Archived - Public Service Commission Appointment Policy



The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) is an enabling statute, providing an opportunity for the Public Service appointment process to be more adaptable and efficient. Managers are expected to exercise sound judgment in making appointment-related decisions, and are able to select the person who not only meets the job requirements, but also fits the current and future needs of the organization. The PSEA also provides greater scope for deputy heads to customize the appointment process to meet the needs of their organization and deliver high quality services to the public.

This broad policy framework has been developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) with the expectation that deputy heads are undertaking human resources (HR) planning, including staffing strategies, within their organization, in accordance with Employer policy. HR planning, linked to organizational and business planning, is key to a manager's ability to make appointment decisions quickly and in accordance with the appointment values.


The core values of merit and non-partisanship remain the cornerstones of appointments to and within the public service resulting in a public service that is representative, able to serve the public with integrity and in the official language of choice. As well, the PSC guiding values of fairness, transparency, access, and representativeness will guide managerial decision-making in the appointment process within a system where authorities can be sub-delegated to those closest to the decision point, within a framework of accountability to ensure that the integrity of the appointment system is preserved.

In the Canadian public service appointment system:


  • Decisions are made objectively and free from political influence or personal favouritism; policies and practices reflect the just treatment of persons.
  • Persons have the right to be assessed in the official language(s) of their choice in an appointment process.


  • Information about strategies, decisions, policies and practices is communicated in an open and timely manner.


  • Persons from across the country have a reasonable opportunity to apply, and to do so in the official language(s) of their choice, and to be considered for public service employment.


  • Appointment processes are conducted without bias and do not create systemic barriers to help achieve a public service that reflects the Canadian population it serves.

These values are inherent in the PSEA, particularly in the Preamble. In addition, they are consistent with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service. The Code makes specific reference to the appointment system where, under People Values, it states that appointment decisions shall be based on merit, and that public service values should play a key role in recruitment, evaluation and promotion. The Code also lists conflict of interest measures, including, "When participating in any decision making related to a staffing process, public servants shall ensure that they do not grant preferential treatment or assistance to family or friends."1

PSC Appointment Policy

The Commission's appointment policy is intended to:

  • support the achievement of a competent, non-partisan, representative and inclusive public service in which public servants are drawn from across the country, reflect the diversity and linguistic duality of the Canadian people, and are representative of the people they serve;
  • foster confidence in appointment decisions and in the integrity of the appointment system;
  • promote a culture of open communication where, through effective dialogue, issues and concerns can be dealt with respectfully throughout the appointment process; and
  • foster a healthy workplace, where errors or oversights can be corrected in a timely manner and where the use of formal recourse may be reduced.


Unless otherwise specified in individual policies, the PSC Appointment Policy applies to all appointments in the public service made in accordance with the PSEA. This includes appointments to executive and executive- equivalent positions.


The PSC Appointment Policy has been developed in accordance with subsection 29(3) of the PSEA, which gives the PSC authority to establish policies on the manner of making and revoking appointments, and to take corrective action. It is composed of a number of policies on specific subjects that correspond to key decision points in appointment processes, and should be read in conjunction with the Public Service Employment Regulations. There are also a number of Exclusion Approval Orders (in development) that exempt some appointments from the application of all or part of the PSEA and, therefore, from the application of some or all of these policies.

Each policy is presented in a standardized format, outlined below, with a brief explanation of each section.

Policy Statement

The policy statement sets out the Commission's expectations or intentions regarding the policy subject.

Deputy heads are required to exercise delegated appointment authority in accordance with the policy statement of each policy subject.

Policy Objective

The policy objective sets out the goal the Commission expects to achieve with the specific policy subject. It will primarily be related to the appointment values, and to the values and principles set out in the legislation, particularly the Preamble. The objective provides guidance to deputy heads.

Policy Requirements

The policy requirements are binding and, along with the policy statement, form the basis for the development of accountability indicators and measures to evaluate how deputy heads are exercising their delegated authorities.

Deputy heads exercising delegated appointment authority will be accountable for meeting the specific requirements of each policy.

Policy Development

Deputy heads should consider whether they need to develop policies or guides for any part of the appointment process. In the case of area of selection and corrective action and revocation, the Commission requires that deputy heads establish an organizational policy. Deputy heads are strongly encouraged to include union representatives and unrepresented employees in the development of their organizational policy.

Other Requirements

The public service appointment system is governed by legislation and policy that must be respected by deputy heads when making appointment decisions. Each policy sets out those requirements that are relevant to the specific policy.

In addition to the PSEA, Public Service appointments are guided by, among others:

  • the Canadian Human Rights Act, which sets out the kinds of discrimination that are considered unlawful and permits programs to redress disadvantages;
  • the Employment Equity Act, which establishes key principles for representativeness and the obligations of the Treasury Board, the Public Service Commission (the Commission), and departments and agencies;
  • the Official Languages Act, which establishes key principles concerning representativeness, language requirements of positions, the requirements for service in both official languages and the linguistic rights of individuals;
  • the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which contains key guarantees such as equality under the law and mobility rights; and
  • the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.


The PSEA gives the PSC the authority to make appointments to and from within the public service ; the PSC, in turn, can delegate the authority to deputy heads. The Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI) outlines the specific authorities formally delegated by the Commission to deputy heads, as well as the conditions of the delegation. The ADAI also stipulates how deputy heads will be held accountable for the exercise of their delegated authorities to the Commission which, in turn, is accountable to Parliament. Where the Commission determines that the conditions of delegation have not been respected, it has the authority to take remedial measures which could include additional conditions or limitations, or partial or complete withdrawal of delegated authorities.

Monitoring and Reporting

Active monitoring of appointment systems allows deputy heads to systematically identify, manage and mitigate appointment risks, and to determine whether their organization meets the Commission's policy requirements and the expectations set out in the Staffing Management Accountability Framework (SMAF). The SMAF is one of a number of mechanisms, including audit, supporting the Accountability Policy developed by the Commission to hold deputy heads accountable for the exercise of their delegated authorities. In accordance with Commission policy and the SMAF, deputy heads must report on their performance in exercising their delegated authority.


The PSEA gives the Commission the authority to conduct audits on any matter within its jurisdiction and on the exercise by deputy heads of their authority to set essential and asset qualifications, operational requirements and organizational needs; the PSC may also make recommendations to deputy heads. The Commission will work with deputy heads to ensure that their staff understand the Commission's right of timely access to information and to staff.

Information Requirements

Maintaining accurate information about the organization's appointment system as a whole and about individual appointment actions is required in order to meet the monitoring and audit expectations of the PSC. This information allows deputy heads to provide a fair and reliable representation of their activities in accordance with the PSEA and Commission policy, delegation and accountability requirements.

Canada. Office of the Ethics Commissioner. Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service Ottawa, 2003 [Return]

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