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The ongoing modernization of people management continues to be a key priority for the Government of Canada. The goal is to create and sustain a professional public service that plays a central role in the successful business of government and that consistently delivers quality services to Canadians.
With over 260,000 employees in all regions of the country and internationally, the Government of Canada is the largest employer in Canada and the most complex people management institution in the country. It operates in a business environment of increasing complexity, technological change, size, and demographic challenges. It also faces an external environment characterized by diversity, heightened citizen expectations, and constantly shifting global economic and social priorities. Today's emphasis on knowledge management, efficiency, and productivity merges with ever-increasing demands for fairness, transparency, and accountability in all public spheres. Together, these factors call for increasing sophistication in all aspects of people management.2
The following areas of activity comprise people management in the public service: HR planning, staffing, learning and development (including leadership development), performance management, classification, compensation, and labour relations. These are supported by enabling infrastructure, governance, and performance measurement regimes intended to provide accountability and transparency across the public service.
All aspects of the people management system in the core public administration reflect the public service cultural environment of values and ethics, respect for official languages, and adherence to the principles of employment equity.
Recruiting, developing, and managing people and administering people management systems in this complex landscape is a shared responsibility that engages over 4,000 HR professionals in the Personnel Administration group, in addition to others in different occupational groups, in the central agencies and the departments and agencies that comprise the public service.3 Key central organizations work together with departments and agencies to support excellence in the people management system. These include the Privy Council Office, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) (as formed in 2009 through merging CPSA with sectors in the Secretariat that deal with people management), the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), and the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC).4
The direction and priorities established for modernization in fiscal year 2008–09 continue to reflect three critical catalysts for change in people management in the public service. These include the PSMA, the public service renewal initiative, and the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service.
Since coming into force in 2005, the PSMA has been a major catalyst for change for all components of the people management system, with legislative initiatives directed toward staffing flexibility, employee learning and development, labour management relations, and accountability for the institutions and individuals responsible for managing the public service.
Successful implementation of PSMA legislation was a key precursor to public service renewal, which is an ongoing institution-wide management priority to ensure that the public service is able to deliver on the business of government with excellence. People management was a key theme of renewal in 2008–09 along with the original four pillars of renewal: integrated planning, recruitment, employee development, and enabling infrastructure. More specifically, one of the key priorities established for fiscal year 2008–09 was a commitment to set out and develop key indicators to be used in the future for central tracking of the state of the public service and of people management within it.
The Clerk of the Privy Council submits an Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, in accordance with the provisions of section 127 of the PSEA. This report sets the forward-looking management agenda for the public service and reports on the progress of previous years.
The main objective of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service is to help shape a national institution, geared to excellence, which is distinguished by highly engaged and highly skilled people performing critical tasks with professionalism and efficiency that rivals any organization anywhere.
— From the mandate of the Advisory Committee on the Public Service (November 2006)
The Clerk's report also includes the annual report of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service, which includes tangible recommendations.
In its second report in February 2008, the Advisory Committee noted that the existing people management governance regime was "overly complex, with multiple players and a resulting burden of duplicative and often unnecessary rules." It strongly recommended that changes be made to the existing governance structure to make it simpler, more streamlined, and more coherent. With the implementation of the PSMA, people management responsibilities have moved from central agencies to deputy heads. New supportive and aligned governance structures with new roles and responsibilities, such as those proposed by the Advisory Committee, offer the potential to confirm and permanently anchor PSMA shifts in the architecture of people management in the public service of Canada.
Together, in fiscal year 2008–09, these three critical catalysts for change framed the strategic direction and major activities undertaken to advance the modernization agenda.