Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure, as you know, that I table today the Public Service Modernization Act.
Each and every member of this House is here for the same reason: to serve Canadians. The Government serves Canadians, here at home and abroad, largely through the work of a competent, professional public service. This bill ensures the capacity of the public service to provide the best services to Canadians today and in the future, to continue to make important contributions to the quality of life of Canadians.
In the Speech From the Throne on January 30, 2001, the Government committed to “—the reforms needed for the Public Service of Canada to...[be] able to attract and develop the talent needed to serve Canadians in the 21st century”.
The Task Force on Modernizing Human Resources Management was established in April that year, with a mandate to recommend a modern policy, legislative and institutional framework for human resources management.
The bill fulfills that commitment and that mandate. It is a critical step in the ongoing process of public service modernization, providing the foundation needed to allow the public service to attract, retain and develop the people it needs and to maintain a healthy and productive workplace to serve Canadians.
The bill would make major changes to the current legislative framework underpinning human resources management in the public service. It includes two new acts, a new public service employment act and a new public service labour relations act, and amends the Financial Administration Act and the Canadian Centre for Management Development Act.
We live in a constantly evolving world. The current legislation governing human resources management has changed little over the past three decades and no longer permits us to meet new challenges.
Our world has changed greatly over that period. Public service work is becoming more and more complex and fast paced. It requires employees and managers to be more flexible and to adapt to varying demands and circumstances.
Technological advances and globalization are contributing to an accelerated pace of change, one that challenges the innovative capacity of the public service. The public service cannot fall behind if it is to serve effectively.
The public's expectations of government will continue to increase. Citizens are demanding not only better services, but also more efficient management of resources and a greater level of participation in making decisions.
Competition for talent with the private sector and with other governments is going to intensify in an increasingly tight labour market. Large numbers of public servants are expected to retire over the next decade and will need to be replaced.
The public service will have to respond. We must give the public service the tools it needs to meet these challenges.
The bill is a comprehensive and carefully measured package of proposals. It represents a balanced approach, establishing the foundation needed to allow the public service to change the way it does its business and compete effectively to attract and retain the people it needs.
It provides for increased flexibility in staffing and managing people to help achieve results and meet new operational requirements better, combined with reinforced safeguards to protect merit in staffing and address possible abuses in the system.
The bill also provides for more co-operative labour-management relations to support a healthy, productive workplace while ensuring that the government can continue to manage the public service in the public interest. It supports more coherent training and development for employees to help them pursue their professional development and ensure that they have the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs now and in the future.
It also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the key players in human resources management—the Treasury Board, the Public Service Commission and deputy heads—with new measures to strengthen accountability at all levels, including better reporting to Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, these are important goals—indeed, they are important requirements—in the modernization of the public service and public service management. They must be realized to ensure that the public service will continue to be able to serve Canadians with excellence into the 21st century.
This Bill provides the foundation for the transformation of public service management. It is with pleasure that I will work with all members of this House to improve the way in which we manage public service employees, with the ultimate objective of providing the best possible services for our constituents.