On Friday, Clerk Michael Wernick released his annual report to the Prime Minister on the public service. The Clerk is the most senior public servant in the public service and as such, his report included the priorities for the public service in the coming year:

  • respectful workplaces with a priority on mental health;
  • recruitment; and
  • reinforcing the policy community.

The Clerk’s priorities for the public service remain unchanged from last year and this report moreso provided an update on, “progress made in advancing these priorities and details areas in which we need to accelerate our efforts to obtain results.”

Letter to the Prime Minister

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Clerk Michael Wernick paid a respectful tribute to former Clerk Janice Charette and specifically referenced “her strong leadership during her tenure as Clerk. Carrying on her work on wellness and mental health in the workplace will be important as I tackle my dual mandate helping to deliver on your Government’s mandate and increasing the capabilities of the Public Service to better serve the Government and Canadians.”

Clerk Michael Wernick also highlighted to the Prime Minister that, “It is clear to me that we are entering a period of dramatic generational change in the Public Service. It will be important to pass on the values and wisdom of past generations while mobilizing the energy and creativity of the new generation of public servants. I see this as a key and urgent task for the Public Service as a whole.”

Highlights From Across the Public Service Last Year

Respectful Workplaces and Mental Health

  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) adopted a dynamic mental health strategy, taking a holistic approach to psychological and physical wellness, prevention, de-stigmatization, and intervention. Training is provided on mental health first aid, stress management, dealing with abhorrent information, suicide prevention, and violence or harassment in the workplace. Employee surveys and focus groups are used to help guide the strategy;
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) created an integrated mental health framework to guide the development of tools and resources for employees and managers to support good mental health practices in the workplace. It incorporates concrete actions as well as related accountabilities and timelines. An easy-to-view two-page summary provides managers and staff with a quick reference guide for the strategy, to help keep it front of mind. Initiatives include: mental health training for employees; blogs from senior management; employee testimonial articles and video; Deputy Minister of Labour guest editor of the Spotlight on Blueprint 2020 special edition on mental health; and a mental health coaching circle for managers;
  • In the interest of promoting greater awareness and transparency regarding harassment in the workplace, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency began publishing harassment complaint summaries on its intranet site. These were viewed 693 times in 2014-2015; and
  • The Improving the Workplace Challenge was an opportunity to ask employees of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, “What is one thing that could be done that would help improve your workplace experience?” More than 500 staff across the country participated, submitting ideas and rating and improving their colleagues’ concepts. The top ten ideas included better promoting health and wellness, 360-degree performance reviews of managers, and creating space for collaboration and conversation.


      • The Public Service Commission launched the New Direction in Staffing, moving from 12 policies to one, while preserving the principles of merit and non-partisanship. This means departments have more opportunities to use innovative, efficient and effective staffing tools and customized processes;
      • Parks Canada used its Campus Club Network to expand its recruitment efforts. This new initiative gets young adults outside the classroom and connects them with parks. Over the past two years, Campus Clubs have been established at 15 post-secondary institutions in seven provinces. The initiative currently reaches more than 6,000 young adults across the country. There are 23 Campus Club leaders helping Parks Canada promote volunteer work and employment; and
      • During a 2014 Dragon’s Den type of event at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, public servants pitched a new approach to recruitment, retention and career management for Indigenous students.
        • The pilot project demonstrated that a great idea pays off. Between 2014 and 2015, there were 65 Indigenous students registered in the Federal Student Work Experience Program for the Quebec region. A year later, by October 1, 2015, that number had almost doubled, with 125 students registered.
        • The number of Indigenous students hired by the Department’s Quebec regional office rose 31% in 2014 and then another 47% in 2015, with Indigenous students accounting for roughly half (8 of 17) of the new recruits brought into the regional office over this last year.

Reinforcing the Policy Community

  • Canada Revenue Agency’s Accelerated Business Solutions Lab furthered its efforts to modernize. Through innovative methods—advanced analytics, behavioural economics and other techniques—the Lab is able to explore and apply new approaches to the Agency’s administrative, policy and service challenges;
  • At the Public Health Agency of Canada, the GCconnexUS Team worked to drive better policy by connecting scientists and policy experts. This partnership with the Treasury Board Secretariat resulted in the launch of an improved user profile on an internal website, GCconnex, which allows people to find potential colleagues faster within the Agency and across government; and
  • Natural Resources Canada launched the New Policy Instruments and Approaches portal, aimed at analysts, managers, communities of practice, and policy innovators, and seeks to support research, knowledge exchange, discussion, networking and experimentation.
Other Links

Read the Clerk’s full report on the public service here

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