President of the Public Service Commission—Marie-Chantal Girard Received in Committee of the Whole

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Ceremonial Guard, Ottawa

Senator Cardozo: Ms. Girard, building on Senator Bernard’s theme, I have a question about adopting a broader vision to prepare the public service for the future.

Perhaps this is a good closing question regarding creating a public service for the future. We talked about diversity. You talked about culture change. I will remind you that the Employment Equity Act is almost 40 years old; that culture is not yet changing very quickly. We need a public service that is more bilingual and technologically able to better use IT to serve Canadians, and all of this in a scarce new world where it’s hard to find people in the public and private sectors — and you have a shrinking budget. How do you get all of this in, work some magic out of this and make it a better public service to serve Canadians?

Marie-Chantal Girard, nominee for the position of President of the Public Service Commission of Canada: Thank you for your question, honourable senator.

It is a big mandate, but it is one that we will tackle and succeed at by working together. It’s a collective effort. It requires the work of colleagues who are deputies in the system, but also the School of Public Service and the Privy Council Office, or PCO. We have the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat as the employer. By each doing our part in this, we will make a difference.

There are several challenges but, at the same time, opportunities to attract talent. Yes, there is a competitive labour market, but it is one that is better trained, brings new skills and is more diversified than ever. It is our job to reach out and be more attractive in our value proposition and adapt ourselves to the realities of today.

At the same time, when we hire, we have — I would say this is not new, but we can see that it’s more real than ever — an obligation to remind those who join the public service of the merit-based, non-partisan aspect of working here, and make sure we communicate those values in a clear fashion and give meaning to the work that we do; that is different from what other employers out there offer.

The public service needs to deliver services at a speed and of a complexity that is unheard of. We have seen in recent years how service delivery has become more complex. We need to work — again, all together — to find the right technology and bring in people who have the digital skills and operational knowledge of the needs of Canadians in order to achieve that mission.

By making the tools simpler and ensuring we share more data within the group of organizations that are responsible for each of those levers — being more efficient at doing it and mindful of the taxpayers’ dollars — that’s how we will remain credible, attractive and deliver the services we need to deliver to Canadians.

Senator Cardozo: Thank you. I will say, when we see many public servants who come before us as witnesses, I am struck by the lack of diversity. There are an increasing number of women but few visible minorities and I don’t recall having seen an Indigenous person outside an Indigenous Affairs portfolio. I encourage you to make sure that diversity rises through the service.

Also, I find there are not many people who speak both official languages. Not enough people speak French in the senior public service. I encourage you to meet all those challenges that are on your plate and wish you the best of luck in this position.

Ms. Girard: Thank you.

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