Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Raison d’être

The President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada is responsible for the Public Service Commission of Canada (the agency) in accordance with the Financial Administration Act and for tabling the agency’s annual report under the Public Service Employment Act. The agency reports independently on its mandate to Parliament.

Through collaboration with departments and agencies, it is dedicated to building tomorrow’s public service that is based on excellence and is representative of Canada’s diversity. It safeguards non-partisanship and promotes and protects merit and the use of both official languages in a staffing and recruitment context. It supports departments and agencies in recruiting talented people from coast to coast to coast through the use of innovative and modern services, tools and practices.

Mandate and role

Under the delegated staffing system set out in the Public Service Employment Act, the Public Service Commission fulfills its mandate by promoting and safeguarding a non-partisan, merit-based and representative public service that serves all Canadians. We do this by:

  • supporting departments and agencies in hiring qualified individuals into and within the public service
  • overseeing and ensuring the integrity of public service hiring
  • protecting the non-partisan nature of the public service while respecting employees’ rights to participate in political activities
  • delivering recruitment programs and assessment services

Operating context

The federal public service is Canada’s largest employer, with almost 288 000 employees serving as climate scientists, nurses in Northern regions, fisheries officers, policy advisors and in thousands of roles that shape the country. The federal government depends on a qualified and diverse public service that reflects the range of backgrounds and worldviews that make up Canadian society.

The Public Service Commission is responsible for safeguarding a merit-based, representative and non-partisan public service that serves all Canadians. To give departments and agencies the flexibility to build staffing systems adapted to their needs, we have delegated many appointment authorities to deputy heads. We guide and support deputy heads in respecting legislative and policy requirements. We rely on the actions and leadership of all hiring managers, human resources professionals and deputy heads to ensure the federal public service hires a diverse and professional workforce.

We manage the Public Service Resourcing System, also known as GC Jobs, an online recruitment platform used by 99 federal departments and agencies. Approximately one million job applications are submitted through this platform each year, for roughly 10 000 job postings. We also deliver recruitment programs and assessment services to help public service hiring managers hire qualified individuals. This includes French and English second language tests for reading, writing and oral proficiency to ensure Canadians can be served, and federal public servants can work, in the official language of their choice, as required.

Job seekers and hiring managers increasingly expect timely and innovative approaches to hiring. Long staffing processes can cause the federal public service to miss out on high-quality candidates, who may be recruited more quickly by other employers. The pandemic has heightened the demand for digital recruitment and assessment solutions. Modernizing our outdated recruitment and assessment tools and platforms is a top priority.

Appointment processes must be effective and inclusive. We have always worked to achieve a public service that reflects Canada’s diversity. However, we are now looking beyond the 4 employment equity groups, and geographic and official language representation, at a wider range of socio-demographic and intersecting identity factors.

Changes to our enabling legislation, the Public Service Employment Act, are being implemented as they come into force, and we have developed tools to provide guidance to departments and agencies on the resulting impacts to the hiring process. We will continue to work with them to remove barriers and biases in the staffing system which includes our authority to investigate error, omission and improper conduct that results from a bias or barrier that disadvantages equity-seeking groups; and our authority to conduct audits on whether there are biases or barriers that disadvantage equity-seeking groups in appointment processes.

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