Evidence of meeting #6 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was management.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Patricia Hassard  Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office
  • Daphne Meredith  Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

But not to Parliament; specifically to the Prime Minister?

3:50 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office

Patricia Hassard

We're here to answer to Parliament, but we're not accountable directly to Parliament.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

I think the overall question is ultimate responsibility.

I also note the involvement of the PCO in managing the decision-making process of cabinet, advising on structure and organization of machinery, and the high-level performance and accountability in the public service.

Have there been discussions between the PCO and cabinet with regard to access to information?

3:50 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office

Patricia Hassard

This is not an area that I'm responsible for, so I'm afraid I won't be able to answer that question.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

So you would not be able to tell me now if there have in fact been discussions between the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Privy Council Office and cabinet, notwithstanding all of these responsibilities on how to deal with access to information.

3:50 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office

Patricia Hassard

Not on that topic, no.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Given that we are reviewing estimates and the funding of the Privy Council Office in this context of departmental freeze, I would ask that at some point we would be able to have someone come before the committee who could answer those questions.

Finally, I would like to note in your report today that you have suggested that the clerk's 2009-10 annual report to the Prime Minister will be tabled this week. It will set out how you expect to continue with your efforts going forward. Can we also get a commitment that you or someone else who would be appropriate would agree to come before the committee after that report is tabled? We feel a little hamstrung having this meeting with you here today, a week before the report is tabled.

3:50 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office

Patricia Hassard

Yes, the timing is not the best. We would be happy to come back to talk about the report. We're very proud of it.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Thank you very much.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Madam Hall Findlay, thank you.

We now go to the next round of questions.

Ms. Bourgeois, you have eight minutes.

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Good afternoon, ladies. I am very glad to see you back before our committee.

Ms. Hassard, almost a year ago, to the day, you were here. It was at that time, I believe, that you took up your position. I kept the documents in which you told us that you were very sensitive the need to give the public service all the tools that it needs to work with a certain degree of comfort. You have a great deal of experience with people in the public service. Your presence here today is very important to me. I would like you to be aware of certain practices which, in my opinion, are not necessarily of the kind that you wanted to implement in the management of the public service.

Since 2006-2007, various clerks have been informing us about the strategic foundations of the renewal. Indeed, on March 31, 2009, Mr. Lynch told us that the implementation of some elements was expected, including the improvement of the infrastructures that help staff to do their work better. In your presentation, you said that you had launched the modernization of the remuneration system which has been in place for the past 40 years. It was absolutely necessary.

Now I have the following question: you launched this modernization, but are you going to carry it through at a time when budgets are being frozen?

3:55 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office

Patricia Hassard

Ms. Meredith may want to help me on this one.

I think the way that would be looked at, in the current environment of an operating budget freeze, is that there will still be some priorities that will be funded from central resources. At least that's how I understand it.

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Could you supply the committee with a document in which you will state, in writing, how you intend to continue modernizing the compensation system?

On reading certain documents, I gathered that deputy ministers were now responsible for personnel management. I must tell you that I am not comfortable with that. Not that I do not trust deputy ministers, but one year and a half or two years ago, when you implemented this new way of functioning, only about 30 deputy ministers from the ministries took part in the implementation of their human resource management plan.

Today, I want to know how many of them continued implementing the plan. Is everyone aware of the new directives regarding human resource management? Did Correctional Service Canada participate in this modernization of human resource management? Do we have access to the plans in the various ministries?

3:55 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Madam Chair, I would be happy to start in terms of the pay system question.

I would simply say that the government has committed to work on modernizing the pay system, as you've mentioned. It has dedicated resources to that. I would also say that there could well be the need for further resources as the project matures and it goes on to another stage. But the fact that the operating budgets of departments are frozen doesn't mean that they're completely static. There will be choices made within those budgets that can accommodate important reform initiatives of which this, I would suggest, is one.

In terms of the deputy ministers managing human resources and the concerns that you have, I'll certainly let my colleague Patricia Hassard speak to the tenure of deputies. I would simply say that my office is important,

because, at the head officer's office, we work together with departments and human resource managers in order to support them. We are always present even if we do not use the same tools to help them.

4 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Did all the deputy ministers in the departments participate in the training? Did they integrate the famous plan that you wanted to put forward? Last year, there were about 30 of them. There are about 120 ministries and agencies.