25 September 2023

CANADA: PSC rejects favouritism claims

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The President of Canada’s Public Service Commission (PSC), Patrick Borbey (pictured) has rejected union claims that favouritism is alive and well in the bureaucracy with people landing jobs because of who they know.

He said the PSC’s regular audits of staffing simply did not bear out union claims.

Mr Borbey said he was puzzled and concerned by the claims and intended to dig into what could be feeding such perceptions.

The PSC is the Government’s recruitment arm and merit watchdog, which is supposed to ensure a neutral and non-partisan Public Service.

“I think the problem is with communication and perceptions,” Mr Borbey said.

He said audits had not shown issues with merit.

“They show managers are doing a good job, but maybe they aren’t communicating their decisions, which is contributing to perceptions,” Mr Borbey said.

Union leaders recently told Parliament’s Government and Operations Committee that favouritism was a consequence of a “broken staffing system” that took 197 days to fill a job.

The Committee was holding hearings into why it takes so long to hire.

The Committee was told that the merit principle governing staffing had become watered down; hiring had become arbitrary and unfair; and a growing number of employees felt “who you know” was a ticket to a job promotion.

Ironically, unions backed up their claims with the PSC’s most recent survey on staffing and non-partisanship, which found that just over half of employees thought appointments depended on whom you know.

The survey also found that less than half — about 46 per cent — felt the staffing in their work unit was fair.

About 44 per cent said it was transparent.

However, managers who did the hiring overwhelmingly felt staffing was fair and open and that hiring was based on merit.

Ottawa, 17 October 2018

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