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 public.

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

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you.

The analyst just reminded me that you mentioned a scorecard. Could we have a copy of it for our benefit, so that we can have a look at it as well?

Thank you.

We will go to the next round of questions.

Madam Siobhan Coady, you have five minutes.

March 29th, 2010 / 4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Thank you very much.

I certainly appreciate you taking the time to appear before us today, and for giving us some clear testimony.

My question is a follow-through on the last question you answered, which is that you will continue to hire.

I'm a little confused here. I'm going to use Stats Canada numbers, because everywhere I look there are different numbers for the public service. So I'm going to stick with Stats Canada. In 2006, for example, Stats Canada said there were roughly 380,000 employees. As of last year, there were 419,000. Those are Stats Canada's numbers. I took them off their website.

You went from 380,000 to 419,000, which is significant, almost a 40,000-person impact in terms of net increase in jobs. Of course, there was some attrition there as well.

Now we're starting to talk about some of the factors, for example, attrition, in how this budget is going to be balanced or come close to being balanced. For example, Treasury Board president Stockwell Day was at the Economic Club of Canada today, and he talked about how freezes and cuts to the public service will--I think these are his words--“take us to zero on the budget by 2014”. He said that today to the Economic Club.

Now, I think the Parliamentary Budget Officer doesn't see that it's going to go to zero, but let's take it at face value that it will go to zero by 2014. But he did talk about freezes and cuts to the public sector.

I just heard you talk about how you'll likely have to continue to hire. There's a renewal within the public service. We know about attrition. I'm sure, like business people, of which I'm one, you've been planning for the last 20 years for this demographic blip.

I know you receive Treasury Board submissions from departments on a regular basis. My question is where's the impact from this budget freeze? Is there an across-the-board reduction in the annual reference level updates? Is it by program? Can you explain how you're going to do it, based on the fact we've now heard Stockwell Day on this issue?

I'm hearing from you that you're going to have to continue to hire. I understand that. The increases over the last four years have been roughly 10,000 per year. It could have been more, earlier, but it's been 40,000 over the last four to five years. I'm anxious to hear how you think that's going to occur.

You're the one with the Treasury Board submissions, so you would know more than me.

4:25 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

I think the main point is that the operating budgets will be frozen. That will be done within their votes, what's voted to them by Parliament. That is what will be controlled. It allows individual departments to then determine how they're going to meet that budget freeze.

I think each department will have different realities around their attrition rates. For example, one potential opportunity is for downsizing, and I think they need to look at that; they need to look at where they're going to be recruiting.

I guess the main point is that it's up to them to determine their future.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Okay, I heard you say that. As the chief human resources officer, I would assume that you would have, or that you should have, some role in that under the Treasury Board submissions to ensure proper funding for government departments and proper service levels. I say this because what we don't want to have cut, of course, are services to Canadians. I see you nodding your head there.

I'm just going to give you an illustration. We've been talking a little bit about the PCO, and we have been saying that there has been an increase in the PCO. This year, for example, coming out of your report on plans and priorities, we see $3.6 million for government-wide communications. To support that, there are 20 people working in PCO, 15 in PM and ministerial support and 5 in internal services, just to give you an illustration. I don't want to talk about those particular individuals, but I suspect their positions are the kind that would be reviewed.

Will you have some oversight of that going forward to ensure that services to Canadians are not impacted?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

We will, of course, be ensuring that they meet their operating budget freezes, and they in turn will be demonstrating that they're meeting service levels, because they'll want to do so.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

What I'm hearing is that you don't have oversight of the Treasury Board submissions that talk about the numbers of staff and things of that nature on an ongoing basis.

4:25 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

The key is that they're the ones who are accountable for meeting the freeze and maintaining the service levels.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

As human resources officer, you don't have a role in that, in terms of the number of employees?

I'm just looking at the growth in the public service, from 380,000 to 419,000, or about a 40,000 increase in staffing over four years, and now we're saying that we're going to freeze department spending. You're certainly not going to be able to hire that many employees. You have an increase in the planning and priorities budget for PCO and you're going to have to look at that as you go forward. I'm just wondering about the process of how you look at that.

However, I'm going to turn to another question—

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Your time is up, but you can ask a quick question.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Obviously a tremendous amount of money has gone to management consultants, some $586 million. We do know they're tracked under the central financial management reporting system. Can you please give to the committee what has been used to date, and for how many of the management consultants, and in what areas? You do have that tracked, I understand, through a data system.

4:25 p.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

On management consulting, I'd have to return to the committee. My purview is more that of public servants.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Please do so.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Fair enough. Thank you very much.

We now go to Madam Bourgeois, who is sharing her time with Monsieur Nadeau, for five minutes.

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would appreciate it if we spoke about the same thing. It seems to me that we are discussing two different levels.

Ms. Hassard, we can read on page 12 of your document that our performance management system must be strengthened. And on page 12, it also says that managers are the transmitters and creators of change in organizational culture. A little further on, on page 14, it states that you have also provided a more strict performance management plan for senior officials.

If I understand correctly you, ladies, have the task of managing officials and deputy ministers. You are not managing human resources, namely the employees who work under the orders of officials and deputy ministers. Consequently, you had some difficulty in answering us when my colleague asked you if you could reassure us that there will not be a certain number of people leaving for retirement and that it will all go smoothly. You tell us that it will all go smoothly because you are managing the officials.

Besides, Mr. Kevin Lynch, in his annual report for the exercise ending on March 31, 2009, explains to us the model for evaluating the performance of deputy ministers. I will present it for the benefit of my colleagues. It includes several elements. First of all, there are three broad categories of commitments: the results of policies and of programs—to verify if the deputy ministers have done their management work in compliance with the planned activities of the organization and with the broad objectives of the government—the results of management and the results of their leadership.

On the other hand, the evaluation process consists in four basic elements. First there is self-evaluation, which means that they give themselves a mark. Then, there are the evaluations of management. This is a qualitative and quantitative overview of performance. I imagine that they look at how much money there was to spend, how much money was spent and whether he spent $500,000 less, to see if he is a good manager. This is what I understand. Then there is the peer review. Other deputy ministers from other departments make the evaluation. Finally, there is feedback and if the results are satisfactory, there is a premium. You can imagine that officials, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers in 2005-2006, earned a 6.5% performance bonus. In 2006-2007, it was 9%, and in 2007-2008, 9.4%. Did the bonus increase in 2008-2009? It is quite possible.

We are studying the issue of the freezing of ministerial envelopes and of its impact on human resources and service to the population. That is right. I have nothing against these ladies, but they cannot give us any answers because they are managing the deputy ministers. However, we should have the 124 deputy ministers of the 124 ministries here before us.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Yasmin Ratansi

Do you want them to respond or not?