Public Service of Canada

The Public Service of Canada (known as the Civil Service of Canada prior to 1967) is the staff (civil service) of the Canadian state (in its federal aspect). See also Government of Canada. The Clerk of the Privy Council, as Canada's senior serving civil servant, is head of the Public Service of Canada.

The Public Service is divided into various subsidiary administrative units such as departments, agencies, commissions, Crown corporations, and other federal organizations. Over 40% of the Public Service of Canada is located in the National Capital Region, although there are employees working at approximately 1,600 locations across Canada. The Public Service of Canada is the country's single largest employer.

The purpose of the Public Service of Canada, as the non-political staff in the "executive branch" of the Canadian state (in its federal aspect), is the day-to-day administration of the state including particularly the effective implementation of state decisions in accordance with the state's hierarchy of decisions/norms (in descending order: its constitution, its statutes, its regulations, and finally administrative and policy directions from officers of the state and managers of the public service). The civil service owes its loyal service to the state itself (sometimes referred to as the "Crown") and not to the government of the day or any political party. It serves the state, under the direction of its own management and of the state's executive officers (i.e. its ministers, as a group (government) or individually (as heads of departments or other organizational units).

In addition to the fundamental role of carrying out/implementing lawful decisions taken by the state's legislature and the state's executive group or government, the public service also supports the government in a planning role, and may develop proposals and recommendations to Cabinet and assist the government in preparing its proposals (Bills) to Parliament. It will also provide continued feedback and advice to government in all aspects of state affairs.

In 2007, there were approximately 200 federal organizations, including: departments (e.g., Health Canada); agencies (e.g., Parks Canada); commissions (e.g., Canadian Grain Commission); boards (e.g., Veterans Review and Appeal Board); councils (e.g., Canadian Judicial Council); and crown corporations (e.g., Royal Canadian Mint).

In a typical department, it is the minister who holds the respective portfolio who has overall responsibility for the management and direction of the department (i.e. the Minister of National Defence holds the Defence Portfolio, which includes many different organisations, one of which being the Department of National Defence). The deputy minister is the head of the department and is its senior serving civil servant, and therefore has responsibility for all of the department's day-to-day operations. However, it is always the respective minister who is held accountable to parliament for its operations.

A variety of associate and assistant deputy ministers head the various sections of responsibility within a department (i.e. policy, finance and corporate services, environment and infrastructure, etc.). Within the jurisdiction of each Assistant Deputy Minister, is usually one to two Associate Deputy Ministers and beneath them two to five Directors-General who oversee more functional areas of each broad element of the department. Under Directors-General are Directors, who oversee various directorates, which are the core of any department. These directorates constitute the ground level in each department, and are the members of the civil service who implement state decisions, carry out research, and help to formulate proposals.

Hiring (or selection) of civil service employees is typically done through a selection process that is either open to employees of the Public Service only (internal) or open to the general public (external). External processes are typically done to recruit a greater number of applicants. Conversely, internal processes may be held for positions where there is considered to be an adequate internal candidates and/or to provide opportunities for advancement within the civil service.

The area of selection varies greatly depending on whether it is conducted as an internal or external process. The latter are open to Canadian citizens nationally, and sometimes internationally.

Since the 2005 coming into force of the 2003 Public Service Modernization Act, selection processes focus less on a rules-based concept of best-qualified, and more on a values-based approach that enables managers to hire qualified and competent individuals whose experience, skills and knowledge are the right fit given the position's current and future needs.[1]

Federal civil service employees in Canada are employed by the state, but because of Canada's history and formal structure as a monarchy, they are often described as being employed by the Crown, who personifies the state and "enjoys a general capacity to contract in accordance with the rule of ordinary law".[2] Since the Public Service Modernization Act came into force in 2003, individuals had to take an Oath of Allegiance before they could assume their post. However, as of December 31, 2005, this is no longer a requirement, with civil servants taking an Oath of Office instead.

Hiring in the core public administration is governed by the Public Service Employment Act, while other organizations hire independently.[3]

As of September, 2006, there were approximately 260,000 employees within the civil service,[9] divided as follows:

Additionally, although not part of the Public Service of Canada, the following 194,000 members were employed by the federal government:

There are approximately 80 distinct job classifications in the core civil service; most work in policy, operations or administrative functions. About 15% are scientists and professionals, 10% work in technical operations and 2.5% are executives.[10]

About 42% of Canadian civil servants work in the National Capital Region (NCR) (Ottawa-Hull), 24% work elsewhere in Ontario or Quebec, 21% in Western Canada, and 11% in Atlantic Canada. Since the headquarters of most agencies are located in the NCR, about 72% of executives work in this area.[10]

Canadian civil servants are also located in more than 180 countries (in the form of foreign service officers) and provide service in 1,600 locations in Canada.

Approximately 80% of federal civil service employees are represented by a bargaining agent (union). The greatest number of civil servants are members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. They negotiate a collective bargaining agreement for blue collar workers and most administrative staff.

The Canadian Public Service has made significant efforts to reflect the gender balance, linguistic, and ethnic diversity in Canada, however men are still underrepresented amongst the workforce.[11]

Before responsible government, Canada had no real civil service; government officials were appointed by either the Crown or the colonial administration. These officials usually served for an unspecified period ("during the pleasure of the Crown") for as long as they were deemed fit for the position.[12]