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I Decision-Making Process
1. The Legislative Assembly, Cabinet and Cabinet Committees
The Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council of the Northwest Territories generally arrive at decisions by consensus. Within the consensus system, each member of the Legislative Assembly is elected in his or her constituency as an independent, based on abilities, skills and merits. The Speaker and the Premier* are elected by all members in a secret ballot held during a meeting of the Assembly's Leadership Review Committee. The remaining seven members of Cabinet are elected in a similar fashion. It is then the Premier's prerogative to distribute the various ministerial portfolios among the members of his Cabinet. Traditionally, the eight-member Cabinet has equal representation from the Eastern and Western regions of the territory.
The Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act provides for an Executive Council (informally known as "Cabinet") to be responsible for the overall management and direction of the government of the Northwest Territories. The Act also authorizes the Executive Council to establish committees of the Executive Council to aid and advise in the executive government. Committees of the Executive Council may also be established at the direction of the Premier:*
- Financial Management Board (8);*
- Constitutional Affairs Committee (7);
- Division Planning Committee (5/2);
- Economic Initiatives Committee (5); and
- Social Affairs and Community Empowerment Committee (6).
Committees may have decision-making authority as established under legislation. Where a committee does not have authority to make decisions, it may make recommendations to the Executive Council. Where a recommendation is submitted to the Executive Council, the Executive Council has final authority to change, accept or reject the committee's recommendation. In accordance with the consensus system, major decisions on matters affecting the whole government (e.g., policy, legislation, budget) are rarely taken until all members of the Executive Council, not just the majority or the Premier, can accept the decision.
a) Cabinet Committees
The Executive Council (Cabinet) is responsible for the overall management and direction of the executive government of the Northwest Territories. The Executive Council sets government policy and priorities and provides overall direction to the public service. The Executive Council is, therefore, the forum where major policy matters are handled. These matters include political decisions, broad budget allocations, planning for government business before and during sessions of the Legislative Assembly, new policies or legislation initiatives and changes to departmental mandates, among others.
The Financial Management Board, chaired by the Minister responsible for the Financial Management Board, is responsible for the management and control of the financial, human and information resources of the government, in accordance with the provisions of the Financial Administration Act and the Public Service Act. The Board may make decisions and issue Records of Decision where it has authority to do so under its enabling legislation and on matters referred to it by the Executive Council. However, major decisions regarding resource allocation and strategic budget allocation matters remain within the purview of the Executive Council.
The Financial Management Board, through its legislative authority, is responsible for determining and providing direction for the development of financial practices, directives and systems and procedures necessary for the sound financial management of the territory. This includes the development of estimates, expenditure controls, accounts, financial commitments, fees or service charges for the use of facilities, rentals, licences, leases, and other revenues from the disposition of property. The Board is also responsible for the establishment of procedures by which departments manage, record and account for revenues and expenditures. In addition, the Board makes decisions regarding the evaluation of the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of programs, and the review of annual and long-term expenditures and revenue plans.
The Constitutional Affairs Committee is responsible for making recommendations to Cabinet on national and territorial matters relating to Aboriginal self government, as well as political and constitutional development matters. A Secretary is assigned to the Constitutional Affairs Committee to provide administrative and technical support. The Secretary is selected by the Premier and the committee co-chairs, the Minister of National Constitutional Affairs and the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, following consultation with the general membership of the committee.
The Division Planning Committee has responsibility to develop and recommend to Cabinet strategies and work plans related to the division of the Northwest Territories into two territories, as well as to keep Cabinet informed of the status of the division and of emerging issues through regular briefings. The committee ensures that members of the Legislative Assembly and the public in general are kept aware of recent developments and issues that are of relevance to the division. The Division Secretariat of the Department of Executive provides support and advice to this committee.
The mandate of the Social Affairs and Community Empowerment Committee includes identifying concrete initiatives that can be implemented immediately within the confines of budget restraints, as well as realistic priorities that can be realized over the life of the Government. In addition, the committee must develop a strategy, work plan and policy that link departmental initiatives in a coordinated way, develop recommendations for Cabinet for community involvement and partnerships in program delivery, and ensure that all initiatives support the overall government objectives and are compatible with federal initiatives.
The Secretary of the Social Affairs and Community Empowerment Committee is selected by the Premier and committee Chair after consultation with the committee members.
Finally, the mandate of the Economic Initiatives Committee is to develop and recommend to Cabinet strategies, work plans and policies in areas addressing the Government's major priority of improving the economy. These include, but are not restricted to: privatization, commercialization, or devolution of government operations; changes to the Business Incentive Policy and other contracting policies and practices; the creation of an advisory council on business issues; employment development; regulatory review; resource development; and tax measures.
The Premier and co-chair of this committee designate a Secretary to the committee after consultation with its members.
b) Legislative Committees
As a consequence of its consensus-based decision-making, the Northwest Territories has a greater need for consultations with Standing Committees of the Legislative Assembly than other governments which operate on the basis of a party system. This is done in a number of ways, including briefings with caucus and standing committees and consultation of standing committees with respect to the budget, business plans, and policy and legislative proposals. These proposals are referred for standing committee consideration before being approved by Cabinet, the Financial Management Board or the Legislative Assembly, as the case may be. The Legislative Assembly and its committees also have a greater role in the development and review of the budget and multi-year business plans than do legislatures in other Canadian jurisdictions.
The Members of the 13th Legislative Assembly adopted a new committee structure consisting of six standing committees:
- Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Finances;
- Standing Committee on Resource Management and Development;
- Standing Committee on Social Programs;
- Standing Committee on Rules, Privilege and Procedures;
- Standing Committee on Government Operations; and
- Management and Services Board.
The mandate of the standing committees is to review legislative and policy proposals, multi-year business plans and budgets, bills, boards and agencies, public accounts and division-related issues. They are also responsible for reviewing departmental performance and they consider any other matter referred to them by the House.
The Legislative Assembly is composed of 24 elected members, of whom 8 are Cabinet Ministers. At the present time, 2 MLAs are also members of the Division Planning Committee. They swear an oath of office as Members of the Legislative Assembly, but not an oath of secrecy.
2. The Policy Development Process
The current Government has adopted a new strategic planning process. This process provides the basis for the identification of required legislation, policies, programs and organizational changes. The process allows for the creation of linkages between Cabinet priorities and strategies, the fiscal framework, the multi-year business planning process and feedback on performance. As well, it generates consensus through consultation with the various key players, an essential characteristic of the form of government found in the Northwest Territories.
The four key elements of the Strategic Planning Process are:
- Environment scan. The Cabinet Secretariat coordinates the development of a cross-government environment scan which is presented both to Cabinet and caucuses. It contains information on social and economic conditions, the physical environment, the Government's human resources and fiscal position, and governance issues.
- Vision, critical issues. Cabinet meets in strategic planning sessions to consider the environment scan and other information, to set the Government's vision for the future, to identify critical issues, and to consider progress to date. The vision and critical issues set by Cabinet and considered by caucus inform the instructions for the preparation of the multi-year business plan and are used to define the areas where both government-wide and departmental strategies should be directed. This process includes formal consultation by Cabinet with the Assembly through both standing committees and caucuses.
- Developing strategies to address critical issues. Government-wide and departmental strategies are developed by central agency and departmental officials; this process is intended to be integrated with the development of multi-year business plans. While departments are responsible for proposing strategies within their mandates, Cabinet Secretariat and inter-departmental teams develop cross-government strategies.
- Monitoring and reporting results. Cabinet Secretariat monitors progress on key strategies and reports results to Cabinet on a regular basis and in preparation for the strategic planning workshops. Direction has recently been given for Financial Management Board Secretariat and Cabinet Secretariat to develop indicators for cross-government strategies included in the Business Plans (formal work is only just beginning in this area). Results are reported to the Legislative Assembly at various times: by Cabinet through a Mid-Term Review, by the Premier during budget deliberations, and by the Government in general during consideration of annual business plans, budgets and the Public Accounts.
Once overall direction has been established by the Executive Council, several policy instruments can be used to carry out that direction:
a) The Legislative Process
The Legislative Initiatives Committee (LIC), a committee of officials, plays a central role in the legislative process in the Northwest Territories. LIC is chaired by the Legislative Coordinator and includes representation from the Cabinet Secretariat, the Financial Management Board Secretariat, the Department of Justice and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Depending on the initiative, other central agencies may also be represented.
The role of this committee is to review legislative proposals and draft bills with the objective of providing advice to Cabinet through assessment reports on these initiatives. Departmental staff are invited to attend LIC meetings to provide additional information and clarification on the initiative under review.
Once a need has been identified or a direction given to create or amend a statute, extensive consultations with related central agencies, affected departments and special interest groups take place. Once effective consultation has occurred, the legislative proposal can be drafted.
It is strongly recommended that an unsigned draft proposal be sent to LIC and affected departments for review and comment if the proposal deals with a potentially controversial legislative initiative. The proposal is then finalized and signed-off by the Deputy Minister and forwarded to the Minister for signature and submission to the Cabinet Secretariat. Once received by the Cabinet Secretariat, the proposal is placed on a Cabinet pending list and forwarded to the LIC Chair for assessment. The proposal will also be referred to the appropriate standing committee of the Assembly for consideration; this referral is done either directly by LIC or by Cabinet in the case of controversial initiatives. LIC and the standing committee will each meet to discuss and review the proposal. Comments from the standing committee are communicated by the Government House Leader to LIC. In turn, LIC will incorporate these comments into the assessment. The LIC Chair finalizes and signs-off the assessment report and returns the proposal, assessment and standing committee comments to the Cabinet Secretariat. The proposal is then ready for formal Cabinet consideration. Cabinet will consider the legislative proposal and will approve it with or without amendments, direct revision and re-submission, or reject it entirely.
If the proposal is approved, a Cabinet Record of Decision is prepared and circulated to Ministers, Deputy Ministers and appropriate officials the department will issue drafting instructions to the Department of Justice. The finalized bill is transmitted by the Department of Justice to the Minister for final approval and transmittal to the Cabinet Secretariat. The bill is then forwarded to the LIC Chair. LIC will meet to review the bill and prepare an assessment. The Chair of LIC will finalize and sign-off the assessment report and the bill is then ready for formal Cabinet consideration. Once again, Cabinet may decide to approve with or without amendments, direct revision and re-submission, or reject the bill. If approved, the bill may then be introduced in the Legislative Assembly.
A policy is a course of action adopted by government. A formal Policy, a commitment by the government to the public to follow a chosen course of action, is one of the instruments used by government to communicate and enforce decisions made by the Executive Council. This is the means of ensuring that the government's commitment expressed in Policies by the Commissioner in Executive Council will be carried out.
Policies play a somewhat different role in the Northwest Territories than they do in other Canadian jurisdictions with political parties which have platforms or statements of policy. In those jurisdictions, once a Government is elected, the vigilance of the Official Opposition ensures that the Government's policies are followed. Formal Policies of the Northwest Territories have a quasi-judicial status. They are binding on the Government, its agents and employees. Many matters which in the territory are the subject of formal Policies may, in the provinces and Yukon, be addressed through legislation or regulations.
All Policies are contained in the manual, Policies of the Government of the Northwest Territories, which is a public document. Policies are more flexible than legislation but are semi-permanent since, once approved by Cabinet and the Commissioner, they remain in force until amended or rescinded by an Order in Executive Council. Only the Executive Council has the authority to approve exceptions to a Policy.
Policies are used in a number of circumstances, including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:
- to establish a government department;
- to make a commitment to action or entitlement that involves a process or a delivery mechanism (e.g., Affirmative Action Policy);
- to outline in detail a process that involves several departments (e.g., Business Incentive Policy);
- to establish a third party such as a council; and
- to bind or prescribe the actions of the Government's employees or agents in areas of clearly defined public concern (e.g., Smoke-Free Workplace Policy).
The Northwest Territories' use of formal Policies has evolved within the framework of a consensus government. The role of Policy compared to the role of legislation in the Northwest Territories is, in large part, historical. The use of formal Policies began before the Government of the Northwest Territories had full legislative powers. Originally, formal Policies were instruments used by the Commissioner to delegate authority to the elected Council.
Today, Policies are issued under the authority of the Commissioner in Executive Council, rather than the Commissioner. The GNWT continues to use formal Policies as convenient and useful instruments to express public commitments made by the Executive Council to the people of the NWT, to clarify authority and accountability with respect to interdepartmental matters and to clarify under what conditions Executive Council and Financial Management Board approval of certain initiatives is required. Policies are a mechanism of Cabinet accountability in the consensus system of government found in the NWT.
The Government's use of Policies has never been criticized as being a way of usurping the role of the Legislative Assembly. However, there has been a trend toward greater involvement of MLAs who do not hold ministerial office. The Premier initiated the protocol under which legislative and policy proposals are referred to standing committees in order to improve the way Cabinet and the Assembly work together within consensus government.
II Central Agencies
In the Government of the Northwest Territories, the main central agencies are the Department of Executive, the Financial Management Board Secretariat, the Department of Finance, and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. These central agencies provide advice and support to the Premier as leader of the government, as well as to the Cabinet decision-making process in general.
1. The Department of Executive
a) The Premier's Office
The Premier's Office provides advice and operational support to the Premier. The Premier's Office, composed of "political" staff members who do not enjoy tenure, includes the offices of the Principal Secretary and the Press Secretary, as well as the Premier's support staff. The Premier's Office also develops and implements public affairs strategies for the Premier and Cabinet, and provides protocol services for the Government of the Northwest Territories.
The role of the Principal Secretary in the territory differs from the role of Principal Secretary in other Canadian jurisdictions which have political parties. As there are no territorial political parties in the Northwest Territories, the Principal Secretary is not chosen as a partisan member of a political party, but rather, as a political advisor at large to the Premier.
The Press Secretary provides advice, and develops and implements communications and public affairs strategies for the Premier, the Executive Council and line departments.
b) Cabinet Secretariat
The Cabinet Secretariat, under the direction of the Secretary to Cabinet, provides broad policy advice on priorities, strategies, policies and legislation to the Premier, Cabinet and its committees.
As head of the public service and most senior Deputy Minister of the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Secretary to Cabinet is responsible for:
- coordinating the overall operation of the Government;
- providing support to the Executive Council;
- acting as liaison between the Executive Council and the public service to coordinate the operation of departments and designated public committees, boards and councils in a manner consistent with government priorities, strategies, policies and legislation;
- advising the Premier with respect to appointment, assignment, evaluation, remuneration and termination of Deputy Ministers; and
- acting as deputy head of the Department of Executive.
Staff and administrative support for the Executive Council are provided by the Executive Council Office, including the Secretary to Cabinet and the Cabinet Secretariat which provides general support for Cabinet meetings.
The Secretariat provides advice to Cabinet in the form of written assessment reports which include background information regarding the proposal, a summary of possible issues associated with the proposal, and recommendations which anticipate the wording of the Record of Decision.
The Premier receives non-partisan public service support and advice from the Secretary to Cabinet. Through the Secretary to Cabinet, Deputy Ministers also provide support to the Premier.
The Secretary to Cabinet chairs Deputy Ministers' Committee meetings. These regularly scheduled meetings provide opportunities for the Secretary to Cabinet to lead the planning process and to communicate a vision and strategic direction. These Deputy Ministers' meetings also ensure across-the-board management of the public service and coordination of policy.
A clear distinction exists between the political role of the Principal Secretary and the bureaucratic role of the Secretary to Cabinet as head of the public service. While there are no formal consultation mechanisms between the Principal Secretary and the Secretary to Cabinet, informal communication and collaboration take place. They both attend Cabinet strategy meetings, and the Principal Secretary also regularly attends scheduled Deputy Ministers' meetings that are chaired by the Secretary to Cabinet.
c) Legislation and House Planning
The Legislation and House Planning Secretariat provides advice and administrative support to Cabinet, departments and government agencies with respect to the development of government legislation and the sessions of the Legislative Assembly. The Secretariat reports to both the Government House Leader and the Secretary to Cabinet.
d) Intergovernmental Affairs
Intergovernmental Affairs, headed by the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), is comprised of Policy Advisors and an Office Manager/Secretary. The Government of the Northwest Territories maintains an Ottawa office headed by the ADM of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Intergovernmental Affairs assists in the preparation of strategies to address territorial, national and international issues which affect the Northwest Territories. It also establishes, maintains and coordinates official contacts between the Northwest Territories and federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and non-governmental organizations. In addition, the Ottawa office assists the Principal Secretary with political and issue-specific matters on behalf of the Premier.
The Ottawa office provides advice and logistical support to Ministers and officials of the Northwest Territories on matters referred to it, to Ministers and officials meeting with their federal or provincial counterparts, as well as to Ministers and officials with respect to policy development. Staff of the Ottawa office attend meetings in the south on behalf of departments and provide reports on these meetings. Ottawa-based staff also provide advice and logistical support to members of the Legislative Assembly when they are in Ottawa. Finally, Intergovernmental Affairs provides support and coordination for Premiers' conferences.
In addition to the activities of Intergovernmental Affairs, the departments of the Government of the Northwest Territories maintain ongoing relationships with their sector counterparts in the federal, provincial and Yukon governments. Departments participate fully in federal/provincial/territorial senior officials' and Ministers' meetings.
e) Division Secretariat
The Division Secretariat provides support and advice to Cabinet's Division Planning Committee, liaises with the Office of the Interim Commissioner of Nunavut, Nunavut Tungavik Inc., the Nunavut Implementation Commission, the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Western Coalition on all issues related to the creation of two new territories. The Secretariat participates in intergovernmental planning for division and is responsible for coordinating such specific implementation matters as the approach to the development of the financing agreements of the two new territories, the division of assets and liabilities, staffing agreements and intergovernmental program and service agreements.
f) Corporate Human Resource Services (CHRS)
The Government of the Northwest Territories previously delivered human resource functions centrally through the Department of Personnel. Most of the functions of this department were transferred to the FMBS and, subsequently, many were decentralized and delegated to departments. The residue of the Department of Personnel became the Personnel Secretariat housed within the Department of Executive with the mandate to provide support to departments for the staffing process.
In March 1998, a need was recognized for provision at a corporate level of services designed to support organization-wide human resource planning and development and to provide technical advice and training with respect to staffing for departments. Hence, an entity called the Corporate Human Resource Services (CHRS) was created in the Department of Executive to consolidate: non-labour relations functions of FMBS, other corporate human resource functions from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, and the remaining corporate human resource functions of the Personnel Secretariat.
CHRS now provides broad policy support and coordination for organization-wide initiatives and related advice, training and support for human resource practitioners and management staff in departments in terms of human resource planning; performance management and staff development; staffing process; and staff communications.
2. Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, headed by a Deputy Minister, is responsible for negotiating and implementing land claims, self government and treaty entitlement agreements. The Ministry must also protect and promote the interests of the government and residents of the territory in the political and constitutional development of the western Northwest Territories. As well, the Ministry develops and maintains mutually beneficial relations with the Aboriginal leadership.
The Ministry participates in major initiatives of the government which relate to or affect Aboriginal rights and interests, including devolution of federal powers and programs, Community Empowerment, Division and national Aboriginal Affairs.
3. Financial Management Board Secretariat (FMBS)
The Financial Management Board Secretariat (FMBS), headed by the Secretary of the Financial Management Board, is a central agency of government responsible for providing advice to the Financial Management Board (FMB) on the efficient, effective and economical use of the government's financial, human and information resources.
The Secretariat provides advice to the FMB by way of written analyses of submissions; these analyses include background information regarding the submission, the analyst's comments on the submission, as well as the Secretariat's recommendations to the Financial Management Board.
FMBS provides broad policy support and coordination for organization-wide initiatives and related advice, training and support for human resource practitioners and management staff in departments in terms of compensation; labour relations; leave and benefits; staffing appeals; central human resource information systems; Human Resource Manual; public service Annual Report; and, business planning.
4. Department of Finance
The Department of Finance is responsible for obtaining the financial resources required to implement the government's policies and programs. The Department is also responsible for intergovernmental fiscal negotiations and arrangements, and plays an integral part in the territory's central fiscal management and allocation of resources.
III Budget Process
The 1998-99 fiscal year represents the third year that a comprehensive multi-year business planning approach has been used in the development of the Main Estimates. The new Legislative Standing Committee system implemented by the 13th Legislative Assembly also represents a significant departure from the legislative committee budget review process of previous years.
Many individuals and organizations, both from within the government and from the public are consulted during the planning and development stages of the budget process. The Main Estimates process consists of several phases.
Under the direction of the Minister of Finance, the Department of Finance prepares a multi-year fiscal framework. The framework is an overview of the projected financial position of the Government based on a set of assumptions about revenues, expenditures, and federal transfer payments.
In the development of a fiscal strategy, the framework is used as a modelling tool to project the fiscal position of the government, assuming current policies and trends are maintained, as well as alternate positions based on various policy changes, new policies and new initiatives. This allows the Financial Management Board and Cabinet to assess whether the current mix of expenditures and taxes are appropriate. If the mix cannot be sustained, or change is desired for policy reasons, it allows for an evaluation of alternatives in expenditures, taxation and borrowing.
Based on the Government's current financial position, program objectives and the fiscal alternatives chosen, targets for each department are approved by the Financial Management Board and instructions are issued to departments for the development of multi-year business plans.
The multi-year business planning approach links strategic planning with resource allocation. The business planning process includes setting goals, developing strategies to achieve these goals, and measuring performance and results. Departments identify the challenges and pressures confronting them, and map out how to meet those challenges within available resources. Departmental multi-year business plans are submitted to the Financial Management Board Secretariat for review, analysis and compilation before presentation to the Financial Management Board. Business plans are then referred to the standing committees of the Legislative Assembly for review.
The Main Estimates development process is a highly computerized desktop publishing system. All data are entered into a database. Each department is responsible for the development of its budget through various computer programs. A minimum level of detail is established which will meet the requirement of the Main Estimates and provide for the budget to be loaded into the Financial Information System.
The FMBS coordinates all department information to produce the Main Estimates and is responsible for coordinating the input of the budget into the Financial Information System once it is approved by the Legislative Assembly.
On the completion date, all departmental data is merged into a single government data base under the control of the FMBS. Consolidated documents are prepared at that time.
The Main Estimates are then reviewed by the FMBS for uniformity, consistency of presentation and adherence to targets and guidelines. Draft versions of the documents are prepared and sent to the FMB for conditional approval. These drafts are forwarded to the standing committees of the legislature for review.
Under the direction of the Minister of Finance, the Department of Finance drafts the text of the budget address. The address includes an outline of current trends and anticipated developments and identifies the government plan of action for the upcoming fiscal year. In addition, the address highlights or announces new tax and program initiatives and their expected impacts on the economy and government revenues or expenditures.
The standing committees meet prior to the Main Estimates being presented to the Assembly, to review the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. These meetings are not open to the public. The committees review the budget and prepare reports for presentation to the Assembly. Following the presentation of the Budget Address to the Assembly, the Main Estimates are released to members of the Assembly, the general public and the media.
IV Staffing of the Territorial Public Service
Positions within the direct control of the Legislative Assembly are limited to the Clerk of the Assembly and the Languages Commissioner.
The government of the Northwest Territories does not have a Public Service Commission. However, all appointments to the public service are governed by the Public Service Act and regulations under that Act.
Within the public service, section 16.1 of the Act states that the Commissioner in Executive Council, on recommendation of the Premier, has the exclusive right to appoint a person to the position of deputy head. Since the Commissioner, in practice, follows the direction of her Ministry, this means that the Premier, in effect, recruits and dismisses Deputy Ministers.
Deputy heads, including Deputy Ministers and chief executive officers of territorial corporations, are appointed by Order in Executive Council. The Premier is responsible for recommending the appointment to the Commissioner in Executive Council. The Secretary to Cabinet advises the Premier with respect to appointment, assignment, evaluation, remuneration and termination of deputy heads. The Premier may consult with other Ministers. However, there is no central agency involvement, with the exception of the role played by the Secretary to Cabinet.
Careers of senior public servants are fostered both within line departments and through movement among different departments over time.
Once the Premier makes the selection as to who is to be appointed as a Deputy Minister, he advises the Secretary to Cabinet of the relevant details (name, department, effective date). The Secretary to Cabinet then prepares a Decision Paper for the Premier to submit for Cabinet approval and recommendation to the Commissioner. Following the issuance of the Order in Executive Council, an instrument of appointment (registered in the Appointments Register) is prepared and submitted for the Commissioner's signature by the Legislative Division of the Department of Justice.
When the Legislative Assembly passes a motion to appoint members to the Executive Council, the Secretary to Cabinet prepares a letter for the Commissioner's signature. A copy of the letter is hand delivered to the Director, Legislative Division, Department of Justice, by the Secretary to Cabinet (or designate) so that the applicable appointment instrument can be drafted and forwarded to the Commissioner for signature.
When the Premier decides on the assignment of ministerial portfolios, he advises the Secretary to Cabinet. The Secretary to Cabinet or designate prepares a letter to the Commissioner for the Premier's signature. The original letter is hand delivered to the Commissioner by the Secretary to Cabinet or designate as soon as it is signed by the Premier. A copy of the signed letter is hand delivered to the Director, Legislative Division, Department of Justice, by the Secretary to Cabinet or designate so that the appropriate appointment instrument can be drafted and forwarded to the Commissioner. Copies of the appointment instruments are not usually given to Ministers.
In general, appointments to positions in the public service other than deputy heads are made by open competition. However, where it is impractical or not in the best interests of the public service, appointment of a person may be made without competition by direct appointment. The Public Service Act permits the Minister responsible for the Act (i.e., the Minister responsible for the Financial Management Board) to make a direct appointment without competition on recommendation of the Executive Council where, in the opinion of the Minister, it is necessary. Delegation authority is provided under the Act for the Minister to delegate this power of direct appointment to a public service employee. The complete hiring process is set out in detail in the Human Resource Manual. In this manual, the Government has clearly stipulated its commitment to the promotion of affirmative action and to the prohibition of discrimination in the hiring process.
Under the Public Service Act and Staffing Appeals Regulations, there is an appeal mechanism with respect to appointments by competition. Appeals are heard by a three-member Staffing Appeals Committee comprised of the Secretary of the Financial Management Board, the president of the Union of Northern Workers and a mutually agreed upon chair. The staffing appeal process is set out in detail in the Human Resource Manual.
2. Performance Evaluation
The performance evaluation of deputy heads is the responsibility of the Premier. However, the Secretary to Cabinet provides advice to the Premier in this regard. The evaluation is the basis for a salary increase during the following fiscal year.
Central agencies or committees do not play a role in the performance evaluation of Deputy Ministers. The Secretary to Cabinet has the key role of advising the Premier with respect to evaluation and remuneration of Deputy Ministers.
For other government employees, the performance development system is used to evaluate and develop employees. Employee performance is reviewed informally on an ongoing basis. Once a year, the performance is formally documented in a written report, the appraisal. The annual appraisal records the ongoing review that has taken place during the year. It is an assessment of the completion of work objectives and of an employee's strengths and weaknesses, achievements and potential. The appraisal identifies training and development needs and records any training and development that has taken place since the last appraisal.
3. Incentives for Managers' Superior Performance
Managers include Regional Directors, Heads of Boards and Agencies, Assistant Deputy Ministers and equivalent, Directors, Regional Superintendents, and Policy Advisors.
Economic adjustments (salary grid increases) for managers are determined by the Financial Management Board.
Merit Pay refers to an annual increase to a manager's pay which recognizes the manager's job performance during the previous year ending March 31. Merit pay ranging from 0 per cent to 8 per cent is available for a manager each year. It can be given as a percentage increase to salary, a lump sum bonus or a combination of both. The maximum merit increase provided for the entire government is equal to 3.8 per cent of the total management salaries and the total dollars processed cannot exceed this amount.
Once every fiscal year, effective April 1, managers are given extra pay for good performance. Both economic adjustments and merit increases are considered pay for performance. If merit pay is recommended, then the economic adjustment must also be recommended. When a manager has reached 100% of the range of the position, all merit pay is paid in the form of a bonus which is pensionable.
* It has become the practice in the Northwest Territories to refer to the elected head of the Government as Premier, and in 1994, the territorial Legislative Assembly adopted an act to susbstitute the word Premier of Government Leader in the text of three territorial enactments. It is the practice of the Government of Canada to refer to the elected heads of the territorial governments as Government Leaders.
- Date Modified: