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Making qualified government appointments

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On April 11, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, delivering on its commitment to make government more accountable. The Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006. This is one of a series of fact sheets describing proposed actions to respond to this commitment.

The context

Legislative provisions that govern the appointment of Agents and Officers of Parliament were inconsistent and did not fully respect Parliament in the process. In addition, the appointment process for agencies, commissions, and boards was not as transparent or merit-based as it could have been. Furthermore, favoured treatment to ministerial staffers in filling public-service positions undermined both the non-partisan nature of the public service and its adherence to the merit principle.

What this means for Canadians

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

The Action Plan

Effective December 12, 2006, the Federal Accountability Act:

  • institutes a uniform approach to appointing Officers and Agents of Parliament, and ensure a meaningful role for Parliament in the process;
  • provides for the establishment of a Public Appointments Commission in the Prime Minister’s portfolio to oversee, monitor, and report on the selection process for appointments to government boards, commissions, agencies, and Crown corporations; and
  • removes the entitlements of all ministers’ staff to priority appointments and instead allows them to apply for internal competitions for public-service positions for up to one year.  

Furthermore, effective February 10, 2007, the Federal Accountability Act:

  • allows the Chief Electoral Officer to appoint returning officers following an external appointment process, with provisions that ensure the merit principle is applied.

For more information

For more information on this specific measure, please refer to the relevant section of the Action Plan, or contact us.

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