New minister predicts ‘golden age’ for Canada’s public service and condemns public attacks

By on 12/11/2015 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Scott Brison is president of the Treasury Board

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*

See also:

Canada’s new prime minister pledges to review sick leave plans

Canadian public service union celebrates new prime minister


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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.


  1. A Happier Fed. Government worker says:

    Thank god we have a minister and PM that vows to respect the government workers and revisit the issue of sick leave. I have been working for more than 35 years with the federal government. Regarding sick leaves, that should translate into 15×35= 525 days. I have over 400 days left and plan to retire (and work up until that date not take off sick) with an abundance of sick leaves. I live a healthy life and exercise and along with some good genes, have not had to use many sick days. I kept them and did not use as “holidays” as some do (both in private as well as public. Call me a fool, but it is ethically something I cannot do. Look at the evidence and make the decision, do not be driven by newspapers feeding on others who went for lesser $ that corporate Canada and now find it easier to bash government workers because the tortoise is winning the race. They say “damn government workers. Look what they are costing me in taxes, yet when the water or food is bad or there is a well blow out, they say there wasn’t any government oversight. Well give us the tools to do our job. Also I have worked in the oil industry and you think that there is a mismanagement of funds the government as a whole then where are my free parking, hospitality$ , free hockey tickets, car/truck for work that I can use when I decide to leave “early” as I have a “business meeting” at the shopping mall.
    Look at the evidence.

  2. Hopeful Fed Worker says:

    First thought: I hope I don’t lose my job for speaking out!

    I have to admit, that for the first time, I can say that I have hope and that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Only time will tell.

    I have 25 years service and have lived through several public service cuts. The latest ones were the worst as there is no longer a sufficient number of employees left in various areas to properly serve our Canadians. I have seen people working too much overtime, getting sick and having no choice but to take extended sick leave. Upon their return to work, these public servants are no longer the healthy people they were 4-5 years ago! They have given too much and paid the price with their health. All I can say is, take a look at the amount of overtime public servants work – there is no work/life balance!

    I’ve been fortunate enough to work with dedicated colleagues who believe in what we do. These are my tax dollars too! And we all want to make sure that they are spent where needed and properly accounted for.

  3. A Watching and Waiting Fed Worker says:

    What I have learnt over the years is that only those who live with federal government workers see the truth. I am not making $90K a year and neither are 75% of my co-workers. Please do not confuse our wages with what MPs are paid. Nor do I get free anything. No free tickets, no free parking, no free lunches or dinners, no Christmas bonus’ like private companies give their staff, no Christmas party except for what we arrange and pay for, no days off except those I earn, even at Christmas we do not get to leave early. When I retire, I don’t get a clock or a gift from the government, I get a certificate. I have over 300 days of banked sick leave because I come to work. I don’t abuse the sick leave system and neither to do the majority of federal employees. I am the average federal employee. What I do get is the satisfaction of serving Canadians, a pension that I have contributed to and health care benefits that I pay into. Nothing is “free”. It will be interesting to see how this new government will treat their employees. We are watching and waiting to see what comes from this new government. We are all hopeful to be treated respectfully, the way we treat Canadians, who are after all who we work for to build a better Canada!

  4. Hate the finger pointing Federal employee says:

    I read these comments and wonder…Why are employees trying to “out” other who actually use sick leave because they need to? yes there are many, many of us who will retire out this year with an abundance of leave banked so the government will realise a, good for you folks with a lot of leave-no one ever said you abused it, did they?.Just please don’t go after folks who had to use their leave, even if just for a mental health day, or because they are over whelmed by work. We are all hopeful to be treated respectfully, the way we treat Canadians. I myself was hired when Lloyd was the PM…so I know we are in good hands now. The liberals will stand by their word-just give them the same chance we gave the last GOV(even if that means 10 yrs).

  5. Thoughtful Bob says:

    Here’s a thought: How about doing something that rewards those who don’t abuse the system? Maybe paying out a fraction (25%)? of unused sick days at retirement. They could even stretch the payout over a few years, add it to the pension. I bet you’d see the average days used go down.

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