27th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

July 21, 2020

[ PDF version ]

Dear Prime Minister:

I am submitting this letter to you as the Twenty-Seventh Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, covering the period from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.

I am delivering this report in a time of significant global uncertainty. Certainty can, however, be found in the Public Service’s commitment to draw on all its creativity and resourcefulness to implement Government plans aimed at protecting and supporting Canadians through this challenging time.

As I write this letter, public servants are working together with governments across Canada and around the world to limit the spread of the coronavirus and to minimize the health, economic, and social impacts of this rapidly evolving global health crisis. It also comes at a time when recent events have exposed the racism that is a lived reality for Black people and other racialized groups, and Indigenous peoples in Canada. With this has brought a heightened sense of urgency to address the systemic racism that exists in our society and institutions.

In responding to the pandemic, the focus has been on delivering support as quickly as possible. There is risk inherent in this approach. Years from now, we may learn that we did not attain perfection. Right now, we are accepting a measure of risk in order to deliver on what needs to be done. Agility is our mindset: as this global pandemic quickly evolves, so too will our response.

The work of the Public Service in supporting the Government’s response to COVID-19 has been extensive. A partial list of that work would include implementing public health preparedness and response measures based on the latest science and the evolving situation; delivering a range of supports to citizens and businesses that are facing hardship; working on developing vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests; and providing updated guidance to travellers. Much of this work is being done across multiple organizations and in partnership with provincial and territorial counterparts.

Many public servants are enabling this critical work. We are developing information technology infrastructure to enable programs and services for Canadians and equipping public servants who are now working remotely. Working with bargaining agents, Public Service leaders are providing guidance on work arrangements while also ensuring the availability of mental health supports.

As I reflect back on our work pre-pandemic, I am mindful of the actions taken by public servants that demonstrate our commitment to Canadians and the institutions of government.

In the fall of this past year, the Public Service supported the federal election and the government transition. Security agencies played an important role with their use of innovative analytical tools to detect and identify threats during the election.

Leading up to the 2019 federal election, the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol was put in place to defend Canadian democracy, further strengthen our electoral system, and establish a clear and impartial process for informing Canadians of a threat to the integrity of the election. An independent public report is being developed to assess how the protocol was implemented and how effectively it addressed threats to the 2019 federal election.

Public servants were at the ready when Canadians were confronted with a range of challenges this year, including flooding, wildfires, a hurricane, and snowstorms. We also worked across departments and agencies to support the Government in reaching out to the families and loved ones of victims on Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752.

Today’s capacity to deliver has been achieved in large part due to the actions public servants have taken over the years to help renew our organizations. Individuals and teams have been particularly active in leading efforts to modernize approaches to how we work. We have seen this come to life in many ways, including a greater awareness of the importance of mental health, advancement of workplace accessibility, adoption of new GCcoworking workspaces, and a growing number of organizations launching Positive Space initiatives to help foster safe workplaces for LGBTQ2 employees.

Increasing diversity and nurturing deeper inclusion across the Public Service is a top priority; it is part of our core business. Organizations are convening diversity and inclusion networks that include women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, members of racialized groups, and the LGBTQ2 community. It is encouraging that public servants are mobilizing to embrace a greater diversity of voices and make their workplaces ones where everyone’s contributions are valued, but there is more work to do.

As leaders we must both self-reflect and take bold action to ensure we are an institution that is reflective of the Canadians we serve, one in which all individuals have an opportunity to realize their full potential. Every action and every conversation can and should have an impact.

Building on the energy created by public servants, in January 2019 we launched the Beyond2020 renewal framework focused on nurturing the core ingredients of innovation: greater inclusion in our decision-making, increased organizational agility, and the better equipping of public servants with the tools needed to carry out their mission.

Since then, we have seen departments and agencies customize the approach to fit their circumstances. Some departments have driven renewal directly into their executive leadership practices by setting expectations for behaviours that will best achieve outcomes. Overall, public servants are using the Beyond2020 framework as an anchor to tie existing strategies together and better focus efforts.

Who knew that we would be living out those themes—agile, inclusive, and equipped—in such an extraordinary way? During this pandemic, we are quickly moving people and resources across teams and organizations in an extremely agile manner. We are working to equip public servants with the tools—both the physical technology and the managerial and mental health supports—they need to work remotely and support decision-making by elected leaders. And right now inclusive truly means we are all in this together.

It strikes me now more than ever that connection matters. Our Public Service communities, like the National Managers’ Community and the Federal Youth Network, are instrumental in creating meaningful forums to explore new ways of working. The kinship we are seeing across the Public Service, as people turn to social media and other collaborative tools to stay connected, is heartening.

The conversations on mental health that have been taking place over the years have helped create a vocabulary for us to use when checking in with each other. We are seeing these conversations translated into real results, as public servants increasingly view their organizations as doing a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace.

A growing number of departments are establishing ombud offices as trusted, safe spaces where employees can discuss harassment and other workplace issues that may impact their psychological health and safety.

What is more, we regularly engage in conversations on what our organizations should look like and take the time to self-reflect. A good example of positioning ourselves to look at new ways of doing things is the Innovation Fair, which connects individuals across organizations to share leading practices and experiments in progress, and to challenge ourselves to think differently. The fair attracted over 10,000 participants at events across Canada in 2019. Its phenomenal growth over the years is one reflection of public servants’ commitment to working collaboratively to find new solutions.

The steps we have taken to increase innovation and inclusion in our workplaces on an ongoing basis are serving us well as we rise to meet the challenges of this pandemic.

In these times, our Public Service values serve as the sturdy guardrails guiding how we approach delivering supports to our fellow Canadians. This gives me confidence in the work being carried out by all public servants. Yet, it is clear that we will not get it all right; in empowering public servants to make decisions in complex circumstances, mistakes will be made. But we will learn from those mistakes and will quickly reset our practices, keeping the outcome in mind.

As we employ new approaches, some we will want to continue after the pandemic and some we will want to modify. In other cases, we will decide to return to the tried and tested ways of doing things, as we have established processes with a proven track record. This will become part of our renewal journey. While it seems like a long way off, I look forward to next year when I can talk about how we have enhanced our service to Canadians.

In closing, I would like to personally thank all public servants for their dedication in providing professional service, especially under the exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves. I am proud to stand with them and to provide this report attesting to their resilience in pursuit of their service to Canadians.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Shugart

Annex: Growth of innovative and inclusive mindsets

Public Service Employee Survey 2014 2019
In my work unit, every individual is accepted as an equal member of the team 73% 75%
My department or agency implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace 79% 79%
My department or agency does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace (question first asked in 2017) 67%
I am encouraged to be innovative or take initiative in my work 63% 68%
I feel I would be supported by my department or agency if I proposed a new idea (question first asked in 2017) 58%
Innovation Fair Growth
Text version - Innovation Fair Growth
Year Attendees Expansion #GC2020 impressions
2015 700 First of its kind in Ottawa N/A
2016 2,193 Building on 2015
2 cities
5.2 million
2017 4,739 Coast to coast to coast
13 cities
7.2 million
2018 7,200 Theme introduced: User Experience
16 cities
11 million
2019 10,000+ Agile, Inclusive, Equipped
17 cities
15 million

2019 Innovation Fair: Two people listen to a presentation given at a kiosk.
2019 Innovation Fair
2019 Innovation Fair: Two people looking at a screen.
2019 Innovation Fair
2019 Innovation Fair: People walking and listening to presentations at kiosks.
2019 Innovation Fair


The Challenges model is an open-innovation approach, designed to gather ideas and solutions from a wide variety of actors, to expand the Government’s problem-solving abilities. The model provides incentives (financial and non-financial) for tackling problems where solutions are not apparent, and provides awards for innovators if and when they can measurably improve on a given outcome.

Three men and two women who are members of the Indigenous Steering Committee

The Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative is based on a simple yet powerful idea: that the best solutions come from those who live the problem every day.
— Indigenous Steering Committee

Annex: Key data1

Number of employees

Number of employees March 2018 March 2019
All employees 273,571 287,978
Executives (EX) 6,678 7,069
Associate Deputy Ministers 47 45
Deputy Ministers (DMs) 38 37

Employee typesEndnote 2

Tenure March 2018 March 2019
Indeterminate 228,720 83.6% 239,641 83.2%
Term 28,969 10.6% 31,144 10.8%
Casual 8,397 3.1% 8,984 3.1%
Students 7,426 2.7% 8,156 2.8%
Unknown 59 0.0% 53 0.0%

AgeEndnote 3

Average age of public servants
Population group March 2018 March 2019
Deputy Ministers 55.7 56.0
Associate DMs 54.3 54.4
EX-04 to EX-05 53.4 53.5
EX-01 to EX-03 50.0 49.8
Executives 50.2 50.0
Federal Public Service (FPS) 44.6 44.2
Age distribution of public servants
Age band March 2018 March 2019
Under 25 13,054 4.8% 15,661 5.4%
25 to 34 47,773 17.5% 52,955 18.4%
35 to 44 76,527 28.0% 79,941 27.8%
45 to 54 80,842 29.6% 81,730 28.4%
55 to 64 49,278 18.0% 51,008 17.7%
65+ 6,092 2.2% 6,677 2.3%
Unknown 5 0.0% 6 0.0%
Age distribution of new indeterminate hiresEndnote 4
Age band 2017–18 2018–19
Under 25 1,868 12.7% 2,596 13.5%
25 to 34 6,039 40.9% 7,802 40.5%
35 to 44 3,745 25.4% 4,664 24.2%
45 to 54 2,269 15.4% 3,034 15.8%
55 to 64 778 5.3% 1,086 5.6%
65+ 47 0.3% 60 0.3%
Unknown 3 0.0% 3 0.0%

Years of experienceEndnote 5

Years of experience March 2018 March 2019
0–4 years 15.0% 19.5%
5–14 years 42.0% 38.6%
15–24 years 27.2% 26.9%
25+ years 13.1% 11.8%
Unknown 2.7% 3.2%

First official languageEndnote 6

First official language March 2018 March 2019
FPS: French 28.8% 28.8%
FPS: English 70.2% 70.3%
FPS: Unknown 1.0% 0.9%
EX: French 32.2% 32.7%
EX: English 67.6% 67.1%
EX: Unknown 0.2% 0.2%

Mobility in the Core Public Administration (CPA)

Mobility in the CPA 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18 2018–19
New indeterminate employees 6,093 7,698 11,085 14,749 19,245
Promotions 9,548 11,676 15,508 18,298 22,773
Other internal movements 13,594 15,878 14,519 16,837 18,170
Retirements and departuresEndtnote 7 9,737 9,554 9,639 9,198 8,391

Representation vs. Workforce Availability (WFA)Endnote 8


Women Aboriginal peoples Persons with disabilities Members of a visible minority
Rep. WFA Rep. WFA Rep. WFA Rep. WFA
CPA population 54.8% 52.5% 5.1% 3.4% 5.3% 4.4% 15.7% 13.0%
CPA EX population 49.1% 47.9% 3.7% 5.2% 4.8% 2.3% 10.1% 9.5%
CPA new hires population 58.7% 52.5% 4.0% 3.4% 3.6% 4.4% 17.7% 13.0%
FPS population 44.5% 42.8% 4.4% 3.4% 3.9% 4.6% 14.5% 12.6%

Women Aboriginal peoples Persons with disabilities Members of a visible minority
Rep. WFA Rep. WFA Rep. WFA Rep. WFA
CPA population 54.8% 52.7% 5.1% 4.0% 5.2% 9.0% 16.7% 15.3%
CPA EX population 50.2% 48.0% 4.1% 5.1% 4.6% 5.3% 11.1% 10.6%
CPA new hires population 56.5% 52.7% 4.1% 4.0% 3.7% 9.0% 19.3% 15.3%
FPS population 44.2% 43.4% 4.3% 3.9% 4.1% 9.2% 15.2% 14.5%

View more statistics
Source: Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat


©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (2020)
All rights reserved

All requests for permission to reproduce this document or any part
thereof shall be addressed to the Privy Council Office.

Cette publication est également disponible en français :
27e Rapport annuel au Premier ministre sur la fonction publique du Canada

ISSN 1494-5673

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