29th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada
Letter to the Prime Minister
It is my pleasure to submit to you the Twenty-Ninth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, covering the period from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
It was a sincere honour to be asked last year to fill in for my friend and colleague, Ian Shugart. Ian served Canada with distinction for over 42 years. I know I speak for the whole of the Public Service when I thank him for his leadership and his dedication. We all wish Ian and his family the very best.
It has been a privilege to lead the Public Service during this time and to continue with the priorities Ian set in his report to you last year, namely, to learn from our experience supporting Canadians through the Government’s response to the pandemic and to tackle racism and build inclusion within our institutions.
As I reflect on the past year, I am struck by how “unprecedented” events have apparently become our normal. On top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has experienced natural disasters in the form of floods and fires, and disruptive domestic demonstrations and blockades. Canada has been affected by international political crises stemming from events such as the collapse of the Government of Afghanistan and Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine. Clearly, this is another example of a year that can be characterized as one unlike any other.
This year has also been painful for many across the country. The finding of unmarked graves at former residential schools is a raw reminder of the historic and current injustices that exist in our society. Incidents of hate against religious and other minority communities are still all too common. Indigenous peoples, Black and other racialized individuals, members of LGBTQ2+ communities, members of religious minority communities and persons with disabilities continue to face racism, discrimination and barriers.
We have tackled a lot together.
Leadership is what we make of the circumstances we face, and I have been awed by the leadership that I observed at all levels across the Public Service this year. “How can I help?” has been the overwhelming refrain. For some, this meant leading a new project, transferring to a new team to help with a priority file, showing up to offer front-line service to Canadians, thinking about how to improve delivery of a program to Canadians, providing critical advice to inform government decision-making on an emerging issue, or simply checking in with a colleague to let them know that they are not alone.
This willingness to step in and step up where needed is one of the reasons the Public Service was able to deliver so much this year, at a time when Canadians needed us most.
But I know that operating at an unrelenting pace has had some costs. Like so many Canadians across the country working in different sectors, public servants have been giving much of themselves to their jobs. Our employees are our strength. We have to make sure that we support them so they can thrive and feel able to do their best work.
The annual Clerk’s report is an important inflection point to pause and to recognize all that public servants have achieved for Canadians. Canada’s Federal Public Service is exceptional, and it is a continuing privilege to work with such dedicated and professional public servants, as we collectively work to implement the Government’s agenda and serve Canadians.
Canada and Canadians have weathered many challenges this year. As I look forward, it is clear to me that the Public Service needs to continue harnessing the lessons we have learned during this past year to deliver on the Government’s priorities and be ready to support the needs of Canadians, whatever comes next.
I am so proud of all that has been accomplished over the past year. I am grateful and humbled that you have asked me to continue in this role. I am committed to working with public servants to build on this record as we face new challenges and new opportunities.
I know that, together, we can and will chart a new path that blends the best of our traditions with emerging approaches to deliver the best results for Canadians.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
If there was one word that marked the past year, it was “uncertainty”.
The Public Service continued to move forward on supporting Canadians through the Government’s response to the pandemic and tackling racism in our institutions, while responding to complex emerging challenges. It seemed that every time one crisis was under control, another was waiting around the corner. Despite this, Canada has weathered the challenges of the last year better than almost any other country. Still, we face some of the same complex challenges as other countries, such as supply chain disruptions, concerns about the cost of living, increasing prevalence of misinformation and disinformation, and complex international relations.
More than ever, Canadians relied on their Federal Public Service. In the face of uncertainty, the Public Service remained a steady and dependable force, while demonstrating creativity and flexibility to respond to the evolving needs of Canadians during the pandemic.
The Public Service’s accomplishments in serving Canadians during this challenging year are truly impressive. At the same time, this has been a time of learning. Public servants are starting to unpack the lessons they have collected and are beginning to use them to shape the Public Service of the future.
Delivering through uncertainty
Like all Canadians, public servants lived and worked through a pandemic year. Again.
There were moments when we felt a shared hope that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. Vaccines were rolled out on a large scale. We enjoyed a summer of lower case counts and lighter restrictions. After a long period of isolation for many, we started making plans, and some of us started to see friends and family, go into the office, and travel again. Then just a few months later, we were faced with a series of new COVID-19 variants, climbing case numbers and a familiar feeling of uncertainty.
Throughout these ups and downs, public servants adapted to effectively implement the Government’s response to the pandemic.
The two most important features of our work this year were true teamwork and a dedication to service.
There is no better example of these than securing and distributing vaccines. Once vaccines were authorized for use in Canada by Health Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada negotiated with suppliers to accelerate vaccine delivery and worked with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces to ensure vaccines were delivered to provinces and territories and, ultimately, Canadians. Canada was an early global leader in vaccinating citizens and still has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
Vaccines were only one part of a multifaceted response to the pandemic. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada worked together to monitor COVID-19 and emerging variants of concern, manage outbreaks and ensure provinces and territories had the tools they needed to keep people safe across the country. This included working with Public Services and Procurement Canada to provide medical and personal protective equipment, treatments and surge capacity for healthcare facilities, as well as maintaining the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile. Significant investments were also made to provide free rapid tests across Canada.
Indigenous Services Canada worked with other federal departments and Indigenous partners to meet the needs of Indigenous communities in the face of COVID-19. This included, as of the end of March 2022, deploying 786 nurses and 531 paramedics to support First Nations communities since March 2020, in addition to those already in place. Indigenous Services Canada funded 637 mobile structures and identified 130 community spaces that could be upgraded or retooled for surge healthcare.
To support provinces and territories in their pandemic response, Public Safety Canada’s Government Operations Centre handled more than 150 requests for pandemic support since early 2020. This year, the Centre received the highest ever number of requests for assistance and responded with measures such as facilitating the deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces and coordinating assistance from the Canadian Red Cross.
Protecting Canadians from the COVID-19 virus this year involved the dedicated efforts of public servants across many departments, not just those in health or public safety roles. On the transportation front, the Labour Program at Employment and Social Development Canada and Transport Canada developed and implemented regulations to keep employees and travellers safe by setting vaccine requirements in federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors.
In the Public Service, the implementation of the Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration (CPA) Including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was an important and effective step in keeping federal workplaces and the communities in which public servants work as safe as possible. Individual public servants stepped up to protect themselves, their colleagues and their communities. Impressively, 98.5% of public servants attested they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In addition to supporting health and safety, taking care of the financial needs of individuals and businesses during the pandemic remained critical. Again this year, Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency developed and rolled out emergency response benefit and subsidy programs for Canadians and businesses. We started to see the economy recover, with unemployment at 5.3% in March 2022, a record low and significantly lower than the pandemic peak of 13.7% in May 2020.
While the pandemic was ever-present and seemed to touch all aspects of our professional and personal lives, it was not the only factor behind the constantly changing circumstances to which public servants adapted this year. A number of complex issues and emerging crises required rapid and ongoing delivery of Public Service support to meet the needs of Canadians and protect Canadian interests. When the demands were high, public servants delivered at home and abroad.
In response to the severe flooding that devastated British Columbia last fall, federal departments worked with provincial and Indigenous counterparts to help them deal with the crisis. Indigenous Services Canada, for instance, quickly provided funding to First Nations in British Columbia to deal with the impact of the flooding on their communities. Transport Canada created a working group that collaborated with the Province of British Columbia, western ports, rail, truckers and other industries to minimize disruptions and ensure the strong recovery of the supply chain that supports Canadian farmers and families. And Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada worked with the province to put in place programming to help farmers with the financial costs of recovering from the floods.
Similarly, departments stepped up to implement the federal response to wildfires that took place across the country last year. The Department of National Defence answered the call for the Canadian Armed Forces to provide support to British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Yukon, including by evacuating Canadians from affected communities and providing aircraft under Operation LENTUS.
When the security situation in Afghanistan rapidly deteriorated last summer, the Public Service stepped up.
- Canada was able to get more than 3,700 evacuees out of Kabul between August 4 and September 3, 2021, thanks to efforts by the Canadian Armed Forces (under Operation AEGIS); Global Affairs Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Canadian allies; and Afghan nationals.
- The Public Service rapidly put in place special measures to resettle Afghans in Canada, including those who closely assisted Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, extended family members of former Afghan interpreters, and vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, LGBTQ2+ people, and human rights defenders.
- Despite enormous challenges and an evolving situation on the ground, the work continues to bring at least 40,000 Afghan nationals to Canada, with 10,000 having arrived as of March 30, 2022. This whole-of-government response includes assistance from staff across Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, such as the network of visa officers who process applications remotely and digitally.
- Meanwhile, Global Affairs Canada provided support to Canadians who remained in the country and significantly increased its humanitarian assistance contribution to Afghanistan. All of these departments continue to support the response to the crisis and help Afghan citizens find refuge in Canada.
Since Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, public servants have assisted with a whole-of-government response.
- Global Affairs Canada, for example, is leading international diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine, which include imposing costs on Russia, holding them to account in multilateral settings and engaging with partners and allies.
- For its part, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada rapidly introduced unprecedented immigration streams to help Ukrainians and their family members find temporary safe haven in Canada, as well as extended settlement support services for the over 6,100 Ukrainians who had arrived in Canada as of March 2022 and the many more who are expected to come.
- The Canada Border Services Agency played an instrumental role in facilitating Ukrainians’ arrival at border points.
- The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are supporting the collective efforts of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, including by deploying Canadian personnel to Europe under Operation REASSURANCE and providing military equipment to Ukraine.
- In addition, the Department of Finance has supported the delivery of financial support to Ukraine and is playing a lead role through the International Monetary Fund’s Administered Account for Ukraine to help stabilize the Ukrainian economy.
Collaboration was key this year. Public servants worked with provincial and territorial officials to move forward on issues like early learning and childcare, leading to agreements with all jurisdictions across Canada. Working with counterparts across the world, public servants at Environment and Climate Change Canada advanced international collaboration on climate change, including by supporting Canada’s participation in COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and the development of Canada’s first ever Emissions Reduction Plan to meet our national greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030.
Public servants across Canada also supported Canadians on the path to reconciliation, notably by continuing to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021. To recognize the day, the Prairie Federal Council produced a series of learning events covering topics such as Orange Shirt Day, the finding of unmarked graves, championing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and learning from individuals’ lived experiences.
To meet the needs of Canadians in an environment that was complex and constantly changing, public servants mobilized around the Beyond2020 themes of agile, inclusive and equipped. Canadians could count on the Federal Public Service to continue to deliver its core programs and services.
- Statistics Canada completed the 2021 Census last year, achieving high-quality standards while ensuring safe data collection during the pandemic using new protocols, which included a contactless approach. This census will provide detailed and disaggregated data to inform decisions on the design and delivery of programs and services.
- Regional development agencies continued to support economic growth and diversification across the country. For example, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario supported the creation of AC JumpStart, which provides seed capital and mentorship to early-stage technology start-ups to help get their businesses started. The program fostered the growth of more than 300 early-stage tech businesses with over 450 products commercialized and 2,300 high-quality jobs created. In southern Alberta, Prairies Economic Development Canada enabled projects such as the creation of a testing range that gives small and medium-sized companies space to test new drone technologies.
This is only a small sample of all that public servants working in teams have delivered this year.
How we delivered
By reflecting on not only what we have accomplished, but also how we delivered these results, we can harvest the best practices, build them into our models of working and continuously improve.
Taking care of health and well-being
This starts with our people.
Behind everything the Public Service has done over the past year, people were working hard with so many making personal sacrifices, as have others working across all sectors. This period has been a reminder of how critically important it is to take care of our employees so they can be healthy and contribute to the best of their abilities.
This year, public servants adapted how and where they worked to ensure they continued to follow evolving public health guidance. Employees who serve as occupational health and safety representatives kept their colleagues up to date and answered questions for the employees who remained at their work sites throughout the pandemic, along with the increasing number of employees who returned to offices as public health restrictions eased.
We know that keeping workplaces safe and healthy involves more than the physical space. It also involves taking care of the health and well-being of employees, including by considering how work and mental health intersect.
This has not been an easy time for Canadians, including public servants.
Many employees are reporting high levels of stress and heavy workloads. More employees than ever are finding that they need help, and an increasing number are already in crisis by the time they ask for it.
Mental health is deeply personal. What is a difficult situation for one person may seem quite manageable to another. What seems easy one day can feel impossible the next.
Text version - Experienced “high” or “very high” levels of work-related stress
|Group or subgroup||2019||2020||Difference|
|All public servants||17%||18%||An increase of 1%|
|Indigenous peoples||20%||22%||An increase of 2%|
|Members of visible minorities||15%||17%||An increase of 2%|
|Persons with a disability||30%||29%||A reduction of 1%|
|Women||16%||18%||An increase of 2%|
|LGBTQ2+ persons||19%||22%||An increase of 3%|
Some public servants have been weighed down by the pressure of heavy workloads. Some struggled under high expectations and responsibility, worried about letting someone down or the impact that making the wrong decision could have. Others have felt invisible working behind a screen, unsure if their efforts were recognized. For many, work crept into their personal hours until they lost any sense of balance or control. All of these situations can take a toll.
We are human.
The Public Service has made a lot of progress in recognizing the importance of mental health and continues to work to support employee well-being. A strong framework and tools are in place to support mental health.
Education and awareness are a big part of this. As well, training is available to help employees and their managers understand the recent shift to preventing harassment and violence that came from the changes to Part II of the Canada Labour Code and the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations.
To help manage mental health, public servants have access to supports like the Employee Assistance Program and resources like those shared by the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
Slowly, stigma is being reduced and awareness is growing. Public servants are having honest conversations with each other about mental health and wellness and creating opportunities to learn.
All of this work has set the Public Service up well. But, like all Canadians, the amount of change that public servants have had to manage has tested their resilience.
To cope with this, public servants have been trying new things.
- Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada created a new COVID Mental Health Response Unit to support employees who have been at the forefront of the pandemic response. This unit has launched a number of supports, including a Decompression Program pilot project that allows front-line staff to temporarily de-operationalize, process, rest and recover.
- Indigenous Services Canada looks after employee well-being by ensuring that a specialized program is available 24/7 for nurses working for the department in northern communities. The program offers support following critical incidents and includes a dedicated prevention component.
- ding-edge speakers who covered themes such as leadership, nurturing a growth mindset, communications skills, resiliency, self-care, and workload management, all with a particular focus on the impacts of COVID-19. These events had almost 62,000 registrants, with 87% saying they were satisfied with the sessions. The Canadian Innovation Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, managed by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, delivered 130 events featuring lea
- Following the tragic and continued finding of unmarked graves at former residential schools, the Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion held a series of 27 Talking and Sharing Circles with the support of Indigenous elders, that included over 350 participants, reaching out to 250 Indigenous employees. Given the high volume of demand for these Circles, the Knowledge Circle engaged members of its National Advisory Circle of Elders and Knowledge Keepers to train 15 Indigenous employees as facilitators to support the ongoing delivery of such Circles.
- To support the distinct mental health needs of Black employees, Public Safety Canada’s Black Employee Network organized learning sessions with experts on Black mental health between October 2021 and February 2022 to provide safe spaces for employees to ask questions and share experiences.
- Correctional Service Canada’s Connecting Spirits, Creating Opportunities is a wellness and networking initiative for Indigenous employees with a focus on career planning, networking and support through cultural and employment-related activities. Elder Dan Ross at National Headquarters holds regular talking circles for participants, offers one-on-one support sessions, and provides guidance for the direction of the initiative.
We cannot stop now.
The only way we will be able to deliver for Canadians is by taking care of ourselves and each other.
Confronting racism and becoming more equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible
Retaining the confidence of our employees requires us to take seriously the need to stamp out racism and discrimination of all types in our workplaces and make the Public Service inclusive, accessible and representative of the population it serves.
Not only is this the right thing to do for our employees, both current and future, but it will allow us to design and deliver solutions that better respond to Canadians’ diverse needs
Like many organizations in our society, the Public Service is not immune to the racism, hate, discrimination and bullying that too many Canadians face.
Some of our institutions, like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, have had very public experiences with the impacts of harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace. But these issues are not unique to these departments, and organizations across the Public Service are taking concrete action to do better.
Work to build a more equitable and inclusive workplace is well underway. The Knowledge Centre on Indigenous Inclusion continues to work with federal departments to implement Many Voices One Mind: a Pathway to Reconciliation, and the Office of Public Service Accessibility is in its third year of implementing Nothing Without Us: Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada.
This work has picked up speed over the last year, with the focus shifting from making tangible commitments to taking actions that will lead to measurable results. We are starting to see some results already.
Departments are trying to work differently and do better.
- The Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Employment and Social Development Canada is leading an innovative whole-of-government apprenticeship program to improve the representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the Information Technology (IT) community. This co-developed program aims to address systemic barriers to employment through the combination of on-the-job work experience with formal training and mentorship to deliver fully qualified IT-01 (CS-01) employees at the end of two years.
- Shared Services Canada, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the Public Service Commission and the Office of Public Service Accessibility within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat launched a pilot recruitment initiative to hire neurodivergent candidates into the Public Service. This initiative was co-designed with people with lived experience in disability, and recruitment experts specializing in neurodiversity helping to ensure that the hiring process is accessible at every step, from recruitment to assessment through to onboarding.
- The Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Armed Forces have all moved towards more gender-inclusive uniforms for their members. The Canadian Coast Guard also added the hijab and turban as approved headgear.
- Parks Canada supports Indigenous employees’ professional development through its Indigenous Employee Training Fund. Indigenous employees can apply for funding to access valuable opportunities such as official language training for personal and professional development.
- The Mosaic Leadership Development Program, launched by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Centre on Diversity and Inclusion, is a new, targeted leadership development program that aims to address the underrepresentation at the executive level and increase diversity in leadership positions. The program welcomed its first cohort in fall 2021.
- Departments are seeking out accessibility tools and services from Shared Service Canada’s Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology team to help ensure employees with disabilities can fully participate in all events and meetings and are equipped to do their jobs.
Employees are also taking action. They are proactively starting new interdepartmental networks and leveraging existing networks to represent and support specific communities within the Public Service.
- Public servants created the Jewish Public Servants Network and the Muslim Federal Employees Network to support building a more inclusive and representative Federal Public Service, free of discrimination in all its forms.
- Led by students for students, the National Indigenous Student Circle works to build a sense of belonging and improve the experience of Indigenous students in the Public Service.
- Chairs and co-chairs of departmental accessibility and disability committees set up the Interdepartmental Network of Accessibility and Disability Chairs to support each other in those roles.
- The Federal Black Employee Caucus supports efforts at the national, regional and local levels to address issues Black federal public servants face.
- The Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Canada School of Public Service organized the Best Practices Forum on Official Languages to bring together public servants to explore a range of topics celebrating Canada’s official languages.
Networks and communities are leading initiatives to advance Public Service priorities. The Network of Asian Federal Employees, for example, launched a Return to the Workplace Survey to inform departments and central agencies of the considerations and perspectives of diverse federal public service employees on returning to the workplace.
These groups continue to speak up, courageously share their lived experience and create safe spaces to share information and work together. The Anti-Racism Ambassadors Network is doing this with initiatives such as its new podcast, IDEAA-nomics (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Anti-Racism), which explores difficult, funny and heartfelt conversations on race, equity and diversity for public servants in Canada.
In addition to these efforts, the Public Service-wide Champions and Chairs Circle for Indigenous Peoples, Persons with Disabilities Champions and Chairs Committee, and Visible Minority Champions and Chairs Committee continue their long-standing work to identify and raise important equity issues and initiatives.
Changing our culture is not easy. We cannot underestimate the work ahead of us, but we are making progress. We can make change if we work together across the Public Service.
Government, employees and Canadians are watching this priority. They have high expectations that the Public Service will make meaningful, long-term change, and they want to see real results.
So do I.
Implementing the Call to Action
Launched by former Clerk Ian Shugart, the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service intentionally adds an anti-racism lens to Public Service efforts to become more diverse and inclusive.
Leaders have taken to heart the message that we must act to combat anti-Black racism and all forms of racism and discrimination in our organizations. The letters I received from deputy ministers outline some of the actions they and their teams have taken so far. I am also hearing from Public Service leaders at all levels about the efforts to advance this work when we meet to discuss the Call to Action.
Just over a year since the launch of the Call to Action, public servants are increasingly stepping up to make change and their efforts are generating positive momentum.
Text version - Number of core public administration executives by employment equity group or subgroup
|Employment equity group or subgroup||Number of executives|
|March 31, 2020||March 31, 2021||Difference|
|Indigenous executives||254||297||An increase of 43|
|Black executives||99||128||An increase of 29|
|Racialized executives||714||830||An increase of 116|
|Note: The total number of core public administration executives on March 31, 2021, was 6,717, an increase of 505 from the year before. Racialized executives include members of visible minorities, including those who identified as Black.|
The Public Service is appointing more Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees to leadership positions.
Departments across the Public Service are developing targeted initiatives to support career development.
- The Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion launched the Career Navigators Program to support the career progression of First Nations, Inuit and Métis employees across the Public Service.
- Employment and Social Development Canada established a Black Engagement and Advancement Team to develop and implement recruitment, retention and advancement strategies to address the persistent gaps and systemic barriers experienced by Black employees.
Regional, functional, horizontal and employee networks and communities are prioritizing the Call to Action with their members and driving change through creative initiatives like the Building Black Leaders initiative, sponsored by the Atlantic Federal Council. This two-year leadership program designed to bridge the gap for Black federal employees created opportunities for participants to gain exposure to leadership networks, mentoring, development tools and language training.
This is a start. However, I know that there are still challenges that will require practical and thoughtful solutions. I know that implementation has been uneven and that not all voices feel like they are being heard. As we continue to move forward, we must support each other and help bring people along who are not as advanced in their journey.
As with all of our efforts to build healthy and inclusive places to work, workplace culture is a critical ingredient of success. That is why the Call to Action called for specific actions to create a sense of belonging and trust for all public servants regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender expression.
Inclusion is something that we need to do intentionally every day.
Departments and agencies have taken a first round of actions to respond to the Call to Action, but much more is needed. Continuing to advance this work is the right thing for our people and one of the keys to improving how we deliver to Canadians.
If we recommit to listening to diverse voices, we can ensure that all the talent in our organizations is being heard and informing the work we do for Canadians.
By tackling the mindsets that are hesitant or resistant to this work and celebrating the individuals who are embracing and leading change, we can open public servants’ minds to new perspectives that will inform how we develop advice, serve clients, and implement solutions.
We cannot lose our focus. This is about ongoing action to transform over the long term, and every public servant has a role to play.
Learning from serving through the pandemic
Transformation has been underway in the Public Service for some time. Renewal is constant.
Even so, this year has felt different. The pace of change started and stayed high.
Perhaps more than ever, we truly lived Public Service renewal in real time and brought to life the key themes of Beyond2020 at the heart of renewal: agile, inclusive and equipped.
We got things done. Fast. The Public Service implemented decisions quickly and showed flexibility to respond to priorities. Organizations streamlined their processes and focused more on results than on procedure. Programs and services were adapted faster thanks to more real-time client feedback and disaggregated data and related insights. Employees were equipped to deliver the services Canadians needed, when they needed them.
We used technology to do things better. Giving public servants access to technology and secure technology-based tools yielded efficiencies and increased collaboration. Public servants used technology to automate certain tasks and services, make decisions remotely through digital approvals, and solve operational challenges. This allowed the Public Service to continue the shift to digital government and improve the experience for Canadians by offering more services online.
We empowered our people. Public servants were mobilized, and teams were reconfigured to get people working on the problems that needed to be solved. New opportunities opened up for employees working in the regions to contribute to work previously done primarily in the National Capital Region. Employees from the regions and headquarters were brought together, creating new opportunities for cross-country collaboration.
Most impressively, the Public Service demonstrated that its structures, processes and culture are adaptable. Public servants were eager to deliver and showed a real openness to trying new things and developing new skills while still staying true to the core values of the Public Service.
That is not to say that everything we did worked perfectly. And that is okay. Experiences varied widely across the Public Service and even within departments. The high level of change was also tiring and impacted employee well-being.
We learned a lot from our experience that we can take with us.
- Implementation matters. We learned the value of timely decision-making and delivery, and the role of data in shaping our approaches. We have to remain ready to get things done quickly, with a focus on understanding and mitigating risk instead of avoiding it.
- Digital approaches work. We embraced the power of digital approaches, technology-based tools and modern solutions for how we work together as a Public Service and how we support Canadians. We must build on this, equip public servants with the skills they need, and use technology to transform how we deliver services to Canadians.
- Empowered employees deliver. We saw that placing our trust in our employees to find real-time solutions to pressing challenges was crucial to our success. We must keep supporting public servants across the country so we can include their unique perspectives when designing and delivering better services and programs to Canadians.
We have to apply these lessons to all that we do and how we do it. Change will require us to do things differently, which can make us uncomfortable. But we must keep experimenting—and learning from those experiments—to move into the next phase of renewing the Public Service that will take us beyond Beyond2020.
As we do this, we must be steadfast in our core values as a non-partisan public service dedicated to providing fair, timely and effective services that respect and promote Canada’s official languages. These values do not keep us from stepping into the future. They anchor and guide us as we embrace new ways of thinking and working.
As we emerge from this period of uncertainty and look toward the future, I know there is more change on the horizon.
I am excited by the opportunity and obligation we have to chart a path forward that prepares the Public Service to deliver through whatever changes come next. By building on what we learned during the pandemic and blending the best of our traditions with emerging approaches, including a combination of in-person and remote work, we will create a new hybrid workplace that delivers the best results for Canadians.
I see three areas for action that, taken together, will position us to make the most of this moment.
- Make anti-racism, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility everyone’s priority. When we say we are going to do something, as we did in the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion, we have to do it. Everyone can and must be a leader in this area. Hiring managers must contribute by hiring more persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, and Black and other racialized individuals at all levels. They must consider the full range of talent available in their teams and embrace the role of promotional opportunities in advancing this priority. We need to improve access to professional development including second language training and invest in preparing employees for leadership positions. We have to provide opportunities for employees to heal from past incidents of racism and discrimination in our institutions. Public servants have to create environments where everyone feels included and is comfortable coming to work with all of their interconnected dimensions of identity, such as race, ethnicity, Indigenous identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. By fully including the talents of all employees in our work, we will design and deliver better programs and services for Canadians.
- Recruit with intention. The Public Service, like all employers, is facing a competitive labour market. We must adopt a more assertive and faster recruitment approach. We need to identify the skills and experience we need today and act on what we will need tomorrow. Managers must be thoughtful and creative about attracting and retaining people who add value and help us meet our diversity priorities. This includes actively recruiting to fulfill our commitment to hire 5,000 persons with disabilities by 2025. We can recruit from across the country and use our experience during the pandemic to bring voices from across Canada into our teams. With a job vacancy rate of 4.9% (up from 3.1% at the beginning of 2020), we need to think about what sets the Public Service apart and how we can promote our mission of serving Canada and Canadians to appeal to the talent we need. I am confident that new recruits will be attracted by the opportunity to serve their country and make a difference in the lives of Canadians. To retain them, we must foster flexible, safe and rewarding workplaces and excel as a learning organization that prepares public servants for new challenges.
- Deliver results for Canadians. We have clearly shown the Public Service’s ability to step up and overcome every obstacle to get things done and deliver real results for Canadians. We have proven what we can do during times of crisis and we have learned much from this. But this has also disrupted our usual lines of work. Now, we must apply what we have learned to how we approach everything—from delivering core programs and services to responding to unexpected challenges. We must build on our enhanced capacity to deliver digitally while holding true to the importance of providing in-person support, to ensure every Canadian gets the service and results they need in a timely manner. Public servants should feel empowered to ask how things could be done better, and they should be supported in taking thoughtful risks in how we implement to achieve results for Canadians. The lessons we learned from the pandemic will help us get there.
I am extremely proud of all that the Public Service has delivered this year, and I am grateful and humbled to have served as Interim Clerk during this period.
This is an exciting moment for the Public Service. We are building our future together. We know the Public Service of tomorrow will not look or operate as it did in 2021, but it would be a missed opportunity if we went back to the way things were in 2019.
I look forward to seeing all that a renewed Public Service can be.
Annex: Key data
Number of employeesFootnote 1
|Employee category||March 2020||March 2021|
|Associate Deputy Ministers||42||39|
Employment typesFootnote 2
|Employment type||March 2020||March 2021|
Average age of public servants (years)
|Population group||March 2020||March 2021|
|Associate Deputy Ministers||54.8||52.8|
|EX-04 to EX-05||53.4||53.5|
|EX-01 to EX-03||49.8||49.8|
|Federal Public Service (FPS)||43.9||43.9|
Age distribution of public servants
|Age band (years)||March 2020||March 2021|
|25 to 34||57,818||19.2%||64,447||20.2%|
|35 to 44||82,736||27.5%||87,552||27.4%|
|45 to 54||82,927||27.6%||86,652||27.1%|
|55 to 64||52,556||17.5%||55,765||17.4%|
Age distribution of new indeterminate hiresFootnote 4
|Age band (years)||2019-20||2020-21|
|25 to 34||7,729||40.0%||6,592||39.9%|
|35 to 44||4,776||24.7%||4,205||25.4%|
|45 to 54||2,819||14.6%||2,583||15.6%|
|55 to 64||1,109||5.7%||992||6.0%|
Province/Territory of workFootnote 5
Provincial/Territorial distribution of public servants
|Province/Territory of work||March 2020||March 2021|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||5,730||1.9%||6,852||2.1%|
|Prince Edward Island||3,667||1.2%||3,888||1.2%|
|Quebec (minus NCR)||31,767||10.6%||33,981||10.6%|
|National Capital Region (NCR)||127,092||42.3%||134,817||42.2%|
|Ontario (minus NCR)||41,092||13.7%||43,503||13.6%|
Years of experienceFootnote 6
|Years of experience||March 2020||March 2021|
|0 to 4 years||23.3%||25.0%|
|5 to 14 years||36.7%||35.3%|
|15 to 24 years||27.6%||28.4%|
First official languageFootnote 7
|First official language||March 2020||March 2021|
Mobility in the core public administration (CPA)
|Mobility in the CPA||2016-17||2017-18||2018-19||2019-20||2020-21|
|New indeterminate employees||11,085||14,749||19,245||19,333||16,528|
|Other internal movements||14,519||16,837||18,170||19,312||18,353|
|Retirements and departuresFootnote 8||9,288||8,631||8,851||9,126||8,261|
Employment equity representation (Rep.)Footnote 9 and workforce availability (WFA)Footnote 10
|2019-20||Women||Indigenous peoples||Persons with disabilities||Members of visible minorities|
|CPA EX population||51.1%||48.0%||4.1%||5.1%||4.7%||5.3%||11.5%||10.6%|
|CPA new hires population||58.3%||52.7%||4.0%||4.0%||3.9%||9.0%||21.3%||15.3%|
|FPS populationFootnote 11||44.5%||43.6%||4.3%||3.9%||4.1%||9.2%||16.2%||14.5%|
|2020-21||Women||Indigenous peoples||Persons with disabilities||Members of visible minorities|
|CPA EX population||52.3%||48.0%||4.4%||5.1%||5.6%||5.3%||12.4%||10.6%|
|CPA new hires population||60.2%||52.7%||3.8%||4.0%||4.3%||9.0%||21.2%||15.3%|
|FPS populationFootnote 12||45.6%||44.2%||4.4%||3.9%||4.7%||9.9%||17.4%||14.7%|
DisaggregatedFootnote 13 employment equity representationFootnote 14 and workforce availability (WFA)Footnote 15
|Employment equity group||Employment equity subgroup||CPA population|
|Workforce availability||March 31, 2020||March 31, 2021|
|Indigenous peoples||Total Indigenous peoples||4.0%||10,888||5.1||11,977||5.2|
|North American Indian/First Nation||4,399||2.1||4,984||2.2|
|Persons with disabilities||Total persons with disabilitiesFootnote 16||9.0%||11,087||5.2||12,893||5.6|
|Coordination or dexterity||926||0.4||1,094||0.5|
|Blind or visual impairment||783||0.4||951||0.4|
|Deaf or hard of hearing||1,563||0.7||1,786||0.8|
|Members of visible minorities||Total visible minorities||15.3%||38,145||17.8||43,122||18.9|
|Non-White Latin American||1,585||0.7||1,869||0.8|
|Person of mixed origin||2,999||1.4||3,490||1.5|
|South Asian/East Indian||6,500||3.0||7,646||3.3|
|Non-White West Asian, North African or Arab||4,318||2.0||4,839||2.1|
|Other visible minority group||4,980||2.3||4,852||2.1|
|Employment equity group||Employment equity subgroup||CPA Executive population|
|Workforce availability||March 31, 2020||March 31, 2021|
|Indigenous peoples||Total Indigenous peoples||5.1%||254||4.1||297||4.4|
|North American Indian/First Nation||88||1.4||110||1.6|
|Persons with disabilities||Total persons with disabilitiesFootnote 17||5.3%||291||4.7||377||5.6|
|Coordination or dexterity||24||0.4||33||0.5|
|Blind or visual impairment||36||0.6||46||0.7|
|Deaf or hard of hearing||63||1.0||71||1.1|
|Members of visible minorities||Total visible minorities||10.6%||714||11.5||830||12.4|
|Non-White Latin American||21||0.3||25||0.4|
|Person of mixed origin||87||1.4||114||1.7|
|South Asian/East Indian||174||2.8||186||2.8|
|Non-White West Asian, North African or Arab||110||1.8||129||1.9|
|Other visible minority group||73||1.2||86||1.3|
|* Information for small numbers (counts of 1 to 5) has been suppressed. Additionally, to avoid residual disclosure, other data points may also be suppressed.|
|Employment equity group||Employment equity subgroup||CPA new hires|
|Workforce availability||March 31, 2020||March 31, 2021|
|Indigenous peoples||Total Indigenous peoples||4.0%||988||4.0||927||3.8|
|North American Indian/First Nation||477||1.9||447||1.8|
|Persons with disabilities||Total persons with disabilitiesFootnote 18||9.0%||977||3.9||1,053||4.3|
|Coordination or dexterity||49||0.2||52||0.2|
|Blind or visual impairment||48||0.2||50||0.2|
|Deaf or hard of hearing||106||0.4||106||0.4|
|Members of visible minorities||Total visible minorities||15.3%||5,302||21.3||5,148||21.2|
|Non-White Latin American||227||0.9||228||0.9|
|Person of mixed origin||532||2.1||496||2.0|
|South Asian/East Indian||931||3.7||1,046||4.3|
|Non-White West Asian, North African or Arab||725||2.9||500||2.1|
|Other visible minority group||438||1.8||418||1.7|
|Employment equity group||Employment equity subgroup||CPA promotions|
|Workforce availability||March 31, 2020||March 31, 2021|
|Indigenous peoples||Total Indigenous peoples||4.0%||1,332||4.9||1,223||4.9|
|North American Indian/First Nation||504||1.9||455||1.8|
|Persons with disabilities||Total persons with disabilitiesFootnote 19||9.0%||1,133||4.2||1,181||4.7|
|Coordination or dexterity||96||0.4||102||0.4|
|Blind or visual impairment||78||0.3||80||0.3|
|Deaf or hard of hearing||146||0.5||135||0.5|
|Members of visible minorities||Total visible minorities||15.3%||5,405||19.9||5,227||21.0|
|Non-White Latin American||246||0.9||218||0.9|
|Person of mixed origin||431||1.6||458||1.8|
|South Asian/East Indian||860||3.2||834||3.3|
|Non-White West Asian, North African or Arab||726||2.7||719||2.9|
|Other visible minority group||877||3.2||671||2.7|
|Employment equity group||Employment equity subgroup||CPA retirements and departuresFootnote 20|
|March 31, 2020||March 31, 2021|
|Indigenous peoples||Total Indigenous peoples||697||5.3||590||4.7|
|North American Indian/First Nation||313||2.4||257||2.1|
|Persons with disabilities||Total persons with disabilitiesFootnote 21||931||7.1||841||6.8|
|Coordination or dexterity||87||0.7||75||0.6|
|Blind or visual impairment||65||0.5||65||0.5|
|Deaf or hard of hearing||139||1.1||123||1.0|
|Members of visible minorities||Total visible minorities||1,371||10.5||1,354||10.9|
|Non-White Latin American||41||0.3||46||0.4|
|Person of mixed origin||121||0.9||126||1.0|
|South Asian/East Indian||234||1.8||227||1.8|
|Non-White West Asian, North African or Arab||137||1.1||156||1.3|
|Other visible minority group||238||1.8||184||1.5|
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29e Rapport annuel au premier ministre sur la fonction publique du Canada
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