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

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Mr. Warkentin on a point of order.

March 29th, 2010 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Madam Chair, I think it's important that we keep to the topic at hand. We've invited witnesses with a clear description of the types of questions we would be asking, as it relates to their departments and their responsibilities. It's unfair for the witnesses to be asked questions that have limited...or that have nothing to do with their respective responsibilities.

There's always been a practice in committees, especially when we have members of the civil service before us, that we don't ask them to comment on decisions that are left under the purview of other responsibilities.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

I thank you for your intervention.

I'm sure the witnesses are well aware of what the discussion is. It's the impact of the freeze on departmental budgets. We are here, really, listening to the demographics and on how the freeze on departmental budgets will impact the demographics.

If you could focus on that area, it would be well worth our while, because that's what we are studying.

There's a shift in demographic change, and that's the attrition. All of the questions and the presentations really deal with what's going on in that department.

I know you're asking for cuts in different departments, but that's really not the purview here. The Treasury Board Secretariat is the chief human resource officer, not the minister of Treasury Board. So perhaps you could guide your questions accordingly.

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Chair, I hope you're adding time to my questions.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Oh, yes, I stopped the clock.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Thank you very much.

No, I was responding to the presentation itself, so it was perfectly in order, as you're well aware.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Fair enough.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Thank you.

The next item I'd like to move to is the feedback loop. There was some reference earlier to a scorecard. The question is the evaluation of services. Certainly as a member of Parliament—I've been now for nearly six years a member of Parliament—I've seen some service deterioration in terms of response time in areas such as employment insurance and citizenship and immigration. It's not because the public servants aren't working very hard, it's because sometimes cuts or freezes have an impact on service quality.

So I'm wondering if a feedback loop exists there to ensure that services don't degrade further through the process of the freeze. There was mention of a scorecard. I'm not sure who's doing the evaluating.

Could you comment a bit more on that, please?

4:15 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

I'd like to comment in terms of the scorecard or the means of measuring performance when it comes to HR management, which is my purview.

You've made reference to employment insurance. There are other issues that would be more the purview of Service Canada, and I won't answer to those specifically. But in the area of human resource management, over the past several years we've developed, we think, quite a good way of measuring departmental performance when it comes to values and ethics, as well as on people management. We use surveys and other broad data on staffing times and whatnot to get a good, although grainy, picture of how departments are doing and a basis on which we can compare one to the other and, in a sense, get a measure of the leadership and management of those departments.

So we're very much in that world of measuring performance on human resources issues.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Thank you.

Just to clarify, are these surveys to recipients?

4:20 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Well, we undertook in 2008 a public service employee survey of all public service employees. We asked them a range of questions that related to their engagement in the workplace, to leadership and to values and ethics and other issues, which other organizations had been using as well, to corroborate this performance on HR management.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Okay.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

You can ask just a very brief question.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Visible minorities, or people who speak other languages or who speak an additional language besides English and French, are under-represented.

Is there any way to make sure that the freeze will not have any impact on the recruiting of new Canadians so that they can be a part of the renewal of the public service?

4:20 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Thank you, Madam Chair.

That is a good question.

Indeed, right now about 10% of the public service would be considered visible minorities, as one employment equity group. That would be about 2% under a comparable measure of workforce availability. We recognize that there is a gap in our terms, which is an issue for us.

The good news is that we are recruiting at higher levels from that category, upwards of 18%. We have some measurement issues between us in the public service and the Public Service Commission. The president of the commission might say it's above 20%, while our data shows above 18%. At any rate, the main point is that with the accelerated recruitment from that community, we expect to see an increase in the representation of visible minorities in the public service.

The main point is that we're continuing to hire. Just because there is a freeze in operating budgets doesn't mean we'll stop hiring. In fact, we know it's absolutely important that we continue to hire. We can't expect to renew the public service if we don't hire. We absolutely need to do so, especially in view of all the attrition now going on.