Renewing the Public Service Beyond2020
Canadians count on their Public Service for professionalism, predictability, and stability. At the same time, meeting the changing needs of Canadians means that we must continue to learn and renew ourselves by looking deeply at how we work.
Moving forward on renewing our Public Service is especially pressing given the dynamic time we live in. With emerging shifts in technologies, global flows of information, and profound differences in generational expectations and ways of working, merely launching new programs and initiatives is not enough. We need to change how we think about our work—our mindsets—and how we work together and with Canadians—our behaviours.
That is what Beyond2020 is about. It is about how we work. It is about how our everyday actions can make a difference. This is not about putting a 1995 workflow on a 2019 device. It is about evaluating how we tackle problems. Are we taking risks by trying out different ways of doing things? Are we seeking out different perspectives and being as inclusive as we can? Are we constantly learning and growing?
These questions speak to our mindsets and behaviours. And they are just a sampling of the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves to become more agile, inclusive, and better equipped. As illustrated in the following sections, we are already shaping improvements around these key areas of focus.
We will be measuring and tracking progress as we go. The results of the Public Service Employee Survey will serve as a key tool to analyze our progress across the Public Service and within each organization.
Success depends on harnessing the expertise, knowledge, and passion of all public servants. Public servants from coast to coast to coast are encouraged to work together and to take advantage of horizontal communities that cut across government (like the National Managers’ Community and the Federal Youth Network).
An agile Public Service involves being courageous in taking on new roles and in tackling barriers that limit us in responding quickly to new challenges.
Agility can make us uncomfortable because it sometimes requires us to push boundaries. But we are building this capacity by embracing uncertainty and learning through experimentation. Public servants should feel they can challenge the status quo and explore new ways of developing solutions.
Thinking differently about how we work
Agility speaks to how we manage, mobilize, and empower public servants. By experimenting with workforce models, employees contribute their specific skills and talents where and when they are needed, with less focus on their physical location.
Drawing inspiration from mobility-based initiatives, like Canada’s Free Agents and micro-missions, the Fellowship program, sponsored by the Impact and Innovation Unit at the Privy Council Office, allows us to further experiment with ways to bring in important new skills. The current key areas of specialization are behavioural insights, innovative finance, impact measurement, challenge prizes, and data science.
We understand that the ability of public servants to be more mobile is fundamentally reliant on really understanding our workforce. The Statistics Canada Human Resources (HR) Business Intelligence team developed a number of interactive tools that empower managers to use HR data to make evidence‑based decisions.
One tool is a multi-faceted dashboard that allows users to view and interact with results from the 2017 Public Service Employee Survey. This tool was the first on Statistics Canada’s new Innovation Cloud and has been accessed 20,000 times per month, on average, since its launch in April 2018. It was recognized with an Honourable Mention in the 2018 National HR Awards’ Best Use of People Analytics category.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Public Services and Procurement Canada have launched an agile procurement process for the purchase of digital goods and services. In the traditional tendering process, we often provide companies with a detailed outline of the solution we want them to provide. This agile procurement process, on the other hand, features “challenge-based procurement,” where we present companies with a problem and invite them to solve it. This is a new and promising approach for government procurement.
Being agile requires us to experiment and try new things. We understand that we do not have all the answers or the capacity to solve everything ourselves.
Through the Impact Canada initiative, a variety of departments are using prizes to attract broader, more diverse expertise and ideas, and accelerate outcomes-based approaches across government.
- the Smart Cities Challenge with Infrastructure Canada;
- the Drug Checking Technology Challenge with Health Canada;
- the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative with Indigenous Services Canada;
- the Whale Innovation Challenge with Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and
- five different challenges and initiatives with Natural Resources Canada:
- the Women in Cleantech Challenge;
- the Sky’s the Limit Challenge;
- the Power Forward Challenge;
- the Crush It Challenge; and
- the Generating Opportunities: Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative.
We are also working with:
- the City of Toronto to design behaviourally informed interventions to increase uptake of the Canada Learning Bond; and
- the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the MaRS Discovery District to assess the feasibility of a pay-for-success intervention to improve the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.
Internally, the Treasury Board Secretariat hosts a portal on experimentation on GCpedia (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) that houses case studies and other tools, events, and resources to help public servants on their experimental journey.
Employees from Indigenous Services Canada and the Department of Finance Canada have set an interesting example of innovative entrepreneurship. Working together, public servants swiftly mobilized people with varying backgrounds in project and commercial finance, energy projects, Indigenous matters and government operations to move forward on the Northern Ontario Grid Connection Project. The project is being led by Wataynikaneyap Power, a partnership between the utility company Fortis Inc. and 24 First Nations communities, which have majority ownership in the partnership. It is the largest Indigenous-led and Indigenous-owned infrastructure power project in Canada. The project will connect 16 remote First Nations communities to the provincial power grid. The first community, Pikangikum First Nation, was connected in December 2018.
“This project will redefine the relationships and the landscape of how business must be conducted with the First Nations through creating a sustainable First Nation equity position overall. This provides the foundation for the communities to participate meaningfully in the economic prosperity of this country.
We would like to thank both levels of government who’ve supported our vision of owning a major infrastructure in our homelands. Now we need to get the line that brings light into the communities. These are exciting times!”
- Margaret Kenequanash
Chief Executive Officer
Wataynikaneyap Power LP
Seemingly small actions and decisions can lead to meaningful improvements
- Western Economic Diversification Canada is experimenting with co-working: sharing workspace with stakeholders in the community. By learning alongside people who are doing different work from ourselves, we can spawn innovation in both the community and the public sector.
- Daniel Gray and Caroline Simard led a small team in the Corporate Management Branch at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to develop a new, efficient electronic invoice-to-payment system that saves money and frees up resources to focus on higher priority areas.
- Experimentation Works is a government-wide initiative led by the Treasury Board Secretariat to build public servants’ capacity in experimentation skills and practice. It uses a learning-by-doing model that showcases departments’ small-scale experiments from start to finish in an open-by-default manner. Want to learn more? The project is openly tracked on Trello.
Phoenix Pay System
This is the third year we have written about the Phoenix pay system in this report. We continue to hear, on a daily basis, stories from public servants about issues they have had with their pay. The message is clear: problems with our system continue to be widespread and persistent. Though we continue to reduce our backlog of cases, we are still a long way from resolving our pay issues.
Progress, however, has been made. The Pay Bulletin provides public servants with information about public service pay, including updates on progress towards addressing the backlog of pay transactions. Employees at the Public Service Pay Centre in Miramichi, New Brunswick, and across the country continue to work hard to resolve outstanding pay issues and stay on top of new ones.
In a 12-month period, the backlog of cases in the queue was reduced by over 20%. We have increased the number of employees working in pay operations to relieve some pressure and have introduced pay pods—dedicated compensation teams for departments and agencies—to help streamline the process for employees in resolving pay issues. We are grateful for the efforts of these public servants.
“A successful day in compensation is ensuring we can do everything possible to make sure our clients are paid correctly. When accounts are reconciled and pay is correct, we know the client will be satisfied and be able to concentrate on their daily tasks without worrying about their pay.”
Christine Bransfield, Acting Team Leader, Public Service Pay Centre
We continue work on the Next Generation of the Public Service human resources and pay system and recognize the need to address issues as quickly as possible. However, we are also learning from our mistakes and taking the time to engage widely, to:
- better understand the complexities of our pay and human resources needs; and
- develop usable and practical solutions for best meeting the needs of our workforce.
While Phoenix failures have been frustrating and immensely challenging, the resiliency and agility of public servants in responding to this situation has been heartening. Fixing the pay system remains a top concern.
While Canada’s diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act of will. It can be as simple as how we run meetings or about reaching out across teams, departments, levels, and to the many sectors outside the Public Service to seek diverse views. No one has a monopoly on good ideas.
“Speak up. Get involved. Make a change in your organization. If there isn’t a dialogue going on now, start talking about how you open that up. The time is now.”
Caroline Curran, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
Empathy and compassion
Mia Sigouin displayed inspiring courage in sharing her own experience to help others with their transition.
As she notes, “I wanted to equip future transgender employees with something more concrete.”
Mia worked with colleagues to create Support for Trans Employees: A Guide for Employees and Managers for Public Services and Procurement Canada employees.
In October 2018, Ann-Marie Jenkins and Mallory Chafe (both Canada Revenue Agency outreach officers) visited four Inuit and Innu communities in Northern Labrador to talk about tax benefits and credits. These face-to-face discussions allowed Ann-Marie and Mallory to engage community members in an open way and help people file their returns. In fact, some were able to file their own return on the spot! These officers found the trip very rewarding.
It takes leadership at all levels to advance inclusion in the Public Service. We’ve seen grassroots efforts, like the Federal Speakers’ Bureau on Healthy Workplaces (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) and horizontal groups made up of public servants from across the country, bring to life important conversations like making the workplace more inclusive.
Building on many of these efforts, Safe Workspaces: Starting a Dialogue and Taking Action on Harassment in the Public Service used employee feedback to identify actions to better support employees. Early action is under way, including:
- departments and agencies have begun to offer ombuds services to employees;
- harassment is now an agenda item at every meeting between management and Public Service unions; and
- many engagement and training sessions have taken place, including the Canadian Coast Guard’s “Women at Sea” discussion about the experiences of women in operational environments.
Public servants are benefiting from an enhanced series of Canada School of Public Service courses on harassment prevention. As well, the Treasury Board Secretariat will launch the Centre for Wellness, Inclusion and Diversity in the Public Service in spring 2019. The Centre supports departments and agencies working to address issues of harassment and helps to create safe, healthy, diverse, and inclusive workplaces.
There are many ways to make our workspaces healthier. And, as is often the case, a little creativity can go a long way. For example, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s Quebec offices introduced a schedule to allow employees to bring their best friends—their dogs—to work. The team found that bringing pets to work has increased performance, relieved stress, and promoted positive social interactions. Overall, it’s been such a success that the Toronto office has followed suit! That’s nothing to bark at.
Health Canada launched a Workplace Wellness Service Centre in May 2018. Its purpose is to streamline access to services that address the needs of employees related to duty to accommodate for persons with disabilities, disability management and the reporting of occupational health and safety incidents and accidents. The Centre provides employees with a single point of contact to coordinate human resources, information management and technology, and security service requests.
We all have multiple identity factors that intersect to make us who we are. This is why public servants use Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to assess how diverse groups of women, men, and non-binary people may experience policies, programs, and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences. It considers many other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, Indigenous origin or identity, sexual orientation, age, place of residence, and disability. The Department for Women and Gender Equality’s GBA+ online course aims to give public servants the awareness and skills they need to apply gender-based analysis when developing policies and programs.
A diversity of perspectives
A good example of bringing various voices to the table is the Deputy Minister Task Force on Public Sector Innovation, which includes mid-career GC Entrepreneurs (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) as full members. These members provide fresh perspectives to the discussion and benefit from a leadership development opportunity.
Individual teams or departments cannot tackle every challenge on their own. The Clean Growth Hub, launched in January 2018, is an example of a whole-of-government focal point for collaboration. The Hub brings together 16 different federal departments and agencies to help companies and projects:
- navigate clean technology programs and services;
- share information and promote coordination between programs; and
- improve tracking and results on clean technology outcomes to Canadians.
In its first year of operations, the Hub served over 800 clients.
“It is incredibly interesting to work with people who come from various different departmental cultures and interests and see the impact a common purpose can have. I am most proud of helping to build those relationships and continuing to foster them to increase collaboration across departments to improve clean technology outcomes.”
– Mackenzie Larwill, Senior Analyst
Natural Resources Canada
We are continuing to work towards creating a workplace where Indigenous peoples seeking and living a Public Service career are supported and fully included in all facets of Public Service life. Through the Deputy Minister Task Force on Reconciliation, tools have been developed to support departments in working towards reconciliation within the Public Service, including:
- an Action Plan Placemat that outlines barriers and recommended solutions and identifies progress on improving recruitment, retention and promotion;
- a Deputy Ministers Dashboard to outline initiatives and tangible workplace practices that can be taken under current authorities; and
- a departmental Progress Scorecard to identify existing gaps and provide updates and data on initiatives working towards improved and sustained recruitment, retention, and promotion of Indigenous employees and executives.
In addition, the Canada School of Public Service has established an Advisory Circle composed of Indigenous government and non-government representatives who play a strategic role in defining the focus of the curriculum and the overall direction of the School’s Indigenous Learning Series.
“I’m most proud of the way we’re working: with others, in the open, trying new things, testing and iterating as we go.”
– John Kenney, Manager, Social Innovation, Natural Resources Canada
We are designing work environments that optimize performance, make learning a fundamental part of the job, and provide better access to technology and tools.
The Data Strategy Roadmap
The recently released Data Strategy Roadmap for the Federal Public Service sets the foundation for the Public Service to create greater public value from the data it creates, collects, and manages. The report followed nearly a year of engagement throughout the Public Service.
In September 2018, Shared Services Canada, Defence Construction Canada and the Department of National Defence opened the government’s largest state-of-the-art data centre in Borden, Ontario. Enterprise Data Centre Borden:
- supports federal government online program and service delivery to Canadians;
- provides greater physical and cyber security for Canadians’ personal information; and
- contributes to a long-term information technology solution for Canadians’ growing use of digital services.
Sometimes, innovation is about streamlining. Of our over 700 data centres located across Canada, close to 90% are simple rooms in office buildings. Shared Services Canada has closed 180 legacy data centres to date and continues to migrate applications and data to newer, more secure environments, including enterprise data centres and cloud-based solutions. Much more needs to be done, as we migrate to digital government, to free up resources from maintaining legacy systems.
Continual renewal requires continuous learning.
Moufid Jarada of Shared Services Canada features in A day in the life of a civil aviation inspector a video about a Transport Canada job that requires continually staying up to date on the latest regulations and technology.
To ensure Canada’s Public Service has the skills and knowledge it needs to deliver in the digital age, the Canada School of Public Service launched the Digital Academy. Open by default and collaborative in nature, the academy brings together contributors from various levels of government, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. The curriculum supports all levels of public servants in their efforts to modernize operations to deliver digital services that Canadians expect.
The Atlantic Federal Council, supported by Canadian Heritage’s Atlantic Region, has created an inter-institutional program that allows federal employees to learn and practice their second official language by working in minority community organizations. This has proved to be a win-win: public servants develop their second-language skills, and community groups receive extra help. Moreover, based on its success, this program is being adopted by other parts of Canadian Heritage.
Similarly, the Translation Bureau’s Language Comprehension Tool helps maintain a vibrant culture of bilingualism and enable public servants to better understand their second official language. While this tool has been integrated into GCconnex to translate discussion forum posts, it is also available to all public servants to help encourage the use of both official languages in the workplace.
GCworkplace is about more than just new workspaces and new furniture. It’s about the people. It’s about creating an environment to support the new way of working for a modern, confident and high-performing Public Service. Moving beyond the open-office concept of Workplace 2.0, the GCworkplace vision is enabled by the Activity-Based Workplace design concept. It features a variety of work points that are designed with productivity in mind and supports a range of activities we do each day, from working independently to working collaboratively, whether in an office building or a laboratory or on the front lines of service to Canadians. There is a focus on ensuring accessibility for persons with disabilities—reflecting a strong recognition that more needs to be done to remove barriers.
Working with users to design solutions is critical. An example of this comes from a team from Public Services and Procurement Canada who are experimenting with working beyond a designated office: employees choose where and how they will work. Whether working from a choice of office locations, working from home or in transit, they have the tools to perform their work and collaborate with their colleagues.
Increasingly, workplaces are designed to support the range of activities we do each day, from working independently to collaboratively, from working in a cubicle to a laboratory, from fieldwork to space exploration.
While we work on improving our workspaces, public servants are also busy improving the houses of our country’s democracy. For over 150 years, the Parliament Buildings (the Centre, West, and East blocks) have housed the Government. We are busy completing the largest heritage restoration project Canada has ever seen. Public Services and Procurement Canada has shown great skill in balancing restoration with modernization to ensure Canada’s most historic and culturally significant buildings meet the needs of a 21st century parliamentary democracy.
As work progresses, Public Services and Procurement Canada is also making these important spaces accessible. This will make it easier for Canadians to enjoy Parliament Hill, and engage in our parliamentary democracy. Once complete, the Parliamentary Precinct will feature:
- barrier-free access throughout, including entrances, amenities, and seating in the new Senate and House of Commons Chambers;
- accessible elevators and washrooms, counters, and drinking fountains; and
- lower curbs and accessible ramps, handrails, hydraulic door openers, and Braille signage.
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