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I Decision-Making Process
The decision-making process in New Brunswick rests with the Premier and the Executive Council (Cabinet). The 21 member Executive Council (18 full Ministers and three Ministers of State) exercises ministerial responsibilities that are prescribed by the Executive Council Act.
Cabinet is supported by two Cabinet committees - the Policy and Priorities Committee and the Board of Management.
The Policy and Priorities Committee is one of two standing committees which are permanent in nature and report directly to Cabinet. Membership currently consists of the Premier as Chairperson, five Cabinet Ministers, and the Minister of Finance as an ex-officio member. The Secretary is the Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Office (Clerk of the Executive Council). The mandate is to recommend to Cabinet the establishment and direction of all broad-based government policies and priorities. The recorded minutes (records of decisions) are included on the agenda of the next meeting of Cabinet as recommendations, or information. The committee's terms of reference are as follows:
-review proposals for all new and amending legislation;
-set the policy framework/direction for the budget process;
-review broad-based matters of special interest referred by the Executive Council;
-initiate and/or approve proposals for new policy formulation;
-initiate and/or approve proposals to amend existing policy;
-initiate and/or approve priorities for program development and change; and
-initiate and/or approve priorities for program review and evaluation.
Legislative proposals are submitted to a committee of officials (Officials Committee), composed of the Deputy Ministers of Justice, Finance, the Premier's Office, and the Clerk of the Executive Council who acts as Chair. The Officials Committee reviews the proposals, ensures that the actions are justified and consistent with the mandate and policy direction of Government, forwards them to Policy and Priorities for approval to commence drafting. Once approved, Justice officials draft the proposal. The Minister of the sponsoring department submits the draft to caucus for approval. Caucus, before approving the draft, has the authority to make changes to the proposal before it is introduced in the House (without further Cabinet involvement).
In general, full Cabinet deals with all initiatives that come out of the Policy and Priorities Committee. Cabinet consideration allows bringing the political perspective to the issues as well as debating the policy initiatives.
The Board of Management is the other standing committee of the Executive Council and is the only statutory committee of Cabinet. Its responsibilities are outlined in the Financial Administration Act. It is chaired by the Minister of Finance and currently has seven Cabinet members. The records of decisions are included on the agenda of the next meeting of Cabinet as recommendations or information. The Secretary is the Deputy Minister of Finance. The Board deals primarily with all matters relating to financial management, human resources management, administrative policy and the annual budget, particularly the following:
-financial management, including budget estimates, expenditures, accounts, fees, revenues, etc.;
-establishment of the Government's multi-year expenditure plan and annual departmental spending targets;
-development and preparation of the Government's annual ordinary account and capital budgets;
-administrative policy in the public service;
-the organization of the public service or any portions thereof, and the determination and control of establishments therein;
-personnel management, including training development of personnel, pay regulations, hours of work, etc.;
-determination of the human resource requirements of the public service; and
-collective bargaining in the public service.
Meetings of both Cabinet committees and Cabinet are held weekly, with the committee meetings preceding that of Cabinet. The only recesses that occur are one or two weeks at Christmas, one week in March and two to three weeks during the summer holidays.
Special committees of the Executive Council are appointed from time to time to deal with particular issues. Their mandate and reporting relationship are established at the time the committee is formed. Examples include the Ministerial Committee on Aboriginal Affairs which reports to the Policy and Priorities Committee and the Special Cabinet Committee on Social Policy Renewal (appointments pending). Special committees of Cabinet typically have a fixed mandate and time frame for their operation.
Full Cabinet reviews the recommendation on policy initiatives by the two Standing Cabinet committees with a view to bringing a political perspective to the policy discussion. It also reviews submissions requiring Lieutenant Governor in Council approval including appointments and financial matters. Other than the Clerk and the Deputy Minister to the Premier, officials do not normally attend full Cabinet meetings. Cabinet retreats are held periodically and caucus retreats are held from time to time. The practice of appointing caucus members as Legislative Assistants who may answer for Ministers in the Legislative Assembly and/or participate in the budget process has been used occasionally, but is not currently in effect.
The Premier holds weekly meetings with his Deputy, the Clerk of the Executive Council and the Deputy Minister of Finance, for the purposes of reviewing the agendas of Cabinet, the Policy and Priorities Committee and the Board of Management.
II Central Agencies
The Premier and the Executive Council are supported in their decision-making processes by: the Premier's Office, headed by a Deputy Minister, and the Executive Council Office, headed by the Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet. There is a clear separation between the Premier's Office and the Executive Council Office. However both offices work in close collaboration to effectively support the Premier in carrying out his responsibilities.
1. The Premier's Office
The Premier's Office is led by a Deputy Minister, who holds office at the pleasure of the incumbent Premier. The office:
-provides political support and advice to the Premier, the Executive Council and committees of Cabinet;
-provides the political liaison with Cabinet Ministers and Deputies, caucus and the legislature; and
-includes, among senior staff, an Executive Assistant for Political and Legislative Affairs; an Executive Assistant for Scheduling; a Director of Communications; an Economic Development Advisor; and a Manager of Correspondence and Records.
2. The Executive Council Office
The Executive Council Office is led by the Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet.
a) The Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet
As the senior public servant supporting the Premier, the Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet has five primary responsibilities:
-to provide advice and support to the Premier on a wide range of policy and operational issues;
-to serve as Secretary to Cabinet and Secretary to the Policy and Priorities Committee, both chaired by the Premier on a weekly basis;
-to ensure the provision of policy and secretariat support to Cabinet, the Policy and Priorities Committee and Ministers with policy coordination responsibilities;
-to provide leadership to the public service in the performance of their duties; and
-to manage the Executive Council Office including the operation of Communications New Brunswick.
The Clerk, as the head of the public service, recommends persons for appointment as Deputy Ministers. She briefs new Ministers and Deputy Ministers. She provides advice to the Premier on machinery of government issues. She meets weekly with the Deputy Minister of Finance and the Deputy Minister of the Premier's Office to ensure coordination.
Regular weekly breakfast meetings of deputies are held and chaired by the Clerk of the Executive Council. In addition, Deputy Minister retreats, chaired by the Clerk of the Executive Council, are held once or twice a year. There are also two other Deputy Minister committees -- the Deputy Minister Committee on Information Technology and the Deputy Minister Committee on Human Resources, with all deputies serving on one or other of the committees, and the Clerk of the Executive Council serving as an ex-officio member of both.
The Clerk also uses the Executive Council Office as a training ground for upwardly-mobile senior officers and rotates professional staff on a regular basis.
b) The Assistant Clerk of the Executive Council and Assistant Secretary to Cabinet
The Assistant Clerk of the Executive Council and Assistant Secretary to Cabinet manages the secretariat services of the Executive Council Office and is responsible for processes related to organizing the Cabinet agenda, ensuring that recorded Cabinet decisions are clearly communicated to Ministers and deputies; approval of Orders in Council, regulations and other statutory instruments; and for providing advice on the use of Orders in Council. Responsibilities also include:
-acting on behalf of the Clerk of the Executive Council and the Secretary to Cabinet in her absence;
-ensuring liaison with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor;
-managing the Government Grants program; and
-organizing official ceremonies for swearing-in of Members of the Executive Council.
c) The Assistant Secretary to the Policy and Priorities Committee of Cabinet
The Assistant Secretary to the Policy and Priorities Committee of Cabinet is responsible for considering all matters of government policy from the standpoint of the Government's top priorities and plans and provides direction to the Policy Branch of the Executive Council Office.
Particular attention is paid to the Budget, the Speech from the Throne, the Policy Framework and other government commitments. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that Ministers are apprised of interrelationships among issues in the context of the Government's strategic priorities.
The Assistant Secretary also:
-acts on behalf of the Secretary of the Policy and Priorities Committee in her absence;
-manages the secretariat services to the Policy and Priorities Committee;
-ensures liaison with the secretariat and officials of the Board of Management;
-monitors the progress of government commitments; and
-coordinates the development of the Throne Speech.
There is a Policy Branch which consists of senior professional staff members, including the Assistant Secretary to the Policy and Priorities Committee, who are responsible for:
-reviewing all policy and program proposals submitted to the Policy and Priorities Committee;
-providing assistance and support to assigned line departments in the development of their proposals to ensure consistency with government priorities and commitments;
-coordinating interdepartmental policy development; and
-providing policy input to the budget process.
d) Legislative Coordinator and Senior Policy Advisor on Women's Issues
The Legislative Coordinator and Senior Policy Advisor on Women's Issues is responsible for:
-coordinating the legislative process, including the review of legislative proposals, approval by Policy and Priorities Committee for drafting and submission to caucus prior to introduction in the Legislative Assembly; and
-providing senior policy advice to the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and coordinating an interdepartmental committee for the same purpose.
e) Special Advisor - Social Policy Reform
The Special Advisor on Social Policy Reform is a senior professional who works closely with the Intergovernmental Affairs Department (IGA) to coordinate the development of social policy positions on an interprovincial and federal-provincial level. Responsibilities include:
-chairing an interdepartmental Committee of Officials to coordinate the development of provincial policy proposals;
-supporting the Deputy Minister's Committee on Social Policy; and
-providing support and advice in concert with IGA colleagues to Ministers carrying social policy coordination responsibilities at the federal-provincial and provincial-territorial level.
f) General Manager, Communications New Brunswick (CNB)
As the communications agency of government, CNB is responsible for:
-providing a wide range of specialist communications services to the Premier's Office and line departments;
-providing coordination and liaison between government departments in their communications activities;
-providing the media and the public with information on government activities and programs; and
-providing logistic and organizational support for special events.
CNB is led by a General Manager, and the three directors of Audio Visual Services, Design Services and Editorial Services. The agency employs communication officers, as well as technical and support staff.
3. Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs
Led by a Deputy Minister, the Department of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs:
-provides a strategic and corporate approach to the management of relations with other governments, communities, and organizations;
-under an Assistant Deputy Minister of Federal-Provincial Affairs, manages relations with other Canadian governments and First Nations communities in New Brunswick as well as with representatives of foreign governments; and
-under an Assistant Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Cooperation, manages cooperative agreements and arrangements with Canadian and foreign governments, coordinates New Brunswick's participation in national and international intergovernmental organizations; and manages the negotiation and implementation of federal-provincial agreements relative to official languages.
4. The Department of Finance
The Department of Finance is led by a Deputy Minister, who also serves as Secretary to the Board of Management. The Department supports and promotes the effective and efficient management of the human and financial resources of government and provides effective, efficient and courteous service to the citizens of New Brunswick:
-Through its Management Services division, it provides human resource, financial, administrative, information and technology services to all divisions of the Department of Finance and other central agencies of the Government; provides assistance in the development and implementation of innovative practices, organizational performance and government renewal.
-Through its Treasury and Debt Management division, it provides for the financing of the province's cash requirements, cash management for the consolidated fund as well as providing money market and foreign exchange services for the New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation;manages and administers the outstanding debenture debt, provides investment management services, including the preparation of financial statements for selected pension funds, sinking and special purpose trust funds; provides financial policy analysis and advice, as well as financing services to Crown corporations and municipalities.
-Through its Taxation and Fiscal Policy division, it develops and provides economic policy advice and recommendations with respect to the province's overall budgetary, taxation and fiscal position; provides revenue and economic forecasting, statistical data and analysis and prepares the annual multi-year fiscal framework which forms the basis of the province's overall budget plan; negotiates various federal-provincial agreements concerning tax issues and the federal grant programs; administers personal and corporate income taxes and reciprocal taxation.
-Through its Budget and Financial Management division, it provides secretariat services to the Board of Management, monitors expenditures and coordinates the Annual Budget Process on behalf of the Minister of Finance and the Board. It develops and promotes management practices which lead to the effective and efficient use of financial resources.
-Through its Revenue division, it provides effective and efficient management of assigned revenue acts as well as assigned regulatory responsibilities under other statutes. It develops policy and controls for the province's involvement in lotteries.
-Through its Human Resource Management division, it provides the framework for effective human resources management in the public service encompassing the principles of equity, fairness and positive employee-employer relations:
-it provides the full range of human resource management systems: job evaluation, pensions and insured benefits, labour relations, compensation, training, executive development, employee selection, performance management, and the implementation of a human resource information system; and
-it implements special employment programs for women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minority persons within the public service.
5. Staffing of Senior Levels of the Provincial Bureaucracy
The Province of New Brunswick has committed itself to a corporate approach in the development of the senior management of the public service.
A committee of Deputy Ministers, chaired on a rotating basis by a Deputy of a line department, provides advice to the Deputy Minister of Finance in his capacity as Secretary of the Board of Management on the development and implementation of programs designed to develop the senior cadre of the public service. Initiatives include:
-professional leadership development activities (i.e., Working With Others I and II) for Deputy Ministers and Senior Executives;
-an interdepartmental Executive Reassignment Program designed to expose senior executives to diverse and challenging positions within the public service;
-recruitment and selection of senior staff to attend major external programs (i.e., Queen's Program for Public Executives);
-a full program of annual "learning events" including "Machinery and Process of Government" seminars offered twice yearly to employees at all levels of the organization; and
-development of an information system to support the identification of high potential candidates for succession planning purposes.
Deputy Ministers are appointed by the Premier, on the advice of the Secretary to Cabinet and the Deputy Minister in the Premier's Office. Appointments are formally approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Most of the senior officials are drawn from the senior ranks of the New Brunswick Civil Service. Approximately ninety-five per cent of the Deputy Ministers have progressed through the ranks of the system.
Reviews of departmental objectives and performance involving the Premier, the Minister and Deputy Minister, the Secretary to Cabinet and the Deputy Minister in the Premier's Office, are undertaken on an annual basis. The Premier meets with the Deputy Minister community to review the objectives for the coming year. The Premier takes these opportunities to ensure the Deputy Ministers are focusing on key government priorities for the year ahead.
Staffing below the Deputy Minister level is delegated to each of the line departments. There is no separate Public Service Commission. The merit principle is safeguarded through the existing human resource structure (i.e., competitive process for staffing and appeals can be made to the Ombudsman's Office). Representatives from both the Department of Finance and the Human Resources Section of line departments serve on competition boards.
Although there have been wage freezes in the New Brunswick Civil Service (1990-1991), there have been no wage roll-backs. There are bonus payments for exceptional service, available to the non-bargaining group (excluding Deputy Ministers) and those bargaining groups who have adopted the performance appraisal system.
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