Read the Letter to the Prime Minister, the Introduction to the Clerk’s Annual Report and information on the pay system

Letter to the Prime Minister

March 29, 2018

Dear Prime Minister:

As Head of the Public Service of Canada, I am pleased to submit to you the Twenty-Fifth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, as per the provisions of section 127 of the Public Service Employment Act.

In 2017, Canadians celebrated the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Public servants also took the time to celebrate 150 years of our institution. We reflected on our past and our achievements, and we are energized as we look ahead to the challenges of the future.

Canada’s Public Service has much to be proud of. In 2017, we were ranked as the most effective public service in the world in an international civil service effectiveness index. This ranking reflects the talent and diversity of our public servants.

I think our effectiveness also has a great deal to do with the feedback we receive—from the media, officers of Parliament, stakeholders and the public. They tell us what we could have done better. We strive to listen, learn, correct and improve. When we fall short, we take time to draw lessons and fix our approaches to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

This is the case with our pay system. In spite of significant efforts across government, our pay challenges persist. This is unacceptable. I assure you that in 2018, we will continue to work hard to make progress on the pay system and to ensure that our employees are paid accurately and on time. It is my highest priority.

In this report, I am proud to share with you the stories of dedication and ingenuity that public servants have demonstrated in serving Canadians, and in making real progress to deliver on the Government’s agenda.

I spent the year listening to public servants, reflecting on our progress to date, and thinking about how we can deepen our commitment. I established a Clerk’s Table on Diversity and Inclusion and a Clerk’s Table on Mental Health that provided valuable insight and feedback over the past year. I have engaged over 22,000 public servants at events across the country and in locations around the world. I have reached out directly to Canadians through social media. I have also used these channels to ask public servants to share their stories of renewal directly with me. This report is directly informed by what I have heard.

Over the coming year, I will build on our collective efforts in some key areas. I am committed to achieving a public service that is representative of the Canadians we serve and that makes full use of its talent. I will remain committed to the mental health and well-being of our workforce, including by addressing harassment and discrimination. And I will support our capacity to deliver by ensuring public servants have the right tools, processes and organizational structures to do their jobs. I invite all public servants to join me to continue our progress in these priorities.

Thank you, Prime Minister, for recognizing the Public Service of Canada’s achievements over the past year, and for supporting efforts to make its future even brighter.

Michael Wernick


The Public Service of Canada is a strong and proud institution. We are a values-driven organization made up of passionate people from across the country who come to work every day to make a difference in the lives of Canadians. We provide evidence-based, non-partisan advice and support to the Government, and deliver quality services to Canadians across the country and around the world.

Since launching Blueprint 2020 in 2013, the Public Service has worked to instill a culture where innovation is supported and valued. Recognizing the need for change, public servants are doing their part to achieve it. Their entrepreneurial spirit has impressed me.

We need to continue to evolve and find new and better ways to generate results for Canadians. And our focus must continue to be on delivering on the Government’s mandate.

As Canada’s largest employer, with a workforce of approximately 262,000 employees, we are committed to creating a diverse, inclusive and talented workforce, equipped with the right tools, processes and organizational structures. We will maintain our focus on mental health and workplace well-being, and put an end to harassment and discrimination.

This report is an opportunity to reflect on progress made over the past year and to learn from one another’s ingenuity.

of public servants are proud of the work they do

2017 Public Service Employee Survey

Pay system

Paying public servants accurately and on time is my top priority.

I am distressed by the emotional and financial hardship that our pay system is causing so many of our dedicated colleagues and their families.

Learn more about the pay system

The problems with our pay system never should have happened. In spite of the significant efforts of public servants, our pay system challenges persist. I sincerely wish that I could state with certainty when these issues will be resolved, but there are no quick fixes.

We are striving to address this situation in a number of ways. An integrated human resources and pay team is working across government to correct the underlying problems with the pay system. They are also taking measures to address the backlog of cases, including increasing capacity to process pay requests and redesigning our human resources processes. Managers and the human resources community are playing a crucial role by providing support to their employees and helping to prevent additional pay issues. New investments proposed in Budget 2018 will support these efforts. As well, working with experts, unions and technology providers, we will begin development of the next generation of the pay system.

I have also asked deputy ministers to inform me of their actions to help stabilize the pay system so that employees can be paid accurately and on time. Organizations are drawing from these actions to advance approaches that will bring meaningful improvements for our employees.

It is critical that public servants know that they do not need to face the burden of pay challenges alone. Emergency salary advances and priority payments are available to employees who are facing hardship.

We continue to meet and share information with bargaining agents on the pay system problems, and to find solutions and assist them in dealing with the concerns of their membership.

Finally, we are analyzing the root causes of the problem and lessons learned to prevent failure on this scale from ever happening again. The Auditor General released his audit results on the Phoenix pay problems in the fall of 2017, and we will hear again from the Auditor General this year. This work will provide critical insights that will inform the planning and implementation of future government-wide transformation projects.

Service data for 2016 - 2017

Transcript — Service Data 2016-17

Processed applications

  • 1.54 million Social Insurance Number applications
  • 2.97 million Employment Insurance applications
  • 2.7 million Old Age Security applications and renewals
  • 1.5 million Canada Pension Plan applications


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