Twenty-Fourth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service

Title of report and Coat of Arms

I want to hear from you

Read my report and tell me what you think.


Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister:

I am pleased to submit to you the Twenty-Fourth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, in accordance with the provisions of section 127 of the Public Service Employment Act.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the report looks back on how the Public Service has provided continuity in serving governments and Canadians during the most dramatic periods in our history, while constantly adapting and changing to best serve our growing nation.

In the report, I provide highlights of the work carried out by public servants over the past year, at home and abroad, in helping to deliver on your Government’s mandate. Over the last year, we have worked to improve the capabilities of the Public Service to better serve the Government and Canadians, which is central to our shared goal to deliver results for Canadians.

You will see evidence on the following pages that we are also making headway in recruiting new public servants. They are bringing in new ideas, and different ways of thinking and working, and they are learning, from their colleagues and mentors, the Public Service values that have been critical to building Canada.

Since I became Clerk, I have talked to more than 14,000 public servants at more than 30 events. I can say to you with confidence that we are united in our determination to serve to the best of our ability, improve our skills continuously, learn from our mistakes, and help each other along the way. We know that diversity and inclusion make us stronger—the more employees feel included, the more likely they are to innovate and collaborate.

I would like to thank you for your support and for recognizing the dedicated, diverse and highly qualified people that make up the Public Service of Canada.

Yours sincerely,

Signature of Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick

Table of contents


We are a vibrant, professional, non-partisan and merit-based Public Service. We are proud to serve Canadians by delivering quality services in the official language of their choice, providing impartial evidence-based advice to government, and implementing the laws, policies and programs determined by the elected government and Parliament.

This past year, we have worked hard to advance key Government initiatives, including helping more than 40,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in Canada since November 2015, launching the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, signing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, and working with provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners to develop the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. We have also been there in times of need, helping our provincial and municipal colleagues to respond to the Fort McMurray fires and the devastating aftermath for those affected. Thousands of public servants literally “stand on guard” every day, keeping Canadians safe as they go about their lives.

Clerk holding hockey stick with Parliament buildings in background.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we reflect upon the transformation in Canada’s Public Service over the past century and a half. As our country has grown in both population and diversity, the Public Service has adapted to serve the changing needs of successive governments and the people of Canada.

The Public Service counts among its numbers astronauts, cooks, scientists, accountants, lawyers, soldiers, administrative assistants, teachers, writers, planners, and policy analysts, to name but a few aspects of our diversity. But we have to do better in making sure that people with different experiences, capabilities and perspectives are at the table, designing programs and policies, and being part of decisions about how we can improve our service to Canadians. Becoming more diverse and inclusive is an area of focus for us as we continue on the path to the Blueprint 2020 vision we set out four years ago, for a world-class Public Service better equipped to serve Canada and Canadians now and into the future.

This report highlights some of the work of public servants over the past year for Canada and Canadians, and our efforts to continue to modernize our workplace. The Canada 150 celebrations also highlight our history as an institution: these celebrations are about continuity and change.

Celebrating 150 years of public service

I am honoured to be serving as Clerk of the Privy Council and Head of the Public Service in this very special year for Canada and for all Canadians, including public servants from coast to coast to coast.

Public servants have helped tackle the country’s most significant challenges over the last 150 years. These have ranged from two world wars, to the creation of major social programs and universal health care; from the development of Canada’s transportation infrastructure, to the exploration of space; and from the creation of Canada’s national cultural institutions, to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the national journey of reconciliation we are on today.

Did you know?

In 1867, the new country of Canada was served by a very small Civil Service, as it was then known, composed exclusively of political appointees.

Reforms passed in the 1920s led to civil servants being selected according to merit, under the authority of a body that became known in 1967 as the Public Service Commission of Canada.

Like all Canadians, public servants also contribute to our communities, collectively and as individuals. In the last ten years alone, the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign—the largest workplace charitable campaign in Canada—has raised over $362 million, donated by public servants to more than 5,600 different charities across the country.

We salute the excellence of individual public servants within our own organizations, and I am proud to say that their talent shines through in the awards and recognition they receive from society at large. For example, this past year alone, several current or former public servants were recognized with induction to the Order of Canada, including: Guy Morrison, an emeritus research scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada; Glenda Yeates, former Deputy Minister of Health Canada; Marie Esther Fortier, former Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; Marie-Lucie Morin, former Associate Secretary to the Cabinet and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister; and Paul Boothe, former Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Five Canadian Coast Guard members— Peter James Cowan, Anthony Kelly, Byron Alexander Samson, John A. Seymour and Paul Joseph York— received the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal for averting an environmental catastrophe during a fierce winter storm in the Gulf of St. Lawrence by preventing an unmanned barge carrying diesel fuel from crashing into nearby land. These are but a sample of the many awards won by public servants over the past year.

Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.

Highlights of the history of the Public Service

This year we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Public Service and it is a good time to review some of the highlights of its evolution since Confederation.

Read more.

A timeline of 150 years of public service

The year in review

The Public Service has accomplished a lot this past year, and we have also been working through some challenges. We are in the midst of a number of large-scale transformation projects that are needed to improve our ability to serve Canada and Canadians. And while we are making progress, we have also experienced problems that we are striving to resolve, because there is no turning back. With public servants working in close to 300 organizations with widely varying mandates and business lines, making change can and should take time if we are to do it well, and we have  to persevere. I have seen our shared Public Service values come shining through as we do our best to innovate and add value for Canadians and government. We do so notwithstanding some barriers due to outdated internal systems and processes, and tools that are not always as modern as we would like. 

Modernizing and renewing the Public Service serves three interconnected goals: it is fundamental to providing excellent service to Canadians, it is needed for a well- supported government, and it is the foundation for a healthy and productive workforce. Virtually all the work of the Public Service falls under one or more of these goals, some examples of which are laid out in the following pages.

Excellent service to Canadians

Over the past 20 years, we have worked hard to keep pace with change in order to improve our services to Canadians.

The new Government of Canada Service Strategy builds on this approach. Its goal is to continuously improve the quality of service we provide to Canadians by:

  • ensuring that services are designed and delivered in a way that puts clients’ needs first;
  • making the online service experience so easy that users choose the digital path; and
  • ensuring that services are connected to each other so that we can offer a “tell us once” experience, in partnership with other jurisdictions, to minimize how often Canadians are asked to provide the same information.

Text version


Government online

  • First government-wide effort to move services online

1-800 O-Canada

  • First consolidated point of contact for phone inquiries


Service Canada

  • First consolidation of programs for services to individuals

Administrative service review

  • Review of service delivery in the Government of Canada for efficiencies


  • New online front-door for the Government of Canada


Policy on service

  • First Treasury Board policy to guide the management of service design/delivery


Many service improvements such as:

  • Auto-fill tax returns
  • Auto-enrollment for Old Age Security
  • Employment Insurance application status online

We are always seeking to engage with and serve Canadians in the ways that are most convenient to them as clients, be it online, by phone, at service centres, or on the front lines wherever we are needed. Departments and agencies have delivered exceptional service to Canadians this past year, in times of crisis and in everyday situations.

During the Fort McMurray wildfires last year, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police led the evacuation of approximately 90,000 people from the area and then protected the city until its citizens returned. The Canadian Space Agency and Natural Resources Canada accessed and provided high-accuracy satellite imagery and maps to support firefighting and public safety efforts.

Working in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, The Global Fund, Canadian civil society, private sector donors, and community activists, Global Affairs Canada led the organization of the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The conference reached its goal, raising over $12.9 billion in pledges, which is expected to save 8 million lives.

We know that Canadians expect a positive experience when we deliver digital services online. The number of Canadians using our online services grew once again this year. There were 194 million visits to the website over the past year. In 2016, 84 per cent of Canadians filed their taxes online, compared to 82 per cent in the previous year. And we are continuing to make the online experience easier. For the 2016 tax filing season, the “Autofill my return” service was used over 5.7 million times to assist Canadians with filing their taxes. This secure service allows the user to automatically fill in parts of an income tax return using information already on file with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Departments are also embracing new methods and tools to better serve Canadians. For example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are piloting the use of drones to see how they can better support future search and rescue and environmental response efforts. This is the kind of innovative thinking, use of new technologies and collaboration that, I know, so many of our employees are excited about as they take on the challenge of continuous improvement.

Photo of Passport Canada official handing a woman a Canadian passport.

Global Affairs Canada’s Travel Smart app received a 2016 GTEC Distinction Award. The app has been installed by more than 40,000 users. It provides travel advice and information on over 200 destinations worldwide for Canadians travelling and living abroad. This includes emergency contact information for embassies and consulates, and the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Another good example of the smart use of technology is the Canada Border Services Agency’s CanBorder app. Launched in May 2016, it provides real-time border wait-time information for travellers. As of January 2017, it had already been downloaded over 20,000 times, and was being used an average of 60,000 times every month.

Both apps are available free of charge from the Government of Canada Mobile Centre and major app stores such as Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).

Service is also about safety. Agents from the Canada Border Services Agency cleared 92.4 million travellers and collected $30.6 billion in duties and taxes in 2015-16. They also seized 8,922 prohibited weapons and made 11,163 drug seizures worth $329 million this past year.

While the above examples show that we are making progress in many areas, some improvements will take time. For example, much of our information technology is ageing and is in serious need of upgrading to counter ever-increasing cyber threats and ensure continuity of operations for important benefits and services to Canadians. We also need to nurture a client-centred service culture, inside government with our own people as well as externally. We need to ensure that our workforce is well equipped to be agile and responsive, working with good tools and efficient processes, and supported by a modern approach to how we structure and run our organizations. Public servants are working to address these and other issues, as you will read later in this report.

Graphic of cellphone with close up of Government of Canada apps.

An infographic showing statistics on the primary service delivery channels of government.
Text version

The Government of Canada is responsible for delivering a wide range of services. There are three primary channels of service.


  • Close to 2.2 million calls were answered by 1-800-O-Canada.
  • Over 5.9 million calls were answered by specialized Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security call centre agents. An additional 21.9 million Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security calls were resolved through the self-service Interactive Voice Response System.
  • 1.9 million calls were answered by a passport call centre.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency answered over 24.5 million tax and benefits calls.

In person:

  • 8.7 million clients were assisted in-person at a Service Canada Centre or a Service Canada Scheduled Outreach Site.
  • 3.3 million clients were assisted at a Passport Office.

Service Canada has:

  • 320 Service Canada Centres;
  • 238 Scheduled Outreach Sites; and
  • 32 Passport Offices


  • 194 million visits to
  • 28.4 million logins to My Service Canada Account.
  • In 2016, 84 per cent of Canadians filed their taxes online, up from 82 per cent in the previous year.
  • For the 2016 tax filing season, the “Autofill my return” service was used over 5.7 million times to assist Canadians with filing their taxes.

In 2015-2016, ESDC/Service Canada:

  • Processed 2.95 million Employment Insurance applications/renewals. Employment Insurance applications processed encompass both regular Employment Insurance applications as well as Special Benefits claims (such as maternity benefits, parental benefits sickness benefits, compassionate care benefits, and benefits for parents of critically ill children).
  • Processed 2.5 million Old Age Security applications/renewals.
  • Processed 1.4 million Canada Pension Plan applications.
  • Issued 4.6 million passports.
  • Processed 1.5 million Social Insurance Number applications.
  • Processed 117,000 grants and contributions applications.

N.B.: All data is from April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2016 unless otherwise noted.

Canada has 174 missions in 107 countries around the world.

The Canada Border Services Agency cleared 92.4 million travellers and collected 30.6 billion dollars in duties and taxes. They also seized 8,922 prohibited weapons and made 11,163 drug seizures worth 329 million dollars.

Making it easier to apply for the Canada Pension Plan

As of June 2015, Canadians can apply online for their Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement benefit. The online application makes good use of the “tell us once” principle: because it makes use of existing information, the application has been reduced to three simple questions, and can now be completed online in just a few minutes.

Before the introduction of the online CPP application, people had to apply for their CPP retirement benefit in one of two ways. Clients could complete a six-page paper application and either mail the application or submit it in person at a Service Canada location. Or clients could complete an eight-page online application on the Service Canada website, but then they would have to print the signature page, sign it, and mail it in for processing.

As of January 2017, 106,606 people have applied online. One third of all eligible applications are being completed online and that proportion is growing every day.

Visit Canada Pension Plan for more information.

An infographic outlining the benefits of applying online.
Text version

Applying online is simple and secure!

Steps to applying online:

  1. Sign in to My Service Canada Account
  2. Answer three simple questions
  3. Sign electronically
  4. Submit your application

Benefits of applying online

  1. The online application is easy to use, efficient, and secure.
  2. You will receive a notice of entitlement letter from Service Canada within three weeks.
  3. You can update personal info and view/print statement of contributions and tax slips in your My Service Canada Account.

Benefits of applying online

The online application is easy to use, efficient, and secure.

You will receive a notice of entitlement letter from Service Canada within 3 weeks.

You can update personal info and view/print statement of contributions and tax slips in your My Service Canada Account.

A well-supported government

Public servants have put a lot of effort this year into supporting the Government in developing new ways to involve Canadians directly in issues ranging from missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, to climate change policy, to supporting a new process for appointing senators.

At Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, a team of public servants from across government joined forces to help the Minister conduct an unparalleled Canada-wide pre-inquiry consultation process. They sought the input of the loved ones of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, as well as survivors of violence, on the structure and scope of a national inquiry. Eighteen face-to-face meetings were held across the country, complemented by an extensive social media campaign, which allowed participants to take part virtually. Team members created a respectful, safe and caring environment that enabled people to tell their harrowing and frequently horrific stories—often for the first time. They also provided extensive counselling and emergency support services to many people through very difficult days. This engagement helped shape the terms of reference for the inquiry by making certain that the voices of those most affected by the violence were heard.

In order to deliver Canada’s commitment to tackle climate change under the historic Paris climate agreement, officials from Environment and Climate Change Canada and other departments worked with representatives from provinces and territories, and in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, to help develop the first Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. In December, the leaders of Canada’s provinces and territories convened to adopt the Framework following the commitments made in the Vancouver Declaration of March 2016. This groundbreaking effort will grow the economy while reducing emissions and building resilience to adapt to a changing climate. It will put a price on carbon pollution and encourage more development of clean growth industries and more efficient use of energy. It shows Canadian leadership on a global problem.

Three tents illuminated by lights on a snowy mountainside.

Officials at Department of Finance Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada worked cooperatively and intensively with their provincial and territorial counterparts to enable Canada’s finance ministers to reach a historic agreement in June to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. This work directly supports the Government’s goal of helping Canadians to achieve a safe, secure and dignified retirement.

Another area in which the Public Service has helped support the Government’s approach to decision making is the launch in November 2016 of a new Senate appointment process, whereby Canadians can apply online to fill vacancies among the total of 105 Senate seats. As of March 1, the new system has been used to fill a total of 27 Senate seats for British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Photo montage of small groups of people talking to each other.

The Public Service has been working hard to support the Government’s commitment to delivering results for Canadians. This time last year, I noted that I looked forward to, one year on, reporting not just activity, but impact. We have been directing our efforts to making a positive, measurable impact on people’s lives. Across government, departments and agencies have put in place systems, practices, and tools to track implementation of the Government’s priorities as set out in the ministers’ mandate letters.

The Results and Delivery Unit (RDU) has been created within the Privy Council Office and serves as a central hub to promote a new resultsoriented culture across government. RDU supports departments in building capacity through collaboration and sharing of good practices in top priority areas ranging from growing the middle class, to tackling climate change, and improving the well-being of Indigenous Canadians. New guidance such as the 2016 Treasury Board Policy on Results is improving how departments articulate the results they aim to achieve and how they measure and evaluate performance. Ultimately, this will help departments achieve real, concrete results. It will also help them explain how they are helping achieve outcomes that matter to Canadians.

The Government has asked ministers to devote a fixed percentage of program funds to experimenting with new approaches aimed at instilling a culture of measurement, evaluation and innovation, in program and policy design and delivery. Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat are setting an example in this area. As part of Procurement Modernization, they are collaborating to simplify the process for low dollar value purchases. Beginning in May 2017, several departments will test the effectiveness of a new approach that seeks to reduce the time spent on low dollar value contracts while increasing the reliability of the system. This experimental approach will be used to phase in government-wide implementation. The ultimate goal is to reduce the administrative burden and improve results for Canadian businesses and the government.

A healthy and productive workforce

As Canada’s largest employer, with more than 258,000 employees, the Federal Public Service must lead by example in supporting and developing employees to create a healthy and productive workplace. Not only is this our duty to our employees as a responsible employer, but it is also fundamental to ensure that public servants are able to do their best for Canadians and for the Government.

While broad actions are needed across the Public Service, the renewal of the Public Service also belongs to every one of us. This year, I put out a call online to all employees to share their stories about workplace improvement directly with me. Many public servants wrote in with heartening stories about their teams or peers working to make a difference for their colleagues. They told me about the ways in which they were being more inclusive and accepting of differences, about being a friend at work, and about finding simpler ways to get the job done for Canadians. Many also expressed their frustration over issues related to the pay system, workplace tools and technologies, and work spaces. These are all areas in which we know we need to do better, and we will.

We know what we need to do to improve, as I noted in my report last year. The message has come through very clearly in successive rounds of the triennial Public Service Employee Survey (PSES). It was also expressed in ongoing discussions about our progress towards the Blueprint 2020 vision we set a few years ago, to position ourselves to better serve Canadians and government in the future. Below, I provide just a few examples of work that has been done this year to advance the priorities I set out last year: advancing our work on mental health and workplace well-being; improving the capabilities of the Public Service; and recruiting and developing top talent.

1. Mental health and workplace well-being

Graphic of two silhouettes and thought clouds

Last year, I committed to continue making mental health and workplace well-being a priority so that we can build a healthier, more respectful and supportive work environment that strengthens the Public Service. I am grateful for the work of the Joint Task Force on Mental Health, established by the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The Task Force helped lay the foundation for our work on mental health in its December 2015 report. This year, we have built on that foundation by developing a Federal Public Service Workplace Mental Health Strategy, released in June 2016.

I was very happy to see that hundreds of employees provided comments and feedback on the Strategy, because we want to ensure that it meets people’s needs. Employees told us about the importance of strong leadership and good people management and of taking action to reduce stigma and shame around mental health. They also told us about the need for training and tools to help employees and their managers create mentally healthy work environments. Public Service employees have also been sharing their stories on mental health and wellness, through sessions held at the Canada School of Public Service and through our internal collaboration platform GCTools, in order to support one another and to help fight stigma.

We must act on this input by measuring and continually improving our approaches to mental health and wellness. And with the new annual employee survey we launched this year, we will be able to track progress more frequently on key people management issues. The survey asks employees questions such as whether they feel comfortable bringing forward new ideas and talking to their manager about matters affecting their wellbeing. Its results will help organizations continue to develop their action plans on mental health and wellness, which I asked all deputy heads to do this past year. The new Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace at the Treasury Board Secretariat provides excellent resources for all of us in this regard. This joint employer-union initiative was recommended by the Joint Task Force on Mental Health.

A once-a-year survey will not be sufficient—it is only the beginning. We have to keep listening to what employees are saying in all areas, particularly as it relates to their work environment. That is why I have now set up a contact group on mental health, made up of fourteen public servants from all levels and from different job types and locations. They provide me directly with their perspectives on how our workplaces do and do not support mental health and wellness. Every time we meet, we learn something new.

While the Mental Health Strategy has helped increase attention to the importance of the issue across the Public Service, some organizations have had a robust approach in place for some time. Canadian Heritage, for example, has an ombudsman model that is well enshrined in its corporate culture. It is a trusted, safe space that serves as a one-stop shop to resolve the widest possible range of issues, providing managers and employees with a confidential environment to have informal conversations with someone impartial and independent. This model is being emulated in other departments, most recently Public Services and Procurement Canada. It is important that we leverage and share these efforts through communities of practice, such as the recently established Mental Health / Wellness Champions Committee. We must continue to listen to employees’ needs.

As I noted in last year’s report, harassment and discrimination have no place in society or in the Public Service. They are barriers to respectful and healthy workplaces, and such behaviours must be promptly addressed. Everyone has a role to play to prevent harassment and discrimination, particularly those who manage people. The Public Service has a Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, and departments have also put in place their own values and ethics codes outlining specific expected behaviours, as well as duties and obligations. These values and ethics codes also outline the steps employees should take, and the people to contact, in the event that an issue cannot be resolved with their immediate supervisor. My deputy ministers and I are committed to ensuring these codes are promoted and respected.

All of us have a role to play in mental health and workplace well-being and I am heartened that public servants are very active on mental health. Many are taking matters into their own hands and hearts.

Six people standing together holding handwritten signs.

The Federal Speakers’ Bureau on Mental Health is an employee-driven group of speakers within the Public Service who have experienced mental health issues or illnesses. These speakers engage colleagues, staff, management and executive groups by sharing their personal journeys. They help inspire hope through powerful, genuine and heartfelt testimonials. Between August 31, 2016, and February 28, 2017, the Bureau delivered 94 presentations, directly engaging an estimated 4,700 public servants. Satisfaction rates were overwhelmingly high, with 94 per cent of participants surveyed stating they had gained a better understanding of mental health. Ninety- two per cent had improved their views of people with mental health issues, and 84 per cent said they were more likely to seek help for a mental health problem after attending.

As of March 2017, over 2,500 public servants and more than 90 deputy ministers and heads of agencies have signed the mental health pledge, whereby they commit to creating a healthy, respectful and supportive workplace by understanding that every person is valuable and deserves to be treated with respect, by educating themselves about mental health and its challenges, and by using appropriate language when talking about mental health and encouraging positive discussions.

Workplace well-being is also about improving communication and empowering employees. For example, over the past year and a half, the Service Canada Passport Call Centres in Montreal have been using Lean to effect deep culture change. Employees are actively engaged in continuous improvement. Teams hold regular stand-up meetings where any suggestions employees make to improve operations are triaged according to how much effort they will require in relation to their expected impact. No suggestion is discarded out of hand. This has led to improved communication on the team and more empowered employees who are much more engaged in their workplace and, ultimately, better service to Canadians.

2. Improving the capabilities of the Public Service

Last year, I said that improving the capabilities of the Public Service was an important part of my mandate. Public servants, like any other type of workers, need to refresh their skills and knowledge, and we have to adapt the organizational culture in order to remain on top of our game for Canada. We also need lighter processes and simpler structures in order to be more agile and nimble in serving Canadians. We must make sure that the rules, structures, and policies in place are enabling and empowering. We need to get rid of process for the sake of process, or because we have always done it that way. If certain things are not working or getting results, we need to have the courage to change course, and sometimes stop doing them.

I am pleased to say that over the course of the past year, public servants in the policy field have continued to play an instrumental role in the advancement of important Government priorities, and have done so with the highest standards of professionalism and commitment.

The policy community has shown its capacity to adapt and improve by seizing opportunities offered by a changing environment. It is becoming more connected, more creative and more open in engaging with others within and outside the Public Service. While we are slowly breaking down organizational silos, this is an area where we need to do better to serve Canadians and the Government.

More efforts are also needed to make successful and innovative practices the norm. For example, I will be encouraging deputy minister policy committees to promote policy innovation and the use of both new internal tools and external resources to strengthen policy analysis. The conversation on how to constantly improve the way the policy community works is very much alive and ongoing.

Simplifying rules and processes and reducing internal red tape was one of the top priorities for action identified by employees during the Blueprint 2020 engagement exercise. The Blueprint 2020 Internal Red Tape Reduction Tiger Team at Treasury Board Secretariat consulted over 2,000 public servants in person and online from across departments to get a view from the working level of what processes are hindering them from doing their jobs. Employees reported difficulty getting clear directions, siloed information, and poor client service, as well as process overload and cumbersome technology. The Tiger Team found that internal red tape is a significant issue for public servants in all departments across all regions, and internal red tape is about more than just rules; it is also about how people react to rules.

The Tiger Team made a number of recommendations, including to: eliminate unnecessary processes and requirements, and ensure that those remaining are written in plain language; design processes from the user perspective; and improve service.

The Treasury Board Secretariat continues to take steps to address the Tiger Team’s key recommendations and findings. For example, in response to feedback that employees have difficulty finding and understanding the rules, it has launched a new Policy Suite website that will help users find the information they need. In response to the need to improve service delivery by internal service providers, Treasury Board Secretariat has developed and is rolling out service measures to be introduced in the annual Management Accountability Framework process.

Skills, knowledge and culture

Public servants are often called upon to lead large-scale projects, many of which are interdisciplinary and involve multiple stakeholders. While most executives have some project management or oversight responsibilities, they often have little formal training to support these. We need to raise our game in project management, learning from our strengths and the many examples of excellence and best practices both within our ranks and in other jurisdictions around the world. It is critical to provide support and training to project managers so that they are equipped with the skills and tools they need to do their jobs. The examples below show that we are starting to focus on doing just that.

Twenty-one departments and agencies have worked together to develop the Federal Geospatial Platform (FGP). The platform is a collaborative online environment where a collection of the government’s most relevant geospatial information can be found easily and viewed on maps to support evidence-based decision making, foster innovation, and provide better service for Canadians.

Open maps is the open access version of the platform. This is part of the broader Open Government initiative to make information more readily available to Canadians. It was showcased at the United Nations in September 2016, where Canada also endorsed a Joint Declaration on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience—an initiative to integrate government data and make it available to the public.

Did you know?

The FGP has already been used to support evidence-based decision making on complex issues such as resource development, environmental assessment, and security and safety.

I have been impressed with the success of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) in leading the implementation of the Long-Term Vision for the Parliamentary Precinct, which includes major projects to renovate culturally and historically significant heritage buildings. This year, the Wellington Building renovation was completed within scope, on time and on budget. In fact, over the past several years, PSPC’s project teams have delivered dozens of major projects on time and on budget, and the Auditor General has recognized its strong project management practices.

This year, PSPC also concluded the Government of Canada’s Transformation of Pension Administration. In January 2017, the department completed the transfer of Canadian Armed Forces pension plans administration from National Defence. This was the final step of a complex, 10-year IT-enabled project, which was completed on time and under budget. PSPC now provides pension services to more than 850,000 members of Canada’s military, RCMP, and Public Service. Members have access to centralized support from pension and benefit experts, providing accurate, timely and accessible pension services. 

Taking the view that to be successful, project management must be grounded with change management training, PSPC has begun providing five levels of training streams in change management. More than 250 of its employees have undertaken training in the last year, including all senior leaders. The department has also made the training accessible to other departments, and four have already made use of it.

The Canada Space Agency has established its own internal project management community of practice, in response to needs expressed in an internal survey to improve practices and to increase collaboration between project managers. The group is making recommendations to improve the project management process, including effective collaboration and innovative, flexible and productive ways of working. And it is already sharing knowledge: in November 2016, the group held an armchair discussion to share with other project managers the knowledge acquired during the design phase of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission project.

People inspecting a steal beam in at a construction site

The Community of Federal Regulators has shown leadership in building our regulatory capacity. It breaks down departmental silos, sharing best practices and offering both in-person and virtual learning opportunities to develop regulatory skills and knowledge. It has become a hub for regulatory experimentation by mobilizing horizontal networks to co-create solutions to common regulatory challenges. It has taken professional development for the community, by the community, into its own hands.

Shared Services Canada

Before Shared Services Canada (SSC) was established, federal information technology services and telecommunications were decentralized and highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The government was working with a patchwork of sometimes antiquated systems, with different approaches to IT security. There were 63 different email systems, over 600 different data centres running on old platforms, and 50 different telecommunications networks across government. In order to better connect Canadians with federal programs and services safely and securely, SSC was created in 2011 to consolidate and modernize federal IT infrastructure and make it more secure. The scale, scope and complexity of the infrastructure transformation are unprecedented and involve extensive co-ordination across all organizations.

With hindsight, the technical challenges, as well as the requirements for resources and expertise to implement this IT transformation agenda, were underestimated. As the work has unfolded, the growth in demand for IT services and Canadians’ ever-growing use of digital services, delays with procurement in some areas, and uneven capacity of industry to meet the government’s requirements, have presented challenges. As a result, progress has been slower than expected, and SSC has had no choice but to maintain some of the old infrastructure past ideal timelines.

Despite these challenges, steady progress is being made to put in place modern, reliable and secure IT infrastructure. SSC has closed 92 data centres and continues to advance toward its goal of seven or fewer “enterprise” data centres. It has installed over 109,000 desktop phones with Voice over Internet Protocol technology. In addition, SSC has made enterprise video-conferencing available to 43 departments. SSC has also implemented a service-first approach and has seen an increase in service satisfaction ratings as part of an annual Customer Satisfaction Feedback Initiative.

SSC’s Security Operations Centre is strengthening cyber and IT security across the government. The close collaboration between SSC and the Communications Security Establishment Canada means that Canada’s government IT is now among the most secure in the world, in the face of a rising risk of cyber-attacks.

There is still work to do. In fall 2016, SSC completed broad-based consultations with employees, including young public servants, industry and Canadians. More than 2,500 submissions were received with suggestions for improving IT services. In addition, an assessment is being conducted through an Independent Third Party Review. SSC will take full advantage of the input from these consultations to further refine an approach to building a modern, secure, and robust government IT platform to deliver programs and services for Canadians.

A focus on language of work

Bilingualism is a core value to Canada and to the Public Service. The use of both our official languages enriches our work environment and is critical to our ability to deliver services to Canadians. Languages are therefore very important skills for the Public Service. As a bilingual institution, we have a statutory obligation to respect the language-of-work rights of employees, and to create and maintain a workplace that supports the use of English and French in bilingual regions. The Language Portal of Canada website provides a one-stop window for language resources for all Canadians to help them improve their English and French. The 2014 Public Service Employee Survey drew attention to some disparities in the levels of comfort felt by employees in expressing themselves in the official language of their choice. Because I believe this is so important, I formed a working group on language of work to examine these and other related issues. Over the past year, the working group has engaged hundreds of public servants across the country, across all departments, levels and classifications. 

The good news is that, since 2003, federal organizations have improved their capacity to create bilingual work environments: there are more bilingual positions across the Public Service today than ever before. But that is not enough to create a bilingual work environment. Many employees, francophones in particular, feel that they cannot write or create their work in French or speak their language of choice in meetings. Some have noted that they rarely hear their leaders, including deputy ministers, speak French. Senior leaders have the ability to set the tone for an entire organization. We can and must do better. 

Woman seated at a desk next to an English / French sign.

Having said that, a number of organizations have succeeded in creating an environment where employees in designated bilingual regions feel comfortable expressing themselves in the official language of their choice. For example: the Public Service Commission’s internal telephone directory allows employees to indicate their preferred language of communication; the Canada Council for the Arts has created its own guidebook for chairing bilingual meetings; in official minority language areas, the Public Health Agency of Canada has put in place a program where it loans employees wishing to improve their French to Acadian and other francophone organizations; the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has created a translation standard for scientific documents; and Natural Resources Canada has developed a simple online tool to encourage people to use their second language when exchanging emails with their colleagues. The Translation Bureau is a unique Canadian institution that has been invaluable in fostering respect for our linguistic duality. The Bureau partnered with National Research Council Canada to launch the Language Comprehension Tool, which is currently available to 40 departments. It won a 2016 GTEC Distinction Award. 

All of these organizations share a common trait: they consider bilingualism in the workplace to be a fundamental value that deserves to be promoted, rather than just another requirement that needs to be met.

As we move forward, the competencies that many public servants have in a wide range of languages, including in Indigenous languages, will be a tremendous asset to Canada.

Tools, processes and structures

This year, the suite of online Government of Canada collaboration tools, known simply as “GCTools”, was revamped and significantly improved. These internal tools include a Government of Canada version of Wikipedia (GCpedia), the government-wide intranet (GCintranet), a discussion platform weaving together some of the functionalities of Twitter and Facebook (GCconnex), and the updated Government of Canada directory (GCdirectory), all within the secure government firewall.

Public servants are using these tools to brainstorm, organize cross-Canada events, advertise assignments, and crowdsource ideas and input for new interdepartmental projects.

GCtools Registered Users
A graph illustrating that since 2008 the number of GCTools registered users has grown steadily.
Text version

The Y axis represents the number of GCTools registered users and is measured in thousands and increases in increments of 2,000 from 0 to 160,000 from bottom to top.

The X axis lists the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 from left to right.

Total GCpedia users, total GCconnex users and total unique users (one or the other) are represented:

Total users GCconnex

  • 2008 : 18
  • 2009 : 1,867
  • 2010 : 4,561
  • 2011 : 7,531
  • 2012 : 10,486
  • 2013 : 27,311
  • 2014 : 51,270
  • 2015 : 76,647
  • 2016 : 104,072

Total users GCpedia

  • 2008 : 1,531
  • 2009 : 9,881
  • 2010 : 19,053
  • 2011 : 27,444
  • 2012 : 35,502
  • 2013 : 43,854
  • 2014 : 52,839
  • 2015 : 20,512
  • 2016 : 26,500

Total unique users (one tool or the other)

  • 2008 : 1,542
  • 2009 : 11,129
  • 2010 : 21,886
  • 2011 : 32,175
  • 2012 : 42,163
  • 2013 : 62,926
  • 2014 : 90,191
  • 2015: 118,766
  • 2016: 148,090

The growth trend kicked off by Blueprint 2020 remains extremely positive.

Over fifty-five percent of the public service has an account on one or more Gctools.

The number of users of GCconnex and GCpedia has grown steadily since their launch in 2008. Things really took off after the launch of Blueprint 2020, and the number of GCconnex users passed the 100,000 mark in late 2016. This year saw the creation of GCcollab, a collaboration tool outside the federal firewall to bring together students, academics and public servants at all levels of government, as well as anyone with whom we need to collaborate by invitation.

I am very impressed with the way that public servants are continuously improving GCtools. I encourage all public servants to maximize the potential of these tools by using them to break down silos and hierarchy, share great ideas and knowledge, and develop themselves and others.

Transport Canada is a globally recognized leader in the certification of aeronautical products. This has contributed to the success of Canada’s aerospace sector (the third most important in the world, behind the United States and Europe). Transport Canada’s aerospace engineers work directly with Canadian aerospace manufacturers to certify aeronautical products. Companies cite our world-class certification process as one of the reasons they choose to build in Canada.

Did you know?

Aeronautical product certification has become increasingly complex. In 2003, certifying the Bombardier Challenger 300 required 24,000 hours of work by Transport Canada engineers. In 2016, the Bombardier C-Series required 169,000 hours to certify, given the much more advanced and complex technology used in the new model.

Phoenix pay system

In an organization as complex as the Public Service of Canada, every year brings its own extraordinary challenges. Last year, there was perhaps no greater test than the implementation of the new Phoenix pay system. Modernization of the pay system was long overdue. Its many shortcomings were vividly described in a 2009 report from the Auditor General. However, the urgency of the task led to an unsuccessful launch of a new system. Planning and implementation of this project fell short and left many employees with missing or inaccurate pay.

The resulting hardship faced by public servants and their families is deeply regrettable and unacceptable. We need to do better to help support our people in resolving issues that, for many, have caused significant worry. We are grateful to the employees at Public Services and Procurement Canada, the Public Service Pay Centre in Miramichi and its satellite offices, and to employees in individual organizations working to assist their own people. All these people have been working across Canada to assist fellow public servants. They have sacrificed nights, weekends and holidays to assist their colleagues. This situation was not their doing, but they made it their cause.

Progress is being made, and updates are being provided regularly through the PSPC website, briefings and parliamentary appearances, as well as communications with staff. The problems experienced with Phoenix are a stark reminder of the complexity inherent in government-wide technology projects and the importance of properly planning for and resourcing major change initiatives.

This need to reflect and improve was underscored last year by the Auditor General. In his 2016 Fall Reports, he urged public servants to become much better at applying the lessons from the past to our planning. All of us need to take this message to heart.

Technology holds huge potential to improve our external and internal services, but it is only a tool. People must be at the front and centre of any change initiative. Strong lines of communication with employees and stakeholders are essential. Rigorous planning that includes user training, solid change management approaches, and ongoing engagement and feedback is crucial.

3. Attracting, retaining and developing top talent

The Public Service is already experiencing a dramatic demographic shift as baby boomers start to retire in large numbers. Over the past year, approximately 9,000 public servants retired. Ensuring that we recruit, develop and support the right people is now our most pressing challenge. As I said a year ago, “it will be important to pass on the values and wisdom of past generations, while mobilizing the energy and creativity of the new generation of public servants.”

Over the past year, we have implemented strategies to attract employees who have the talent and skills to meet the needs of the Public Service of the future and who reflect the diversity of Canada’s population. As of March 31, 2016, all four employment equity designated groups continue to exceed their workforce availability for non-executive employees. Nevertheless, I am concerned that there are still gaps for particular specialized classifications and that representation is not distributed evenly across all levels. As well, we know from feedback by employees in our employment equity groups that they do not always feel that their workplaces are inclusive and respectful, or that they have a fair shot at advancement. I am pleased to see that the President of the Treasury Board has launched a Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service. This is a good first step, and I personally plan to do more work in this area over the coming year, drawing on internal and external expertise.

It is heartening to see organizations taking the initiative to create a more inclusive workplace. Health Canada is a prime example. Named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2016, it has created an Aboriginal Employee Development Initiative, including an Aboriginal Management Development Program and an Aboriginal Career Management for Employees Program. It has also created a dedicated teaching and healing centre to create greater understanding of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures, traditions and perspectives. Its Centre for Persons with Disabilities created an Enhanced Internal Placement Services program to match internal applicants with relevant vacancies in the Public Service.

LiveWorkPlay is a Canadian charitable organization for people with intellectual disabilities that was founded in Ottawa in 1995. It works with the community to identify barriers and solutions to exclusion. Currently, LiveWorkPlay has nine employment pilot projects with Federal Public Service organizations, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Discussions are underway to consider expanding these projects more broadly.

In 2015-16, there were 7,698 new indeterminate hires. Almost 33 per cent of these new indeterminate employees were under 30 years of age, and over half were under 35. This shows that generational change is happening. We have also been fortunate that 170 people chose to serve in civilian roles by joining the Public Service after distinguished careers in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Although the gap between people leaving through attrition and hiring continues to shrink, we still face a skills gap as the experienced baby boomers leave. This underscores the importance of our work on knowledge sharing and skills development to support the renewal of the Public Service. I am pleased to highlight below just a sampling of the many recruitment initiatives launched this past year.

On April 1, 2016, the Public Service Commission (PSC) introduced the New Direction in Staffing, the most ambitious change in the staffing system since the 2005 Public Service Employment Act. It allows organizations to customize their staffing system to meet their individual needs and hiring managers to apply their discretion in developing and executing resourcing strategies. The PSC is improving programs and services and collaborating with organizations to explore innovative ways to attract, recruit and assess candidates to help build the Public Service of the future.

Much is being done to improve recruiting approaches in specialized fields of our work. For example, this year the Canadian Space Agency ran a recruitment campaign to identify new Canadian astronauts, making special efforts to recruit women. Their efforts have paid off: 11 of the 32 finalists are women (32%) as compared to the last selection process in 2009, when 6% of finalists were women. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working to get the best and brightest as it hires 136 new researchers, biologists, oceanographers, engineers, technicians and other experts in one of the largest-ever efforts to recruit scientists in the department’s history. This will dramatically increase our capacity to conserve and protect marine ecosystems and manage Canada’s fisheries.

And we are working hard on innovative student recruitment too, doing our best to create a positive work experience that reflects all that the Public Service has to offer as a rewarding career option. From May to August 2016, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) worked with the Assembly of First Nations, the Public Service Commission, the Canada School of Public Service, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and participating federal departments to implement the Indigenous Youth Summer Employment Opportunity (IYSEO) initiative. This is an example of a program designed to strengthen representation, development, and retention of Indigenous youth in the Public Service through targeted recruitment of talented Indigenous post-secondary students.

Using the Public Service Commission’s Federal Student Work Experience Program, TBS recruited 30 eligible post-secondary Indigenous students from across Canada to work in departments in the National Capital Region for 10 weeks during the summer of 2016. The initiative was given an 88 per cent approval rating by the participants, and at least two-thirds of the students received an offer of some form of continuing employment (contract extension, part-time job, etc.) after the pilot project ended. In the summer of 2017, TBS will work with partners to run the second iteration of the IYSEO. In 2017-18, the initiative is being expanded to welcome between 60 and 120 students.

This year also marked the launch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Indigenous Student Recruitment Initiative, which encourages Indigenous youth to pursue studies in science. Twenty-one Indigenous students were recruited for the summer 2016 term and ten of these students continued into the fall term. At Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s Nunavut regional office, participants in the Inuit Learning Development Project now get to work in four-month rotations in four different government departments and at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation in Quebec. This allows them to gain experience and expand their knowledge base with a view to helping them develop their careers.

Recruitment is the first step in ensuring the right people are working in the right place at the right time. Recruiting the next generation is important, and so is bringing in talented people who are midcareer and want to contribute to public service. But we also need to help our existing employees grow and develop, through effective onboarding, training and development opportunities, mentoring, and feedback to employees and managers. We need to foster an environment that promotes lifelong learning for all employees.

This year, Mediacorp Canada named TBS one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. In response to the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey and to feedback it received from employees through dialogue around the Blueprint 2020 vision, TBS has made a commitment to culture change. This includes the Every Day commitment to employees to support a respectful, fulfilling, inclusive and productive work environment each and every day. It has introduced skip-level meetings, so that employees can meet with departmental leaders without the presence of their immediate supervisor. This initiative is fostering stronger communication at all levels. It gives employees an opportunity to interact with higher levels of management and to have their voices heard more clearly in the organization.

Woman with beaded earrings

Employment and Social Development Canada has also embraced the concept of employee feedback. For the last few years it has put in place a mandatory Employee to Manager Feedback Questionnaire. Any manager with more than three employees must allow their team to complete a survey on their leadership skills. The results of these surveys are shared with the manager’s supervisor and help to inform the manager’s learning plan. This approach allows managers to gain constructive feedback on their strengths and on areas in need of improvement. This best practice serves as an example for other organizations to follow.

The Canada School of Public Service has launched new tailored programs to help develop current and future leaders. These include the Aspiring Directors, New Directors and Directors General Programs, as well as the new Executive Leadership Development Program created in partnership with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.

Several federal departments and organizations received national accolades this year for being outstanding places to work:

Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2016:

  • Canadian Heritage
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service
  • National Energy Board
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Canada's Best Diversity Employers for 2017:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada

Canada's Best Diversity Employers for 2016:

  • Health Canada

Canada's Top Employers for Young People for 2017:

  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Communications Security Establishment Canada
  • Department of Finance Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Health Canada

An emerging area of work in the Public Service, led by employees, is Positive Space, a global movement striving for inclusion and safety for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The goal of Positive Space is to enhance the work experience of all employees, including members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning (LGBTQ2+) community, by creating a safer, more tolerant, open-minded environment. It seeks to achieve this by engaging volunteer champions who promote diversity in the workplace.

Positive Space Champions are volunteers who promote a welcoming and inclusive environment. TBS piloted Positive Space training in 2013 with the Ontario Public Service Pride Network. There are now over 500 trained Champions who are easily identified by the pins they wear and the placards they put up in their workspaces. They embody “Positive Spaces” in their everyday actions, actively promoting diversity and respect in the workplace and providing support and resources to employees on LGBTQ2+ issues. I am pleased to see that over 20 organizations have put in place programs to support the initiative. They include Correctional Service Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Inverted rainbow –coloured triangle with the text “positive space”.

Many other communities within the Public Service, including the National Managers’ Community and the Federal Youth Network, play an important role in bringing public servants together. They reach across traditional hierarchical, departmental, and regional boundaries to connect people with shared interests. I encourage all public servants to seek out their communities of interest—demographic, type of work, regional, or other—to get engaged and make a difference.


Because one of the core values of the Public Service is to continuously strive to do better, we tend to focus on areas that require improvement and growth. But it is equally important to celebrate our many accomplishments.

The Governor General and the Clerk standing with two men and one woman in front of two Canada flags.

I was very proud to be part of thanking this year’s recipients of the Public Service Awards of Excellence, who exemplify the values, expertise, passion and sense of purpose we share. Recipients included: a Genomics R&D team that developed new technologies for detecting food- and waterborne pathogens; a young crew on a Canadian Coast Guard boat that risked life and limb to rescue the survivor of a capsized fishing vessel; and a group of outstanding role models from across departments, led by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, that spearheaded efforts to safely bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada under very tight timelines. These are but a few examples.

The high degree of excellence in the Public Service makes me confident in our continued ability to serve. But we also need to continue to change and adapt for the future. I fundamentally believe that working differently is imperative. If we continue to work in old ways, our ability to help the Government deliver on its ambitious agenda, and to serve Canadians, will be at risk. That is why we all must ask ourselves not only what we can do differently, but also what activities and processes we can shed in order to free up time, energy and resources to increase our capacity to deliver.

My aspirations and priorities for the Public Service for the year ahead are the ones I set out a year ago:

  • We must equip ourselves with modern tools, processes and organizational structures while stripping away unproductive and unnecessary bureaucracy.
  • We must be able to measure how we are working and the outcomes we are achieving, so we can learn.
  • We need to be open to new ideas as we collaborate with communities and Canadians to serve them better.
  • We must remain focused on mental health and workplace well-being, including by improving communication and our people management practices.
  • We must continue to attract and retain top talent and be a diverse and inclusive workforce.

I invite public servants across the country to assist in realizing these aspirations together. I look forward to celebrating Canada’s 150th and to building on our long history of continuity and change.

The Clerk and Prime Minister seated during a meeting in the Prime Minister’s office.


Annex A: By the numbers―A demographic profile of the federal Public Service for 2016

This annex presents select demographics for the Federal Public Service (FPS)1 in fiscal year 2015–16.

Supplementary demographic information is available online.

Number of Employees

The size of the FPS population varies according to government priorities.

In 2015-16, the population of the FPS increased slightly. As of March 2016, there were 258,979 active employees working in the FPS, representing an increase of 0.8% from March 2015.

The number of federal public servants per 100 Canadians is lower today than it was a decade ago (0.71% in 2016 versus 0.77% in 2006). Looking back further, the FPS population represents a lower proportion of the Canadian population today than it did 30 years ago (0.97% in 1986).

Number of employees
March 2015
March 2016
All Employees
Deputy Ministers (DMs)
Associate DMs

Employee Types

Employee types
March 2015
March 2016

Compared to last year, the FPS population of indeterminate employees declined whereas that of term employees, casual employees (for short- term workloads), and students increased both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of the overall FPS workforce.

Mobility in the Core Public Administration (CPA)

While the early 2000s were characterized by high employee mobility, there has been a decrease in mobility since 2008–09, with the most prominent decrease in 2012–13 and 2013–14. From 2014–15 to 2015-16, the number of new indeterminate hires increased by 26.3% and the internal mobility (i.e., promotions, lateral and downward transfers) rate increased from 12.4% to 15.0%.

Over the past decade, departures remained relatively stable until 2012–13 where there was a 41.3% increase in the total departures compared to the year before. This was mainly due to the implementation of the Economic Action Plan 2012 and to other government transformation initiatives. In 2015-16, departures decreased by only 1.9% compared to the previous year.

Mobility in the CPA
New indeterminate employees
Retirements and departures
Lateral and Downward transfers


Average age
March 2015
March 2016
Deputy Ministers
Associate DM
EX-04 to EX-05
EX-01 to EX-03

In 2016, 47.0% of executives were under 50 years of age compared to 42.1% in 2006.

That being said, the average age of executives (at both lower and senior levels) has remained relatively stable since 2006.

The distribution of public servants by age band remained relatively constant between 2015 and 2016. There was a slight increase in the proportion of public servants under the age of 25 from 3.3% in 2015 to 3.6% in 2016. The proportion of public servants aged 25 to 34 decreased from 17.3% in 2015 to 16.9% in 2016. Over the same timeframe, there was also a decrease in the proportion of public servants aged 45 to 54 (32.0% to 31.2%). The percentage of public servants aged 45 and above remained relatively constant from 2015 to 2016 (51.6% to 51.5%).

Age band
March 2015
March 2016
Under 25
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 to 54
55 to 64
Age band
Under 25
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 to 54
55 to 64

For the last two years, over 50% of new indeterminate hires in the core public administration were under 35. The proportions of new hires by age have remained relatively constant over the last ten years. The greatest change over that period was the proportion of those aged 35 to 44, which dropped by 2.6%, and those aged 55 to 64, which increased by 2.3%.

Years of Experience2

After increasing gradually, the proportion of public servants with over 25 years of experience has remained fairly steady over the last five years. Notably, between March 2015 and March 2016, the proportion of indeterminate FPS employees with 0–4 years of experience and 5–14 years of experience decreased by 0.6 and 1.2 percentage points, respectively. Those with 15 to 24 years of experience saw the greatest change with an increase of 1.7 percentage points.

Years of experience
March 2015
March 2016
0–4 years
5–14 years
15–24 years
25+ years

First Official Language

The representation of first official languages in the FPS has been relatively stable over the past 25 years.

First official language
March 2015
March 2016
FPS: French
FPS: English
EX: French
EX: English

Representation vs. Workforce Availability (WFA)3

The statistics presented below are for the overall FPS, CPA EX4 and CPA New Hires.

In the past 10 years, there have been significant gains in the representation of all four Employment Equity groups, as reported through self-identification.

Overall, the FPS representation levels of all groups exceeded their respective workforce availabilities. However, in 2015–16 the CPA executive cadre representation levels did not meet workforce availability estimates, with the exception of the persons with disabilities group.

Women comprised 47.3% of the CPA EX community in 2015–16, a significant gain since 1983 when women comprised less than 5.0% of the CPA executive cadre.

In terms of new hires in the CPA, with the exception of persons with disabilities, all groups exceeded their respective workforce availabilities.   Members of a visible minority group comprised 17.3% (vs. workforce availability of 13.0%), persons with disabilities comprised 3.3% (vs. workforce availability of 4.4%), Aboriginal peoples comprised 4.0% (vs. workforce availability of 3.4%), and women comprised 57.9% (vs. workforce availability of 52.5%).

Representation vs. WFA 2014-15
Members of a Visible Minority group
Representation vs. WFA 2015-16
Members of a Visible Minority group
All FPS: 15.4% vs. WFA: 14.3%
All FPS: 16.2% vs. WFA: 14.2%
CPA EX: 8.8% vs. WFA: 9.5%
CPA EX: 9.4% vs. WFA: 9.5%
CPA New Hires: 16.1% vs. WFA: 13.0%
CPA New Hires: 17.3% vs. WFA: 13.0%
Persons with Disabilities group
Persons with Disabilities group
All FPS: 5.7% vs. WFA: 4.4%
All FPS: 5.6% vs. WFA: 4.5%
CPA EX: 5.3% vs. WFA: 2.3%5
CPA EX: 5.1% vs. WFA: 2.3%6
CPA New Hires: 3.5% vs. WFA: 4.4%
CPA New Hires: 3.3% vs. WFA: 4.4%
Aboriginal Peoples
Aboriginal Peoples
All FPS: 4.6% vs. WFA: 3.3%
All FPS: 4.7% vs. WFA: 3.3%
CPA EX: 3.4% vs. WFA: 5.2%
CPA EX: 3.7% vs. WFA: 5.2%
CPA New Hires: 3.8% vs WFA: 3.4%
CPA New Hires: 4.0% vs WFA: 3.4%
All FPS: 55.0% vs. WFA: 53.2%
All FPS: 55.1% vs. WFA: 52.3%
CPA EX: 46.4% vs. WFA: 47.8%
CPA EX: 47.3% vs. WFA: 47.8%
CPA New Hires: 56.6% vs. WFA: 52.5%
CPA New Hires: 57.9% vs. WFA: 52.5%

Annex B: Public Service Renewal Results Plan

Public Service Renewal Results Plan for a healthy and productive workforce

The Blueprint 2020 Vision: A world-class Public Service equipped to serve Canada and Canadians now and into the future.

We will be recognized as having the best people working together with citizens, making smart use of new technologies and achieving the best possible outcomes with efficient, interconnected and nimble processes, structures and systems. Our core objective is to improve the lives of our citizens and secure a strong future for our country.

Blueprint 2020 – Getting Started – Getting Your Views Building Tomorrow’s Public Service Together, June 2013

In keeping with the Blueprint 2020 vision we set out for ourselves in 2013, the Public Service must make sure it is well positioned today and tomorrow to deliver the best possible outcomes for Canadians and the Government. Indeed, as public servants, our work serves three inter- connected goals. We work to: 1) provide excellent service to Canadians, 2) ensure that the Government is well supported, and 3) ensure that we are a healthy and productive workforce.

The needs of Canadians are constantly evolving, as are our working environment and the technologies at our disposal. One of my roles as Clerk of the Privy Council and Head of the Public Service is to work with other senior leaders to ensure that the Public Service is able to adapt to and excel in the context of this ever-changing landscape. By doing this, we will continue to provide high-quality service to Canadians and support to the Government, in a manner that is consistent with our enduring Public Service values.

Every employer has a responsibility to pay attention to the well-being of their employees. As the Public Service is the largest employer in Canada, it is particularly important that we set an example. It is also important because we need a healthy and productive workforce to provide our best service to Canadians and support to the Government.

Triangle graphic illustrating the three outcomes of the Blueprint 2020 vision: Excellent service to canadians; a well-supported government; a healthy and productive workforce

“To deliver on results for Canadians, we need to continuously ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. What outcomes are we trying to achieve?
  2. What is our plan to get there?
  3. How will we know if we’re making progress?

This approach will keep us focused on our end goal, improving what we do for Canadians every day.”

Twenty-Third Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, 2016

The questions above are guiding us in improving what we do for Canadians every day. Inspired by these questions, we have worked with a cross-section of employees across Canada to help us design the next phase of the Public Service’s efforts to renew ourselves from within—the Public Service Renewal Results Plan.

What outcomes are we trying to achieve?

The Public Service Renewal Results Plan is about delivering outcomes for Canadians and the Government with a healthy and productive workforce. While we are making progress towards the Blueprint 2020  vision, the time is right to focus our efforts on achieving a few specific, measurable outcomes related to our people, our processes and structures, and our well-being. We will focus on measuring our progress in creating:

  • A Public Service that enables new and existing public servants to be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things;
  • A Public Service with efficient and effective processes, tools, practices and organizational structures; and
  • A Public Service that embodies a healthy workplace.

For each of these outcomes, specific actions are being taken, and we will track progress so that we can learn and adjust our approaches over time. By doing this, we will be able to see more clearly how the work we do to create and maintain a healthy and productive workforce connects directly to better service to Canadians and better support to the Government.

What is our plan to get there?

As the original Blueprint 2020 work demonstrated, both management and employees have a role to play to help achieve the vision. The same goes for the outcomes set out in the Public Service Renewal Results Plan. Here are some actions that will help us get there:

  • Build a Public Service that reflects Canada’s diversity
  • Support public servant career development
  • Improve staffing processes
  • Better manage employee performance
  • Empower public servants to collaborate and experiment
  • Make business processes more user-friendly
  • Improve mental health and wellness in the workplace
  • Increase participation in knowledge sharing and learning initiatives

How will we know if we are making progress?

We have to assess whether these actions are effective by measuring their impact. To do that, we will track progress and report back to employees and Canadians using indicators.

It is clear that a small number of indicators will not capture all aspects of the three outcomes we are trying to achieve. For example, while we will never be able to capture all of the knowledge sharing and learning initiatives occurring across the Public Service, we are able to track the percentage of mentorship pairings made on the GCTools Jobs Marketplace. If this number increases, then we can assume that more mentorship relationships are being established Public Service-wide, and that these relationships are sought out and valued by public servants.

To track indicators that reflect employees’ day-to-day experiences on the job, we will include data, for example, from the results of the triennial Public Service Employee Survey and the new Public Service Annual Employee Survey.

Next steps

The next page illustrates the Public Service Renewal Results Plan, including examples of the indicators we plan to track and report on at a Public Service-wide level. While every organization has its own priorities for renewal, public servants are encouraged to consider how the notion of outcomes, actions and tracked indicators of progress can help them advance their own work on renewal and modernization.

Public Service Renewal Results Plan for a healthy and productive workforce
Text version

Public Service Renewal Results Plan for a healthy and productive workforce.

Blueprint 2020 – a world-class public service equipped to serve Canada and Canadians now and into the future.

What outcomes are we trying to achieve?

  1. A public service that enables new and existing public servants to be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.
  2. A public service with efficient and effective processes, tools, practices and organizational structures.
  3. A public service that embodies a healthy workplace.

We will be recognized as having the best people working together with citizens, making smart use of new technologies and achieving the best possible outcomes with efficient, interconnected and nimble processes, structures and systems. Our core objective is to improve the lives of our citizens and secure a strong future for our country.

Blueprint 2020 – getting started – getting your views, building tomorrow’s public service together, June 2013.

What is our plan to get there?

  • Build a public service that reflects Canada’s diversity
  • Support public servant career development
  • Improve staffing processes
  • Better manage employee performance
  • Empower public servants to collaborate and experiment
  • Make business processes more user-friendly
  • Improve mental health and wellness in the workplace
  • Increase participation in knowledge sharing and learning initiatives

How will we know if we are making progress?

For example:

  • Percentage of employees who feel their job is a good fit with their skills
  • Percentage of employees who feel they get the training they need to do their job
  • Percentage of employees who feel staffing processes in their work unit are done fairly
  • Percentage of employees who feel they receive useful feedback from their immediate supervisor on job performance
  • Average monthly active participation on the GCTools platforms
  • Canada’s ranking in the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicator of Government Effectiveness
  • Percentage of employees who describe their workplace as being psychologically healthy
  • Percentage of mentorship relationships established through the GCconnex Jobs Marketplace
  • Percentage of learning plans in performance management agreements fulfilled

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: