New minister predicts ‘golden age’ for Canada’s public service and condemns public attacks
The new minister responsible for Canada’s public service has vowed to “bring back evidence-based decision making to replace decision-based evidence making” and “create a golden age for Canada’s public service” while speaking out against politicians “gratuitously attacking” officials in the media.
Scott Brison, who was sworn in as president of the Treasury Board last week following the Liberal party’s election victory last month, told CBCOttawa radio station this Tuesday that his government “is absolutely committed to restoring a culture of respect for and within our public service.”
He said he believed that “we have the opportunity to create a golden age for Canada’s public service” by working with existing officials and attracting “Canada’s best and brightest” to work for the government.
Asked what he plans to do about sick leave – an area the previous Conservative government started highly controversial reforms on, he said he didn’t want to compromise future collective bargaining discussions with the unions by taking “potshots at public servants with half-baked opinions based on ideology not evidence” or using “issues like this as political footballs and negotiate through the media.”
One of his government’s key priorities, he said, “is to bring back evidence-based decision-making to replace decision-based evidence-making and one of the areas we’ll apply that is in working with our public servants.”
He said he was looking forward to “restoring some sense of decision-making power to the public servants” and that his government wants officials to give “fair advice, make decisions, take intelligent measured risk and work [with it] as partners.”
Brison’s predecessor Tony Clement told CBCOttawa in 2013 that some officials abuse sick leave and are “not pulling their weight.”
Brison, who served as minister of public works and government services from 2004 to 2006, told the radio station that he experienced his 14,000-strong department to be professional and dedicated but added that “there are people who don’t pull their weight everywhere.”
However, he also said: “I just don’t understand why a government working with the public service would gratuitously attack them in public and then expect them to work constructively with them in private.”
Asked how he would balance an efficient and streamlined public service with unions who say there is no deadwood and that all jobs should be kept, he said that “we’re not going to agree with unions on every single issue, but when we disagree we will do so without being disagreeable.”
Brison also thought that prime minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to ensure half of his Cabinet ministers are women will “impact the public service in Canada and “move the needle significantly in terms of social progress within our public service.”
*Scroll down to listen to the full interview*