Clerk’s Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service, DM performance commitments

While the call to action is the high level message, the implementation approach is covered by the 2020-21 DM commitments on diversity and inclusion, included below the call.

These are significant given that DM commitments cascade down to all executives, with the strongest one, from a measurement and accountability perspective, being:

Deputies will be required to present a staffing plan demonstrating the rate of hiring and promotions of individuals at the executive and non-executive levels, who self-identify in at least one of the EE groups, that will aim close the gap within the next 4 years, with demonstrable and steady progress made annually starting in 2021.

As the above chart shows, there has been a steady increase in visible minorities and Indigenous peoples representation at both the all employee and EX levels.

I have obtained from TBS disaggregated date for visible minorities and Indigenous peoples covering hirings, promotions and separations for the years 2017-19 and will publish my analysis when complete in a few weeks which will refine the baseline by which to measure the impact of the performance commitment and call to action:

The past several months have precipitated deep reflection on the unjust treatment of Black people, other racialized groups, and Indigenous peoples in our society. As public servants come forward and courageously share their lived experiences, the urgency of removing systemic racism from our institutions and from our culture becomes more evident.

Our leadership across the Public Service must be more diverse. Unless swift action is taken, we will fall short of effectively supporting the Government and serving Canadians. We have an obligation to our employees, and to all Canadians, to do better by ensuring that we are putting the full capacity of our entire pool of talent at the service of Canadians.

Grassroots networks and communities have opened conversations, often reliving their own personal traumas, in an effort to increase our collective awareness and to build paths forward. More data is being disaggregated, helping us to further understand where gaps exist and to inform direction and decisions. Training and new recruitment models are being developed. We are by no means where we want to be and much work still remains, but these efforts across the Public Service are creating a foundation for change.

As we focus on combatting racism, it is not sufficient to simply equip ourselves with knowledge and tools. We must take action in ways we know will be meaningful in addressing all barriers and disadvantages. Being a leader means taking an active role in ending all forms of discrimination and oppression, consciously and constantly challenging our own biases, and creating an environment in which our employees feel empowered and safe to speak up when they witness barriers to equity and inclusion. Inaction is not an option.

With the Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada, we have seen how concerted, system-wide efforts, together with strong commitment and leadership, can generate necessary momentum. Although much work remains, setting out a plan with concrete actions, bringing the voices of those most impacted to the forefront, and holding ourselves accountable for success is a model worth following.

We must encourage and support the voices that have long been marginalized in our organizations. We must create opportunities where they have long been absent. We must take direct, practical actions to invoke change. This is a true test of leadership, and one we must meet head on. Now.

I am therefore calling on all Public Service leaders to:

  • Appoint Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to and within the Executive Group through career development and talent management
  • Sponsor high-potential Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to prepare them for leadership roles
  • Support the participation of Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees in leadership development programs (for example, the Executive Leadership Development Program) and career development services (for example, official language training)
  • Recruit highly qualified candidates from Indigenous communities and Black and other racialized communities from across all regions of Canada

I am further calling on all Public Service leaders to invest in developing inclusive leadership skills and in establishing a sense of belonging and trust for all public servants, as well as those joining us now and in the future, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender expression by:

  • Committing to personally learning about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity and inclusion, and fostering a safe, positive environment where these conversations are encouraged throughout our workplaces
  • Combatting all forms of racism, discrimination and other barriers to inclusion in the workplace by taking action on what we have learned, empowering employees to speak up about bias and oppression, and better equipping managers to address these issues
  • Enabling and advancing the work of grassroots networks and communities within the Public Service by providing necessary resources and bringing them into discussions at senior executive tables
  • Including voices from diverse backgrounds in the identification of systemic racism, discrimination and barriers to inclusion, and the design and implementation of actions to address them
  • Measuring progress and driving improvements in the employee workplace experience by monitoring disaggregated survey results and related operational data (for example, promotion and mobility rates, tenure) and acting on what the results are telling us

This call to action represents specific and meaningful actions. My expectation is that progress will be measured and lessons shared. While senior leaders are accountable, this set of actions demands our collective responsibility – at all levels – and a recognition that the existing equity work underway must continue. We have already seen the value of this work in early implementation of recommendations from reports such as Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation.

As we are bringing these actions to life, we must also recognize that experiences vary across different regions of Canada, and that interconnected dimensions of identity, such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identification and expression, physical or mental ability, and other individual characteristics, often create varying and complex experiences of bias. As persons with visible and invisible disabilities continue to face physical and technological barriers, the approaches we develop must be truly inclusive by also being truly accessible.

Building a diverse, equitable and inclusive Public Service is both an obligation and an opportunity we all share. We must advance this objective together, acting both individually and collectively, and recognizing that our progress will rely on amplifying the voices of those within our organizations to help lead the way. In my role as the Head of the Public Service, I will keep close to the voices of public servants. I am calling on you to do the same.
Ian Shugart
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

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And the substance behind the statement:

2020/2021 Deputy Minister Commitments on Diversity and Inclusion 

The Federal Public Service is stronger and most effective when we reflect the diversity of Canada’s populations we serve.  While progress has been made in recent years to achieve gender parity in the Deputy Minister community, there is more progress to be made in increasing representation of Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous People, and persons with disabilities. At the enterprise level, strong partnerships are in place between departments, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Public Service Commission and the Canada School of Public Service on horizontal initiatives, such as data analysis, training and development programs as well as recruitment.

To further expand on actions meant to tackle racism and improve representation at all levels, the April 1, 2020 Treasury Board Directive on Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion requires Deputies to designate a senior official responsible for developing a comprehensive action plan, in collaboration with equity-deserving groups that will explain how barriers to inclusion will be identified, removed and prevented, and that:

  • Establishes a baseline of where the Department is at today;
  • Sets out objectives, to increase representation through recruitment and promotion within the organization and to respond to Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) results related to the perception of harassment and discrimination;
  • Explains how equity-deserving groups are engaged in the plan’s development and will continue to be; and
  • Is updated annually, and results reported publicly.

Targets play an important role in driving organizations to achieve measurable change in advancing diversity and inclusion objectives. As a goal for 2021, departments will consider their Workforce Availability statistics as the floor and not the ceiling with regards to diversity targets.

Deputies will be required to present a staffing plan demonstrating the rate of hiring and promotions of individuals at the executive and non-executive levels, who self-identify in at least one of the EE groups, that will aim close the gap within the next 4 years, with demonstrable and steady progress made annually starting in 2021.

In keeping with the Treasury Board Directive and the Performance Management Program’s Corporate Priorities, Deputies must also add focus on efforts and results to build a more inclusive and diverse workforce. Therefore, they are to select three measures from the list below that will enable their leadership teams to advance measureable change in their organizations. As such, they are encouraged to select these measures from one or more themes that go beyond what is currently being done in their organizations, and recognize the different scope of authority at various executive levels within the organization. In reporting on these commitments, Departmental management teams will need to provide clear and measureable results on what the measures have accomplished in achieving progress to address under-representation.

Changing the Public Service Culture
Establish a culture of inclusiveness that values diversity and will combat racism and address systemic barriers
  • Fostering inclusive leadership by:
    • Ensuring all executives complete anti-racism and unconscious bias training by March 2021; and
    • Engaging senior management tables on anti-racism via facilitated group discussions on unconscious bias and systemic racism to start the de-stigmatization of discussions on racism and particularly anti-Black racism.
  • Providing adequate support by:
    • Ensuring that employee mental health and wellbeing supports are culturally sensitive and adequately tailored to address issues of racism, discrimination and hate in the workplace; and
    • Ensuring departmental Ombudsman Offices are trained and equipped to create safe spaces for employees facing racism or experiencing discrimination. Also, providing concrete tools for employees to respond to micro-aggressions in the workplace.
  • Engaging in dialogue that will de-stigmatize discussions on racism and systemic barriers by:
    • Hosting monthly organizational fireside chats where subject matter experts deliver relevant presentations on racism, ableism or other discrimination-related topics;
    • Developing a value statement on anti-racism and ableism and proactively seeking opportunities to talk about the value of diversity and inclusion;
    • Promoting and supporting the planning of organizational initiatives, celebrations and respectful incorporation of diverse histories and cultures into the workplace; and
    • Frequently meeting departmental employee equity committees and/or networks and inviting representatives of these committees and/or networks to attend meetings of the senior executive on a regular basis in order for a diversity of perspectives to be considered.
Reflecting Diversity and Promoting Inclusion
Increase the representation of Black, other racialized and Indigenous People as well as persons with disabilities within all levels of the organization
  • Actively supporting the recruitment and retention of Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous People, and persons with disabilities by:
    • Establishing clear targets to increase the representation of Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous People, and persons with disabilities within all levels of the organization through recruitment, with particular attention to and especially key organizational communities such as human resources and communications;
    • Partnering with equity-deserving communities to attract and retain new talent that reflects Canada’s diversity;
    • Reviewing and ensuring that hiring processes are culturally sensitive and driven to remove barriers to appointment for Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous People, and persons with disabilities;
    • Supporting non-imperative staffing and language training for managerial positions where Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous People, and persons with disabilities are being considered for appointment.
  • Actively supporting the promotion, sponsorship and career development of Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous People, and persons with disabilities by:
    • Establishing clear targets to increase the representation of Black employees and other racialized employees, Indigenous employees, and employees with disabilities within all levels of the organization through promotions, with particular attention to and especially key business lines, including human resources and communications;
    • ADM or DM-level sponsoring of Black employees and other racialized employees, Indigenous employees, and employees with disabilities who are identified by their managers as high-potential for executive roles or to advance to the ADM level;
    • Reviewing and ensuring that talent and performance management processes are culturally sensitive and driven to remove systemic barriers to Black employees and other racialized employees, Indigenous employees, and employees with disabilities;
    • Supporting language training for career development of Black employees and other racialized employees, Indigenous employees, and employees with disabilities;
    • Adopting the Aboriginal Leadership Development Initiative (ALDI) operating at Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada / Indigenous Services Canada to identify and cultivate Indigenous talent;
    • Implementing a mentoring program for Black employees and other racialized employees, Indigenous employees, and employees with disabilities within the organization and requiring that all DMs and ADMs shadow mentees that belong to one of the aforementioned equity-deserving groups.
Updating Policy and Programs: Our Future Workplace
Ensure that internal and external policies and programs are inclusive and free of systemic racism and barriers
  • Reviewing and adapting all external public oriented policies and programs to ensure they meet the government requirements for accessibility, equity and transparency by:
    • Identifying and addressing systemic racism and barriers to accessibility and disability inclusion within those policies;
    • Ensuring transparency and accessibility of departmental Grants and Contributions’ programs with specific initiatives targeted at equity-deserving groups and individuals;
    • Reporting on the year over year incremental departmental measures in place to support the intent of s. 10.1, 10.2 and 11 of the Indigenous Languages Act if applicable.
  • Establishing and overseeing a review of all internal systems, policies, programs and initiatives by:
    • Setting up panels to hear how existing programs and policies are being experienced by equity-deserving groups and what they think needs to be addressed;
    • Reviewing HR, Procurement, Communications policies, programs and initiatives using Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) and considering various identity factors including race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identification and expression as well as and mental or physical disability to identify systemic racism and barriers to accessibility and disability inclusion;
    • Ensuring Black employees, other racialized employees, Indigenous employees and employees with disabilities have membership and their view represented at executive tables, advisory councils, occupational health committees and other horizontal committees to foster diverse perspectives on internal policies, programs and operations.
  • Increasing accessibility internally by:
    • Ensuring new systems, including internally developed or procured hardware and software, meet modern accessibility standards;
    • Requiring that any documentation distributed across the organization (e.g. presentations, videos, briefing notes and papers, publications) be accessible and ensuring staff have the necessary training to achieve this goal;
    • Addressing systemic discrimination and barriers to accessibility and disability inclusion within all internal operational policies, programs and initiatives;
    • Developing and communicating proactive, streamlined workplace accommodation processes and practices in the organization, including for those working from home, as well as putting in place the necessary supports for employees and their managers.

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Lang: Missing – public servants who could warn Trudeau about WE conflict

Good commentary by Lang who worked under Herb Gray when he was deputy PM (I worked in PCO at the time and interacted with him time-to-time):

“Mandarin” is another word sometimes associated with such powerful bureaucrats, who were occasionally resented – but often valued – by politicians for their knowledge, wisdom and willingness to stand up to ministers to ensure the basic integrity of the ministry.

As the government has lurched from the SNC-Lavalin scandal of a year or so ago to the WE charity controversy of today – both of which centre on questions of prime ministerial and ministerial ethics and judgment – one question that isn’t asked enough is “Where are the mandarins in all this?”

When Justin Trudeau’s government came to office nearly five years ago, its chief hallmark was inexperience. The few ministers from previous Liberal administrations in its ranks at the beginning had little power. From its inception, power in the Trudeau government has been highly concentrated in the Prime Minister’s Office and among a few trusted ministers — notably Chrystia Freeland and Bill Morneau — none of whom had any prior government experience.

The feeling among some Ottawa watchers in the early days was that this inexperience would be managed and shaped by the mandarins. They would help ensure the government remained stable, competent and exhibited good judgment most of the time. This expectation was re-enforced by the prime minister himself, who stated early on that his government would rely much more heavily on the advice and counsel of the professional public service than his predecessor, Stephen Harper, had.

It doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. Or, perhaps there are no “old school” deputy ministers left in the government of Canada.

Take the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The issue boiled down to a big company allegedly threatening to cut jobs and investment in Canada if it was not given a specific legal concession from the government that would enable the firm to continue to bid on federal contracts.

Any decent mandarin should have known at the outset that corporations routinely tell the federal government job losses will result if they do not get X, Y or Z. This kind of thing used to be greeted with skepticism by the public service, justifiably so. But if the SNC threat was judged a serious risk, there was also a time when a few senior deputy ministers would have sprung into action and developed options for the government to manage its way of out of the issue, such that it might never even have come to public attention, much less have led to two ministerial resignations and threatened the viability of the government.

Today, we have the controversy surrounding WE, a charity that the prime minister and his wife have had a longstanding and very public association with, and to which the government intended to direct a contract worth some $19 million. The Clerk of the Privy Council, the prime minister’s deputy minister, must have known about Trudeau’s general relationship with WE.  He must have seen a conflict of interest here, or at least an appearance of conflict. An “old school” Clerk would have insisted on the prime minister recusing himself from any cabinet decision-making on this issue to protect the prime minister and the government. Instead, if we are to take Trudeau at his word, the public service more or less boxed him and his ministers in to an inevitable appearance of conflict of interest by recommending that only WE could do the job and offering no alternatives, something very rare in government.

None of this is to say that public servants are responsible for either the SNC-Lavalin scandal or the WE mess. Responsibility for both rests on the shoulders of the prime minister and his cabinet.  There is no legal, or even ethical, obligation on deputy ministers to stop ministers from exercising terrible judgment. Yet there was a time, not that long ago, when the expectation was that some wise, “old school” deputies had the government’s back.

Source: Lang: Missing – public servants who could warn Trudeau about WE conflict

Andrew MacDougall’s take is also worthy of note:

The thing you have to understand about the federal public service is that it isn’t geared toward excitement; it’s a “safety first” kind of place.

Pick a policy, any policy. If there’s a Flashy Option A and a Boring Option B, the public service opts for boring every day of the week and twice on Sunday. And that goes treble if Flashy Option A is, to pick a random example out of thin air, a sole-source contract worth nearly $1 billion to an organization with no track record of delivery of federal programming.

Put differently, the only way the public service recommended WE for the CSSG is if the political wing of the government gave it such narrow specifications that it could return only one answer. You can bet there exists, somewhere, an exquisitely crafted memo from the public service to cabinet saying, in effect: “If you really want to go forward with this completely brain-dead approach to federal programming, then you go right ahead, ministry.” The job of the opposition and the press is to now surface that memo.

Because thankfully for Trudeau, the federal bureaucracy is also rather polite, which explains why the prime minister is being allowed to hide behind his version of events. The public service is used to being human shields for politicians and will keep quiet.

Which isn’t to say the prime minister’s story is surviving contact with reality. Every day brings another WE tale of woe.

In this (still-surfacing) version of events, a charity with a long association with the prime minister, his family and his advisers, one that pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trudeau’s family members and puts together slick, campaign-style videos promoting the prime minister while simultaneously receiving millions of dollars of government grants and contributions and other sole-source contracts, is being laid low by the pernicious effects of the coronavirus. There is massive churn on the board of directors and large numbers of staff are being laid off as Canada enters lockdown. All looks lost. Until, that is, the Trudeau government comes to the rescue with an offer to administer a pandemic-related program.

According to the charity, the Prime Minister’s Office rang up the day after the program was announced in April to say it needed help from WE to deliver the program. All with the blessing of the federal public service of course, which already, by the way, runs the Canada Summer Jobs program targeted at much the same audience as the new Canada Student Service Grant. What are the odds?

Not that WE had ever delivered a similar program, mind you. Not that WE even have the staff to deliver the program (the charity had to hire back hundreds of laid-off staff in anticipation of getting the work before the program was formally announced in June). Not that WE even have any particularly good ideas to pull students into the program, other than throwing money at other groups to do it for them. And we’re meant to believe this group was the “only” one capable of delivering the program?

A sure sign Trudeau’s version of the story isn’t true is the fact he won’t release any evidence to support it. The government won’t even say which other groups were considered to deliver the grant.

In other words, this contract was friends, not safety, first.

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/macdougall-trudeau-ducks-for-cover-behind-the-non-partisan-public-service/wcm/0748db2c-65e8-4ddd-999d-b5bb87c16067/

Senior officials in Ottawa advised to focus on the majority to counter populism, documents show

So the centre is moving back to social cohesion and away from social inclusion?

Social cohesion was the term preferred by the Conservative government and was reflected in their greater emphasis on integration in a variety of policy areas, including multiculturalism and citizenship.

IMO, the two are intimately related, cohesion without inclusion is at best a mirage:

Newly released documents show senior government officials were advised to “bring the focus back to the majority” — instead of on diversity values — in public communications to counter the threat of populism in Canada.

The task force deputy ministers heard this idea during meetings last year looking at what the government could do to guard against a possible rise in extremism and populism domestically.

The group was told to encourage more public conversations and debate focused on “us” rather than “us-versus-them” narratives to foster “social cohesion.”

A briefing note prepared for the senior civil servants warned that if only “marginalized populations are considered,” the result would be that “others feel as if they do not matter.”

“Social cohesion must become a new lens of policymaking. In order to achieve this, the government needs to build connections across difference, foster greater empathy and bring the focus back to the majority (i.e. the middle groups),” officials wrote in the documents.

The suggestions originated from an international expert invited to speak to the deputy minister task force on diversity and inclusiveness in October 2018.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the presentation and other documents to the task force under the Access to Information Act.

Polarization in Canada

Tim Dixon, co-founder of the U.K.-based think-tank More in Common, told the task force that Canada is facing the same disruptive forces playing out in other countries that can fuel polarization and division — although Canada may be more resilient to these forces due to past successes in building an inclusive national identity.

He said polarization of opinion can cause some to become resentful of minority groups perceived to be getting special benefits, such as housing or social assistance, at others’ expense. These sentiments are most common among a majority of people who fit into a “middle group” category, marked by moderate views between the extremes of “cosmopolitans with open values” and “nationalists with closed values.”

That’s why Canada was advised to “build social solidarity” by avoiding pitting the interests of one group against another in public communications. Rather, Canada should “elevate the ‘more in common’ message and demonstrate the falsehood of narratives of division,” according to Dixon’s presentation.

The documents show that after the meeting, officials discussed ways the government could incorporate the advice into federal policy. One idea put forward was possibly using Canada’s school system, with its “massive integration power,” to educate and connect people in order to build more empathy and social cohesion, according to a summary of the discussion among deputies.

Focus on ‘shared values’

When it comes to future communications, deputy ministers stressed the need to “focus on shared values rather than diversity values when framing the social cohesion narrative,” the meeting summary says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to have taken this advice to heart in his political messaging leading up to the federal election this October.

During a Liberal fundraising event last month, asked about countering populist sentiment in the campaign, Trudeau stressed the need to seek common ground and compromise among Canadians.

“We’ve always learned to listen to each other, find common ground figure out a way to move forward that brings people along,” Trudeau said at the July 18 event in Victoria.

“The idea is that we are a country of diversity, a country of a broad range of views and the responsibility we have is to try to bring those views together in a forward path. We can find things that Canadians understand are that right balance — and that, for me, is the counter to populism.”

Gesturing toward a group of pipeline protesters outside the event, Trudeau quipped that none of them was carrying signs promoting messages of compromise — a point he used to highlight that many of the loudest voices are on the peripheries and do not reflect the opinions of a majority of Canadians.

Social media are amplifying some of those voices, Trudeau added — another point echoed from the discussions and research studied by the task force.

Dixon’s presentation warned government officials they need to be mindful of how social media may distort data.

“The majority of people are not involved in the debate and do not like division, but it is those on social media who are most vocal and it could give disproportionate weight to certain issues.”

Source: Senior officials in Ottawa advised to focus on the majority to counter populism, documents show

Public service full to bursting with deputy ministers

Alan Freeman on the growth in the number of deputies, picking up on some themes of Donald Savoie:

Here’s a quiz. How many deputy ministers are there in the federal government’s Treasury Board Secretariat?

If you answer “one,” you’ll get a point for logic. After all, as you learned in your first-year university Canadian politics course, a deputy minister is the top public servant in a government department — the boss — whether it’s Transport or Global Affairs or Treasury Board.

But this being Ottawa in 2019, “one” is the wrong answer. How about six? That’s right. The Treasury Board actually has six top officials in the deputy minister (DM) category. Five are full deputies and a sixth is an associate deputy. They’re all appointed by the prime minister to their jobs, and get better salaries and more generous pension benefits than other executives, all for being part of the (once) exclusive club of Ottawa mandarins.

Treasury Board is just one example. Deputies are popping up throughout the federal government like potholes in March. Global Affairs has four, at last count, National Defence three. But it’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development (the old Industry department) that wins the Oscar for best performance in deputy overkill. It’s got four deputies, plus five other DMs, if you include the heads of the five regional development agencies the department supervises. That’s a total of nine.

Of course, the same department has four ministers, including full ministers for science, tourism and small business. A mini-government of its own.

It’s an extraordinary phenomenon that’s the result of political expediency and bureaucratic empire-building. As of today, there are 83 deputies in the federal government: 38 deputy ministers and 45 associate deputy ministers, an increase of 11 positions in the past decade. Since the Trudeau government was elected, nine have been added.

The number of executives in the government has been growing like topsy for years, at twice the growth rate of the public service as a whole. The deputy explosion is just another symptom of a system that’s out of control.

This growth has not just added people, it’s added new layers to the top bureaucracy. Where once there were a group of assistant deputy ministers with specific responsibilities reporting to a deputy at the top of the departmental bureaucratic hierarchy, there are now senior assistant deputy ministers, associate deputy ministers, and even senior associate deputy ministers, all adding to the general confusion.

“It’s huge. It’s cumbersome. They’ve created a whale that can’t swim,” says Donald Savoie, the New Brunswick academic who has studied the federal bureaucracy for decades.

“All of these people have to be relevant, so they create work for themselves. They slow everything down.”

How did we get here? As Savoie notes, the position of associate DM developed a few decades ago. Part of it was classification creep. Then was the desire to reward public servants who may have been very competent, but didn’t have the “gravitas” to make it to the deputy level.

Another reason, according to Savoie, was that promotion to associate DM was seen as a way of getting around wage freezes imposed on senior bureaucrats. If you can’t give a trusted official an annual increase, promote him to a higher-paying job. First it was only the big departments that got an associate DM. Then they spread everywhere. Even a small department like Veterans Affairs now has an associate deputy minister, both appointed by the PM, both with DM salaries.

Politics have also intervened, particularly since the Liberals returned to power. Remember that first Trudeau cabinet, the gender-equal one with 15 men and 15 women? When people found out that five of the women were actually “junior” ministers of state, all hell broke loose and Trudeau was forced to make them all full ministers, with higher salaries. But that also meant they needed a deputy or an associate to help them out with their “portfolio.”

So we have a weird kind of deputy minister, who reports to a minister but doesn’t really have a conventional department to take care of. There’s Guylaine Roy, who became a deputy last summer when Mélanie Joly was demoted from Canadian Heritage and was given the smorgasbord job of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. The actual public servants (it must be a tiny number) seem to have stayed in their home departments, so it’s hard to know what exactly a deputy is in charge of in those circumstances.

Likewise, a new deputy was appointed for Status of Women when that became a full cabinet position and department again.

And there’s now a deputy minister for public-service accessibility, who was appointed in July when Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough was given the additional responsibility of improving access for people with disabilities in the federal sector. At the same time, the chief information officer, Alex Benay, was promoted to a DM-level job. Both are part of the Treasury Board gang of six.

Improving accessibility may be a laudable goal, but why is there a need for a full deputy minister? Using the same logic, you could argue that there should be a deputy minister to encourage women in the public sector, or visible minorities or Indigenous people. There’d be no end to it.

And of course, there’s now an associate deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement whose sole responsibility is the Phoenix pay system. That seems a guarantee that the job will be around long after the system is fixed or replaced.

Is there any end in sight? Not really. This week, there was another cabinet shuffle and another newly minted minister, this time for Rural Development. Bernadette Jordan got the job, largely because Trudeau needed an MP from Nova Scotia in the cabinet and there seemed no other place to put her.

By Friday, a new breeze of austerity had clearly blown in from the Privy Council Office, which now says Jordan will be supported by the existing deputy minister at Infrastructure for some of her files, and by the Innovation deputy for the rest. A bit of a respite from the DM tsunami, but you can be sure it won’t be long until another new deputy minister is created.

Source: Public service full to bursting with deputy ministers

Elizabeth May: Top Level Of Public Service ‘Contaminated’ From Harper Years

Whoa there. While she is right to flag that the transition may be hard for some senior public servants, all understand their public service role is to serve the government of the day. Those that are uncomfortable doing so will likely retire or be moved to a less important position.

And inertia, common to all bureaucracies, is different from resistance:

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is calling for all the top senior public servants to be removed from their current jobs because, she says, they are tainted from the Harper years and resisting change.

“It’s awkward as a person in politics, you don’t want to single out public servants,” May said. “But it can’t escape note that the deputy minister for trade negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the deputy minister at Environment Canada was Harper’s lead negotiator at Copenhagen blocking climate action…

“The deputy ministers advising [Public Safety Minister] Ralph Goodale were okay with C-51, so was the deputy minister at the department of justice,” May added.

It’s not about the public service being partisan, May told reporters Wednesday during a press conference highlighting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s six months in office.

“But it’s clear that the top level of the public service is contaminated by their role in the last 10 years.”

“In my opinion, right now, there is a level of resistance against change,” May said, pointing to examples of a press release and advice from bureaucrats at the department of international trade and the Canada Revenue Agency. “There is, to put it mildly, inertia in the system.”

The Green Party leader said she isn’t accusing public servants of being Harper cheerleaders or secret Conservatives but rather she is suggesting there is a problem afoot because the deputy ministers still in place are at ease with the decisions they made during the last government.

“I’m not accusing the civil service of wishing they had Stephen Harper back. They are non-partisan. But after 10 years, it takes a while to make the shift,” she said.

“It’s not really possible to imagine that there is no loyalty to the action that you’ve personally undertaken as a senior civil servant,” May added. “There is pride in accomplishments. Logically, they were doing the right thing ‘cause their job as civil servants is to follow what they are instructed to do by the political side of government.”

Source: Elizabeth May: Top Level Of Public Service ‘Contaminated’ From Harper Years