Communications Community Office 2018-2019 Annual Report

Communications Community Office 2018-2019 Annual Report

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What we do

Newly located within the Privy Council Office (PCO), the Government of Canada’s Communications Community Office (CCO) is a key horizontal and forward-thinking organization working to support and build a communications community that:

  • is widely recognized as high performing
  • works collaboratively with partners
  • has the right skill sets
  • attracts top talent

CCO works closely with departments, central agencies, communities of practice and other functional communities, as well as with public and private sector partners to get ahead of the trends and skills required to keep pace with the speed of communications.

Areas of focus

Areas of focus
Career development, Training and learning, Information sharing and data analysis, Collective recruitment and retention, Talent management

The CCO serves as the Secretariat for the monthly heads of Communications meetings and the annual heads of Communications

Deputy Minister Champion

As the Communications Community Champion, I am proud of the outstanding contributions communicators across government are making every single day. I feel privileged to serve as your Champion and to work with the Communications Community Office (CCO) to strengthen our community.

The Communications Community in the federal government is composed of close to 4,000 passionate and dedicated professionals that are communicating about things that matter to Canadians.

Communicators are connecting people, creating meaningful interaction, and making a difference.

However, this does not come without challenges. A rapid 24/7 environment, the expectation of two-way engagement on social media, and the emergence of fake news and disinformation can have a significant impact on public trust and understanding.

Close up photo of Chantal Maheu smiling

There is also a constant need to be at the forefront of innovation, creativity and technology, while maintaining a heavy and fast-paced workload and striving to preserve a healthy work-life balance. This is not an easy task, and there are no easy solutions. Nevertheless, as a community, we can help each other navigate these challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. Together, we can enhance our skill sets to become more diversified and well-rounded communicators, committed to continuous learning and building an even stronger community.

As we celebrate the Communications Community and its many accomplishments over this past year, I urge all communicators to take full advantage of the opportunities for professional growth and development that the CCO continues to offer.

Chantal Maheu
Communications Community Champion
Deputy Minister of Labour and
Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development

Co-Chairs of the CCO Steering Committee

Over the past year, there has been a significant investment in the Government of Canada communications community.

In July 2018, with the approval of the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Communications Community Office (CCO) transitioned under the permanent accountability of the Privy Council Office, under the direction of the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Communications and Consultations. Seven permanent staff were hired, including a new executive director, and 3-year funding agreements were put in place.

In consultation with the communications community, the CCO developed a 3-year business plan that outlines its strategic path and new vision. The renewed CCO aims to modernize the communications function across the federal government and further empower the communications community.

Under the leadership and guidance of a new roster of senior executives on our CCO Steering Committee, the team has already made a number of significant contributions, including a two-day CCO Learning Days conference, the first ever Communications Career and Networking Fair, and the inaugural Government of Canada’s Communications Awards of Excellence 2019.

With a solid foundation in place, the CCO is set to support our communications community to be leaders in innovation, collaboration and excellence.

We look forward to the year ahead. 

Close up photo of Louise Baird smiling
Louise Baird
Assistant Secretary, Strategic Communications and
Ministerial Affairs,Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Close up photo of Ken MacKillop smiling
Ken MacKillop
Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet,
Communications and Consultations,
Privy Council Office


Our Steering Committee, made up of Directors, Directors General (DGs) and Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) of Communications, provides direction and helps us set priorities. Members come from large, medium and small organizations, with at least one representative from the regions.

The CCO participates in meetings with the Privy Council Office (PCO) and DGs of Communications to remain in touch with the top issues facing the community and to obtain quick feedback from DGs on initiatives, plans and priorities.

We also consult regularly with executives, managers and individual practitioners to ensure our services are aligned with the needs of the community.

In many ways, CCO is a sum of the various parts that make up our community. We often rely on the efforts of volunteers to deliver our services. Community members regularly share knowledge with their colleagues at our learning events, write articles for the CCO newsletter, and suggest stories, tools and research to share.

Steering Committee: A wide shot of the Steering Committee members seated at a table reviewing documents

Steering Committee members

  • Louise Baird (co-chair), Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Ken MacKillop (co-chair), Privy Council Office
  • Debora Brown, Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Mary Dila, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Jane Hazel, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Chris Henderson, National Defence
  • Caroline Hilt, Canada Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec
  • Jennifer Hollington, Health Canada
  • Stéphane Levesque, Global Affairs Canada
  • Leanne Maidment, Public Safety Canada
  • Melanie Sullivan, Communications Community Office, Privy Council Office

Our partners

The CCO is supported by memoranda of understanding (MOU) and financial contributions from heads of Communications in departments and agencies across the Government of Canada.This funding model enables the CCO to offer a variety of services to the communications community. The CCO’s activities help support communicators learning, training and career development.

The CCO is also supported by in-kind contributions from many community partners who have provided their support, expertise and advice throughout the year. Most notably these community partners include:

  • Heads of Communications
  • Our volunteers
  • Our communities of practice
  • Our functional community partners
  • The Canada School of Public Service
Our partners (Results Map program): Group photo of our partners smiling at the camera
Chatbots: A wide shot of the presenters seated around a table and smiling at the chatbots’ workshop
Heads of Comms: Group photo of the Heads of Communications members smiling at the camera

Communities of practice

Communities of practice are grass-roots and community driven, and offer the opportunity to share information and tools, discuss common challenges, develop and share new approaches, and provide training and educational opportunities.

In 2018-2019, the CCO supported learning and networking opportunities offered by several of the communities of practice serving the communications community, including Communications Evaluation, Social Media, Social Media Analytics Working Group, Policy Community, and Public Opinion Research. Additionally, the communities of practice engaged with the communications community at the CCO Learning Days by hosting kiosks and participating in panel discussions. The CCO plans to further leverage and engage the communities in the upcoming year.

  • Advertising and Partnerships
  • Communicating Science Network
  • Communications Evaluation
  • Exhibitions
  • InterComm
  • Public Engagement
  • Public Opinion Research
  • Publications
  • Publishing and Creative Services
  • Social Media
  • Social Media Analytics Working Group
  • Speechwriting
  • Web Community /
CoPs: A wide shot of participants seating seated at tables looking at presenter Caroline Kealey
Innovation fair:  Photo of three people getting information at the CCO kiosk at the Innovation Fair

Social Media: Close up photo of the Social Media Community of Practice representative standing next to a table with social media handouts
A wide shot of participants at a table at the Communications Evaluation Community of Practice session

Accomplishments for 2018-2019

Career development

  • In September 2018, the CCO launched the 2018-2019 CCO Mentoring Series, which fosters career development and a culture of continuous improvement, collaboration, and information sharing among communications professionals.
    This year, a total of 32 pairs of mentees-mentors participated in the September to June program that supports employees in their personal and professional development and provides experienced employees with the opportunity to share their knowledge, skills and corporate memory. The annual CCO Mentoring Series, which first began in 2008, provides many benefits to both mentors and mentees, including strategic and practical learning and development in a supported, confidential, and one-on-one relationship.

Training and learning

  • In April 2018, a training curriculum for all communications staff on the subject of plain language, data storytelling, and digital successes was developed for use across the community.
  • Over the course of the year, a total of nine monthly learning sessions that featured communications-related presentations were presented on the topics of: 
    • Journey Mapping
    • The Power of Plain Language (English)
    • The Power of Plain Language (French – La puissance du langage clair)
    • Speechwriting
    • Opioids Crisis: Why Words Matter
    • How Communicators Contribute to Web Success
    • Words Matter: An Indigenous Glossary of Terms
    • Planning Inclusive and Accessible Events
    • Public Opinion Research in Government
  • In partnership with the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), the CCO co-hosted three learning sessions on the subject of:
    • Hydro Ottawa’s Social Media Response to September’s Tornado
    • New Year – New
    • Chatbots –Get to know this smart solution
  • In January 2019, the CCO hosted a three-day session for some 35 communicators, from across the country. The workshop helped participants build capacity in all areas of strategic communications, including tactical planning and evaluation frameworks. Participants of this session have the opportunity to expand on their learning by becoming members of the CCO-supported Communications Evaluation Community of Practice.   
  • Supported by the CCO, “Blunders and Brews” was held in October and November 2018 to create opportunities to share stories, network, and hear from senior leaders about lessons learned when things did not go as planned.
  • The CCO Annual Learning Days Conference was successfully expanded to a second day and held on February 14 and 15 with thanks to the commitment and dedication of CCO staff, the CCO Steering Committee, heads of Communications, volunteers and participants. Under the theme “Keeping it real”, this year’s conference was held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and was also broadcast to our regional colleagues via Webcast. The conference featured a mix of guest speakers, panel discussions and workshops, and was attended each day by some 700 public servants representing a wide variety of communication specializations and levels, including senior management and regional offices.

Collective recruitment and retention

  • Managing IS-03 and IS-04 collective staffing pools from 2017.
  • An IS-05 collective staffing process was launched over the summer of 2018, attracting over 445 applicants from both the private and public sectors across the country. The qualified pool of candidates was completed in December and is now available for use by all departments.
  • In June 2018, the CCO coordinated the participation of three directors general of communications at the UOttawa-sponsored Future Proofing Your Career panel.  
  • A CCO’s LinkedIn presence was launched over the summer of 2018 to promote communications career opportunities in the federal government. Associated blogs and content were produced in cooperation with volunteer members of the community.
  • In November 2018, the CCO hosted some 24 departments and agencies at the first Government of Canada Communications Career and Networking Fair, in Ottawa. The fair, which was attended by over 1,000 potential candidates from the public and private sectors, including students, served to showcase the depth and breadth of the many communications careers within the Government of Canada.
  • In February 2019, the first annual Communications Awards of Excellence ceremony was attended by over 130 guests. The awards highlight impact initiatives, exceptional contributions, and best practices in communications. In total, five Excellence in Communications Awards (team awards) and five Spotlight Awards (individual awards) were presented. With over 140 nominations from more than 30 departments and agencies, selecting the winners was a near impossible task. The Steering Committee worked diligently to review nominations and to select a winner for each of the ten categories. The event itself was an overwhelming success and no doubt set the tone for next year’s ceremony.
  • In March, the CCO spoke about careers in the federal public service to 4th-year UOttawa communications students as part of their course on Communications in government organizations.   
  • Over the course of the year, the CCO issued 12 monthly digital newsletters to keep the community up to date on latest news and trends.
Learning Days: A wide shot of participants seating at tables looking at speaker presenting

Talent management

  • In June 2018, the CCO invited the leadership of the Communities of Practice to regularly attend and present at monthly heads of Communications meetings.
  • In September 2018, the CCO worked with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) to initiate the EX-01 Talent Management Pilot Project to explore new approaches to identify and manage communications executive talent, across government. 

Information sharing and data analysis

  • In May 2018, the CCO was instrumental in establishing the Communications Evaluation Community of Practice.
  • The CCO continues to maintain a social media presence (Twitter, LinkedIn) and share information and data on GCTools (GCconnex and GCpedia) and on the CCO website.

The way forward

In 2019-2020, the CCO will continue to build on its solid foundation and promote activities within the following five areas of focus: Career development, Training and Learning, Collective Recruitment and Retention, Talent Management, and Information Sharing and Data Analysis.

Helping communicators develop their skills and careers is an important part of the CCO’s role. This year, the CCO will review and modernize the Information Services (IS) competencies and develop standard job descriptions for communicators. Career roadmaps for employees and executives will set the path to exciting careers!

Comms award table: Close up photo of the awards table with two roll up banners and the Canadian flag on each side
	CCO Mentoring Series :  Group photo of mentors and mentees and the CCO team smiling
	Career Fair: Group photo of the participants at the Government of Canada Communications Career and Networking Fair

The CCO will continue to help connect talented communicators to the right opportunities. The CCO will keep promoting a variety of learning and development activities, including monthly learning sessions and a two-day Learning Days conference in February. In addition to hosting a career fair and managing pools and a bank of resumes, the CCO will explore approaches and methods for learning, mobility and career development of all communications employees, including a talent management pilot for EX-1 and EX-2 executives.

The CCO will work closely with its partners and leverage their experience for the benefit of our communications community. This year, there will be a particular focus on collaboration with our communities of practice and better connecting communicators from the regions and the National Capital Region.

Our communications community’s strength is its people. There are so many examples of collaboration, innovation and excellence. The CCO wills to highlight the outstanding work of communicators through its channels, and learning events and at the Communications Awards of Excellence.

The CCO is proud to serve such passionate, talented, and high-performing government communicators that are making a difference in the lives of Canadians. The communications community is at the heart of everything we do.

CCO numbers at a glance

  • Over 4,000 GC communicators
  • 36 departments and agencies
  • 1 Deputy Minister Champion
  • 1 CCO Steering Committee
    • 10 new or returning members
  • 1 new CCO Executive Director
  • 7 indeterminate CCO Staff
  • 4 major events
    • Government of Canada’s Communications Career and Networking Fair
    • CCO Learning Days Conference
    • Government of Canada’s Communications Awards of Excellence
    • Heads of Communications Retreat
  • 9 monthly learning events
    • Journey Mapping
    • The Power of Plain Language (English)
    • The Power of Plain Language (French – La puissance du langage clair)
    • Speechwriting
    • Opioids Crisis: Why Words Matter
    • How Communicators Contribute to Web Success
    • Words Matter:  An Indigenous Glossary of Terms
    • Planning Inclusive and Accessible Events
    • Public Opinion Research in Government
  • 3 CSPS sponsored learning events
    • Hydro Ottawa’s Social Media Response to September’s Tornado
    • New Year – New
    • Chatbots – Get to know this smart solution
  • 3 partnership events
    • Innovation Fair
    • New student orientation session (CSPS)
    • Future Proofing Your Career panel (UOttawa)
  • 1 mentorship program
    • 32 pairs of mentors-mentees
  • 6 Heads of Communications meetings
  • 6 CCO Steering Committee meetings
  • 12 CCO monthly newsletters
  • 53 newly qualified IS-5 staff
  • 73 qualified IS-3 and IS-4 staff
  • One Great Community

Annual funding for 2018-2019

Close up photo of Ken MacKillop and Louise Baird presenting awards at the podium

To facilitate long-term planning, the CCO has negotiated a 3-year funding agreement with departments and agencies for the period from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2021.

Currently, there are 36 departments and agencies participating in the 3-year funding agreement. The funding formula is based on each contributing department and agencies number of employees in the Information Services (IS) category. The total contributions for fiscal year 2018 to 2019 amounted to $1,087,500. The breakdown by departments and agencies follows.

Funding by departments and agencies

Department/Agency Funding ($)
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 41,250
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 22,500
Canada Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec 7,500
Canada Food Inspection Agency 41,250
Canada Revenue Agency 41,250
Canadian Heritage 41,250
Canadian Institutes of Health Research 7,500
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency 7,500
Canadian Space Agency 22,500
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada,
and Indigenous Services Canada
Correctional Service of Canada 10,000
Department of Finance Canada 22,500
Department of Justice Canada 41,250
Department of National Defence 41,250
Elections Canada 22,500
Employment and Social Development Canada 41,250
Environment and Climate Change Canada 41,250
Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario 7,500
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 41,250
Global Affairs Canada 41,250
Health Canada 41,250
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 41,250
Infrastructure Canada 22,500
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada 41,250
Library and Archives Canada 22,500
Natural Resources Canada 41,250
Parks Canada 22,500
Privy Council Office In-kind
Public Safety Canada 20,000
Public Service Commission of Canada 22,500
Public Services and Procurement Canada 41,250
Royal Canadian Mounted Police 41,250
Shared Services Canada 41,250
Statistics Canada 41,250
Transport Canada 41,250
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat In-kind
Veterans Affairs Canada 22,500
Total 1 087 500

Financial results

Funding Amount ($)
Funding received from communication branches of Government of Canada departments 1,087,500


Expenditures Amount ($)
Salaries and corporate services 786,870
Learning and training
(including the Learning Days conference and the mentoring series)
Recruitment and retention 31,249
Secretariat support for Heads of Communications (including the annual retreat) 13,699
Community building and engagement
(including the Awards of Excellence and the Speaker Series)
Translation 58,086
Administration 20,080
Total $1,087,500
A wide shot of the stage: screens on both sides, awards’ table in the middle with roll up banners behind and podium in front


We want to hear from you.

Let us know how we can support you better. Send us your ideas for the future.

Email us at

Library and Archives Canada cataloguing in publication

Library and Archives Canada cataloguing in publication

©Privy Council Office (2019)
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 :
Rapport annuel 2018-2019 du Bureau de la collectivité des communications

ISSN 2562-5993

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