Public service renewal

Public Service Renewal

In this section you'll find themes including attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce, mental health and workplace well-being and modern tools, processes and organizational structures.

Last year, I invited public servants across the country to help us make progress towards public service renewal across these priorities:

  • Attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce
  • Remain committed to mental health and workplace well-being
  • Equip ourselves with modern tools, processes, and organizational structures

I also asked that we measure how well we are working and the outcomes we are achieving, so we can gauge our progress, learn and adapt.

I received hundreds of stories of renewal from departments and agencies, communities and individuals. These stories demonstrate that innovation in the Public Service is more valued and supported than ever before.

In the 2017 Public Service Employee Survey, 67% of public servants indicated that they are encouraged to be innovative or take initiative in their work, up from 63% in 2014. The combination of efforts at the system-wide, departmental, team and individual levels is making a real difference.

We need to take the time to learn from one another’s efforts. If something has worked well, we need to look at whether it can be implemented across the Public Service or adapted to suit department-specific needs. Where we are falling short, we will benefit from the contributions of inquisitive public servants at all levels in finding better ways to do things.

of public servants report that they are encouraged to be innovative or to take initiative in their work

2017 Public Service Employee Survey

Attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce

Our ability to serve the Government and Canadians, and to tackle the challenges of tomorrow, demands diverse ways of thinking. To be our most innovative and productive, we must bring together teams that represent diverse identities, cultures, skills, perspectives and experiences. Diversity also helps us to better understand the needs of the citizens and communities we serve. This helps us build better programs and services that meet the needs of Canadians.

List of Government of Canada departments on Canada’s Top 100 and Forbes’ Top 100 2018 lists
Text version — Canada’s Top 100 Employers - 2018
  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Canadian Heritage
  • National Energy Board
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
(Source: Canada’s Top 100 Employers)

Forbes’ list of Canada’s best employers - 2018

  • Parks Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • Department of Justice
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Statistics Canada
  • Canada Border Services Agency

We have made great strides towards achieving greater representation in our workforce. The representation of women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities exceeds estimates of their availability in the workforce.

In 2017, Global Government Forum ranked Canada first in its Women Leaders Index. The Index looks at the proportion of women occupying senior public service leadership positions across the federal government in each of the G20 countries. I do not consider it a coincidence that our public service ranked so well on both effectiveness and women-in-leadership indexes. Inclusion makes us both stronger and more effective.

We know that important gaps persist. For example, persons with disabilities are under-represented in the technical and operational categories, and overall representation in the Public Service has decreased over the past ten years. Indigenous Peoples remain under-represented in executive positions, and their promotion rate remains lower than those for the Public Service overall. As we dig deeper, there are persistent gender imbalances in some of our occupational groups that we need to address.

While meeting targets for representation is a step in the right direction, achieving diversity is not about checking a box. True inclusion takes a workplace culture where employees take action to make the most of diverse ways of thinking and looking at problems. Let me be clear — we must ensure that no voices are left out and no talent is left behind. Diversity and inclusion go together.

On November 28, 2017, the Government delivered a long-awaited apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) Canadians, their loved ones, families and communities. The apology captured Canada’s collective promise to do better.

List of Government of Canada departments that are among Canada’s best diversity employers
Text version — Canada’s Best Diversity Employers - 2018
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada

At that time, I also offered an apology to the public servants who suffered because of this injustice. For many LGBTQ2 public servants, our workplaces were not safe or welcoming. During this chapter of our history as an employer—from the 1950s to the 1990s—LGBTQ2 public servants were singled out. This often limited or ended their careers. We will do everything possible to ensure that this never happens again.

This past year, we started a dialogue with public servants about the barriers they face, and changes that would make a meaningful difference to their experience in the workplace. We spoke to the people most affected when we did not get it right on diversity issues.

A task force on diversity and inclusion in the Public Service, comprising both employer and bargaining agent representatives, examined how to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the government. They heard from over 13,000 public servants across the country about the barriers they face and their aspirations to fully contribute to the work of the Public Service. This input informed a final report with wide-ranging recommendations to support a more robust, deliberate and sustainable process of culture change. The task force aims to achieve a diverse, welcoming and inclusive workplace where all employees can thrive.

In addition to this work, we engaged specific communities of public servants on their unique challenges:

  • The Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation brought together many voices from across the Public Service. Together, they developed a strategy with concrete actions to improve Indigenous representation and inclusion.
  • The Persons with Disabilities Champions and Chairs Committee consulted participants from 27 different organizations. Their aim was to develop an action plan for a federal accessibility strategy towards becoming a world leader in public service accessibility.
  • A Deputy Minister Steering Committee consulted with public servants across Canada to better understand the new challenges of bilingualism in the 21st century and to provide recommendations to address them.

Many thousands of public servants contributed their ideas, best practices, hopes and concerns. Now, with a number of recommendations before us, the task ahead is a challenging but important one. The input from public servants will help shape our approach, and put us on a new path towards achieving our ambitions.

Budget 2018 proposed new investments that will contribute to this effort. A proposed Public Service Centre on Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness, housed within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, will support departments and agencies in creating safe, healthy, diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Deggen God
We are moving away from traditional ways of doing things on diversity ... moving away from numbers, quotas, targets and making it more about inclusion and respect and how they're all linked.
– Deggen God, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Recruitment and advancement

Building an inclusive workforce starts with recruitment. When done right, recruitment can act as an accelerant to bring about change.

A number of departments are trying different ways to raise awareness of job opportunities and to attract diverse talent. This targets both those entering the Public Service upon completion of their education, and those looking for opportunities to serve mid-career. Departments are also providing opportunities for talented employees to develop skills to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Public Safety Canada has launched a pilot one-week internship for female high school students. It gives them the opportunity to tour public safety and security organizations and experience their day-to-day operations. Students learn about career options from women who are leaders in these fields.

Two public servants discussing what’s on the agenda and planning their work

At the Communications Security Establishment, women comprise 20% of employees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs. To inspire early interest among young women in these fields, it sponsored Canada’s largest all-girl hackathon “HackerGal.”

National Defence is using multi-disciplinary research to better understand the complex social factors that impact a woman’s decision to pursue a career in the Canadian Armed Forces. They are now looking at applying recommendations based on this research to help increase the number of women in the Canadian Armed Forces to 25% by 2026, a commitment in Canada’s new defence policy.

At Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada, Indigenous student ambassadors reach out to Indigenous students in learning institutions and communities to showcase the departments as employers of choice. The ambassadors promote student hiring programs and assist candidates with the application process.

Public Services and Procurement Canada identified a need to support Indigenous Peoples, members of a visible minority and persons with disabilities to improve their second language skills. Its second language scholarship pilot program strives to eliminate barriers to career advancement by offering full-time individual language training to employees who show a high level of performance and potential.

Inuit employees continue to be under-represented in the Federal Public Service in Nunavut, particularly at the management level. Enter Pilimmaksaivik, a new federal centre of excellence for Inuit employment in Nunavut. The small but mighty Iqaluit-based team has brought together local staff and partners to provide Inuit career advancement opportunities that are mindful of Inuit culture and heritage. In 2017-18, Pilimmaksaivik delivered the first-ever, dedicated Inuit leadership training program to 20 participants. The centre is also supporting three Inuit federal employees to attend law school in Nunavut and will offer them full-time legal positions in the Public Service upon completion.

A multi-generational workforce

The Public Service brings together multiple generations representing a diversity of perspectives and experiences. It is our imperative to make the most of what each generation brings to the workplace.

There is an urgency to this work. The portion of our workforce over the age of 54 has grown to 20.4%, compared to only 15.9% in 2007. We are undergoing a transformation of our workforce. It will demand that we transfer wisdom, skills and ideas between generations.

Two generations of public servants

There is no one tool or answer. We will need a combination of formal and informal mentorship programs, as well as tools that allow people in the same professional community, or those who are tackling the same issues, to connect and transfer knowledge.

We also need to think beyond the traditional public servant career path, where recent graduates would start their careers and then stay until retirement. This means supporting public servants who want to gain experience in the private or non-governmental sectors through interchange programs. And it means valuing their experiences when they return. It also means bringing in new talent mid-career to benefit from their diverse expertise and skills.

This will not only provide diverse development opportunities. Public servants will also bring back different ways of thinking, and a better understanding of the organizations that count on our policies, programs and services.

The student experience

Students represent the future of the Public Service. They bring the new ideas, new skills and new ways of collaborating that are needed to be successful in the future.

Group of students holding a certificate

As Canada’s largest employer, and in the face of generational change, we must be competitive in attracting bright and committed young Canadians. And we must ensure that students have positive early experiences so that they will want to return for a career in the Public Service. We also want them to share their experiences with others.

This is why in 2017, I asked my deputy minister colleagues to sign a pledge to improve the student experience.
We committed to:

  • support student onboarding
  • undertake a timely hiring process
  • welcome students through orientation sessions
  • provide meaningful work that allows students to learn and contribute to the objectives of the organization
List of Government of Canada departments that are among Canada’s top employers for young people
Text version — Canada’s Top Employers for Young People - 2018
  • Department of Finance Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • Communications Security Establishment
  • Health Canada

How do we know if these efforts have made a difference? At the end of the summer session, we launched our first-ever national survey to ask our students to rate their work experiences. Over 5,300 students from 76 organizations responded.

I was thrilled that 92% reported a positive work experience and 83% said they would recommend a career in the Public Service to other students. And more than three in four would seek a career for themselves in the Public Service. We also learned of areas where we can do better, such as ensuring that students with disabilities have accommodations in place to reach their potential from day one.

These results show that we are on the right track, and will help guide our approach to recruiting and retaining students. Based on the feedback we heard from students, we have updated and renewed the pledge for 2018.

Departments have told me about the work under way to bolster student recruitment. They want students to have experiences that will motivate them to return to the Public Service. I am impressed by these efforts.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s SPROUT team—made up of employees who started their careers as students—brings together the hundreds of students that are employed by the department each year. SPROUT hosts orientation sessions at the beginning of each work term. The sessions provide students with information about the workplace and create an early opportunity to build mentoring and social networks.

AAFC's Opportunities for Indigenous students

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard launched a new program to match over 550 students with 58 “ambassadors” across the country. Ambassadors welcomed students prior to their arrival and helped them to settle into their new workplace. They also provided opportunities for students to meet one another and network.

Breaking down workplace barriers

The Public Service has a duty to create and maintain an inclusive, barrier-free work environment. This means that all persons have equal access to opportunities, appointments are based on merit, and employees feel included and valued. This is not only a minimum requirement, but an opportunity to set free the full potential of each and every employee.

I am inspired by the work of small groups of public servants who are making a real difference on accessibility issues.

Public servant sitting at desk with service dog

The Workplace Breaking Barriers Challenge invites departments and employees to apply “Inclusive by Design” and “Accessible by Default” principles to the workplace. Through the Challenge, employees shared their stories and ideas for solutions. These stories are captured in an accessible Testimonials Collection and in panel discussions at the 2017 Government of Canada Innovation Fair.

Yazmine Laroche Workplace Breaking Barriers Challenge

The result is an important employee engagement tool that invites conversation between public servants about persistent barriers and potential solutions.

For example, Pamela Warburton from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada shared how her department hosted its first fully inclusive event to celebrate its Diversity and Inclusiveness Month. A panel discussion on the benefits of a representative workforce demonstrated “Accessible by Default” in action. It featured bilingual presentations with simultaneous translation, sign language and real-time captioning in both official languages.

Some departments are creating dedicated teams to make the workplace more accessible. Employment and Social Development Canada has an Accessibility Centre of Excellence, which supports employees and hiring managers in all-things accessibility. The team raises awareness and provides training on accommodation responsibilities. It maintains a wide supply of adaptive technologies that employees can borrow and try before they choose a long-term solution that best suits their needs. The Centre also gives advice on developing accessible solutions for individual employees, provides compliance assessment services and develops approaches to ensure information technology accessibility.

MooseWorks Podcast: Ellen, Jason, Erik and the tactile map

Health Canada has taken an action-oriented approach to creating a more inclusive workplace culture. Its persons with disabilities network invited employees with disabilities to write anonymous letters describing their lived experiences. The letters told compelling, often poignant, stories about difficulties individuals face at work. Based on these letters and further consultations, the team identified critical areas for improvement and developed an action plan. This includes a streamlined process for those requiring accommodations, returning to the workplace or needing support. Other actions will strengthen equity in employment and career advancement, promotion and retention, as well as help improve the lived experiences of persons with disabilities at Health Canada.

Other departments and individuals are using technology to find creative solutions to overcome barriers to accessibility. Ellen Creighton, an employee at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, wanted to welcome and better acquaint her new colleague, Jason Dunkerley, with the office. Jason—who has a visual impairment—happens to be a five-time medalist for Canada in Paralympic Games. Ellen created a tactile map to help Jason find his way around the workplace. Ellen and Jason then worked with Erik Sherwood of the National Research Council Canada to explore how 3D printing can be used to develop a prototype map, and to explore applications for similar 3D maps in other public buildings.


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report in 2015 included 94 calls to action. One of them was a call for government to provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous Peoples. I have heard stories from all corners about how public servants are taking up this call.

Mr. Mervin Traverse, Senior for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, smiling

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada established an Indigenous Support and Awareness Office. The Office supports department-wide efforts to advance reconciliation through Indigenous-led participation in agriculture. It offers a training program to employees to increase knowledge and awareness of Indigenous cultures and histories. Participants gain a better understanding of the unique barriers and opportunities that exist for indigenous agriculture in Canada. The department has hired a First Nations Elder, Mervin Traverse, to guide this work. In addition to acting as the primary liaison with Indigenous communities, he delivers awareness sessions to employees across the country.

AAFC's opportunities for Indigenous employees

The Canada School of Public Service has launched an Indigenous Learning Series. To date, it has reached over 3,900 registered learners and had over 4,800 views of educational videos. Courses and events are offered across the country and focus on reconciliation through awareness, conversations with Indigenous employees and leaders, and the history of Indigenous Peoples, among other themes and topics.

Many public servants personally took the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to heart. They have led by example and, without intending to, become role models.

Jolene Saulis Dione is a proud Maliseet woman from Tobique First Nation. She works as a policy analyst and trainer in the newly formed Reconciliation Team at Canadian Heritage. A trained educator, Jolene is creating a training strategy for the department. She is developing the curriculum and delivering the training to her colleagues. In creating safe spaces for people to learn and share, Jolene is helping her department to take a meaningful step towards reconciliation.

Jolene  Saulis  Dione
In my Maliseet language, there is no word for reconciliation. However, there is a word for forgiveness (Unheltiwin) which Elders tell us is the first step in any reconciliation process or healing journey.
– Jolene Saulis Dione, Canadian Heritage

Mental health and workplace well-being

The health and wellness of the Public Service are vital to the success of our organization and our ability to serve. We are at our best when we feel respected, supported and safe, and our minds and bodies are healthy.

Significant, meaningful work is underway at the organizational and team levels to ensure that our workplaces are healthy. The Joint Task Force on Mental Health counts union representatives and public servants among its members. It is supporting efforts to create a culture that enshrines psychological health, safety and well-being in all aspects of the workplace through collaboration, inclusivity and respect.

This past year, the Task Force reached out to stakeholders. It wanted to learn about promising practices for establishing and maintaining a psychological health and safety system, and to identify where gaps remain. The resulting guide provides a roadmap to help departments identify and assess workplace hazards that can affect the psychological health and safety of employees. Departments have used this tool to move from consultations and planning, to implementing their own strategies.

Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council, and several public servants holding #BellLetsTalk signs

Departments have been strengthening their organizational support systems for mental health in collaboration with their mental health and wellness champions. They have been promoting culture change to instill a psychologically healthy, safe and civil workplace. Several departments have implemented an ombudsperson model. This establishes a safe space where employees can feel free to raise concerns and seek help when they need to.

A number of departments have also created toolkits that provide organizations, managers and employees with practical information and actions to create a psychologically healthy, safe and civil workplace. Some of these resources are featured on the newly launched repository of the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace. And employees have embraced the opportunity to participate in town halls, workshops and panel discussions where they learn from their colleagues about their lived experiences with mental health, and about the importance of breaking down stigma.

A number of supports are available to public servants government-wide. For example, the Federal Informal Conflict Management System Network is an expert team of close to 200 practitioners who serve clients facing challenging workplace issues. The Network’s goal is to improve the workplace, one conversation at a time. Every year, it provides nearly 7,000 consultations, coaching, mediation and group intervention services, and 1,700 conflict management training and awareness sessions to employees and management. Each internal service is designed to strengthen resiliency and improve interpersonal communication skills. The aim is to have a workforce rooted in respect, health and inclusion.

Individual employees have taken it upon themselves to change the workplace culture around mental health issues. Todd Lyons, a federal public servant, created a podcast to explore the human side of the Government of Canada. He brings the diverse perspectives of public servants to his audience, with a focus on experiences we rarely talk about. Todd has created a space where fellow public servants feel safe to open up about their personal and professional journeys with mental illness. These conversations take bravery, but the shared stories help increase our understanding, compassion and awareness of how we can support one another.

Todd Lyons
There's a rein holding all of us back. It's worth taking this risk to start the conversation on mental health.
– Todd Lyons, Natural Resources Canada

Toddcast Podcast: Series on Mental Health

Patricia Doiron, a recently retired employee of Veterans Affairs Canada, has spoken openly with others about her journey with mental illness. In the depths of her struggle, she made a commitment that when she recovered she would be a source of encouragement and hope to others. Her in-person delivery of self-care workshops across Veterans Affairs Canada has had far-reaching impacts. More than 600 employees in 40+ locations benefited from Patricia’s lived experience. They had the opportunity to listen, reflect and interact with others to learn more about the different aspects of mental health, stigma and self-care.

Tackling harassment and discrimination

The recent media attention to systemic harassment in the workplace—and the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements—have highlighted a deeply troubling and pervasive societal issue.

The Public Service is not immune. We must continue to be vigilant against this type of behaviour. As the Head of the Public Service, I am seized with this issue. And I am resolved in my commitment to ensure that all employees feel respected and safe to come forward if they feel they have been a victim of harassment.

The Treasury Board’s Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution articulates our commitment to ensuring that employees have access to an effective, timely and confidential informal or formal harassment resolution process without fear of reprisal.

This framework would be strengthened under the provisions in Bill C-65. Once implemented, these provisions would allow victims of harassment who feel that the process has been ineffective to appeal to the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

Organizations have also put in place practical resources and tools to respond to harassment and to support employees. But we understand that sometimes the path for an employee to get help is not clear. We are working to make our recourse processes more accessible and easier to understand.

If an employee of the Public Service feels they have been a victim of harassment, I implore them to reach out to a trusted supervisor, colleague or departmental advisor, a conflict resolution practitioner, their employee assistance program or a union representative. There are experts available to offer support.

It is critical—but not sufficient—to have appropriate policies and resources in place. We must create respectful workplaces where inappropriate behaviours are never tolerated.

To this end, I have launched a Task Team to spearhead a targeted review of our culture, our harassment framework and areas where we can better support employees.

Modern tools, processes and organizational structures

Canada has the most effective public service in the world. It is made up of individuals who are committed to making a difference to their communities and their country. We have to support them and give them the tools, the workspaces and the decision-making structures to do their jobs.

Two public servants working at their stand-up desks

We need to fully unleash the talent and creativity of our workforce. To do so, we must continue to build processes that are efficient and minimize the number of approval stages and unproductive rules. We must ensure that our approaches make good practical sense, but also build a culture of intelligent risk-taking.

Public service leaders must embrace new ways of organizing teams and move towards more flexible organizational structures. We have had some success at accomplishing this on a project-by-project basis. We need to have the systems and culture in place to make this easy to scale up across the Public Service.

This will always be an ongoing exercise that requires all public servants to find better ways of doing things.

Hacking the hierarchy

The best ideas for change often come from the people who are closest to those we serve. They live with the consequences of overly burdensome processes every single day. Leadership in coming up with ways to be innovative can happen at any level. We need to listen to employees’ ideas for improvement, and support them when they find better ways of doing things.

Take Me With You initative logo

Amanda Bloom, Stephanie Percival and Julie Crabtree are three public servants who were empowered to grow an initiative into a movement. The idea was simple. Take Me with You, first launched at Natural Resources Canada, encourages managers and peers to bring employees with them to meetings. This allows employees to gain insight into how priorities are set and decisions are made. The organization benefits from hearing the perspectives and insights of their employees. But more than that, it encourages development and inclusion within an organization. When departments embrace Take Me with You, it increasingly becomes the practice to have employees present and engaged in the rooms where decisions are taken.

@LeadersGC is an open-by-default initiative born at the grassroots level. A team of dedicated volunteers from across the country holds monthly Twitter chats and live events so that public servants can interact directly with senior leaders. Public servants are invited to share their views, ideas and questions on topical policy issues. These range from mental health to diversity, from reconciliation to workspace and digital modernization. The result? @LeadersGC has created a growing and passionate community of public servants who are participating in dynamic conversations and building networks that span the country.

On GCTools, public servants are connecting through dynamic online communities to address workplace and renewal issues, such as mental health, digital government and career development. Discussions on GCconnex surged by 38% in 2017, and public servants are exploring how they can use GCcollab to work with academics, provinces and citizens on projects.

GCTools logo — Your knowledge at work

The Atlantic National Managers’ Community has built relationships with public service managers from across all four Atlantic provinces. They listen to their needs and respond with initiatives that target their interests. When the Community heard that managers wanted an event to discuss hot topics and to exchange ideas on tackling common challenges, they partnered with the Canada School of Public Service to develop a series of learning days. They were able to equip managers with tools on topics ranging from engagement to mental health and wellness in the workplace. These learning events—for managers, by managers—are now being rolled out across the country.

I am impressed by what entrepreneurial public servants have been able to accomplish. And I am pleased that they have done so with the support of champions and managers who empower them to pursue good ideas. This ingenuity and passion should be encouraged, valued and celebrated.

Human resources hack

We need to be able to smoothly put together teams that are multi-disciplinary and cut across organizations to solve a common problem. This means being more nimble and shape shifting. To do so, we must look beyond our traditional boundaries to move talent between departments. This puts us in a better position to tackle some of our toughest challenges.

A number of teams within the government have been experimenting with increased agility and mobility:

Canada beyond 150

Canada Beyond 150 was co-delivered by Policy Horizons Canada and the Privy Council Office. Over the 10 months of the project, about 80 new public servants devoted one day per week to learning new approaches, including foresight methods, design thinking and best practices for engagement. It has provided leadership and skills development for a diverse group of participants and served as a test kitchen for new approaches, and will help drive a culture shift to a more open and innovative public service.

Canada’s Free Agents

Canada’s Free Agents has designed and launched a cloud-based staffing model in order to reduce barriers to matching talent to business needs. As free agents, these public servants have the freedom to choose projects and assignments that match their skills and interests, and are available for rapid deployment across the entire federal government. As of March 2018, three departments are hosting host free agent programs.

Fellowship Program

The Privy Council Office’s Impact and Innovation Unit has launched a Fellowship program to recruit experts to apply new approaches to priority projects. Fellows work with departments and agencies and provide advice in the areas of impact investing, impact measurement, behavioural insights and data science.

Policy and Program Entrepreneur

The new Deputy Minister Task Force on Public Sector Innovation has welcomed the first cohort of Policy and Program Entrepreneurs to help unlock talent in the Public Service. These entrepreneurs will spend one year tackling cross-cutting priority projects, with the aim of accelerating transformative approaches to how programs are delivered.

Modern tools for results

When the government launched Workplace 2.0 in 2012, it set out to create modern workplaces that change the way we work. By putting in place open, flexible office spaces, and new mobility and digital tools, we were seeking to promote the ability to work anywhere, anytime, and with anyone.

I am convinced that these goals were the right ones. But I have also heard from public servants that we have fallen short on what we set out to do. Too much valuable space was dedicated to storing records, and not enough to collaborative work. It did not address the needs of the many public servants who are on the road on any given day. The majority of our employees still lack the combination of portable computers, Wi-Fi and videoconferencing capability that would allow for a more connected, collaborative way of working.

Public servant talking on a cell phone while working at a laptop

Our approach to workplace design has not worked for everyone. In the future, workplaces will be developed with public servants. We will engage employees on design solutions that make sense for how they work, and that support employee productivity and health.

A number of teams across the government already have a head start. They are using the opportunity created by moves into new office spaces to design a workplace that best meets their needs.

When Status of Women Canada created a new regional hub in Edmonton, Alberta, the team was fully engaged in creating an office with efficiency and connectivity in mind. The office was designed to be paperless from the outset, and makes full use of laptops, smartphones, Wi-Fi and software. These tools make it easier to collaborate, regardless of a person’s location. Employees can connect with one another and with clients across four provinces and two territories. The team is continually piloting new ideas. And they are always looking at additional changes - like shared virtual workspaces - to ensure that the office evolves to meet their needs.

When Canadian Heritage’s Toronto, Ontario, office moved to a new downtown location, it sought the input of staff on how they wanted to work, now and in the future. Their vision? A modernized, agile workspace where employees are no longer tied to their desks. Today, 65% of employees do not have assigned work stations. They can move and work freely around the office according to their needs. This flexible approach is made possible by Wi-Fi, mobile phones and laptops. Flexible workstations, quiet zones and collaboration spaces take into consideration different tasks and working styles.

The office supports flexibility and encourages new ways of working with clients and colleagues. An added impact is that the accompanying clean desk policy has minimized paper use. The move has been a learning experience — one year in, the team is still adapting to the change. They consider the office to be as dynamic as the employees working there. And they continue to learn, incorporate feedback and adapt together.

Digital business processes

Digital business processes
Text version — Digital business processes
  • At the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Longueuil, Quebec, laboratory, employees transformed the information management system. This has resulted in a 94% reduction in paper consumption for files for analysis, and increased ease and speed of searching for information.
  • The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has digitized over 22 million images and freed up approximately 1.6 kilometres of shelf space.
  • At Western Economic Diversification Canada, 90% of employees have tablets or laptops and all workspaces have Wi-Fi access. Documents are signed electronically and the central registry no longer accepts paper records. This approach has streamlined approval processes and reduced paper use by 60%.

Across the Public Service, departments and agencies are streamlining processes, reducing waste and increasing information sharing.

Digitization extends to streamlined business processes for Cabinet and Cabinet committees. The Public Service now provides the majority of documents to Cabinet members on tablets. This has enhanced document security, made files more accessible, and increased convenience for Ministers. It has also reduced the environmental footprint by 90% annually, which is equivalent to the height of two Peace Towers.

Continuous learning matters in the Public Service. The Canada School of Public Service has modernized and digitized its learning delivery through the development of GCcampus. This has led to increased reach from 78,000 learners before the digital transformation to a peak of 159,000. At the same time, more public servants have reported they were able to apply their learning on the job and satisfaction levels have increased.

A demographic profile of the Federal Public Service 2017

A demographic profile of the Federal Public Service 2017
Text version — demographic profile

This infographic presents select demographics for the federal public service (FPS) in fiscal year 2016-17.

Age distribution of public servants
Horizontal, stacked bar chart indicating size of each demographic group
Age band March 2016 March 2017
Under 25 3.6% 4.0%
25 to 34 16.9% 16.8%
35 to 44 28.0% 28.2%
45 to 54 31.2% 30.7%
55 to 64 18.1% 18.2%
65+ 2.1% 2.2%
Age distribution of new indeterminate hires
Age band 2015-16 2016-17
Under 25 11.2% 12.6%
25 to 34 40.4% 42.8%
35 to 44 25.0% 23.3%
45 to 54 17.1% 15.7%
55 to 64 6.1% 5.4%
65+ 0.2% 0.2%
First official language
First official language March 2016 March 2017
FPS: French 28.5% 29.2%
FPS: English 71.5% 70.8%
EX: French 30.5% 32.0%
EX: English 69.5% 68.0%
Average Age of Public Servants
Average Age March 2016 March 2017
Deputy Ministers (DMs) 58.5 56.7
Associate DMs 54.6 54.4
EX-04 to EX-05 54.2 53.8
EX-01 to EX-03 50.0 50.0
Executives 50.3 50.2
FPS 45.0 44.9
Years of Experience
Years of Experience March 2016 March 2017
0-4 years 10.4% 11.9%
5-14 years 48.2% 49.3%
15-24 years 24.6% 25.2%
25+ years 16.8% 13.6%

Data on age distribution include all employment tenures, active employees only (i.e., employees on leave without pay are excluded), and it is based on effective employment classification (i.e., acting appointments included).

Data on new indeterminate hires include indeterminate hiring from the general public, terms, casuals and students and from separate agencies.

Data on years of experience include indeterminate employees only (i.e., active employees and employees on leave without pay), and excludes those without valid pension information. There were a higher number of employees without valid pension service information in March 2017 compared to March 2016.


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