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Public Service Employment Act


The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) came into force on December 31, 2005. It is an important component of the Public Service Modernization Act (PSMA) and is part of the Government’s broader agenda to modernize the management of human resources and contribute to Public Service renewal.


The revised Act proves the flexibility required to attract and promote employees with the skills and talents needed to serve Canadians. The Act makes managers responsible and accountable for their staffing.

The Public Service Commission delegated staffing authorities to deputy heads of departments and agencies when the Act came into force. Deputy heads in turn delegate staffing as appropriate to the lowest management level possible within their department or agency.

What PSEA means

Public Service employees benefit from a staffing system that promotes flexibility, access, fairness and transparency. They also have more opportunities for feedback and dialogue during internal staffing processes.

At the same time, the core values and principles of merit, non-partisanship, fairness, access and transparency remain. Important statutes such as the Employment Equity Act, Official Languages Act, and the Canadian Human Rights Act still apply. Under PSEA, the Public Service Commission continues to oversee the integrity of the staffing system.

PSEA highlights

  • An integrated planning approach encourages departments and agencies to pay as much attention to planning their staffing needs as they do to their business cases and budgets while it helps managers choose the most appropriate appointment processes for upcoming vacancies.
  • An expanded set of options to fill positions gives managers more leeway to tailor staffing policies to operational needs. Now, managers can make greater use of collective staffing processes, pre-qualified pools, professional development programs, and apprenticeships.
  • A broader definition of merit allows a manager to hire a candidate who not only meets the essential qualifications of the job but also the operational requirements or current or future needs that the organization or employer has identified beforehand.
  • An informal discussion process lets unsuccessful candidates in internal appointment processes find out why they were eliminated from consideration for an appointment. Informal discussion is neither recourse nor mediation, but rather a conversation between the employee and hiring manager.
  • Complaints to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal can be made by unsuccessful candidates who believe that there was an abuse of authority in applying the new merit criteria, an abuse of authority in deciding between an advertised and a non-advertised process, or where there was a failure to assess the candidate in the official language of his or her choice.

For more information, see How do I prepare for an appointment process? or contact the human resources office in your department or agency.

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