MAF 2020-21 Government Wide Report - Adapting in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Context

The Management Accountability Framework (MAF) is an annual assessment of management practices and performance in Government of Canada departments and agencies. Established in 2003, it sets out expectations for sound public sector management based on the Treasury Board Policy Suite, assesses organizational practices and performance using a series of indicators, and highlights management strengths and opportunities for improvement.

This year’s MAF exercise was modified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to examine a streamlined set of management practices and gain a deeper understanding of how management functions adapted during the crisis. The revised MAF approach also included over 90 interviews between the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers and Heads of Human Resources. These interviews captured learnings and insights about enterprise-wide adaptations to management practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and, gathered best practices, innovations, and lessons learned.

This Report summarizes key findings about core management practices at the enterprise level as well as functional and enterprise-wide adaptations that occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Report also highlights best practices and lessons learned that were gathered during the Heads of Function interview process. Department-specific results were released to organizations through the 2020-21 MAF Departmental Reports on April 30, 2021.

1. Assessment of Core Management Practices

This section summarizes key findings for the six Areas of Management (AoMs) that were assessed as part of this year’s MAF cycle. Additional indicators that were not formally assessed, are included to give insight on how core management practices were adapted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

60 departments and agencies were assessed, including 36 large departments and agencies (LDAs) and 24 small departments and agencies (SDAs)Footnote 1 – see Annex A for complete list.

LDAs were assessed on five (5) core AoMs:

  • Financial Management;
  • People Management;
  • Information Management and Information Technology (IM/IT) and Service Management;
  • Results Management and Experimentation; and,
  • Security Management.

In addition, certain LDAs were assessed on the Management of Assets and Acquired Services depending on their size and mandate. SDAs were only assessed on a subset of indicators in the Financial Management and People Management AoMs.

1.1. The 2020-21 MAF Results at a Glance

This overview shows how the results on core management practice indicators that were used for the MAF assessment this year compared to the targets set by AoMs, and MAF results from the previous year.

Comparison of Large Departments and Agencies Performance on Core Management Practices

Departments Performance versus 2020-21 MAF Targets

72%

% of organizations that met or exceeded this year’s MAF Targets

Almost three quarters (72%) of LDAs that were assessed on the MAF indicators that applied to them and had a target, met, or exceeded those targets.

Departments Performance versus 2019-20 MAF Results

73%

% of organizations that maintained or improved their 2019-20 MAF results.

LDAs were assessed on 17 indicators in the 2020-21 MAF cycle that were also assessed in the 2019-20 MAF cycle. For these indicators, 73% of LDAs either maintained or improved their results for the indicators that applied to them.

1.2. Key Findings by Area of Management

The following section summarizes what was observed from the MAF results about the enterprise performance by AoM.

1.2.1. Financial Management

The 2020-21 MAF Financial Management AoM assessment asked departments and agencies to list their own key internal controls over financial management (ICFM) processes and to report on the stage of maturity for each ICFM accordingly. In addition, although not formally assessed, insights were sought on how internal controls over financial reporting (ICFR) were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic response and how departments and agencies mobilized to implement transfer payments during the COVID-19 pandemic response. In total, 35 LDAs and 12 SDAs responded to questions within the Financial Management AoM.

Overview

Overall, departments and agencies demonstrated stewardship over financial resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was evidenced by their continued progress towards reaching the ongoing monitoring stage for their internal controls over financial management processes. In addition, organizations demonstrated that they took corrective and/or preventative actions, by updating their risk assessment or reassessing their internal controls over financial reporting, to ensure that any control weaknesses are properly addressed to respond to the evolving control environment and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key FindingsFootnote 2
  • Assessing the level of maturity for internal controls over financial management ensures that a risk-based departmental system of internal control over financial management is established, monitored and maintained, and demonstrates adherence to the Policy on Financial Management. Results from this MAF cycle show that 86% of assessed LDAs have at least one of their key ICFM processes at the ongoing monitoring stage. However, only six LDAs have reached the ongoing monitoring stage for all their identified key ICFM processes. Departments and agencies are encouraged to continue to work towards ensuring that all key ICFM processes have reached the ongoing monitoring stage by the target date of March 31, 2024. Achieving this target will ensure that the control design is being assessed regularly and that the ICFMs are operating effectively. It will provide assurance to senior management that a reliable system of ICFM exists and that actions are taken to improve controls.
  • With the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on departmental operations, it is important to highlight any modifications in ICFRs in order to adapt and adjust to the evolving situation. In this context, a system of internal controls must be maintained to mitigate the risks to programs, operations, and resource management. Departments and agencies are required to ensure that prompt corrective actions are taken when control weaknesses and material unmitigated risks are identified. Results from this MAF cycle indicate that 97% of assessed LDAs updated their risk assessment or re-assessed their ICFR. This demonstrates that the COVID-19 pandemic led organizations to take corrective and/or preventive actions to ensure that control weaknesses are properly addressed to respond to the evolving control environment. It should be noted that since the conclusion of the MAF assessment period, the remaining 3% of responding LDAs have updated their risk assessment and/or re-assessed their ICFR. Departments and agencies are encouraged to continue this best practice as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the control environment continue to become known.
  • In their response, many departments used transfer payments to address the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians. All surveyed departments and agencies responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the context of transfer payments, by taking actions that included: implementing new programming, amending terms and conditions to existing programs, and using flexibilities available within the Policy on Transfer Payments (e.g., amending funding agreement to extend project end-dates, adding pandemic related activities to the agreements, and modifying recipient reporting and/or timelines).
Figure 1: Percentage of Departments and Agencies that made Changes to Grants and Contributions (Transfer Payment) Programs in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic
Percentage of Departments and Agencies that made Changes to Grants and Contributions (Transfer Payment) Programs in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Text version below:
Figure 1 - Text version
Changes Percentage
SDA LDA Total
Amendment to Terms & Conditions 42% 64% 56%
Addition of new programming 50% 36% 41%
Provision of additional/supplementary funding to existing recipients 58% 73% 68%
Implementation of flexibilities under the policy using advance payments 33% 77% 62%
Implementation of flexibilities enabling recipients to retain reasonable unexpended balances 42% 59% 53%
Amendments to funding agreements by extending project dates 75% 95% 88%
Amendments to funding agreements by amending eligible expenditures 58% 68% 65%
Amendments to funding agreements by amending recipient reporting requirements and/or timelines 75% 86% 82%
1.2.2. People Management

The 2020-21 MAF People Management AoM assessment supports the management excellence of people and organizational culture while focusing on compliance and management practices that enable a high performing and diverse public service. For the 2020-21 MAF cycle, the People Management AoM focused on Employment Equity (EE) representation, departmental efforts to foster workplace diversity and inclusion, and workplace health. In total, 33 LDAs and 22 SDAs responded to questionsFootnote 3 within the People Management AoM.Footnote 4

Overview

Although most departments and agencies are meeting the workforce availability (WFA) targets for one or more EE groups, there are gaps. In addition, partially because of changes to the scope of disabilities considered, many organizations and the public service as a whole, are not meeting the WFA for persons with disabilities. Organizations, however, are making progress in reducing the gaps. Moreover, organizations have demonstrated progress over the years in supporting diversity and inclusion, but there remain further opportunities to collaborate with their employees on developing approaches to responding to the new priorities. Organizations have also demonstrated efforts to address harassment and violence in the workplace, which corroborates with employee perceptions on harassment in the workplace in the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES). Although not formally assessed, organizations demonstrate actions taken to support employee mental health and wellbeing and to provide services to Canadians in both official languages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key FindingsFootnote 5
  • Results from this MAF cycle indicate that organizations made strong efforts to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. All LDAs and 77% of SDAs assessed, used EE and/or diversity projections to address human resource planning needs. As well, 100% of LDAs and 95% of SDAs provided dedicated training on diversity and inclusion to their employees. Further efforts to engage departmental EE networks and employee representatives will continue to strengthen efforts in this area. In addition, support for the development of EE group members through career management plans (i.e., mentorship or sponsorship) has been identified as an area requiring improvement for organizations.
  • Although more effort is required to increase the representation of employees who self-identify as belonging to one or more EE groups, the 2020-21 MAF results show that approximately half of LDAs and SDAs increased the percentage of EE group members in their organization in this MAF cycle, compared to the 2019-20 MAF results. Notably, 85% of departments and agencies saw an increase in the percentage of employees that identified as members of visible minority groups. Additionally, among the organizations assessed, 50% of them showed an increase in the percentage of persons with disabilities and 52% showed an increase in the percentage of Indigenous Peoples since the previous MAF cycle.
Figure 2: Percentage of Organizations That Show an Increase in the Representation of EE Group Members from the 2019-20 MAF Cycle
Percentage
Women 48%
Indigenous Peoples 52%
Persons with Disabilities 50%
Members of Visible Minorities 85%
  • Effective staffing contributes to hiring the right people, in the right jobs at the right time. This MAF cycle, the median internal time to staff advertised positions was 175 days compared to 176 days the previous cycle. Although the target of a 10% improvement in the median time to staff was not realized at the enterprise-wide level, the efficiency, responsiveness, and agility of the staffing system remained constant. Organizations should continue to pursue efforts to improve the efficiency of staffing and explore new opportunities as they adapt their staffing practices to the post-pandemic context. These efforts will help ensure the public service is better positioned to onboard and retain the talent it needs to deliver important programs and services to Canadians.
  • Departments and agencies continued to address harassment and violence in the workplace during the reporting period. According to the 2020-21 MAF results, examples of the types of actions taken by LDAs and SDAs to address harassment and violence in the workplace included: putting in place an ombuds-type function to provide all employees with a trusted, safe space to discuss harassment and/or violence without fear of reprisal and to help navigate existing systems; making available easy-to-access guides to support employees and managers when they experience or witness workplace harassment and violence; identifying, assessing and controlling relevant risk factors for specific occupational jobs; and, informing employees of relevant policies. These results seem to corroborate with the 2020 PSES findings. The 2020 PSES results show a decrease in the percentage of employees who indicated having experienced harassment from 14% in 2019 to 11% in 2020. Additionally, according to the 2020 PSES, 68% of employees considered their workplace psychologically healthy which is an improvement from the 2019 PSES result of 61%. With the coming into force of amendments to the Canada Labour Code and new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations in January 2021, organizations will need to ensure that their activities are aligned and continue to support the reduction of harassment and violence.
  • Most organizations have taken actions to foster a positive culture of values and ethics in their organization in accordance with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. Specifically, 87% of LDAs and 74% of SDAs had designated one or more Senior Official for Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Duties and 73% of LDAs and 68% of SDAs had designated a Values and Ethics or Integrity Champion. These actions are an important step toward taking efforts to support a workplace that fosters an ethical culture and promotes a positive environment for disclosure of wrongdoing.
  • Improving the recruitment, retention and promotion of persons with disabilities is an enterprise-wide priority. The MAF results indicate that organizations are making moderate progress in implementing best practices to support employees with disabilities, such as the centralization of accommodation requests (52% of LDAs and 64% of SDAs), and ensuring the availability of information and support to managers on the accommodation process (70% of LDAs and 68% of SDAs). Some progress has been noted in streamlining various aspects of the accommodation process, including various models and degrees of centralization such as establishing a call centre or central email account for queries. These efforts contribute to the improved effectiveness of the accommodation process to prevent and eliminate barriers for all employees and align with broader adjustments needed over the medium to longer terms. The progress report on the implementation of the Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada, from its launch in 2019 to November 2020, further documented efforts made by departments and agencies to remove barriers to accessibility by involving persons with disabilities in the design, development, and testing of new programs, services and workplace initiatives. Going forward, it will be important for all organizations to maintain open feedback channels for persons with disabilities as departmental accessibility plans are developed.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic cast a spotlight on employee health and wellbeing. All organizations assessed, directed their employees to TBS resources on mental health to ensure that they received consistent and up-to-date guidance. Additionally, organizations demonstrated efforts to support employee mental health, including providing guidance and training to managers and executives (100% of LDAs and 95% of SDAs). Overall, the results of the PSES show that the actions taken by organizations were well received as 84% of respondents said that their organizations clearly communicated mental health services available to them, and 70% said that their senior managers took adequate steps to support their mental health during the pandemic. As supporting employee mental health and wellbeing continue to be an enterprise priority, there are opportunities for further improvement in terms of measuring and tracking the 13 psychosocial factors identified in the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and using the results to inform and improve risk mitigation strategies and planning.
  • Canadians rely on communications from the Government of Canada in both official languages to provide them with guidance on how to ensure their wellbeing. This is particularly important during a pandemic. As part of the MAF process, organizations indicated many areas where efforts were undertaken to ensure that information was available to Canadians in both official languages, such as ensuring adequate translation capacity (88% of LDAs and 73% of SDAs) and making additional efforts to ensure that communications materials were released simultaneously in both official languages and that they were of equal quality (88% of LDAs and 77% of SDAs). While organizations demonstrated clear efforts so that communications were available in the public's preferred official language, among the lessons learned is that, in order to be prepared for future emergencies, departments should review their Business Continuity Plans and/or Crisis and Emergency Communications Plans through an official languages lens and more clearly identify responsibilities and actions to be taken under exceptional circumstances. This will help to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act and the Policy on Official Languages at all times.
1.2.3. Information Management / Information Technology and Service Management

The 2020-21 MAF Information Management (IM)/Information Technology (IT) and Service AoM assessment focused on assessing the delivery of services and the effectiveness of government operations through the strategic management of government information and data and leveraging of information technology. In total, 36 LDAs responded to questions within the IM/IT and Service AoM.

Overview

During the COVID-19 pandemic, departments and agencies took immediate actions to prioritize online services and significantly expand portions of their IT architecture to enable government employees to work effectively from home. Organizations quickly transformed to offer client-centric services through modern technology. This accelerated transformation demonstrates the enterprise is capable of making rapid advancements to ensure the delivery of essential programs and services to Canadians. That said, in the 2020-21 MAF assessment, departments and agencies generally achieved moderate performance in providing client-centric services that are available online via healthy IT applications. Continuous effort will be required to ensure all applicable services are available online end-to-end. The IM/IT and Service AoM will fully align its questions for the next MAF cycle with the new Policy on Service and Digital and looks forward to continued growth in this area, pandemic-driven or not.

Key FindingsFootnote 6
  • Service standards reinforce government accountability by making performance transparent. They also increase the confidence of Canadians in government by demonstrating the government’s commitment to service excellence. They are integral to good client service, effectively managing performance and driving service improvement. This year’s MAF assessed whether priority services had service standards and whether those service standards were met. According to the 2020-21 MAF results, 41% of LDAs have a high level of maturity with respect to creating and meeting service standards. In addition, 29% of LDAs have a medium level of maturity and 29% have a low level of maturity. To provide good services to their clients, organizations must identify service standards for all their services and strive to meet these targets. Consideration should also be given to ensuring that identified service standards and their corresponding targets are meaningful to clients so that they can make time-sensitive, important decisions about when to access a service and what to expect.
  • According to the Policy on ServiceFootnote 7, the proportion of external and internal enterprise services available online should be increased annually as per a department's service management strategy. The level of maturity towards making priority services available online is based on the extent to which priority services can be completed online end-to-end and the extent to which applicable interaction points for priority services are online. The MAF assessment demonstrated that only 26% of LDAs have a high level of maturity for making priority services available online, compared to 21% of LDAs who have a medium level of maturity and 53% who have a low level of maturity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important external online services are to Canadians and businesses, along with internal enterprise-wide services to federal public servants. Simply meeting policy requirements should be the lowest bar for high-performing organizations. Departments and agencies must make all their applicable services available online end-to-end and should continuously advance their online service offerings.
  • Overall IT maturity provides a broad view of an organization’s IT systems and processes that enable it to deliver on its mandate. In the 2020-21 MAF exercise, IT maturity was assessed as a composite indicator that includes: Software Application Portfolio health; sound departmental architecture practices and governance; IT Planning maturity; and, cloud adoption. This year’s MAF results show that 44% of LDAs have an overall high level of IT maturity. Whereas, 53% of LDAs have an overall medium level of IT maturity and 3% of LDAs have an overall low level of IT maturity. These scores were negatively impacted by departmental results on the Application Portfolio Health Indicator (APHI), with 71% of responding departments and agencies achieving a low score. Although the percentage of departments with a low APHI score is high, the MAF data shows an overall positive trend in the APHI with an improvement of 14% since 2016. Departments and agencies must focus on improving their IT applications, architecture review processes, IT investment planning and cloud maturity to improve their overall levels of IT maturity. Moving forward, organizations must meet the requirements in the Policy on Service and Digital to reach higher levels of IT maturity and transform their operations and planning.
Figure 3: Client-centric Services and IT Maturity
High Medium Low
Service Standard Maturity for Priority Services 41% 29% 29%
Maturity of Online Availability for Priority Services 26% 21% 53%
Overall IT Maturity 44% 53% 3%
1.2.4. Results Management

The 2020-21 MAF Results Management AoM assessment focused on the extent to which organizations plan for and collect quality performance information. In total, 33 LDAs responded to questions within the Results Management AoM.Footnote 8

Overview

The 2020-21 MAF assessment highlights the progress organizations have made in maturing their performance measurement and evaluation functions. The quality of Performance Information Profiles (PIP) is improving, as is the ability of organizations to identify data requirements for performance measures in Treasury Board submissions.

Key FindingsFootnote 9
  • Under the Policy on Results , each Program in an organization’s Program Inventory is required to have a PIP that provides a consolidated view of the Program’s results-related information. Assessing the quality of the information contained in a PIP allows TBS to provide organizations with feedback on areas requiring further improvement and to understand the capacity of organizations to produce quality results information. In the 2020-21 MAF cycle, TBS rated departmental PIPs on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being unacceptable and 5 being excellent) based on an assessment of three elements: the clear articulation of program logic; the quality of outcomes and indicators; and, the completeness of information for each indicator.sFootnote 10 The median quality rating of the PIP measurement information in this MAF cycle was 3.16.sFootnote 11 While the median increased over the previous cycle (2.96), 36% of assessed organizations received a score of less than 3.0, indicating a need for those organizations to continue to focus on the further improvement of these important management tools.
  • For certain Treasury Board submissions, organizations are required to complete a Results Appendix which provides further details on the outcomes the initiative is seeking to achieve and how the outcomes will be measured through performance indicators. The ability of organizations to identify data sources and data collection frequencies for each performance indicator is a forward-looking measure of their ability to produce actual results information. This MAF cycle, based on all indicators included in the Results Appendices of assessed LDAs Treasury Board submissions approved between November 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, the median of performance indicators that had both data source and data collection frequency information was 89%. This is an increase from 79% in the 2019-20 MAF results and from 67% in 2018-19 MAF results and is a positive signal of potential increased capacity of organizations to produce actual results data in the future.
  • The availability of actual results data is a prerequisite to using results information to inform decision-making. In this MAF cycle, Results Appendices from Treasury Board submissions for LDAs approved between September 1, 2016, and June 30, 2019, were assessed. Half of the organizations had actual results data available in the time period originally proposed in the Submission, for at least 82% of sampled indicators. This reflects a relatively consistent level of performance since the 2018-19 MAF results and indicates organizations have largely been able to implement their performance measurement plans.
Figure 4: Overview of Performance Indicators Assessment Results
2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Median percentage of performance indicators that have both data collection frequency and data source information 67% 79% 89%
Median percentage of performance indicators that have actual results data 83% 79% 82%
1.2.5. Experimentation

The 2020-21 MAF assessment provides insight into experimentation efforts by departments and agencies, consistent with the 2016 Experimentation Direction for Deputy Heads, which encourages the development and testing of new approaches to program and policy design and delivery. In total, 36 LDAs responded to questions on experimentation.

Overview

Since experimentation became included in the MAF as part of the 2018-19 MAF cycle, results have demonstrated that organizations are increasingly using experimentation to find new ways to address problems and improve outcomes for Canadians, as well as using the results of experiments to inform decision-making.

Key FindingsFootnote 12
  • Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 MAF results show that LDAs increased their level of investment in experimentation in all areas, except for building experimental capacity. The most common investment among organizations was committing resources to increase experimentation activity (91% of LDAs), followed closely by running experiments (88% of LDAs).
  • This MAF cycle, the most significant increase in experimental activities was with organizations developing frameworks in support of experimentation. Although there has been a steady increase in the number of LDAs who are integrating experimentation into governance bodies, there remains an opportunity for departments and agencies to increase integration into governance bodies. Integrating experimentation into governance bodies helps to ensure its consideration in formal decision-making processes and positions experimentation to support work across the organization.
Figure 5: Investments in Experimentation
2018 2019 2020
Committing Resources 28 30 31
Running Experiments 21 27 30
Experimentation Framework 14 17 22
Incorporating in Governance 15 17 20
Building Capacity 19 27 25
  • In addition, most organizations self-assessed as having used the results of an experiment to scale-up (62%) and course correct (68%) an initiative, as well as having disseminatedFootnote 13 the results of an experiment for decision-making or used results to improve the design of another initiative (76%).
  • Several organizations reported using experimentation to inform their adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the transition to remote work. Experimentation was also reported as having supported broader governmental response efforts to the pandemic such as federal government COVID-19 communication strategies.
Figure 6: Experimentation and Decision Making
2019 2020
Results used to scale-up an initiative 17 21
Results used to shut down an initiative 4 7
Results used to course correct an initiative 5 23
Results disseminated / used to improve the design of another initiative 13 26
Results used in another way 4 8
1.2.6. Security Management

The 2020-21 MAF Security Management AoM assessment focused on the security planning, control and security management practices that contribute to the overall security posture within the Government of Canada. This information is important for validating and informing security management decisions and direction, observing trends and changes, and identifying areas of strength and areas that need attention, as well as the sharing of leading security management practices enterprise-wide. In addition, although not formally assessed, insight was sought around the mandatory requirement under the Directive on Security Managementto complete a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). In total, 36 LDAs responded to questions within the Security Management AoM.

Overview

Overall, departments and agencies demonstrated resiliency and proved to be strong and effective security management stewards during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since the Y2K Initiative, the Government of Canada successfully compiled a Critical Services list. This exercise identified the need for a nuanced approach during extended events such as a pandemic and highlighted that services supporting horizontal legislated and/or regulatory obligations such as access to information requests and translation services in support of official languages, need to be considered in the context of departmental Business Impact Analysis activities and related critical service identification. In the future, the enterprise should continue to focus on achieving the strategic outcomes outlined in the Policy on Government Security, to continue to underpin the delivery of trusted programs and services that contribute to the health, safety, economic wellbeing and security of Canadians and to the effective functioning of government.

Key FindingsFootnote 14
  • Business Continuity Management (BCM) and related Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) allow for the continued availability of services and associated assets critical to the health, safety, security, and economic wellbeing of Canadians, as well as the effective functioning of government. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of maintaining up-to-date and comprehensive BCPs, to support departments and agencies in the uninterrupted delivery of programs and services to Canadians. In this context, the MAF results indicate that, 93% of LDAs’ critical servicesFootnote 15 have a BCP in place. This is a slight decrease of approximately 5% since 2019-20. These results demonstrate that most organizations are equipped to mitigate potential risks to service disruption, and therefore, reduces the likelihood that a high degree of injury to the health, safety, security, or economic wellbeing of Canadians would occur if a critical service was disrupted.
  • A BIA identifies critical services, providing departments and agencies the capability to understand their risk environment and develop associated continuity strategies. MAF results indicate that 88% of LDAs had a BIA that identified critical services accordingly. Regular review and updating of BIAs facilitate and informs decision making and resource allocation for managing events which may impact the delivery of critical services to Canadians.
  • IT security is a foundational area of the Security Management AoM. According to the MAF assessment, 92% of LDAs demonstrated that they had well-documented and implemented IT security processes, that these processes had been implemented, and that they were continuously monitoring threats. This is an increase of approximately 3% since 2019-20. These practices ensure that departments and agencies are actively guarding against threats, vulnerabilities, and unauthorized access to internal systems.
Figure 7: Critical Services that have BCPs and BIAs
2020-21 2019-20 2018-19
Percentage of LDAs critical services that have BCPs in place 93% 98% 98%
Percentage of LDAs with critical services that have up to date BIAs 88% 0% 0%
1.2.7. Management of Assets and Acquired Services

The 2020-21 MAF Management of Acquired Services and Assets (ASAS) AoM assessment sought to provide insight into core comptrollership responsibilities and serves to assess informed decision-making and sound asset management practices, with a focus on real property and investment planning. In total, 11 LDAs responded to questions within the ASAS AoM.

Organizations holding real property assets are required to develop lifecycle management strategies to inform their Investment Plan. The purpose of the strategies is to enable departments to optimize the performance of their assets through a long-term, data-driven approach to asset lifecycle planning and management. Within the context of these strategies, establishing a target rate of annual reinvestment for Crown-owned (custodial) real property is foundational to assessing whether adequate resources are being dedicated to maintaining real property assets in an acceptable condition.

Overview

Overall, organizations improved their governance for overseeing the performance and implementation of their investments and increased their capacity to develop effective long-term strategies for the management of their real property assets. In the future, real property custodians should continue to align with the strategic objectives to optimize the performance of their assets as presented in the Policy on the Management of Real Property and the Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments, through data-driven approaches that reinforce real property management as a key element of the delivery of programs and services for all Canadians.

Key FindingsFootnote 16
  • The availability of foundational data related to asset condition, performance, and utilization is critical to the development of robust, integrated portfolio strategies. Of the custodial LDAs with real property assets, 44% developed and/or updated the acquisition, maintenance, and disposal strategies for their entire real property portfolio. This is an increase over last year’s result of 33%. While this is a modest increase, progress in the development of comprehensive, integrated portfolio strategies was demonstrated through short-term plans and progress reports summarizing ongoing data collection activities. These activities should enable organizations to make proactive and holistic decisions with respect to the entire real property portfolio, which is a more effective and efficient means of management than an asset-by-asset approach.
  • The annual rate of reinvestment indicates whether adequate resources are dedicated to maintaining the real property portfolio in acceptable condition. The industry best practice is to reinvest a minimum of 4% of the portfolio’s replacement value to prevent real property assets from deteriorating faster than lifecycle projections predict. Overall, the average for the custodial LDAs with real property assets fell short of the industry best practice with a targeted reinvestment rate of 3.2% and actual rate of reinvestment of 3.5%. While the 4% target was not met, this data helps assess departmental real property planning activities while also providing insight into funding challenges that departments may be facing regarding the maintenance and recapitalization of their custodial real property assets.
  • Departments and agencies are required to produce complete performance information related to the implementation of their investment decisions. This year’s MAF results indicate that 73% of the assessed LDAs provided the governance committee or individual responsible for investment oversight with consolidated performance information, including itemised active investments as detailed in their respective investment plans. This result indicates that departments are improving the governance regimes used to oversee investment planning and project management compared to previous years.

2. Functional and Enterprise-wide Adaptations

This section highlights how departments and agencies adapted their management practices and processes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides insight on the temporary policy flexibilities TBS created to support departments and agencies. These observations were gathered during interviews with heads of functions of both LDAs and SDAs between November 2020 and January 2021.

2.1. Challenges

Given the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations experienced many common challenges regardless of their size or mandate. Departments and agencies had to adapt their management functions to address these challenges and continue to be able to fulfil their mandate to Canadians. The actions taken by departments and agencies can inform lessons learned and opportunities for enterprise-wide adaptation.

2.1.1. Technology to support employees in a remote work environment

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the public service to suddenly shift to a mostly remote workforce while maintaining critical functions and continuing the delivery of programs and services to Canadians. The majority of organizations interviewed expressed that, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, they lacked the technology required to support the rapid enterprise-wide level of workplace transformation that occurred. Departments and agencies cited insufficient virtual private network (VPN) licenses, network capacity, hardware and digital tools as the main technological challenges they experienced.

To address these challenges, departments and agencies immediately implemented interim measures to enable productivity while they accelerated plans to enable a fully digital workforce. Examples of these interim measures included scheduling network access for employees, as only portions of an organization could use the VPN simultaneously, and using standalone collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Slack prior to the deployment of Microsoft Teams, which came as part of the greater Microsoft 365 platform rollout. For the vast majority of organizations, Shared Services Canada was a key partner in resolving important IT challenges related to the rapid acquisition of VPN licenses, increased network capacity, hardware and digital tools. Once departments and agencies had the technology to better support employees in a remote work environment, they were able to transition away from temporary measures that limited productivity.

Shared Services Canada: A Key Enabling Partner

Shared Services Canada (SSC) was instrumental in providing departments and agencies the digital capacity required to support the rapid transition to a remote work environment. Since March 2020, SSC has increased VPN capacity by 111% to support 290,000 simultaneous connections, rolled out Microsoft 365 to over 290,000 employees and supplied organizations with thousands of devices (i.e. laptops, tablets, and phones). As a result, public servants were able to deliver essential services while working remotely.

The support SSC provided to its GC partner organizations was the most frequently cited enabling factor to overcoming challenges departments and agencies faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the immediate need to move to a remote workforce.

2.1.2. Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees was a key priority for the enterprise. The majority of departments and organizations mentioned that they were actively working to reduce the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have on employee health and wellbeing at work. Surveys, check-in sessions and town hall meetings were used by organizations to better understand the needs of employees. Departments and agencies noted adapting to remote work, concerns about workload and work-life balance (especially during periods of childcare and school closures) and feelings of isolation were the main challenges expressed by staff. The possibility of an increased level of burnout (particularly at the supervisory, manager and executive levels) was also mentioned as a risk by a few organizations.

Focus on Employee Wellbeing at CIRNAC and ISC

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) identified supporting employee wellbeing and mental health as a departmental priority. CIRNAC and ISC proactively increased their communications to employees about available mental health resources – including resources reflective of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures such as the Hope for Wellness Help Line which provides counselling and crisis intervention for Indigenous peoples across Canada in both official languages, as well as Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. CIRNAC and ISC Indigenous and Elder Lodges continued their services and made available an open, virtual safe space for Indigenous cultural expressions and knowledge to all CIRNAC and ISC employees.

To address concerns, organizations provided staff with access to resources to support their mental health and wellbeing. In particular, departments and agencies said that they offered learning activities, webinars, resource guides (targeted towards the specific needs of managers and employees) and peer support programs to help employees adapt to a remote work environment. These practices were largely enabled using digital tools and collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, which made the delivery of these tools possible in a virtual setting.

With regard to workload management, the importance of skills mobilization was reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some organizations gave examples of reallocating their workforce internally to priority areas and leveraging micro-missions and assignments. Other examples of mitigation practices to address concerns around burnout include timely and open communication about mental health, specifically on healthy boundaries at work. Flexibilities provided by the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Public Service Commission including extensions on reporting requirements and staffing for onboarding additional resources were also noted by departments and agencies.

Staying Connected at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

In response to a need to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of ACOA colleagues formed ACOA Connex. This agency-wide initiative provided a virtual platform to keep ACOA employees informed and offer a sense of togetherness for the organization. Since forming, ACOA Connex has supported the mental health and wellbeing of employees through newsletters, employee stories, tips of the day, staycation series, fitness and trivia challenges, mindfulness sessions and daily events during National Mental Health week. Going forward, ACOA Connex will be implementing a Health and Wellness Action Plan with three areas of focus: mental health, wellness and engagement within the Agency.

2.1.3. Operating in Ambiguity

The COVID-19 pandemic created an ambiguous operating environment for the enterprise. Departments and agencies needed to pivot their operations while complying with varied public health guidance across multiple jurisdictions, as well as central enterprise-wide direction on cross-cutting topics. These topics included guidance on the application of employee leave, specifically the use of other leave with pay (Leave 699),Footnote 17 which evolved to align with complex and uncertain situations (e.g., access to the IT tools necessary to work remotely and region-specific school and childcare closures). It should also be noted that LDAs with a significant regional presence faced a greater degree of ambiguity in their operating environment during this time as these organizations had to review public health guidance on a region-by-region basis and adjust their protocols accordingly. These regional differences impacted who could go into the office (in situations where remote work was not possible), which front-line programs and services were available to Canadians and impacted the application of guidance on the use of Leave 699.

Nearly all LDAs and several SDAs indicated that they relied on agile and risk-based decision-making to enable their ongoing operations. In some cases, organizations implemented interim solutions while TBS consulted on, and developed, enterprise-wide guidance. Departments and agencies stated that they made risk-based decisions around the application of Leave 699, equipment allowances for employees, and the safe handling of sensitive and secret information.

Parks Canada: Reopening Safely for Canadians

Parks Canada played an important role during the COVID-19 pandemic in providing Canadians with access to the health and wellness benefits that come from spending time outdoors and in nature. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parks Canada’s network of protected heritage places, including 171 national historic sites, 47 national parks, five national marine conservation areas and one national urban park were closed to visitors. Beginning on June 1, 2020, the Agency resumed access and services for visitors at 98 locations across Canada. In delivering visitor access, Parks Canada set national standards and approaches but also ensured that individual national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas followed all applicable provincial, territorial, and regional public health requirements. These efforts were designed to minimize health and safety risks for Parks Canada visitors and employees. Parks Canada worked collaboratively with public health officials in multiple jurisdictions, employees and unions to ensure that all Parks Canada sites had the necessary health and safety protocols in place from June 2020 through to March 2021 to keep employees and Canadians safe, as well as the various species, in particular species at risk, that are entrusted in its care.

2.1.4. Preparedness for Maintaining Critical Services and Supporting Continued Program and Service Delivery to Canadians

Business Continuity Management and related Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) allow for the continued availability of services critical to the health, safety, security, and economic wellbeing of Canadians, as well as to the effective functioning of government. In March 2020, many organizations decided to activate their BCPs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, organizations noted they had to adjust their BCP soon after its activation because it was designed for a temporary interruption (e.g., storm, strike) in business activities and not a prolonged event. A few organizations stated that the need to update their BCPs, post-activation, temporarily delayed their ability to fully adapt to their new operational reality. For organizations who had prepared BCPs with a pandemic-like scenario in mind or had tested remote work capabilities during previous short-term interruptions to business activities, the transition to a remote work environment was relatively seamless.

Some departments also expressed that they updated their predominately business centric BCPs to put a greater emphasis on human factors. When adapting their BCPs, some organizations recognized the need to ensure that multiple employees were trained to perform critical functions in case one or more key employees were unable to report to work for a period of time. It should also be noted that a few organizations stated their BCPs were not activated because they did not experience a significant decrease in productivity after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, since they already had key tools and procedures in place to work remotely.

Pandemic Preparedness at the National Research Council

In January 2020, the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Incident Command Team began to closely follow the global COVID-19 outbreak. The importance of having an up-to-date Business Continuity Plan (BCP) became increasingly clear to the organization and all NRC sectors reviewed and updated their BCPs to ensure they were adapted to a pandemic situation and those for Critical Services were tested. This proactive approach meant that in March 2020, the NRC was able to continue business operations and swiftly pivot to support Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in areas such as PPE testing, vaccine research and timely support to business.

2.2. Innovative Management Practices

As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public service embraced the opportunity to modernize the way work was done and how services and programs were delivered internally for its employees and externally to Canadians. A wide range of innovative management practices were developed and implemented as a part of the response efforts and could be maintained or considered for broader adoption either at the organization-level or enterprise-wide.

2.2.1. Digital Business Processes and Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic required the majority of public servants to pivot to a remote work environment in March 2020. By forcing a rapid transition to remote work, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital business processes and practices within the enterprise to maintain their operations and deliver important services and programs to Canadians.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the enterprise was dependent on paper-based processes that were suited for an office environment. For example, “wet signatures” were required to approve financial expenditures and authorize transactions, including those related to staffing. To maintain business operations, departments and agencies sought digital solutions to adapt their practices to a virtual workplace. Almost all departments and agencies reported that the use of e-signatures was a key step in facilitating remote work. E-signatures helped organizations transition to a paperless digital environment by allowing managers to securely approve key decisions. Many organizations noted that consideration is being given to maintaining the use of e-signatures as a best practice going forward.

Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Shared Services Canada Collaborate for Canadians

In March 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and SSC partnered to design and deliver the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) within three weeks of the Prime Minister’s announcement. CRA, ESDC and SSC worked together to use digital solutions to provide Canadians with secure and reliable access to the new program through both online and telephone channels. The three organizations collaborated to increase the capacity of the IT infrastructure responsible for processing the significant volume of applications and transactions. This collaboration ensured that the CERB application system was able to process the high volume of CERB applicants so that eligible Canadians could receive this benefit.

Digital business processes and practices were also seen as essential to quickly set-up or modify programs and services to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most departments and agencies indicated that they switched to digital modes of service delivery and/or adopted other digital practices to serve their clients. For some organizations, this meant offering electronic applications as well as virtual hearings, events, and ceremonies for the first time. A few organizations also embraced innovative technologies to increase the efficiency of their external and internal services and processes. For example, chatbots were used to direct users to information and robotics process automation was used to automate manual processes (e.g., financial, staffing) in some situations.

2.2.2. Agile Governance

The COVID-19 pandemic required departments and agencies to make timely decisions about human and financial resources to support priority areas and maintain operations. To efficiently serve Canadians in a challenging and rapidly-changing context, nearly all organizations interviewed adopted more horizontal, fluid, and agile decision-making structures (e.g., daily or frequent senior management meetings, cross-functional dedicated teams, enhanced delegation and decision-making matrices) as temporary replacements for their formal governance processes. In addition, departments and agencies created new structures to support a nimble and coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These new senior governance bodies had representation across corporate services, functional areas and in some cases jurisdictions to support the streamlining of decision-making and the dissemination of information in otherwise vertical structures.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada's Collaborative Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic required Health Canada (HC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to adapt and put in place agile governance structures to support the Government’s response. HC’s COVID-19 Task Force, in addition to PHAC and HC’s dedicated capacity across their organizations, worked together to provide leadership and direction on the national COVID-19 response and ensure whole-of-government collaboration and coordination – one that involved other federal departments and agencies, provinces and territories, Indigenous communities and stakeholders.

HC and PHAC worked closely with federal, provincial, territorial and other stakeholders to support decision makers on critical COVID-19 metrics and developments, such as a national model and dashboard on PPE supply and demand to provide accurate, timely information on procurement and deployment. They also provided expert advice on topics such as medical countermeasures, vaccine and PPE procurement, vaccine rollout, and outbreak management through enhanced contact tracing and rapid testing. HC and PHAC led and supported federal intergovernmental tables and external advisory committees, such as the interdepartmental Deputy Minister Committees on Vaccine Roll-Out and on Testing and Tracing, and the Deputy Minister-chaired Forum on Major COVID-19 Initiatives with external stakeholders. In addition, HC worked with P/Ts and other partners to establish a COVID-19 Critical Drug Reserve, which serves as an additional tool in the country's collective pandemic response efforts to help protect the health of Canadians.

HC and PHAC also developed and deployed surge capacity across the country in a variety of sectors in order to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks. This included health human resource support through deployments of specialized federal employees and rosters to assist with nursing, laboratory and epidemiological work. They also worked with Public Safety Canada to support the creation and deployment of a standing Canadian Red Cross workforce to respond to provincial and territorial Requests for Federal Assistance. This included support for testing, vaccination, clinical and acute care, support for isolation sites and long-term care. Working in partnership with Statistics Canada, HC established a dedicated surge support program to assist provinces in contact tracing. Additionally, the Health Portfolio worked with partner departments on key files, such as border management and the establishment of federal quarantine facilities, supports for Temporary Foreign Workers, epidemic prevention and control training at federal correctional facilities, among other efforts.

This shift to agile governance resulted in an increased use of risk-based decision-making to quickly respond to pressures that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some organizations mentioned the involvement of their internal audit function in their governance structures for note taking, assessment of response approaches and more formal oversight functions. The need to deliver new programs and services to Canadians led some departments to develop new prioritization methods used by senior management and/or governance committees to enable agile and timely decision-making. These prioritization methods included taking the most urgent decisions first based on service delivery needs and delegating decision-making, where appropriate.

An Agile Approach at the Canadian Institute of Health Research

In March 2020, the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) mobilized quickly to launch a rapid research response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To support this response, CIHR adopted an agile governance structure that streamlined decision-making while retaining key protocols and peer-review mechanisms. By June 19, 2020, CIHR had awarded 100 grants to accelerate the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. CIHR also partnered with PHAC to launch a directed grant to gather data related to COVID-19 symptoms, possible treatments, and risk factors, and to inform Canada’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2.2.3. Digital health and safety tools

In March 2020, most public servants were asked to work remotely. However, some employees needed to report to their physical workplace due to the nature of their work. Ensuring the health and safety of these employees was a top priority for the enterprise. Departments and agencies frequently developed and used IT-enabled solutions such as onsite booking applications, workplace contact tracing and other tools to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

The Department of Justice’s Office Entry App

The Department of Justice (JUS) played an important role in the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing essential legal analysis and advice to departments and agencies, and other critical services to Canadians. At times this work required its employees to enter the physical workspace. To ensure gradual, organized, safe access for employees, JUS developed the Office Entry App, which automated workplace access requests and approval. The Office Entry App helped to minimize the health and safety risks to employees in the Department’s facilities by allowing JUS to control and monitor building occupancy. In addition, the Office Entry App incorporated health, safety, and access protocols to provide clear guidance to employees and visitors. This Office Entry App has been adopted in other federal departments and agencies.

With respect to digital innovations, some departments and agencies noted that they developed and/or used digital booking tools to manage and limit the number of employees in the workplace. Organizations pivoted away from in-person onboarding and offboarding processes and/or used onsite booking applications to make appointments to pick-up or return equipment. The use of mail and/or courier services to transport equipment was also mentioned as a way that departments and agencies limited the number of contact points for onsite employees. A few LDAs developed contact tracing tools to alert employees who had been in contact with colleagues who tested positive for COVID-19 or who had displayed symptoms. In addition, some services to Canadians were newly being offered virtually to protect the health and safety of employees, as well as the public. For example, many organizations that needed to conduct hearings or similar types of procedures shifted some or all of their hearings to a virtual setting. Departments and agencies leveraged these tools to ensure the health and safety of employees who were required to be onsite.

Use of Virtual Hearings at the Parole Board of Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic required the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) to adjust its operating model. PBC adopted digital tools and adapted processes to ensure that victims, offender assistants, and all other observers could attend hearings remotely. PBC's adoption of digital tools and new processes enabled the organization to pivot to be able to offer 96% of its hearings remotely in 2020-21, up from 52% in 2019-20.

This approach reduced the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the hearing process for the public, offenders, Board members and staff while also ensuring the rights of offenders and victims were respected. PBC, working closely with Correctional Service Canada, ensured it continued to fulfil its mission of timely reintegration of offenders as law-abiding citizens. Maintaining conditional release decisions was critical as prisons and penitentiaries were high risk COVID-19 environments and the PBC needed to adhere to legislated timeframes for parole and other reviews.

2.2.4. Employee resources designed for a virtual workplace

Departments and agencies had to adapt how they engaged and supported employees following the transition to remote work for most public servants. The majority of organizations interviewed implemented new approaches that were more suited to a virtual workplace than previous techniques.

In March 2020, some departments and agencies quickly sought digital solutions to connect with staff despite limited network access for many employees. Some innovations that were introduced on an interim basis included creating a website to disseminate information that was accessible to employees off network and enabling employees’ personal devices to access internal networks. As the capacity of departments and agencies to enable a digital workforce increased, organizations were able to phase out these temporary solutions.

Once the necessary IT equipment rolled out, departments and agencies continued to seek new and/or modified ways to engage and support employees. Organizations connected with employees virtually via pulse surveys, newsletters, emails, blogs and online town halls and staff meetings. Departments and agencies reported that collaboration platforms (e.g., Microsoft Teams) were an important digital tool to stay connected with staff in a remote work environment. Virtual ergonomic assessments were offered as a substitute for traditional onsite assessments and mental health resources were made available in a virtual setting through the Employee Assistance Program, webinars, peer support programs, and other tools.

Since many managers had never worked in a virtual environment prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some organizations noted the importance of providing specialized training to help these employees adapt to their new circumstances. While a few departments and agencies mentioned the development of in-house training material to support employees in a remote work environment, others relied on offerings from the Canada School of Public Service.

Virtual Learning at the Canada School of Public Service

The Canada School of Public Service provides common learning to all employees of the core public service to serve Canadians. To support the learning and development of federal public servants during the COVID-19 pandemic, the School shifted the delivery of its curriculum to a virtual environment. The School also provided targeted COVID-19 learning resources in both official languages to enable public servants working in a remote environment as well as new learning products promoting diverse and inclusive workplaces. Highlights included courses and events for employees and managers on unconscious bias, virtual teams and mental health.

2.3. Enabling the Government’s Response

The challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic to the public service were numerous and unique. To enable the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, central agencies enacted certain temporary policy flexibilities to support departments and agencies in providing critical services and programs to Canadians.

2.3.1. Continuity of Business Operations

The continuity of business operations was pivotal to Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the success of any measures undertaken hinged on the ability of departments and agencies to remain operational and provide services and support to Canadians. Central agencies put in place temporary policy flexibilities to ease some essential processes. Organizations were able to use these flexibilities, when needed, to strengthen their COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, solidify their management practices and ensure the continuation of business operations. These temporary policy flexibilities included:

  • flexibilities regarding second language evaluations and security screening processes so departments and agencies could rapidly onboard staff where additional human resources were required to maintain operations;
  • flexibilities with respect to financial authorities to enable departments and agencies to access the funds required to ensure continued delivery of programs both directly and through grants and contributions;
  • the delegation of certain Treasury Board authorities to the President of the Treasury Board to accommodate rapid approvals to support the delivery of urgent initiatives to allow organizations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic; and,
  • increased authorities to departments and agencies for emergency contracting to secure valuable supplies, such as personal protective equipment.

The feedback obtained from interviews with heads of function across the enterprise on these flexibilities was overwhelmingly positive and uniform across departments and agencies. Most departments and agencies reported that the temporary policy flexibilities were very helpful in obtaining the human and financial resources needed to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic response. Organizations also stated that the temporary policy flexibilities allowed key business processes, such as hiring and onboarding, to continue smoothly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, many departments and agencies noted that the use of Leave 699 was generally very helpful in managing the workforce in an ambiguous operating environment. However, most departments and agencies noted that more prescriptive guidance on the use of Leave 699 and the deployment of ergonomic equipment would have been helpful earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, the temporary policy flexibilities provided by central agencies gave departments and agencies important support during the evolving context of the COVID-19 pandemic and enabled organizations to be agile and pivot their efforts to the delivery of critical services and programs to Canadians.

2.3.2. Burden Reduction

A key part of strengthening the enterprise’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was alleviating reporting pressures on departments and agencies so they could focus on urgent operational priorities. To reduce the reporting burden, certain reporting requirements, particularly those associated with fiscal year-end, were delayed and/or streamlined. For example, TBS extended the deadline for evaluation plans and IM/IT planning, significantly reduced the scope of the MAF process, as well as streamlined and extended fiscal year-end reporting.

Most organizations noted that reducing the reporting requirements helped to alleviate pressure and to support priorities related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. These measures were welcomed by departments and agencies and many indicated a preference to seeing them retained for future years, where possible.

Annex A: List of Departments and Agencies Participating in MAF 2020-21

In 2020-21, a total of 60 departments and agencies were assessed under MAF, including 36 LDAs and 24 SDAs. In general, an organization is classified as a LDA if it has 500 or more full-time employees and an annual budget of $300 million or more. An organization is classified as an SDA if it has 150-499 full-time employees and an annual budget of less than $300 million.

Large Departments and Agencies (LDAs)

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Canada Border Services Agency
  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Canada School of Public Service
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Canadian Heritage
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service
  • Communications Security Establishment Canada
  • Canadian Space Agency
  • Correctional Service Canada
  • Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Department of Finance Canada
  • Department of Justice Canada
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • Indigenous Services Canada
  • Infrastructure Canada
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • National Defence
  • National Research Council of Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Parks Canada
  • Privy Council Office
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Public Safety Canada
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Shared Services Canada
  • Statistics Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Veteran Affairs Canada

Small Departments and Agencies (SDAs)

  • Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions
  • Canada Energy Regulator
  • Canadian Grain Commission
  • Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
  • Canadian Transportation Agency
  • Courts Administration Service
  • Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of CanadaFootnote *
  • Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
  • Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • National Film BoardFootnote *
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Canada
  • Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions CanadaFootnote *
  • Parole Board of Canada
  • Public Prosecution Service of Canada
  • Public Service Commission of Canada
  • Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada
  • Women and Gender Equality Canada
  • Western Economic Diversification Canada
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