News Release: PSC calls for System Improvements


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OTTAWA, Ont. – March 22, 2011 – The Public Service Commission (PSC) report, Merit and non-partisanship under the Public Service Employment Act 2003, was tabled in Parliament today. This Special Report to Parliament presents the Commission’s assessment of five years of operation under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), and its views on what is required to ensure Canadians will continue to benefit from a professional, merit-based and non-partisan public service.

This final report by the current Commission focuses on three key issues: improving the effectiveness of the staffing system; enhancing the approach for safeguarding the
non-partisanship of the public service; and strengthening the governance and operation of the Commission.

PSC President Maria Barrados stated, “One of the cornerstones of a well-functioning liberal democracy is an independent, professional public service based on merit and

While progress has been achieved in improving the effectiveness of the staffing system, challenges remain. The PSC experience confirms the need to balance delegated
decision-making with centralized services that support deputy heads and managers in fulfilling their roles under the Act. There is a need for better planning for the entire workforce, including contingent workers, and a need for improved data, analysis and measurement for the purposes of accountability. In addition, difficulties in the approach for recourse require attention.

The preamble to the PSEA recognizes the importance of independently safeguarding merit and non-partisanship. Based on the Commission’s activities over the past five years, there are ongoing questions about the relationship between the public service and the political sphere. Gaps also need to be addressed with respect to Governor in Council appointments in the core public service and political activities of public servants.

Maria Barrados stated, “In a professional, non-partisan public service, appointments must be independent of elected ministers and must be merit-based, non-partisan and independently overseen.”  She added, “There is no independent assurance that external appointments to senior positions in the core public service by the Governor in Council are merit-based and non-partisan in nature.”

The Commission also recommends that a Code of Conduct for Ministerial Staff be put in place to provide clear guidance on the relationship between ministerial staff and public servants.

The report proposes recommendations to strengthen the governance and operation of the Commission, including direct reporting to Parliament instead of through a minister, and the ability to provide cost recovery services, such as language testing, to institutions outside the public service.

The PSC is an independent agency reporting to Parliament. Its mandate is to safeguard the integrity of the public service staffing system and the non-partisanship of the public service. In addition, the PSC recruits qualified Canadians from across the country.

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Public Service Commission

Special Report

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