Health Canada's Report to the Clerk on Public Service Renewal

December 2016

Excellence Through Innovation

Live it! Own it! Share it!

Deputy Minister's Message

I'm pleased to share highlights of Health Canada's Blueprint journey for 2016 through this report and short video. The Clerk's priorities of respect, recruitment and renewal are our priorities. In line with these goals, we continued to transform our organization in 2016, and I am proud to share a few of our most significant achievements.

Photo of Deputy Minister

Let me start with Respect. This is a personal and professional priority for me. We know that to achieve excellence in public service, we must first look after the needs of our people. The success and productivity of our organization depends on having a healthy, respectful and safe workplace. To this end, we are implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace so that we have a more effective and systematic approach to improving our work environment.

Recruitment is a priority for a couple of reasons. First, it enables us to sustain our workforce by filling critical vacancies, including entry-level positions that open up as our established employees advance in their careers. Second, it helps us to continually refresh our workforce by bringing in new talent, with new ideas and new ways of doing things. To attract the next generation of young professionals, we've put in place an ambitious national post-secondary recruitment strategy to find the best graduates entering the job market.

Renewal is a journey as much as a destination. It's a mindset that challenges the status quo and strives for continuous improvement. This past year, we've made progress addressing important issues such as respect in the workplace and support for employees' learning and career development. The questions for us now are these: Are we getting it right? Are our efforts having a positive impact? We continue to check back with employees, analyze our results and modify our approach as we go.

We have many stories to tell about our efforts this past year. We hope you enjoy reading about them and share them with others. There is much we can learn from the experiences of fellow public servants.

Simon Kennedy
Deputy Minister

Respectful Workplaces

Workplace Wellness Highlights for HC/PHAC

  • 100+ Mental Health First Aid sessions for managers since 2015
  • 2400+ employees trained in Mental Health First Aid
  • 48 mental health-related workshops (on stress management, resiliency, emotional intelligence)
  • 1000+ employees received a Workplace Wellness Toolkit (also available online)

WE RECENTLY marked Year 2 of the implementation of our Multi-Year Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace Strategy. The strategy focuses on training, awareness and the implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Since 2014, we have offered a steady stream of courses, workshops, webinars, discussions and tools to employees and managers from Health Canada (HC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), including a mandatory course called Building Blocks for a Respectful Workplace. An awareness campaign tackled harassment and bullying in the workplace. And during our first annual National Respect in the Workplace Week in October, we talked about what respectful behaviours look like and what we need to do to strengthen civil, non-discriminatory and harassment-free behaviour in our organization.

Our Workplace Wellness Strategy uses creative ways to support employees. Through our Wellness Library, we provide staff with 24/7 mobile access to LifeSpeak, a confidential, bilingual, e-learning platform for employees, their families and friends to help improve their physical and psychological health. To show that physical fitness is connected to mental health and overall well-being, we have a number of mobile workstations featuring both walking and cycling desks that can be booked by employees in the NCR and some regional offices. Employees can also borrow wellness tools and portable equipment from our mobile tool library.

Spotlight on Inclusiveness

Our Blueprint Group and Persons with Disabilities Network collaborated with PCO's Central Innovation Hub to improve Health Canada's organizational culture for employees with disabilities. Using design-thinking methodology, which looks at problems from the perspective of diverse stakeholders, participants reviewed a series of “letters” from employees to gain insights into our biases, prejudices and non-inclusive behaviours and to help identify approaches to transform our culture.

A HIGHLIGHT of 2016 was the creation of the Ombudsman, Integrity and Resolution Office. It provides an independent, safe and confidential place where employees can raise sensitive workplace issues without fear of reprisal. The Office provides guidance on informal conflict management, and promotes understanding of values and ethics in the workplace.

The Not Myself Today campaign with its Myth Busters about mental illness resonated with staff across our organization. This campaign was led by Partners for Mental Health and was launched by Health Canada during Mental Health Week in 2015. Some 10,000 mood buttons have since been distributed and continue to be worn by HC and PHAC employees and managers to show their support for open and stigma-free dialogue. In November 2015, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada were honoured with the Partners for Mental Health - Not Myself Today Campaign award.

Finally, a hugely successful Managers' Network Forum in February explored wellness from personal, team and organizational perspectives. Some 250 managers gathered for one full day to listen to guest speakers and talk about how we can better support the health and well-being of our employees.

Recruitment and Onboarding

Health Canada has a highly skilled workforce and a strong brand as an employer. To maintain this position in an increasingly competitive job market, we need to tell our compelling story to young people entering the job market.

IN 2016, we launched a Post-Secondary Recruitment Campaign focused on outreach and targeted recruitment, and on building relationships with universities and colleges. We are placing special emphasis on recruiting Indigenous students and graduates, and students with disabilities. After 17 campus visits, 33 career fairs and many conditional on-the-spot job offers, we have already hired more than 120 students!

We have also been doing our part to hire veterans under the Veteran's Hiring Act. Since the Act came into effect on July 1, 2015, we have welcomed nine veterans and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces into our workforce.

We place a strong emphasis on hiring Aboriginal employees to strengthen our ability to serve First Nations and Inuit communities. The Aboriginal Peoples Employment Program aims to increase the percentage of Aboriginal employees (from 23% to 30% by the year 2020) in areas that will have the most impact on program delivery and health outcomes.

Health Canada implemented a fresh approach to welcoming new employees this past year. Orientation sessions, surveys and other activities such as the Onboarding Game Show are among the many ways we bring new employees on board. In 2016, we surveyed new recruits, who shared a number of ideas to enhance the onboarding experience, such as networking opportunities with senior executives and Branch onboarding ambassadors. We're working to incorporate many of these ideas into our program.

Take Me With You Campaign

First launched at Natural Resources Canada, the Take Me With You Campaign was brought to Health Canada during National Public Service Week 2016. It encourages employees to ask their managers and peers to attend meetings related to their interests, their career development goals, and the files they are working on. The campaign has been adopted by 15 departments and continues to spread across the public service.

We've also introduced new approaches to knowledge-sharing. Through our Sharing the Experience series, seasoned employees are sharing, in informal settings, what they've learned on their career journeys. This opportunity gives long-time employees a sense of fulfillment and pride in their work and younger colleagues new perspectives to help with their own career planning.

We have amazing employees throughout the department whose growth and development we nurture. This past year, we took a more inclusive approach to talent management, providing managers and all employees with tools to have more productive talent conversations and to develop more effective talent management plans. Our efforts are helping us to make better staffing decisions, retain our employees longer and provide new learning and career opportunities for staff within our organization, such as micro-assignments and job rotations.

More than 88% of Health Canada employees had Performance Management Agreements in place in 2016

Renewing the Public Service to Better Serve Canadians

AT HEALTH CANADA, renewal is happening in every corner of our organization, thanks to the leadership and dedication of managers and employees who want to improve our workplace and find better ways of working. We are both transforming the way we work and innovating to better serve Canadians.

Transforming the way we work

Renewal is being championed by our small dedicated Blueprint Group, working under the leadership of our Blueprint Champion. The Blueprint Group, which is now a permanent unit, is engaging employees, supporting renewal activities, and reporting on progress.

We tapped into the innovative ideas of our employees through design thinking processes, idea jams, interactive etools, networks and town halls. For example, to encourage innovative learning, we established a Centre of Expertise for Innovation. In spaces specifically designed to encourage collaboration and innovation – we call them iHubs - the Centre helps teams problem-solve with more discipline and creativity.

During Year 4 of Blueprint, we continued to focus our efforts on addressing the results of the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) in four areas: celebrating our people in more meaningful ways, streamlining processes, increasing information-sharing and dialogue, and better supporting the professional development and learning of our employees.

To celebrate our people, we recognize employee achievements through formal and informal mechanisms. In addition to awards from our Deputy Minister and Assistant Deputy Ministers, we introduced peer-to-peer awards, more flexibility to give instant awards, and more frequent events to recognize our employee successes. One particularly innovative approach to celebrating our people is our LESA (Lauding Employees Successes and Accomplishments) campaign. Through LESA, we are posting articles and videos (more than 50 posted to date!) on what our employees do and how they are making a difference in our workplace!

To streamline processes, every Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) at Health Canada pledged this past year to simplify approvals and business processes in areas such as travel, staffing and correspondence. Nine ADMs made 68 pledges and completed 74% so far. Here are some of the ways we are cutting red tape:

  • Delegating travel approvals to Regional Directors General, within Treasury Board guidelines;
  • Streamlining approvals for staffing - only permanent staffing actions require ADM sign-off;
  • Streamlining approvals for routine dockets, which now go to ADM for information only.

Another Blueprint 2020 project called Leadership for All is based on the idea that leadership must be cultivated at all levels. This initiative, started at the Public Health Agency of Canada, and subsequently expanded to Health Canada, provides employees and managers with a variety of tools and learning opportunities to enhance their leadership skills. For instance, employees participated in a Redefining Leadership event and were challenged to practice leadership in their day-to-day work. A new Leadership Learning Roadmap for Non-Executives provides employees with a list of formal and informal learning opportunities.

To better support our employees' career development and learning, we met and surpassed the targets we set for ourselves through our joint HC and PHAC Career ConneXions initiative! What started as a Blueprint 2020 Dragons' Den pitch on how we could give employees more learning and development opportunities has become an institutionalized, permanent part of our organization. The Career ConneXions Centre is designed to give employees more access to learning and job opportunities such as rotations and micro-assignments, and managers more access to employees looking for them. We set a target of 120 participants in the first year. We reached 485! A successful target with Treasury Board Secretariat resulted in the launch of the Career ConneXions Platform on GCconnex to connect managers and employees across government. The word cloud, generated during National Public Service Week 2016, reflects employees' workplace aspirations.

To foster more information-sharing and dialogue between managers and employees, we are holding more all-staff forums, having more coffee chats with senior managers, inviting employees to Branch Executive Committee meetings and making records of decision from these meetings available to anyone who wants them. We also launched Health Talks - a live talk-show style broadcast where senior leaders and special guests discuss departmental priorities and answer questions from employees. This leads to a series of cascading discussions across the department. Hundreds of employees participated in our first Health Talks on our strategic priorities with Health Minister Jane Philpott back in June. In November, Minister Philpott participated in another session of Health Talks. This time, she was joined by six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes - a strong advocate for mental health - to talk about the importance of mental wellness.

Innovating to better serve Canadians

IN ADDITION to internal transformation, we continue to innovate to better serve Canadians. For example, employees in our Atlantic Region supported the development of “Rosie” the robot to meet challenges in providing timely, basic health care services in remote First Nations and Inuit communities. With Rosie on site in Labrador health centres interacting with patients, physicians can provide diagnosis and treatment in real time. The team's exceptional work earned them a Public Service Award of Excellence and has revolutionized health care service delivery and nursing education in northern and remote communities in Canada and abroad.

Similarly, employees from our regional offices linked 50 data sets on First Nations communities through the Synergy in Action digital platform, which enabled on-the-ground responses to the fires in Fort McMurray last June. This tool was able to identify individuals with special health needs and to coordinate their safe removal from the community and their care.

Another innovation we are particularly proud of is the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the help line provides culturally competent, crisis intervention counselling in English and French and, on request, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. To further address the mental health crises in First Nations and Inuit communities, we have increased the number of specialized teams that deal with mental health issues at the community level.

Live it! Own it! Share it!

At Health Canada, we're proud of the progress we've made in 2016.

WE BELIEVE that the innovative ideas employees and managers have brought forward and implemented reflect the principles of Blueprint 2020. And we recognize that lasting improvements require people at all levels of the organization to be on board.

With an eye on the future, we look forward to continuing our renewal journey, engaging employees and celebrating our successes as part of the Canada 150 celebrations. While recognizing that the Blueprint target remains 2020, we see the 2017 PSES as a golden opportunity to measure our progress to date and to give us new input on where to focus our efforts on the journey to 2020.

Under the leadership of our Clerk, we are proud to do our part to help renew the public service and to better serve Canadians and the Government as a whole.

For more information on initiatives in this report or others pertaining to public service renewal contact The Blueprint Group at:

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