Canada’s Treasury Board president Scott Brison promises action plan on mental health by March 2016
The minister responsible for Canada’s public service has pledged to publish an action plan by March next year setting out how the government will implement the recommendations by a joint mental health task force seeking to establish a “culture of humanity, compassion, and fairness” in government.
The Mental Health Joint Task Force was set up by the previous Conservative government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) in March this year after an employee survey released in February found that 19% of public servants had experienced harassment in the workplace.
The task force last week released its first report, which makes 11 recommendations to achieve a “shift from a primarily output-focused environment to one that is more people-focused” and “humanise” government as a workplace.
Scott Brison, who became president of the Treasury Board last month after the Liberals won this year’s general election, said in a statement released to Global Government Forum that “an action plan will be developed by March 2016 to determine how to best implement the report’s recommendations.”
The report calls on the federal public service to adopt a vision “to create a culture that enshrines psychological health, safety and well-being in all aspects of the workplace through collaboration, inclusivity and respect.”
To drive forward this vision, the government should appoint one or more “psychological health and safety champion(s) at a senior level through an inclusive selection process”; and develop and implement “a comprehensive engagement strategy,” the report says.
The report also calls for the creation of a “single Centre of Expertise for psychological health and safety in the Federal Public Service to advise, assist, and support departments and agencies in their adoption of the vision.”
The government should educate, train and equip individuals, managers, and Occupational Health and Safety Committees/representatives, enabling them to adopt the Vision by using existing tools as well as developing “additional resources, based on identified gaps.”
It should also “develop and implement a joint employer/employee communication strategy that includes, but is not limited to promoting active engagement and ongoing commitment across the federal public service”; “incorporate psychological health and safety into the Management Accountability Framework with annual psychological health and safety reports provided to the Clerk of the Privy Council” and “amend the competencies included in Performance Management Agreements in a manner consistent with the Vision in order to hold individuals to account.”
Departments should, according to the report, “conduct an assessment of risks and potential threats to workplace psychological health and safety to inform a continual review process, including assessment, identification, remediation, and further review.”
The task force is made up of an equal number of public servants and PSAC union representatives.
PSAC National President Robyn Benson said “the federal public service unions look forward to following through on the recommendations of the task force on an equal footing with the government of Canada.”
“Our members have high expectations and will be watching the process closely,” he added.