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Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (June 9, 2022)

By Shuffles

On June 9, 2022, the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

Catherine Blewett, currently Chief Strategic Engagement Officer, Ocean Frontier Institute, becomes Deputy Minister of Economic Development within the Innovation, Science and Economic Development portfolio, effective June 20, 2022.

Tricia Geddes, currently Deputy Director, Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety, effective June 20, 2022.

Mollie Johnson, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Low Carbon Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, effective June 20, 2022.

Other links:

Reappointment announced in the senior ranks of the public service (June 7, 2022)

By Shuffles

On June 7, 2022, the Prime Minister announced the following reappointment in the senior ranks of the public service:

David Vigneault, as Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, effective June 19, 2022.

The announcement said that, “Mr. Vigneault brings a wealth of experience from the intelligence and security community to the role, including almost two decades as a senior public servant at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Privy Council Office.”

Other links:

News release

Biography: David Vigneault

Treasury Board “suspends” vaccine mandates for public servants

By COVID-19

Yesterday, Treasury Board announced it will suspend vaccine mandates for public servants as of Monday June 20, 2021.

What this means

  • public servants who are on administrative leave without pay for noncompliance with the policy in force until now will be contacted by their managers to arrange their return to regular work duties;
  • as of June 20, persons will no longer be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment; and,
  • the Government of Canada is no longer moving forward with proposed regulations under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code to make vaccination mandatory in all federally regulated workplaces.

Public servants on leave without pay

Treasury Board said that as of May 30, “2,108 federal employees, or less than 2%, were on administrative leave without pay, as a result of declining to disclose their vaccination status or because they were unwilling to be vaccinated with two doses. These employees can now resume regular work duties with pay.”

Public servants who made requests for accommodations

Treasury Board also said that as of May 30, there were 2,598 requests for accommodations in relation to the mandatory vaccination policy.

The breakdown of requests was as follows:

  • For medical reasons: 654
  • For religious reasons: 1,659
  • For other reasons: 285

As of May 30, 993 requests for accommodation had been deemed eligible and 699 remained under consideration. 

The breakdown of accommodations deemed eligible was as follows:

  • For medical reasons: 310
  • For religious reasons: 642
  • For other reasons: 41

Treasury Board said that, “with the suspension of the policy on vaccination, accommodation measures that were put in place as a result of the vaccination policy, as well as any reviews of remaining accommodation requests, will end.”

Looking ahead to the fall

However, the President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier, cautioned that the public service would “not hesitate to make adjustments based on the latest public health advice and science to keep Canadians safe. This could include the reimposition of public service vaccination mandates, and the introduction of vaccination mandates in federally regulated workplaces in the fall, if needed.”

Unions react

Public Service Alliance of Canada

One of the largest federal public service unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) said that, “the federal government did not consult with PSAC before making its decision to lift its vaccination policy” and that, “unions should always be consulted on policies that have a major impact on the terms and conditions of employment of our members to protect their health and safety and their rights in the workplace.”

Despite this, PSAC said that, “as public health guidelines have been lifted across the country, we’ve been urging the government to review and update their vaccination policy for federal workers.”

Canadian Association of Professional Employees

Another union, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (or CAPE) also put out a statement saying that, “CAPE is caught by surprise, as there were no consultations with bargaining agents before the announcement. The sudden and abrupt change from one extreme to the other without a clear and sound transition plan is unsettling. CAPE will push for prudent and realistic transition measures that consider foreseeable safety risks.”

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) also responded, “Unfortunately, this information was shared with the PIPSC President through the media before the employer informed us of the change. We, together with other unions, have been asking for an update for weeks. We have informed the Treasury Board of our disappointment and hope that collaboration will be a priority moving forward.”

Despite this, the PIPSC statement said, “This is a welcome update from the employer as we have been pushing for this policy to reflect the current status of the pandemic.”

All unions said they filed grievances against the mandatory vaccination policy for members who were placed on leave without pay and will continue to pursue those grievances.

Feds for Freedom

There has been no response so far by “Feds for Freedom,” the campaign started last fall by public servants against the mandatory vaccination policy.

Other links:

Treasury Board statement on the suspension of the vaccine mandates for domestic travellers, transportation workers and federal employees

Treasury Board backgrounder: Government of Canada suspends mandatory vaccination for federal employees

PSAC: Government lifts vaccination policy for federal workers

CAPE: Government is Suspending its Mandatory Vaccination Policy

PIPSC: Vaccine mandate for federal public service lifted

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (April 1, 2022)

By Shuffles

On April 1, 2022, the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

Sony Perron, currently Executive Vice-President of Shared Services Canada, becomes President of Shared Services Canada, effective April 4, 2022.

Scott Jones, currently Federal Lead, Proof of Vaccine Credentials, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, becomes Executive Vice-President of Shared Services Canada and, concurrently, Associate Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, effective April 11, 2022.

Brigitte Diogo, currently Vice-President, Health Security and Regional Operations Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada, becomes Deputy Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency, effective April 11, 2022.

Jean-Guy Forgeron, currently Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Harbour Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, becomes Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, effective April 4, 2022.

As well, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to congratulate Paul Glover, President of Shared Services Canada, on his retirement from the public service, and thanked him for his dedication and service to Canadians.

Other links:

Departments permitted to resume return to workplace plans

By COVID-19

Earlier this week, Health Canada updated its guide to workplace re-entry for the public service so that departments can now resume their return to workplace plans with their employees.

At the end of last year, departments were asked to pause their return to workplace plans following growing concern for the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In Monday’s statement, the President of the Treasury Board said:

“Departments and agencies may now resume their planning to gradually increase building occupancy, while continuing to respect the appropriate use of workplace preventive practices. It is my expectation that organizations will continue to be agile and demonstrate flexibility as necessary, in their planning to align to the evolving public health context.”

– Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board

February 2022 update: guide to workplace re-entry

In the latest update in its guide to workplace re-entry for the public service, Health Canada outlined that while building occupancy can gradually be eased:

  • masks should still be worn indoors;
  • physical distancing is to be maintained;
  • departments should follow domestic and international travel advisories; and,
  • there are an updated list of screening questions for returning employees who have been exposed or infected by COVID-19.

The February 2022 update:

To support a gradual return to the workplace, departments and agencies can resume gradually increasing building occupancy with appropriate use of workplace preventive practices as laid out in this guidance. Organizations should maintain the flexibility to adjust to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

Masks:

Medical masks or respirators should be worn in all indoor shared spaces, even when physical distancing is maintained.

Medical masks or respirators should be worn outdoors when working in crowded settings or when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Travel:

Departments and agencies should follow domestic and international travel advisories.

Screening:

Screening questions have been updated to reflect updated guidance for when an employee returns to the workplace following infection or exposure to COVID-19.

The President of the Treasury Board also said there will be no, “one-size-fits-all approach” for returning to the workplace and that Treasury Board will continue to support departments, “in their transition to hybrid work models, where applicable and operationally feasible.”

The statement also said that, “officials are providing guidance and best practices to promote a coherent approach while respecting the different operational realities of federal organizations. [Departments] will continue to develop their plans, informed by their experiences of the past two years and public health guidance.”

President of the Treasury Board statement regarding the evolving public health situation

Health Canada’s guide to workplace re-entry for the public service

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (January 5, 2022)

By Shuffles

On January 5, 2022, the Prime Minister announced the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service:

Graham Flack, currently Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development, becomes Secretary of the Treasury Board, effective January 10, 2022.

Jean-François Tremblay, currently Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, becomes Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development, effective January 10, 2022.

Jody Thomas, currently Deputy Minister of National Defence, becomes National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister, effective January 11, 2022.

Bill Matthews, currently Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement, becomes Deputy Minister of National Defence, effective January 11, 2022.

John Hannaford, currently Deputy Minister of International Trade, becomes Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, effective January 10, 2022.

David Morrison, currently Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G7 Summit, becomes Deputy Minister of International Trade and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G7 Summit, effective January 11, 2022.

Christopher MacLennan, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G20 Summit, becomes Deputy Minister of International Development and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G20 Summit, effective January 10, 2022.

Paul Thompson, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, becomes Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement, effective January 11, 2022.

Philip Jennings, currently Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations), Privy Council Office, becomes Senior Advisor to the Privy Council Office, effective January 10, 2022.

Mr. Jennings will be nominated by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance as the next Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, nine Caribbean countries, and Belize at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Until the IMF election process is complete and he is formally named to the position, Mr. Jennings will serve as Senior Advisor to the Privy Council Office.

Michael Vandergrift becomes Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations), Privy Council Office, in addition to his current role as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Privy Council Office, effective January 10, 2022.

Jacqueline Bogden, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch, Health Canada, becomes Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Emergency Preparedness and COVID Recovery), Privy Council Office, effective January 10, 2022.

Dan Costello, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs, Global Affairs Canada, becomes Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, effective January 11, 2022.

Cynthia (Cindy) Termorshuizen, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Consular, Security and Emergency Management, Global Affairs Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, effective January 10, 2022.

Daniel Rogers, currently Deputy Chief, Foreign Signals Intelligence, Communications Security Establishment Canada, becomes Associate Chief of the Communications Security Establishment, effective January 10, 2022.

Stefanie Beck, currently Deputy High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Global Affairs Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence, effective January 31, 2022.

Mala Khanna, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Sub-Saharan Africa Branch, Global Affairs Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, effective January 10, 2022.

Francis Bilodeau, currently Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Innovation Policy Sector, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, effective January 10, 2022.

Paul Samson, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, effective January 10, 2022.

The Prime Minister also congratulated the following individuals who have retired from the public service, and thanked them for their dedication and service to Canadians:

  • Peter Wallace, Secretary of the Treasury Board
  • Louise Levonian, Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, nine Caribbean countries, and Belize at the International Monetary Fund
  • Vincent Rigby, National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister
  • Nancy Chahwan, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence
  • Leslie MacLean, Deputy Minister of International Development
  • Les Linklater, Senior Official at the Privy Council Office
  • David McGovern, President of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
  • Thao Pham, Deputy Minister, COVID Recovery, Privy Council Office
  • Martine Dubuc, Associate Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Monik Beauregard, Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety

Other links:

Departments asked to pause return to workplace plans

By COVID-19

Late yesterday, Treasury Board issued a statement saying departments were being asked to pause their return to the workplace plans for public servants out of growing concern for the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In addition, Health Canada revised their workplace re-entry guide for the public service, “in light of emerging evidence on the Omicron variant of concern, and the potential for increased transmissibility, decreased vaccine protection against infection, and higher risk of reinfection.”

Updates to the guide included recommendations that:

  • Departments should review current occupancy levels;
  • Departments should consider increasing remote work, as required;
  • All public servants receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn;
  • Public servants wear masks indoors in all shared spaces;
  • Public servants avoid non-essential international travel; and,
  • Public servants avoid participating in any discretionary large gatherings, such as conferences and training events.

The statement went on to say:

“I thank the many public servants, in various roles, who are working onsite and remotely to serve Canadians. As has been the case from the outset of the pandemic, federal public servants can be confident that every measure continues to be taken to protect their health and safety in the workplace. We know that having a vaccinated workforce means that not only are workplaces safer, so are the communities where public servants live and work.

It is my expectation that organizations continue to align their plans with the current public health context, taking into consideration their respective operational needs and obligations such as ensuring Canadians’ access to information and providing government services in both official languages.

As the heads of their organizations, deputy heads are responsible for the safety and well-being of their employees. The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to support public servants and their mental health. I would like to remind employees and managers of the wide range of services and supports available to them, including the 24/7 Employee Assistance Program.

As the country’s largest employer, the Government of Canada will continue to engage with partners, stakeholders, and local communities as we continue to operate in a rapidly changing environment.”

– Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board

Other links:

Treasury Board statement further to the evolving public health situation and the COVID-19 Omicron variant

Health Canada’s guide to workplace re-entry for the public service

Highlights: 2021 report on the public service

By Clerk Report

The Clerk’s annual report to the Prime Minister on the public service was released last week.

Every year the Clerk of the Privy Council (the most senior public servant in the federal public service) issues a report to the Prime Minister on the state of the federal public service in Canada.

Reports generally tend to highlight achievements across departments over the past year but also acknowledge areas where more work needs to be done.

Reports are also usually written and presented in the style and tone of the Clerk of the day.

For example, Janice Charette’s report as Clerk was described as being one of the most memorable for presenting content on the public service in new, dynamic and engaging ways.

The 2021 report from Clerk Ian Shugart described where much of the public service’s external efforts were focused on last year: “COVID-19 and Canada’s confrontation with racism and intolerance.”

The report also described the public service’s internal efforts to, “tackle systemic racism and advance the work on diversity and inclusion” within the federal public service.

While the report may have had little surprises in what the public service focused on last year, what may have been surprising was the Clerk’s honesty about:

  • the lack of representation in the public service;
  • the health and well-being of public servants over the last year; and,
  • the future of the public service and an acknowledgement that things will never go back to the way they were before COVID-19.

Lack of representation and broken systems in the public service that perpetuate it

Clerk Ian Shugart’s report was honest in that despite many actions being taken at the top, not enough is being done overall and not fast enough.

Earlier this year, Clerk Ian Shugart sent a message to Deputy Ministers on a “call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the federal public service.”

Then at the end of November, Interim Clerk Janice Charette posted the letters from all departments describing what and how they are answering that call to action.

However, public servants have been vocal that they want to see less committees and task forces but rather real, tangible change.

The Clerk’s report cited some examples of departments taking steps toward meaningful action but at the same time, Clerk Ian Shugart acknowledged the broken systems within the public service that continue to act as barriers toward real change.

This includes human resources and staffing, as Clerk Shugart referenced the findings from the Public Service Commission’s Audit of Employment Equity Representation in Recruitment, “members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples do not remain proportionately represented and experience a notable drop-off at various stages of the recruitment process.”

“Our recruitment and promotion processes are based on the merit principle but if we are systematically barring large numbers of people with different backgrounds, identities, and other differences, we are excluding people of merit. Rules, processes, and practices that deny people opportunities because of differences do injury to the merit principle.

We must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to demonstrate their merit. Thinking about these concepts with a new perspective and taking concrete corrective actions must be part of our journey towards equity and inclusion. If we want different outcomes, we need to try different things.”

– Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council

This extends to language requirements in staffing processes, and that a growing number of public servants in social media circles say the current language requirements for staffing and the language testing is exclusionary, unfair and perpetuates a system of inequality and divisiveness.

This was highlighted in a 2017 report to the Clerk that Patrick Borbey, President of the Public Service Commission wrote with 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.

“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.”

– Patrick Borbey, President of the Public Service Commission

However, the report was published towards the end of 2017, nearly five years ago with Patrick Borbey and the Public Service Commission having largely been silent on this since then.

A tired public service

Clerk Shugart acknowledged that public servants are tired and like most Canadians, “have been continually sprinting for over a year.”

Whether on the front lines of COVID-19 or behind the scenes trying to sustain and improve IT capacity to support public servants working virtually, the demands and the pace have taken a toll.

While the report didn’t tackle questions around workload, it did reference the Mental health and COVID-19 for public servants: Protect your mental health web page, as well as the great work the Federal Youth Network has been doing to, “ramp up programming to connect public servants on topics such as mental health and inclusion through their virtual learning series.”

There was also an acknowledgement by the Clerk that, “the ongoing mental health of our employees is going to require sustained attention after the pandemic.”

The future of the public service

Clerk Shugart ended this year’s report on an optimistic note.

The Clerk acknowledged that, as a result of COVID-19, the public service will likely never return to working the way it did before COVID-19.

“While the future is not yet clear, we do have a good sense of where we are likely to see lasting change. Our business models will be more digital, our workforce more distributed, and the path from idea to delivery shortened. Management practices will need to evolve alongside those changes. The question is one to do with extent.”

– Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council

It’s clear that the federal public service is going through a period of change, likely as many other public service institutions are around the world.

However, for the Canadian federal public service, the Clerk said it will mean taking a hard look at existing processes and procedures, and pursuing reconciliation and justice the workplace.

Other links:

28th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

Letter from the Clerk to the Prime Minister

News release from the Prime Minister welcoming the 28th report from the Clerk

Public Service Health Care Plan contract awarded to Canada Life

By Pay, Pension and Benefits

Last week, Treasury Board posted that the next contract to administer the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) had been awarded to Canada Life following a competitive process that began in 2018.

The contract will take effect July 1, 2023, following a transition period.

Treasury Board said that transitioning will be a, “complex project and an opportunity to streamline PSHCP processes. The new contract will allow the plan to be more responsive to the changing administrative health care needs of plan members and innovations in the health care industry.”

The previous contract was awarded to Sun Life in 2009.

Impact on cost for public servants

While work behind the scenes may be intensive and complex, Treasury Board reassured that there won’t be any impact on cost for plan members:

“A new plan administrator will have no impact on the cost of the PSHCP for plan members or to the benefits available to them and their families. Contribution rates are approved annually by the President of the Treasury Board, and plan changes are negotiated at the PSHCP Partners Committee, a collaborative forum comprised of Bargaining Agent, Employer and Pensioner representatives.”

Treasury Board said that, “this procurement process is entirely separate and forms part of the life cycle of any public service benefit plan, and that the award of the new contract to Canada Life simply changes who administers the PSHCP and adjudicates claims, starting July 1, 2023.”

Action items for public servants

Treasury Board said that in terms of next steps:

  • Plan members will receive regular updates on the transition progress;
  • Public servants will be asked to take a few simple actions leading up to the move to the new administrator and Treasury Board asks public servants to respond to these requests; and
  • Public servants keep their contact information current with Sun Life to help ensure that there is no interruption in PSHCP coverage when the new contract starts on July 1, 2023.

Other links:

Treasury Board information notice: New contract awarded to administer the Public Service Health Care Plan