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Federal Accountability Action Plan, April 2006

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Making qualified government appointments

Delivering on our commitment

  • A consistent appointment process for Agents and Officers of Parliament with a meaningful role for Parliament
  • A new Public Appointments Commission to oversee appointments to agencies, boards, and commissions
  • An end to priority treatment for ministerial aides when they apply for public-service positions

"These reforms will assure Canadians that the appointments of Agents and Officers of Parliament are approved by both Houses."

Why we are doing this

At present, legislative provisions that govern the appointment of Agents and Officers of Parliament are uneven and do not fully respect Parliament in the process. The appointment process for agencies, commissions, and boards is not as transparent or as merit-based as it could be. Furthermore, favoured treatment to ministerial staffers in filling public-service positions undermines both the non-partisan nature of the public service and its adherence to the merit principle.

The Federal Accountability Act will introduce the following changes:

  • The Act will institute a uniform approach to appointing Officers and Agents of Parliament See footnote 1, and will ensure a meaningful role for Parliament in the process. This approach will be based on the highest standard, which involves Governor in Council appointment after consultation with the leaders of recognized parties and after approval of the appointment by resolution of both Houses. See footnote 2
  • It will remove the priority appointment entitlements for all ministers’ staff. Ministers’ staff with three years of consecutive service will be able to apply to internal competitions for public-service positions for up to one year. Appointments will be subject to the oversight of the Public Service Commission to ensure an open and transparent process in accordance with the merit principle.  The Act will also ensure that the most senior ranks of the public service are appointed in a consistent manner.
  • It will allow the Chief Electoral Officer to appoint returning officers, with provisions that ensure the application of the merit principle.
  • It will create a Public Appointments Commission in the Prime Minister’s portfolio, composed of a Chairperson and four Commissioners with support from a small Secretariat.

In addition, we will give the Public Appointments Commission the responsibility to:

  • oversee, monitor, and report on the selection process for Governor in Council appointments for agencies, boards, commissions, and Crown corporations;
  • set a code of practice to govern the selection process for Governor in Council appointments;
  • approve the selection process that ministers propose to fill vacancies within their portfolio agencies;
  • monitor selection processes to ensure that they are followed as approved, including audit and reviews of complaints; and
  • apprise the Prime Minister of compliance with the code of practice in an annual report to be tabled in Parliament.

What this means for Canadians

These reforms will assure Canadians that the appointments of Agents and Officers of Parliament are approved by both Houses; that government appointments reward merit while respecting the values of fairness and openness; and that the potential for politicizing the public service is reduced.

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