Blueprint 2020 – Getting Started – Getting Your Views
Building Tomorrow's Public Service Together

[ PDF version]

  1. A Message from the Prime Minister
  2. Message from the Clerk of the Privy Council
  3. Canada’s Federal Public Service—Who We Are
  4. A Proud Tradition—A Strong Mandate
  5. A Clear Mission—Excellence in Public Service
  6. Adapting to Change
  7. A Vision for Canada’s Federal Public Service
  8. Living the Vision—Open and Networked
  9. Living the Vision—Whole-of-Government
  10. Living the Vision—Smart Use of Technology
  11. Living the Vision—High Performance
  12. Working Together to Achieve Excellence
  13. Backgrounder
  14. Launch of the Blueprint 2020 Vision

A Message from the Prime Minister

The Public Service of Canada is a model of a professional, non-partisan Institution committed to delivering concrete results for citizens. The Public Service regularly demonstrates its ongoing commitment to excellence, innovation and service to Canadians from supporting jobs and growth, to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, to improving the way it does business.

Effective government requires high-performing public servants. An agile, efficient and effective Public Service is essential to the well-being of Canadians, fuels productivity and supports sound governance of the country.

In order to adapt to the rapid rate of change in our world, all successful organizations need to consistently reflect on how they do business and pursue continual improvement. Canada's Public Service is no different. I am pleased that Public Service leaders have taken efforts to develop a plan to enable the Public Service to meet the challenges of the future and keep pace with society.

Blueprint 2020 – Getting started – Getting Your Views envisions a capable and high-performing Public Service that embraces innovation, transformation and continuous renewal. The engagement process surrounding the Blueprint 2020 vision will help to ensure that its tradition of excellence and shared values continue.

I want to convey my support and our Government's support – for the Blueprint 2020 process. Through this initiative, we hope that Canadians will continue to be served by a federal Public Service that meets their needs, pursues excellence, and provides value for money.

Message from the Clerk of the Privy Council

Wayne Wouters

Wayne G. Wouters
Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Federal Public Service

This is a pivotal time for Canada’s Public Service. As events evolve rapidly in an increasingly complex world, we must continue to ask ourselves how what we do for our country and for Canadians can remain relevant.

Canadians’ quality of life and our nation’s position in today’s uncertain and competitive world depend, in significant part, on a strong and high-performing Public Service. Whether we develop policies, deliver services, administer regulations or offer administrative support, we should all have one goal in common—to be the best Public Service we can be.

Many steps are already being taken on our journey of transformation, but more needs to be done. Our commitment as public servants calls for all of us, individually and collectively, to continue to innovate and meet new standards of excellence to address the demands of the modern world. We need to ask ourselves: Where does the Public Service need to be in five to ten years? How do we have to change to get there? What best practices should we adopt to help us do our job better?

This document sets out a vision to guide how we work together to improve services to Canadians and advance Canada’s social and economic interests.

Deputy heads and I are seeking your views so that together, we can bring forward a blueprint that will allow us to build tomorrow’s Public Service. We look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Canada’s Federal Public Service—Who We Are

We are people serving people - reflecting the diversity of Canadian society and drawing on a vast array of skills and expertise to meet the needs of Canadians and respond to the priorities of the Government.

Federal public servants make a difference in the lives of Canadians every day. Together, we are a diverse and vibrant national team. Here are some examples of the work we do:

  • We deliver important services to Canadians across the country—from providing old age security and employment insurance benefits and passports, to protecting Canada’s sovereignty and providing humanitarian assistance to countries in need, to helping Canadian families save for higher education.
  • We enforce rules that keep Canadians safe and healthy, including food and drug safety regulations, and laws to protect the environment.
  • We protect Canadians from possible threats at home and abroad. Every day thousands of Canadian public servants combat crime, fight terrorism, secure our borders and rescue Canadians in trouble on land or at sea.
  • We develop policies with and for Canadians, including on the economy, trade, energy and innovation.
  • We undertake and support research and development to help scientists and entrepreneurs push the boundaries of science and improve the lives of Canadians.
  • We help the Government manage Canada’s relations with the world and promote the country’s national interests around the globe.

We do all this and much more, in keeping with the direction of the government of the day, and in close consultation with other levels of government, the public and private sectors, as well as individual Canadians.

Regardless of our position, or whether we work in headquarters or on the front lines, we are part of the same team working together to achieve excellence in public service.

A Proud Tradition—A Strong Mandate

Enduring Values

  • Respect for Democracy
  • Respect for People
  • Integrity
  • Stewardship
  • Excellence
  • Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector

The fundamentals of our system of responsible government do not change—they shape how the Public Service functions in Canada’s democratic system.

  • We are professional and non-partisan—the Government of Canada can be confident that it will be served loyally and competently.
  • We work in the public interest—citizens can trust that Canada’s Public Service will provide fearless advice and deliver sound programs and services.
  • We ensure sound stewardship—we protect public assets and safeguard public finances for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • We deliver results—we ensure efficient and effective use of public resources to achieve timely results in a way that is accountable and provides value for money.

The Public Service provides continuity and coherence in addressing long-term challenges and in the stewardship of public funds, while at the same time supporting government effectively and efficiently.

A Clear Mission—Excellence in Public Service

Excellence is our goal in the design and delivery of public sector policy, programs and services. It is part of why we stand among the best public services in the world. Engagement, collaboration, effective teamwork and professional development are all essential to a high-performing organization.

Public Service excellence, driven by constant improvement and innovation, helps fuel productivity. A professional, well-trained and well-managed Public Service provides a competitive advantage for Canada. The Public Service directly supports the sound governance of the country, delivers high quality programs and services to Canadians, and helps promote Canadian values and interests on the world stage.

At the same time, excellence is more than a value—it is a philosophy that underpins everything we do, how we think and how we work to serve Canadians. Being collaborative, innovative, streamlined, high-performing, adaptable and diverse defines Public Service excellence now and for the future.

Excellence defines who we are and what we do, and cuts across regions, functions, hierarchies, departments and agencies. It is part of what inspires us to a life of public service in the first place, serving Canada and Canadians to the best of our abilities and making a difference in the lives of our citizens and the future of our country.

Excellence is our mission, and our commitment to the current and future generations of Canadians. We can expect no less from a world-class Public Service. Our continuing goal is to build a stronger and more adaptable institution—a Public Service capable of meeting the demands of the future.

The Public Service of Canada is seen world wide as a model for a strong democracy that delivers high quality results for its citizens—our enduring values and focus on excellence will continue to guide our professionalism in the years ahead.

Adapting to Change

Our current context

Over the past few years, we have taken steps to achieve excellence in all our core functions while reducing expenditures across government. This has meant tough choices that continue to reverberate across many government organizations. We recognize that many are still facing demanding changes.

At the same time, the world continues to change rapidly, putting significant stress on the existing way of doing things. Around the globe, governments and private sector organizations are examining new ways of working to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Canada’s Public Service is no exception.

We ensure that Public Service institutions are productive and responsive to the needs of our citizens. This means hiring the best and brightest people with the skills needed to develop evidence-based options and advice for the Government and to provide effective support to Canadians in times of change.

All this change can be daunting. This is why it’s time to talk about the changes underway, what further changes are necessary, how the Public Service is adapting, and how it needs to adapt further. We need to take stock and focus attention on the areas that are critical to position the Public Service for the future.

What is driving change?

A number of drivers are putting pressure on the ways in which the Public Service operates, including:

  • Increasing globalization, issue complexity and interconnectedness—Change is accelerating. It involves an increasing number of actors who have varied interests, values and demands, who want to be engaged, and who play roles that in the past only governments played.
  • Accelerating technological change—The Internet and mobile communications are revolutionizing how people carry out their work and conduct their daily lives and how business operates. This raises expectations for e-enabled and easy-to-access government services at Canadians’ fingertips.
  • Changing demographics—The changing make-up of Canadian society has impacts on expectations, values and service demands. Calls for more responsive and more customized services are increasing.
  • Growing demand for accountability and the achievement of results as efficiently as possible— Citizens expect governments to live within their means, to be increasingly open and transparent, and to make available relevant information.
  • Shifting workforce expectations with respect to work and workplaces—Employees want more efficient and flexible ways of working to serve the Government and Canadians more effectively, and want the tools and technologies to do so.

The new environment values innovation, agility and productivity, with the dual goals of improved service and greater resource efficiency.

  • We must explore ways to take advantage of networks and partnerships for meaningful policy advice, effective program design and better services while upholding accountability, values and ethics.
  • We must also find ways to appropriately encourage innovation and risk-taking, and ensure that the Public Service has the competencies and leadership skills needed to harness the best talent and the brightest ideas, wherever they may be found, to meet the evolving needs of Canadians.
To continue to achieve excellence across all our core functions—policy development, program and service delivery, regulation and management—we must understand the 3 requirements of the future and work toward these needs.

A Vision for Canada’s Federal Public Service

A world-class Public Service equipped to serve Canada and Canadians now and into the future.

We will be recognized as having the best people working together with citizens, making smart use of new technologies and achieving the best possible outcomes with efficient, interconnected and nimble processes, structures and systems. Our core objective is to improve the lives of our citizens and secure a strong future for our country.

Our Guiding Principles

To achieve this vision, four guiding principles will help us examine how work is done in the Federal Public Service and to address the question: What can we do to take full advantage of everything at our disposal to serve Canada and Canadians in the years ahead while upholding our enduring values?

An open and networked environment that engages citizens and partners for the public good. We will support responsive, adaptable, open and networked approaches, services, processes and structures.

together with…

A whole-of-government approach that enhances service delivery and value for money. We will focus on efficient and—where they make sense—consolidated operations to increase flexibility, drawing on innovative and proven approaches to complex problems.

enabled by…

A modern workplace that makes smart use of new technologies to improve networking, access to data and customer service. We will pursue affordable, interoperable tools and systems, and emphasize a tech-savvy and responsive culture that puts citizens first, making investments that are appropriate to sound public finances and the concrete needs of Canadians.


A capable, confident and high-performing workforce that embraces new ways of working and mobilizing the diversity of talent to serve the country’s evolving needs. We will stress the importance of competent, engaged and productive leaders, managers and employees. We will also focus on the value of knowledge as well as learning from the collective experience in developing evidence-based options for decision-makers.

Our vision and guiding principles will help us to anticipate and take advantage of change and experiment with new ideas in how we serve Canada and Canadians with excellence in the future.

Living the Vision—Open and Networked

An open and networked environment suggests:

  • A value-added role, working to balance views and make sense of different perspectives in seeking innovative and pragmatic solutions that address both current and emerging issues.
  • Responsible use of the vast quantities of information available to us in developing evidence-based ideas, analysis and advice.
  • Effective partnerships and networks with Canadians, as well as with the private and not-for-profit sectors that serve the public interest, resulting in effective ways of working together, third-party mechanisms, shared services and exchanges of talent.
  • Enhanced access to government information and services, in Canadians’ choice of official language, made possible by working more closely with other levels of governments, partners and end-users in the design and delivery of public programs.

The aim is to keep building a more open and networked Public Service that works to achieve a better Canada and better lives for Canadians—with improved systems and practices that help us work together both across the Public Service and with external partners, and that help make best use of the wealth of information and ideas we can now access.

From today’s innovation—Let’s imagine tomorrow’s

  • More than 1.5 million Canadians suffer from Type 2 diabetes and this number is rising each year, despite the fact that this disease is often preventable. As part of its Canadian Diabetes Strategy, the Public Health Agency of Canada collaborated with seven provinces and territories to develop the CANRISK questionnaire. The questionnaire helps individuals to determine their risk of developing diabetes and to identify ways to reduce that risk. Canadians can use the questionnaire online and, thanks to innovative public-private partnerships with a number of pharmacy chains, at thousands of drugstores across the country.
  • Bringing Canada’s copyright laws into the 21st century required listening to as many Canadians as possible to learn of their varied interests. Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage carried out a multipronged national consultation to develop the new Copyright Modernization Act. A number of tools were used to elicit feedback, including an interactive website, social media, and in-person consultations. There were more than 30,000 unique visits to the website, over 8,000 written submissions from individuals and organizations, and roughly 2,500 threaded discussions. A further 1,000 Canadians attended nine round tables and two web-streamed public town halls.

An open and networked environment challenges us to look at ways to expand open policy-development practices and access to data, encourage citizen engagement and try new ways to work across boundaries.

Living the Vision—Whole-of-Government

A whole-of-government approach suggests:

  • An enterprise-wide management culture and supporting structures that enhance collaboration on complex, cross-cutting issues and solutions, and that simplify the web of rules and reporting requirements while maintaining transparency and accountability.
  • Effective and efficient business processes that draw on collective expertise to achieve economies of scale in areas of common interest across the Public Service while maintaining high standards of quality, accessibility and equity of services to Canadians.
  • Flexible funding arrangements and enterprise-wide systems to simplify pooling of resources and ensure teamwork between departments and programs.
  • Widespread adoption of common and shared services for functions such as human resources, pay and benefits, and security to help get value for money.
  • Regular review of programs and services to help the Government determine whether they are still required and whether adjustments are needed to ensure that they are effective, efficient and focused on the needs of Canadians.

The aims are to work together in designing and delivering services, to improve the efficiency of Public Service delivery systems, and to identify those programs and services that would be best delivered by other means.

What we are doing now—What else can we do?

  • A partnership between Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency supported the development of an automatic enrolment process for the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit. This collaborative initiative will eliminate the need for many seniors to apply for this retirement benefit and reduce program administration costs.
  • Tangible improvements are being made in how we deliver federal grants and contributions. Canadian Heritage is reengineering its processes and leveraging technology to support online grant applications and to accelerate the processing of simpler, lower-risk requests, thereby freeing up staff to focus on the more complex cases. For grant applicants, this has meant simpler application procedures, a reduced paper burden, and faster processing of requests. As well, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada are working together to standardize and harmonize the way they process and administer grants and contributions.
A whole-of-government approach challenges us to come up with innovative ways to advance enterprise-wide systems and solutions, modernize business models, simplify internal operations and get system-wide value for money.

Living the Vision—Smart Use of Technology

A modern workplace that makes smart use of new technologies suggests:

  • Affordable, e-enabled and seamless services providing for “tell us once” information gathering, thereby enhancing self-service and customized services.
  • Open access to data and information, enabling citizens to assess results more readily, and allowing businesses to create new knowledge and products to compete in the global market.
  • A single, standardized technological infrastructure with supporting applications and systems to reduce the costs of basic IT services, and to make it easier to use the wealth of data available from new sources in developing evidence-based analysis and innovative solutions.
  • Interoperable systems to ensure timely access to information and management data needed to support trend analysis and scenario-building.
  • Enhanced ability to leverage Workplace 2.0 to enable remote work, networking and teamwork in a wireless environment.

The aim is to take advantage of affordable tools and systems that work together to support operations, especially in our work with partners and stakeholders. This means making investments that are appropriate to sound public finances and the concrete needs of Canadians, for example, by finding innovative ways to customize public services, enable networking and provide open access to information that Canadians can use to develop innovative products and services. This will also nurture a tech-savvy culture, making use of social media tools while respecting Public Service values and ethics.

Just a few examples—what will we be doing next?

  • Public Works and Government Services Canada is leading a Workplace 2.0 initiative to create a modern Public Service workplace that attracts, retains and enables public servants to work smarter, greener and healthier in order to better serve Canadians. It involves modernizing the physical aspects of the workspace, updating policies and systems that support public servants in their work, and providing new technologies that empower them to connect and collaborate across government and with Canadians. To date, more than 100 installation projects have been undertaken and nearly 200 more are planned for the near future.
  • Transport Canada is leading the way with its blueprint for integrating tablets and smartphones into the department, based on industry standards and best practices. This approach can be used by other departments to integrate these devices securely, effectively and at the lowest possible cost.

A modern workplace that makes smart use of new technologies means that we need to plan how we will use them when designing our services and workplaces to keep pace with the evolving needs of citizens and employees.

Living the Vision—High Performance

A capable, confident and high-performing workforce suggests:

  • Agile individuals and organizations with modern workplaces that support teamwork and a range of employment and mobility models helping people to work where and when needed while recognizing the value of specialists in key domains.
  • Adept Public Service managers and leaders welcoming ideas and perspectives, fostering high levels of engagement, performance and productivity, developing employees, and creating opportunities to keep learning and growing that will help people achieve their best in all their endeavours.
  • Skills for improved networking including enhanced capacity for collecting and using knowledge to tap into the richness of Canada’s diversity, and the wide range of perspectives and ideas across Canada and beyond, to promote innovation, encourage forward thinking and help drive productivity.
  • Modern, flexible working methods that mobilize expertise and that unleash creativity and productivity in a supportive environment, to meet and exceed performance expectations without compromising personal lives or health outcomes.
  • Flexible job design and organizational structures to better align talent and resources both within and outside the Public Service and encourage dialogue, experimentation, risk-taking, problem-solving, innovation and simpler, affordable processes and procedures.

The aim is to look at the current employment model, at the way we structure jobs and organizations, and at what new competencies are needed in leaders, managers and employees. It includes looking at ways to empower and motivate employees, build internal capacity, and provide flexible means of working. It also includes seeking ways to develop trust-based relationships within and outside the Public Service to guide transformation and get better results at lower cost.

Much is underway—what more can be done?

  • The Canada School of Public Service collaborated with the young professionals’ networks from 11 different departments to design and deliver the 2013 Career Boot Camp. This dynamic learning event offers a new generation of skilled and motivated public servants the opportunity to network with their peers, share ideas on ways to spark workplace innovation, and discuss issues facing the Public Service of today and tomorrow.
  • The Department of National Defence’s Return to Work Program helps convalescing employees integrate back into the workplace by temporarily modifying work arrangements until they are capable of resuming full duties. This has helped decrease the average number of lost business days due to work injuries and illnesses by nearly 50% in the last eight years.

A capable, confident and high-performing workforce challenges us to look for ways to improve knowledge, people and performance management and to enhance networking to make use of the strengths and interests of citizens, partners and stakeholders who want to help build a better future together.

Working Together to Achieve Excellence

The world in which the Public Service operates is continuing to change in fundamental ways and our institution, as it always has, must keep pace with this change. A common vision of the future can give us a shared sense of purpose, guide our decision-making and help establish a blueprint that will allow us to build together the Public Service of tomorrow.

We have taken the first steps—many aspects of the vision are already in practice, as illustrated by the examples highlighted in this document. In the months ahead, we will seek your perspectives on what else we can do to position the Public Service for the future. Everyone has a part to play, from instituting small incremental changes in your workplace to sharing ideas about larger-scale changes that can make a difference for the Public Service as a whole.

Deputies will engage their staff on what the vision means for their areas of responsibility and what changes are needed to lay the foundation for the future. We will also use networks and web-based tools to gain insight into those changes that would best serve the Public Service across the board. This dialogue will extend the conversation beyond the Public Service to determine how it can be stronger, more flexible and better positioned to respond to the evolving needs of Canadians.

Throughout this process, we will make use of a combination of approaches to explore views and share ideas. We encourage interactive and self-managed discussions that can tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience available.

Your input will help to shape a blueprint for action that will be put forward in 2014. The goal is to take stock of changes underway, draw on best practices and lessons learned, and focus our attention on those areas of change that are important to position the Public Service for the future. Regular updates on progress will be shared as we move forward.

Getting Your Views

  1. What does the vision mean for you?
    • Does it cover the right areas of change from your perspective?
    • How do you see it applying in your work environment?
  2. What is needed to make the vision a reality?
    • What are the two or three changes that would best enhance our ability to serve Canadians in the future? What would make the most difference for you personally, for your organization and for the Public Service?
    • Who needs to play what role to make these changes happen?
  3. What can you do to help achieve the vision?
    • Are there best practices inside or outside of your world we should look at?
    • How can we better tackle barriers and manage risks?

This is the beginning of a journey. It aims to inspire public servants, build trust with Canadians and lay the foundation for the future.

Page details

Date modified: