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SECTION I – Overview

Chairperson’s Message

photo: Guy GiguèreThis second year of full operations was a milestone for the Public Service Staffing Tribunal as the procedures, systems and policies put in place the previous year for receiving and resolving staffing-related complaints were put to the test.

One of the main challenges faced by the Tribunal during the year was the increase in its caseload, as the number of complaints rose sharply from 438 in 2006-2007 to 742 in 2007-2008. This represents an increase of 69 percent in the volume of complaints and underscored the importance of a robust case management system to ensure the timely processing of complaints by the Tribunal. To this end, technical improvements were made to the system so that case files could be monitored, problems resolved and more reports generated. An effective case management system is crucial to the success of the Tribunal’s key functions: the adjudication and mediation of complaints under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).

From the outset, one of the Tribunal’s main objectives has been to help the parties resolve a complaint through mediation or another informal process, rather than a formal hearing. The benefits of informal dispute resolution are well known:

  • The parties – rather than a third party – determine the outcome.
  • The outcome is likely to last longer and be more satisfactory to the parties because they determine the outcome.
  • The relationship between the parties is strengthened through a forum which allows them to discuss the issues and possible options in a non-threatening manner.

For these reasons, the Tribunal offers several opportunities for the parties to a complaint to resolve the matter before a hearing takes place. In addition to mediation, the Tribunal provides a 25-day period for the exchange of relevant information between the parties and requires complainants to file written allegations and deputy heads to respond to all allegations also in writing. In addition, the Tribunal holds pre-hearing conferences for all complaints scheduled for hearing in order to narrow the issues to be resolved. In many cases, the complaint is resolved following the pre-hearing conference.

The Tribunal’s mediation services proved to be very effective in 2007-2008. Of the 119 mediation sessions conducted during the year, 96, or 81 percent, resulted in the withdrawal of the complaint.

Overall, the percentage of complaints resolved without a decision by the Tribunal rose from 86 percent in 2006-2007 to 95 percent in 2007-2008. In addition to the 742 complaints received during the year, 255 were carried over from 2006-2007. Most of these files were either withdrawn at one of the steps in the complaint process or dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or because they were filed after the deadline. Only 35 of all 995 files proceeded to either an oral or paper hearing1 by a Tribunal member on the merits of the case.

It is through its informal dispute resolution mechanisms that the Tribunal helps to build trust between managers and employees, thereby supporting more collaborative labour-management relations. In the cases where a complaint has proceeded to a hearing and the Tribunal has rendered a decision, it has endeavoured to bring about a greater understanding of the flexibility afforded to deputy heads by the PSEA for making appointments in the federal public service.

The Tribunal has observed, for example, in the Visca2 decision and others, that the flexibility offered to deputy heads is not being used to its full advantage and that, while certain practices common under the former PSEA, such as the ranking of candidates, do not constitute an abuse of authority in and of themselves, they do demonstrate a certain reluctance to fully embrace the spirit and intent of the new PSEA and should therefore be discouraged. In this way, the Tribunal helps managers and employees to better understand and apply the provisions of the new legislation.

I am pleased, therefore, to report that the Tribunal continues to play a key role in the public service renewal by promoting and supporting constructive dialogue between the parties and setting the direction for the appropriate use of the greater flexibility provided in the PSEA.

 

Guy Gigure                  
Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer   

1 A paper hearing consists of a Tribunal member rendering a decision based on written submissions from the parties.

2 Visca v. Deputy Minister of Justice et al., [2007] PSST 0024.

 

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-2008 Departmental Performance Report for the Public Service Staffing Tribunal.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance;
  • It is based on the department’s approved Strategic Outcome(s) and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to the Tribunal; and
  • It reports finances based on approved numbers from the Estimates and the Public Accounts of Canada.

 

Guy Gigure                  
Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer                  

 

Summary Information

Raison d’tre

The Public Service Staffing Tribunal (“PSST” or “Tribunal”) is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal established by the Public Service Modernization Act (PSMA) as part of the new arrangements for recourse with respect to staffing complaints.

The mandate of the PSST is to consider and dispose of complaints related to internal appointments, lay-offs, the implementation of a corrective measure ordered by the Tribunal or the revocation of an appointment.

The PSST may provide mediation services at any stage of its proceedings in order to resolve a complaint.

In considering whether a complaint against an internal appointment or lay-off is founded, the PSST may interpret and apply the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).

Mission

The mission of the PSST is to contribute to a competent, non-partisan and representative public service through the impartial and timely disposition of disputes related to internal staffing and lay-off processes in the Government of Canada. This includes:

  • Rendering decisions that are sound an well reasoned;
  • Ensuring that parties are treated fairly;
  • Processing complaints in a timely manner;
  • Assisting parties to resolve complaints through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms;
  • Ensuring that all processes are fair and transparent;
  • Providing stakeholders user-friendly access to PSST services and information;
  • Educating and informing clients and the public on the PSST’s role, services and jurisprudence; and
  • Promoting a work environment that fosters the development of a knowledgeable and client-centred staff.

Financial Resources ($ thousands)
2007-08
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
4,960 5,119 4,304


Human Resources
2007-08
Planned Actual Difference
35 FTEs 29 FTEs 6 FTEs


Public Service Staffing Tribunal Priorities
Priorities Status Planned Spending Actual Spending
1. Consider and dispose of complaints Ongoing 2,270 1,705
2. Provide mediation services Ongoing 880 667
3. Fully inform and assist clients Ongoing 200 166
4. Fully develop corporate services Ongoing 1,110 1,400
5. Enhance management framework Ongoing 500 366

 

Program Activity Architecture (PAA) Crosswalk


Old Strategic Outcome: Contribute to a competent, non-partisan and representative Public Service through impartial and timely disposition of disputes related to the internal staffing and lay-off processes in the Government of Canada
New Strategic Outcome: Fair and impartial resolution of disputes related to internal appointments and lay-offs in the Government of Canada
New Program Activity: Adjudication and mediation of complaints under the Public Service Employment Act
Old Program Activity: Processing of complaints relating to the appointment, revocation and lay-off provisions under the Public Service Employment Act Planned Spending
($ thousands)
Actual Spending
($ thousands)
4,960 4,304

Reason for changes

Step 1 of the implementation of the Management, Resources and Results Structure (MRRS) required departments and agencies to develop fully articulated structures for their Program Activity Architecture (PAA) by April 30, 2007. As part of the MRRS exercise, the Tribunal’s single strategic outcome and program activity were changed to better reflect its mandate and describe its main responsibilities more accurately.


Departmental Priorities by Strategic Outcome
Strategic Outcome: Fair and impartial resolution of disputes related to internal appointments and lay-offs in the Government of Canada
Program Activity Expected Results Status Planned Spending
($ thousands)
Actual Spending
($ thousands)
Adjudication and mediation of complaints under the Public Service Employment Act Tribunal decisions are timely, sound and well reasoned Met 4,960 4,304
Optimal utilization of Tribunal’s resolution services by parties Met

Context and Operating Environment

Since its inception, the PSST has faced two major challenges: a lack of permanent funding and an unpredictable case load. In setting up the PSST, it was estimated that approximately 400 complaints a year would be submitted to the PSST. The PSST began its operations on December 31, 2005; in the remaining three months of fiscal year 2005-2006, only 15 complaints were received. During fiscal year 2006-2007, 438 complaints were received; in 2007-2008, the number of complaints received by the PSST rose sharply to 742. If this trend continues, the PSST could receive up to 1,000 complaints a year or more.

Since its establishment, the PSST has been allocated transitional funding from the PSMA fund to develop, implement and administer its adjudication and mediation program. The PSST currently has funding until the end of fiscal year 2008-2009. Up to now, the PSST has sought to utilize its limited resources as efficiently and effectively as possible because of the unpredictability of the caseload. However, if the number of complaints received per year continues to rise at the current rate without a guarantee of adequate, permanent funding, a significant back-log of cases could arise, thereby causing delays in the complaint process and frustration among its stakeholders.

Appropriate, ongoing funding is therefore crucial to the effectiveness of the Tribunal. Without the assurance that such funding is available for 2009-2010 and beyond, the PSST will continue to be distracted from its mandate by funding issues and concerns about serious shortfalls. As an independent, quasi-judicial body, the PSST must be provided with a secure future. Otherwise, the value and benefits of the PSMA will be called into question. Appropriate, permanent funding will ensure that the PSST can focus on its mandate and that the public service can move forward to achieve its modernization objectives and continue to provide high quality services to Canadians.

Alignment with Government of Canada Strategic Outcomes

Government Affairs

The PSEA was intended to modernize staffing in the public service by providing independent recourse for complaints related to internal appointments and lay-offs and also increase the availability and effectiveness of mediation in resolving complaints.

The Clerk of the Privy Council described both the importance and the objectives of public service modernization in the Thirteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada3 as follows:

With the coming into force of the new Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) on December 31, 2005, the Public Service Modernization Act (PSMA) is now fully implemented. The modernization of the human resources regime sets an important milestone in public sector reform by reinforcing key accountability, fairness and transparency. The PSMA assigns greater flexibility to departments and agencies in managing people so that the right people are put in the right jobs on a timely basis. It supports more collaborative labour-management relations, providing a foundation for cooperation while generating trust between managers and employees. These changes underscore our fundamental commitment to merit and non-partisanship, and the importance of public service values in managing people.

3 Thirteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada for the year ending March 31, 2007, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet.

Benefits to Canadians

In striving to provide transparent, impartial and sound decision-making to deputy heads, bargaining agents and public servants as well as the necessary support to help parties resolve complaints without a formal hearing, the PSST contributes to both the effective management of human resources in the public service and the protection of the integrity of the appointment process. In so doing, the PSST provides support to a public service based on merit and capable of delivering services of the highest quality to Canadians.

Overall Description of Performance

In 2007-2008, the PSST’s second full year of operations, the number of complaints received by the Tribunal rose by nearly 70 percent. This increase in volume, coupled with the carry-over of 255 files from the previous year, necessitated adjustments to the Tribunal’s complaint process in order to ensure that complaints continued to be handled as informally and as expeditiously as possible. These adjustments included the consolidation of complaint files, an emphasis on complaint resolution through effective communication and the issuing of letter decisions4 for procedural matters and did, in fact, prove to be successful. For, of the 997 files handled during the year, only 35, or 3.5 percent, proceeded to either an oral or paper hearing by a Tribunal member on the merits of the case.

In other words, the vast majority of complaint files received during the year were resolved either through mediation, on the basis of written submissions or following the exchange of information, or another step in the complaint process. The results of the PSST’s mediation program has exceeded expectations in that 80 percent of all complaints referred to the Tribunal’s mediation services in 2007-2008 were withdrawn.

Experience has thus demonstrated that, while relatively new, the PSST’s adjudication and mediation activities contribute to the modernization of the Government of Canada’s human resources regime by reinforcing key accountability, fairness and transparency in the federal public service appointment process while supporting more collaborative labour-management relations.

4 A letter decision outlines a decision rendered by the PSST with respect to a motion or request and based on existing jurisprudence.