Archived [2020-04-01] - Policy Framework for People Management

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Effective date

This Framework is effective as of July 19, 2010, and applies to the core public administration [1].


The federal public service undertakes complex and diverse work developing policy and delivering programs and services to Canadians. Effective people management is a cornerstone of a high performing public service and a key enabler in building Canadians' trust in and satisfaction with government.

Over the years, people management has evolved to keep pace with changes in the business context. New challenges of fast paced change, globalization, increasingly more complex, diverse situations and fiscal considerations now have to be addressed to ensure continuing excellence in public service.

People management goes beyond the transactional activities associated with human resources to building a culture of excellence on foundations such as leadership, values and ethics and employee engagement and development. It is an integral part of achieving operational objectives and requires sustained leadership and investment of time and resources. It also requires the engagement of managers, employees, human resources practitioners, central organizations, and bargaining agents.

This Framework outlines an approach to people management that builds on past changes and further enables organizations to manage people in a way that best accomplishes their business objectives. The approach is based on legislated authorities, common principles, sound risk management practices and enhanced collaboration between parties. The application of this approach is expected to achieve a public service that:

  1. Attracts, recruits and retains talented individuals, and maximizes the potential of its workforce to meet both current and future organizational needs;
  2. Provides a workplace where employees have meaningful work in a fair, safe, supportive and ethical environment;
  3. Fosters leadership that sets clear direction, engages employees and demonstrates and promotes the public service values and ethics; and
  4. Invests in an infrastructure of people and systems that enables high quality people management services.


The Framework sets out the principles that will guide the approach to people management governance and the development of people management policy. It also sets out the principles that will effectively foster excellence in people management. Finally, the Framework clarifies the roles and responsibilities of Treasury Board Secretariat, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), deputy heads and several other parties in shaping people management.


The following principles are fundamental to people management and apply to and guide decisions related to:

  1. People management governance (both within departments and across the core public administration):
    • Recognition that there exists an inter-dependency between the role of OCHRO and the deputy heads; and
    • Deputy heads have a responsibility in supporting the corporate people management agenda for the public service.
  2. People management policy development:
    • Focuses on priorities, areas of high risk or issues where a common approach is warranted;
    • Respects the primary role and authority of deputy heads in exercising their responsibilities for managing their employees; and
    • Provides departments and agencies with people management flexibilities to respond to their business needs.
  3. People management practice:
    • Leadership, empowerment and employee engagement are fostered at all levels of the organization;
    • Linguistic duality and diversity of backgrounds and skills are reflected across the public service;
    • A respectful workplace is fostered through inclusiveness and meaningful dialogue with all parties;
    • Trust and a spirit of horizontal collaboration is cultivated;
    • Innovation and creativity are nurtured and recognized; and
    • An effective people management information infrastructure supports business success and accountabilities.

Roles and Responsibilities

Deputy heads have primary responsibility for the effective management of the people in their organizations. In accordance with the principles above, they are responsible for planning and implementing people management practices that deliver on their operational objectives and for assessing their organization's people management performance. They are also responsible for working individually and collectively to foster a culture of people management excellence in the public service.

Other key departmental players are the Heads of Human Resources, who have an essential role in supporting deputy heads in fulfilling their responsibilities, as well as departmental managers, who are responsible for ensuring effective people management in all activities falling under their area of responsibility.

The Treasury Board may act on all matters relating to people management unless otherwise provided for under legislation. For example, those areas specifically conferred on the Public Service Commission under the Public Service Employment Act.

The Treasury Board Secretariat, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) supports the Treasury Board on matters regarding people management and enables deputy heads in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities for people management by:

  • Developing broad policy direction;
  • Assessing and preparing reports on the state of people management in the public service;
  • Working with deputy heads and to develop people management capacity and to advance corporate people management priorities; and
  • Establishing common business processes and shared systems.

Furthermore, it is responsible for the management of compensation, including compensation planning [2] and reporting, classification standards, pensions and benefits, collective bargaining and effective labour management-relations. Where warranted, it also leads corporate people management projects and initiatives.

Other central organizations have key roles in government-wide people management:

  • The Privy Council Office supports the Clerk in his role as Head of the Public Service including identifying and driving specific public service-wide people management priorities.
  • The Canada School of Public Service has a legislated mandate to provide learning, training and development in the public service and to assist deputy heads in meeting the learning needs of their organizations.
  • The Public Service Commission is responsible for independently safeguarding the integrity of the staffing system and the non-partisanship of the public service.

The Human Resources Council, comprised of Heads of Human Resources, is an integral part in shaping a shared people management agenda and is engaged through established governance structures.

The Bargaining Agents represent unionized employees in the workplace. They are engaged by the Treasury Board Secretariat, departments and other organizations in meaningful consultations in areas such as the people management agenda and policy development that could affect their membership.

Other parties

A number of other parties such as tribunals, commissions and boards have important roles and responsibilities related to people management, as defined in legislation. Certain departments have people management responsibilities, such as Department of Public Works and Government Services for administrative pay matters and the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development for Worker's Compensation, Health and Safety issues. For additional information regarding these parties and others please see Section 9, "References".

Monitoring and Reporting

Specific monitoring and reporting requirements are described in the individual policy instruments associated with this Framework.

The Treasury Board Secretariat-OCHRO will use information gathered through its monitoring and assessment activities to assess and to report, as necessary, on the people management performance of individual organizations. It will also prepare an annual report to Parliament on the overall state of people management in the public service.

The Foundation Framework for Treasury Board Policies includes additional information on reporting and oversight of Treasury Board policies.


The Treasury Board Framework for the Management of Compliance explains the role and application of consequences with respect to Treasury Board policies. Specific consequences for non-compliance are outlined in individual policy instruments associated with this Framework.


The Treasury Board of Canada Portfolio is responsible for the policy instruments to which this Framework applies.

Please direct any enquiries related to this framework to:

TBS Public Enquiries
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Telephone: 613-957-2400
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5 Facsimile: 613-952-1010


© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2017,
ISBN: 978-0-660-09896-8