Monthly Archives

May 2021

Latest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service (May 19)

By COVID-19

The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service has surpassed 5,000. The number now stands at 5,091 as of May 19. Only 124 new cases were reported last week with the number of new cases continuing to drop on a weekly basis. The number of total reported cases has been:

  • 4,967 on May 12;
  • 4,785 on May 5;
  • 4,581 on April 28;
  • 4,314 on April 21;
  • 4,011 on April 14; and,
  • 3,751 on April 7.

The breakdown is by province and the top five areas with the highest reported cases continues to be:

National Capital Region: 1,420
Quebec (minus the NCR): 898
Ontario (minus the NCR): 775
Alberta: 743
British Columbia: 702

There amount of reported cases in the public service outside of Canada remains at 57.

Province, region or territoryReported cases
Alberta743
British Columbia702
Manitoba198
National Capital Region (NCR)1,420
New Brunswick15
Newfoundland and Labrador21
Northwest Territories1
Nova Scotia41
Nunavut2
Ontario (Minus NCR)775
Prince Edward Island1
Quebec (Minus NCR)898
Saskatchewan216
Yukon1
Outside of Canada57

Other links:

Reported cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the federal public service

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (May 28, 2021)

By Shuffles

On May 28, 2021, the Prime Minister announced the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service:

Thao Pham, currently Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office, becomes Deputy Minister, COVID Recovery, Privy Council Office, effective May 31, 2021.

Shawn Tupper, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, becomes Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office, effective May 31, 2021.

Christopher MacLennan, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, will also serve as Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G20 Summit, effective immediately.

Other links:

Message from Treasury Board President to Public Servants About Mental Health

By Mental Health

Today, the President of the Treasury Board issued the following message to public servants about mental health, following the recently published 2020 Public Service Employee Survey results:

Just over a year ago, our daily routines were turned upside down. From one day to the next, many started teleworking while others continued serving Canadians on the front lines. We were facing the unknown. But, as public servants, you did not hesitate to deal with the many challenges and obstacles related to the pandemic. You delivered the goods so that Canadians could get the programs and services they needed to get through this pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has entered its second year, many of us have seen its effects on our physical and mental well-being. I would like to take this opportunity to say that we understand the toll this reality has taken on your mental health and that of your friends and families.

The recently released results of the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) reflect this reality. They point to higher stress levels among public servants due to the emotional toll and increased workloads caused by the pandemic. At the same time, I am encouraged that the results prove that supportive leadership, good communication and enhanced flexibility helped to maintain employees’ overall mental health. It can be difficult to find a work-life balance as we face the challenges of working from home while working hard to protect our loved ones and Canadians from the effects of this pandemic.

I would like to emphasize the importance of public service leaders continuing to create a safe and welcoming environment for their employees to talk confidently about their mental health and get the help they need. I would also like to remind everyone that departmental employee assistance programs are always there for support.

Over the past year, we have faced considerable challenges, both collectively and individually. To meet these challenges, we have fortunately been able to rely on a public service whose level of professionalism is recognized as one of the highest in the world. Over the past year, it has served our citizens when they needed it most. Members of the public service can be proud of the work they have done. As we look forward to better days ahead and to turning an important page in this pandemic, I want to assure you that we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that public servants have all the mental health supports they need. 

– Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board, May 27, 2021

Other links:

Message to Employees on Mental Health

Passive bilingualism: “A step in the right direction”

By Official Languages

“The Secret Public Servant” biweekly column debuted last week, much to the horror (and guilty, juicy pleasure for some) of current and former public servants, media and pundits. 

Many with their own hot takes on the anonymous public servant’s opinion of, “How bilingualism promotes the mediocre.”

Some were outraged, others found themselves in agreement, while another segment was just generally confused at what this was actually meant to accomplish.

Regardless of the article’s intentions or whether one was left feeling gross or sustained after reading, it’s safe to say it sparked yet another dialogue about the current state of bilingualism and the system of language levels and profiles in the public service.

However, these questions were already asked, addressed and covered in a more meaningful and thoughtful way in a report not five years young titled, “The next level: Normalizing a culture of inclusive linguistic duality in the Federal Public Service workplace.”

The Clerk at the time, Michael Wernick, asked Public Service Commission President, Patrick Borbey and then Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Matthew Mendelsohn to, “conduct a review of the state of bilingualism in the federal Public Service and provide recommendations to ensure that we are evolving to meet the needs of public servants, and Canadians, in both official languages,” as it had been 15 years since the previous review of official languages in the public service.

The report was open and honest in its tone and findings with statements like, 

“Some current practices need to be questioned because, in the opinion of a large number of public servants consulted, they no longer meet the needs of a modern and dynamic public service.”

But unlike the anonymous public servant column, this report was grounded in facts, statistics and consultations.

Points raised such as:

Language training (which is not available to all equally):

“Language training is a limited resource. In addition, there is no government-wide policy which sets out who receives access to language training, the amount or the format. There is currently very limited data related to the costs and effectiveness of language training or investment in tools to support bilingualism in the workplace. Data that would be interesting includes: average cost of language training; average duration of language training; and average cost for leave related to language training (e.g., lost productivity, replacement cost).”

There is currently an entire side industry of language training schools dedicated to just training federal public servants so they can get their language levels but no actual data exists to demonstrate if this is effective and working.

Perspective of Francophone public servants:

“English is the dominant language for most daily activities and Francophone employees do not consistently feel that they can work in the language of their choice: most written materials are prepared in English and most meetings are conducted in English, particularly for the core items of discussion; and there are symbolic attempts to introduce French to meetings, typically at the beginning or end of a discussion but it is generally not sustained throughout the meeting. We also heard that in order to be understood on important issues, Francophone employees feel they must work in English. This is eroding our capacity to write good briefing materials in French, and creates an environment where it is difficult for staff to maintain their bilingual competencies due to a lack of ongoing and sustained experience using both official languages.

Disproportionate pass rates in language tests between English and French:

“The pass rate for all three SLE skills (written expression, reading comprehension and oral expression) is higher for English tests than French tests for both proficiency levels (level B and level C).The pass rates are lowest for level C French tests of written and oral expression, where only 35 to 45% of employees pass the test.”

Language profiles:

“The language profile of a position may not always align with the needs of the position. This has created an impression amongst many employees that the language requirements are sometimes established to meet superficial targets to comply with the policy framework.”

Bilingualism requirements as an impediment to career advancement:

“For some public servants, mostly employees who did not learn French prior to entering the labour market, they expressed concern that this makes it difficult to acquire the language skills needed to advance in their careers, and could limit access to bilingual positions to individuals who entered the Public Service bilingual.

There are also employees who face barriers to learning another language. This has created a tension between the objectives of the Official Languages Act and the duty to accommodate for disabilities.”

The report did make a series of recommendations across five categories:

  • Leadership: Strengthen accountability and recognize leaders who promote and contribute to a bilingual environment.
  • Policy: Establish the governance structures and requirements to support a bilingual work environment.
  • Culture: Cultivate a positive attitude towards linguistic duality, encourage the use of preferred language of work, and shift the emphasis towards openly using a second language rather than perfecting it. For example, federal institutions are encouraged to promote “receptive bilingualism” by hiring people who demonstrate a basic ability to follow conversations and read documents in their second official language, or by offering and encouraging employees to participate in basic language training to achieve this level of comprehension.
  • Training: Develop a culture of learning by providing new training opportunities and supporting employees who embrace and commit to this challenge.
  • Tools: Invest in tools and emerging technologies that will make the Public Service bilingual by design.
President of the Public Service Commission, Patrick Borbey, on “passive bilingualism,” one of the ideas covered in the report, “The Next Step”

You can read about these recommendations more in-depth in the link below.

While the report provided ideas, recommendations and highlighted what the public service thinks it’s doing right, where it fell short was really putting in place a system where these recommendations could be followed-up on and measured. 

It left the implementation of its recommendations to program leads being responsible for, “regular monitoring of key indicators, and periodic reporting to the senior leadership of the Public Service to ensure that improved outcomes are being delivered, lessons are being learned, and changes are being made to programs and policies based on evidence of what is working to improve linguistic duality in the Public Service.”

Did this happen?

The report was published towards the end of 2017, nearly five years ago.

How much has changed?

It’s clear the subject is still on the minds of so many, as we saw with last week’s “The Secret Public Servant” article.

Perhaps it’s time to take another look at this report, it’s been nearly five years, and present the public service with an updated report card on what progress has been made, where gaps still exist and how real change will be achieved.

Other links:

The next level: Normalizing a culture of inclusive linguistic duality in the Federal Public Service workplace

How bilingualism promotes the mediocre

New network for Asian public servants to launch on May 26

By Events

A new network for Asian public servants called the Network of Asian Federal Employees (NAFE) will launch at a virtual event on Wednesday May 26 to wrap up Asian Heritage Month.

The virtual event takes place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EDT) and will include a panel discussion that will recognize the challenges and celebrate the contributions of federal Asian public servants.

The panel list includes:

  • Gina Wilson, Deputy Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth / Senior Associate Deputy Minister at Heritage / Champion for Indigenous public servants;
  • Daniel Quan-Watson, Deputy Minister at Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs; and,
  • Anil Arora, Chief Statistician at Statistics Canada.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada will also make remarks in a pre-recorded video.

Other links:

Register online via Eventbrite here.

Latest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service (May 12)

By COVID-19

The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service now stands at 4,967 as of May 12. Only 182 new cases were reported last week with the number of new cases now narrowing weekly. The number of total reported cases has been:

  • 4,785 on May 5;
  • 4,581 on April 28;
  • 4,314 on April 21;
  • 4,011 on April 14; and,
  • 3,751 on April 7.

The breakdown is by province and the top five areas with the highest reported cases continues to be:

National Capital Region: 1,391
Quebec (minus the NCR): 889
Ontario (minus the NCR): 756
Alberta: 717
British Columbia: 685

There amount of reported cases in the public service outside of Canada remains at 57.

Province, region or territoryReported cases
Alberta717
British Columbia685
Manitoba188
National Capital Region (NCR)1,391
New Brunswick14
Newfoundland and Labrador21
Northwest Territories1
Nova Scotia32
Nunavut2
Ontario (Minus NCR)756
Prince Edward Island1
Quebec (Minus NCR)889
Saskatchewan212
Yukon1
Outside of Canada57

Other links:

Reported cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the federal public service

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (May 14, 2021)

By Shuffles

On May 14, 2021, the Prime Minister announced the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service:

Paul Ledwell, who served as Clerk of Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet and as Deputy Minister, Policy and Priorities, Government of Prince Edward Island until May 7, 2021, becomes Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective May 25, 2021.

Nick Leswick, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Finance, effective June 1, 2021.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to congratulate General (retired) Walter Natynczyk CMM MSC CD, Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, on his upcoming retirement from the Public Service and thanked him for his dedication and service to Canadians.”

Other links:

Highlights from the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey Results

By PSES 2020

Yesterday, Treasury Board published a summary of the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey results.

While the summary highlighted some positive results such as public servants having generally felt supported during the COVID-19 pandemic, the results indicated still a lot of work needs to be done around racism, discrimination, harassment, rising work-related stress, and resolving Phoenix pay issues in the public service.

Interim Clerk Janice Charette tweeted:

“I encourage all departments to review their #PSES_SAFF results closely. Public servants have shared their perspectives and stated what needs to be addressed next. Now it’s time to take action to strengthen our proud public service.”

The summary was broken down into the following categories:

  • Workplace well-being during the COVID‑19 pandemic
  • Employee engagement
  • Leadership
  • Workforce
  • Workplace
  • Compensation

On racism in the public service, only:

10% of employees who had experienced discrimination based on race indicated that they felt satisfied with how concerns or complaints about racism in the workplace were resolved in their department or agency.

On harassment in the public service:

Individuals with authority (62%) and co-workers (48%) were the most frequently cited sources of harassment.

On discrimination in the public service, out of the 7% of employees who indicated that they had been the victim of discrimination on the job in the previous 12 months:

Race (28%), sex (27%), and age (26%) were the most common types of discrimination experienced.

On pay issues in the public service, over a third of responses said they were still having Phoenix-related pay issues in the year 2020:

Over a third of employees (37%) indicated that their pay or other compensation had been affected by issues with the Phoenix pay system in the previous 12 months. Of those employees, 37% indicated that their issues had been resolved.

On work-related stress, employees expressed experiencing higher work-related levels of stress in 2020 compared to the previous year:

18% of employees indicated that they had high or very high levels of work-related stress, up from 17% in 2019.

31% of employees indicated that they felt emotionally drained after their workday, up from 29% in 2019.

The top 2 sources of stress at work:

Heavy workload (26%), up from 24% in 2019.
Not enough employees to do the work (26%), down from 29% in 2019.

Despite work-related stress levels up from the previous year, public servants were generally satisfied with how the public service was supporting their mental and physical health, and overall well-being during COVID-19:

81% of employees indicated that they were satisfied with the measures their department or agency was taking to protect their physical health and safety during the pandemic.

84% of employees felt that their department or agency was effectively communicating the mental health services and resources that were available to them.

70% of employees indicated that senior managers in their department or agency were taking adequate steps to support their mental health during the pandemic.

311,684 public servants were invited to participate in the survey and a little more than half, 188,786 surveys were received. This was the equivalent to a 61% response rate, which was down 1% from 2019.

Read the rest of the highlights from Treasury Board in the link below.

Other links:

Highlights: 2020 Public Service Employee Survey Results Summary

Latest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service (May 5)

By COVID-19

Reported numbers of COVID-19 cases in the public service have now reached 4,785. This is up from:

  • 4,581 on April 28;
  • 4,314 on April 21;
  • 4,011 on April 14; and,
  • 3,751 on April 7.

The breakdown is by province and the top five areas with the highest reported cases were:

National Capital Region: 1,347
Quebec (minus the NCR): 882
Ontario (minus the NCR): 734
Alberta: 671
British Columbia: 652

There have now been 57 reported cases in the public service outside of Canada.


Province, region or territory
Reported cases
Alberta671
British Columbia652
Manitoba170
National Capital Region (NCR)1,347
New Brunswick12
Newfoundland and Labrador21
Northwest Territories0
Nova Scotia26
Nunavut2
Ontario (Minus NCR)734
Prince Edward Island1
Quebec (Minus NCR)882
Saskatchewan209
Yukon1
Outside of Canada57

Other links:

Reported cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the federal public service

Changes announced in the senior ranks of the public service (April 30, 2021)

By Shuffles

On April 30, 2021, the Prime Minister announced the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service:

“Isabelle Mondou, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, and Deputy Minister for the COVID-19 Response (Communications), Privy Council Office (on assignment), becomes Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, effective May 3, 2021.

Christine Donoghue, currently Deputy Commissioner of Revenue, Canada Revenue Agency, becomes Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, effective May 3, 2021.

Les Linklater, currently Federal Lead, COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing and Data Management Strategies, Health Canada, becomes Senior Official at the Privy Council Office, effective May 3, 2021.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to congratulate Hélène Laurendeau, Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, on her retirement from the Public Service and thanked her for her dedication and service to Canadians.”

Other links: