Horizontal Initiatives - 2015–16 Report on Plans and Priorities - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Horizontal Initiatives

Name of horizontal initiative:
Workplace Wellness and Productivity Strategy (WPS)
Name of lead department:
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (Secretariat)
Lead department Program Alignment Architecture (PAA) program and sub-program:
Government-Wide Program Design and Delivery, Pensions and Benefits
Start date of the horizontal initiative:
February 2013
End date of the horizontal initiative:

Total federal funding allocation (from start date to end date)

The amount of $25,010,838 in total funding has been allocated over a four-year period for the Secretariat, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Health Canada to carry out a range of activities in support of modernizing the current system for disability and sick leave management. The total allocated funding includes an amount of $21,092,649 in funding from the fiscal framework, along with $3,918,189 from existing departmental reference levels.

Description of the horizontal initiative (including funding)

The Government of Canada intends to implement the WPS as a means to modernize federal public service disability and sick leave management and to bring itself at par with other jurisdictions and industry standards. It announced its intention in Budget 2013 and earmarked $21.5 million over four years to modernize the disability and sick leave management system in the federal public service. The funding is allocated between the Secretariat (13.9 million), ESDC – Labour ($2.4 million) and PWGSC ($5.2 million). This plan was reinforced in the October 2013 Speech from the Throne.

Under the WPS, the Government of Canada proposes to introduce a new self-insured, short-term disability plan to replace the accumulated sick leave model. A new short-term plan would provide all employees with equitable income security in the event that they become ill or injured and would seamlessly link up with the long-term disability support and benefits. The WPS would also include retendering of the two fully insured long-term disability plans.

The existing plans were put in place some 40 years ago, and they have not kept pace with the changing workplace and related health issues and ensuing interventions. A new long-term plan would incorporate modernized ways to support employees while they are on long-term disability benefits. The WPS would emphasize wellness, prevention and return-to-work support through active case management. These supports would help employees to remain productive at work and would promote workplace physical and mental wellness.

Once adopted, the WPS would balance employee wellness and workplace productivity. The new approach would offer the same coverage to all federal public servants, regardless of tenure or medical history. It would also provide adequate income protection, along with timely access to case management, rehabilitation, and return-to-work services for employees who experience illness or injury.

In 2014, the Government of Canada embarked on collective bargaining to negotiate sick leave provisions and the proposed short-term disability plan. The outcome of the negotiations is expected to inform the design of the short-term disability plan.

Shared outcomes

The targeted result to be achieved by the Secretariat and its partners is the modernization of key elements of the disability and sick leave management regime in the federal public service, with a view to creating a seamless, integrated and sustainable system to support employee wellness and productivity. This initiative aims to improve overall management of employee disability and help a higher percentage of employees back to work, when they are ready to return. 

Governance structures

A Memorandum to Cabinet dated February 2013 mandated the Secretariat to lead the project in collaboration with its federal partners PWGSC, ESDC (then Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)) and Health Canada. A subsequent Treasury Board submission in fall 2013 (signed by the Ministers responsible for the Secretariat, PWGSC and HRSDC) approved the overall funding and the project plan.

A project charter and brief, prepared for the initiative and reviewed by senior officials from each of the partner organizations, provides details on the initiative and spells out the roles, responsibilities and deliverables of each of the partners.

In addition, the WPS initiative has put in place a detailed governance structure to support effective, collaborative and timely decision making regarding the resolution of ongoing and emerging issues. The governance structure includes oversight at the highest levels, through a Deputy Minister Project Governance Committee, an ADM Steering Committee and a working-level group of committees covering each of the initiative's major activities.

The chair of each of the work stream committees is responsible for monitoring work, directing corrective actions to be taken when required, reporting regularly on progress, and submitting deliverables as completed to the project management office. The latter would have core responsibility for monitoring progress, directing any required corrective actions and approving deliverables. As the executive director is responsible for project progress overall, he or she is the chair of the project management office.

Planning highlights for 2015–16

Continuous reporting and monitoring of the initiative (as described above) ensures that progress is closely tracked using evidence-based information.

Federal partners

Sponsored by the Secretariat, the WPS has partners in key departments. 

PWGSC – Acquisitions Branch and Accounting, Banking and Compensation Branch: The Acquisitions Branch is to provide procurement expertise in the procurement of a new short-term disability plan and in the retendering of the long-term disability plan. The Accounting, Banking and Compensation Branch is to support the development of the technological solution required for interoperability with the People Soft–based absence management system and human resources and pay systems in the federal public service.

ESDC – Labour: The Labour Program is to identify options for improving the administration of occupational claims under the Government Employees Compensation Act.

Health Canada: This organization is to provide support for the updated Policy on Employee Assistance Program and related departmental advice. Its activities also support a streamlined application process for medical retirement under the Public Service Superannuation Act.

Workplace Wellness and Productivity Strategy
Federal partners PAA programs Contributing activities and programs Total allocation (from start date to end date)
($ dollars)
2015–16 planned spending
($ dollars)
2015–16 expected results (including targets)
Secretariat Management Policies Development and Monitoring

Direction setting

Comprehensive management of compensation

$15,623,157 $4,468,999
  • project leadership
  • coordination and oversight
  • input into plan design and policy development
  • support for the collective bargaining process
  • industry engagement process


Federal Pay and Pension Administration

$5,227,999 $1,984,001
  • support for development of Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposals (RFP) for potential procurement of short-term and long-term disability plans, following conclusion of collective bargaining
  • activities in support of implementing pay and pension information systems
EDSC Labour $2,412,000 $810,000
  • activities focused on modernizing systems and arrangements involving occupational injury or illness claims filed under the Government Employees Compensation Act, to reduce reporting times and improve data collection and information available to departments and agencies
Health Canada Specialized Health Services $1,747,682 $588,142
  • activities in support of an updated Policy on Employee Assistance Program and related departmental advice
  • activities in support of a streamlined application process for medical retirement under the Public Service Superannuation Act
Total $25,010,838 $7,851,142

Comments on variances

The WPS project and funding were approved in late fall 2013. The planned activities described in this supplementary information table cover fiscal year 2015–16 (i.e., up to March 31, 2016).

Contact information

Ashique Biswas, A/Executive Director
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
5th Floor, 222 Nepean St.
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0R5

Telephone: 613-952-3261

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