force, in response to the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan. Also in response to the recommendations of the Panel, PCO coordinated the development of six priorities and three signature projects related to Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. PCO has facilitated, in collaboration with other departments, the transformation of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan to an integrated and joint civilian-military partnership, embodying the philosophy of “one mission, one team.”

In addition to releasing a series of benchmarks for the six priorities and three signature projects, PCO has coordinated the production of quarterly reports, which report on Canada’s priorities and signature projects using a series of benchmarks and progress indicators. These quarterly reports provide the Government with a means of reporting frankly and honestly to Canadians on the progress being made.

Complexity of Issues

The complexity of PCO’s work was amplified with the re-election and renewed mandate of a minority government. Within this challenging environment, PCO has met its third priority of improving the management and accountability of government by supporting the strategic management of Governor-in-Council appointments as well as the renewal of the Public Service. Public Service renewal is particularly important as 66 percent of public servants are over the age of 40, and more than a quarter of public servants are eligible to retire without penalty by 2012. PCO has worked with other departments and agencies to implement actions aimed at promoting Public Service renewal that were identified in the Clerk’s Sixteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada.

At the same time, technological change is occurring at a rapid pace. Taking advantage of new opportunities to deliver services and information quickly and in an efficient and effective manner with limited resources is a constant challenge for PCO while maintaining security, confidentiality and privacy as well as accessibility. By remaining flexible, agile and innovative, PCO can ensure that the Government’s agenda and decisions are supported and implemented, and that the institutions of government are supported and maintained.

Further, PCO’s responsibilities to support the Prime Minister and Cabinet, to ensure continuity of constitutional government, and to provide leadership for the Public Service require that it be capable of operating in all environments regardless of the circumstances. In pursuit of its fourth priority, to strengthen PCO’s internal management practices, PCO has improved of its Integrated Business and Human Resources Planning Process, further developed its Performance Measurement System, established a new and independent Departmental Audit Committee and strengthened its emergency preparedness and business continuity planning.

Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcome

The following table summarizes PCO’s overall performance against the priorities set out in the 2008-09 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP). For more information on PCO’s Commitments and Achievements, please see Annex I of the online extended Departmental Performance Report. Details on the related expected results by program activity are presented in Section II of this report. As shown below, all 2008-09 performance milestones identified in the RPP were successfully met.

Operational Priorities Type Performance Status
1. Support the Prime Minister in exercising his overall leadership responsibility Ongoing Successfully met
2. Focus on key policy areas and strengthen medium-term policy planning Ongoing Successfully met
3. Improve management and accountability of government Ongoing Successfully met
Management Priorities
4. Strengthen PCO’s internal management practices Ongoing Successfully met

Resource Summary

2008-09 Financial Resources (thousands of dollars)
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
125,125 161,461 149,329

2008-09 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned Actual Difference
944 981 (37)

Table 1: Performance Summary

(thousands of dollars) The dollar amounts of variations are provided in the Performance Summary Details in Annex II of the online extended Departmental Performance Report.
Program Activity 2007-08
2008-09 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Provide professional, non-partisan policy advice and support to the Prime Minister and portfolio Ministers 94,463 97,573 99,473 111,546 104,134 All program activities are aligned with the “Government Affairs” outcome
Provide policy advice and secretariat support to Cabinet and Cabinet committees 21,096 20,763 20,763 24,921 24,761
Provide overall leadership and direction to the Public Service in support of the Government’s agenda 4,731 3,573 3,573 4,388 5,389
Provide commissions of inquiry with administrative and financial support 17,402 1,316 1,316 20,606 15,045
Total Spending 137,692 123,226 125,125 161,461 149,329
Less: Non-respendable revenue 1,837 N/A 791 791 1,296
Plus: Cost of services received without charge 17,489 N/A 17,882 17,882 19,358
Net Cost of Department 153,344 N/A 142,216 178,552 167,391
Full-time Equivalents 912 934 944 998 981
Due to rounding, figures may not add up to the totals shown.

Like other departments and agencies, PCO starts the year with a budget as voted in the Main Estimates, but can receive additional funding through the Supplementary Estimates and other transfers. Departments and agencies publish a Planned Spending figure that reflects amounts approved by the start of the year for inclusion in the Supplementary Estimates. The total amount approved by Parliament in the Main and Supplementary Estimates for the year is reflected in the Total Authorities, which departments or agencies may not exceed. This constraint, coupled with delays in implementing plans, means that Actual Spending is lower than Total Authorities. Actual Spending is calculated after the close of the fiscal year.

In 2008-09, PCO received $38.2 million of in-year funding:

  • $1.8 million—2010 Olympics and G8 Security
  • $19 million—Commissions of Inquiry
  • $4.7 million—Afghanistan Task Force
  • $12.7 million—Carry forward, new collective agreements, reimbursements of expenses such as parental leave, severance pay and other small adjustments and technical adjustments.

At the end of the year, PCO had a surplus of $12.1 million of which $5.6 million represented delays or deadline extensions related to Commissions of Inquiry. Since funding and expenditures related to Commissions of Inquiry are controlled by special purpose allotments and are isolated within PCO’s vote, PCO’s surplus for its activities (excluding the special purpose allotments) represented $6.5 million. For more information on Performance Summary Details, please see Annex II of the online extended Departmental Performance Report. For the impact on performance, please see Section II of this report.

Variation in the Spending Trends Graph

Figure 2: Variation in the Spending Trends Graph

In previous years, differences between PCO’s Planned Spending and Total Authorities have mainly been caused by funding received through Supplementary Estimates for Commissions of Inquiry.

PCO’s (excluding Commissions of Inquiry 3) Total Surpluses—Total Authorities minus Actual Spending—decreased from $9.2 million in 2007-08 to $6.5 million in 2008-09.

PCO’s (excluding Commissions of Inquiry) surpluses in both years are caused in part by contracting and accommodation delays, high staff turnover, and delays in staffing vacant positions due to shortages of qualified applicants. The surplus was lower in 2008-09 because there were fewer delays in staffing of vacant positions.

For more details on total Planned Spending and Total Authorities, please see the Performance Summary above, or Annex II of the online extended Departmental Performance Report.

2008-09 Actual Spending per Program Activity

Figure 3: 2008-09 Actual Spending per Program Activity

Table 2: Voted and Statutory Items (thousands of dollars)

Voted and Statutory Items
(thousands of dollars)
Vote # or Statutory Item (S) Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording 2006-07
1 Program expenditures 4 122,940 125,531 110,568 135,510
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans 12,319 11,837 12,348 13,343
(S) Prime Minister — Salary and motor car allowance 150 153 157 157
(S) Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie — Salary and motor car allowance 74 74 76 77
(S) Leader of the Government in the Senate — Salary and motor car allowance 73 74 76 77
(S) Leader of the Government in the House of Commons — Salary and motor car allowance 5 0 0 0 77
(S) Minister of State and Chief Government Whip — Salary and motor car allowance 6 0 0 0 30
(S) Minister of State (Democratic Reform) — Salary and motor car allowance 7 0 0 0 24
(S) Ministers without Portfolio or Minister of State—Motor car allowance 5 4 0 0
(S) Spending of proceeds from the disposal of surplus Crown assets 0 19 0 31
(S) Court awards 0 0 0 3
Total Department 135,561 137,692 123,226 149,329
Due to rounding, figures may not add up to the totals shown.