Yukon

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I Decision-Making Process

The Yukon Cabinet is the executive decision-making body of government. The Cabinet is chaired by the Government Leader. While the size of Cabinet may vary slightly, it currently consists of six Ministers, including the Government Leader. Each member of the Cabinet has responsibility for two or more portfolios.

There are currently four Cabinet committees:

- Management Board (3 members, 3 alternates);*

- Cabinet Committee on Social Issues (4);*

- Cabinet Committee on Economic and Environmental Issues (4); and

- Cabinet Committee on Legislation (3).

The committees are advisory in nature, providing strategic advice and recommendations to Cabinet.

In addition, the government has established three Cabinet Commissions:

- Cabinet Commission on Energy;

- Cabinet Commission on Forests; and

- Cabinet Commission on the Development Assessment Process.

These Commissions were established to develop policies on key government priorities, as identified by Cabinet. Each Commission is headed by a Government backbencher, who serves as a Commissioner, and is supported by a Deputy Minister who acts as a Deputy Commissioner, and two support staff seconded from within the public service. Each Commissioner chairs a sub-committee of Cabinet focused on the Commission's work.

The Commissions develop policy in their three areas of specialization, conduct extensive consultations, generate background information and identify options for consideration by Cabinet. When a Commission reports, the Government responds within a reasonable time frame.

The Commissions are considered a valuable component of the decision-making process: they foster greater participation of backbenchers in this process and allow for an integrated analysis of cross-departmental policy issues. The Commissions are an innovation of the current Government of the Yukon.

Cabinet normally meets weekly to provide direction to departments on a variety of government initiatives. For the most part, its decisions are based on submissions put forward by Ministers and their departments for Cabinet's consideration. Business that comes before Cabinet can be divided into the following four broad categories: policy, legislation, statutory instruments (including both Orders in Council and Ministerial Orders), and ministerial appointments.

The Cabinet review process begins with a paper prepared by a line department, after extensive consultation with central agencies, affected departments, etc. The paper is sent to the Executive Council Office, which is responsible for forwarding the paper to the appropriate committee of officials for review. Cabinet committees may be used at a variety of points in the review process. However, not all issues are forwarded to Cabinet committees. Usually, complex issues or problems that require issue identification and problem definition are routed through Cabinet committees.

Once the review process is completed, the department finalizes the submission. The Deputy Minister and the Minister of the sponsoring department, as well as the Deputy Ministers of any affected departments, will sign off. The submission is sent to the Executive Council Office, where policy analysis is conducted. Once this analysis is completed, the submission is brought before Cabinet for final decision.

There are 17 members of the Legislative Assembly; 11 sit on the Government benches, of whom six are Ministers. Of the five government backbenchers, three are Commissioners and one is the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. The remaining Government backbencher served as Commissioner on Yukon Hire, but this Commission, having completed its work, was recently wound up.

II Central Agencies

The Government Leader and the Cabinet are supported in the exercise of their responsibilities by several central agencies: the Government Leader's Office, the Executive Council Office, the Department of Finance and the Public Service Commission.

In addition, the Department of Justice provides legal advice and legislative support. The Department of Government Services provides central support to departments, which includes the services of the Queen's Printer, contract services, property management, and transportation, communications and information assistance.

1. The Government Leader's Office

The Government Leader's Office is comprised of political staff members reporting to him through the Chief of Staff. The Government Leader's political staff and the Ministers' political staff are governed by the Cabinet and Caucus Employees Act, and not by the Public Service Act: they are not public servants.

The office provides the Government Leader with political advice and support on a wide range of issues such as political strategies, constituency matters and communications issues. As well, the office ensures liaison with Ministers and caucus. The Government Leader's Office plays an active role in the coordination and monitoring of major issues that are of interest to the Government.

However, the Government Leader's Office does not maintain a policy development or policy analysis capacity. That function is exercised by the Executive Council Office and by individual government departments.

2. The Executive Council Office

The Executive Council Office is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Office. The Cabinet Secretary has three principal functions:

- as Deputy Minister to the Government Leader, to provide advice and support to the Government Leader on the full range of his responsibilities as head of government;

- as Secretary to Cabinet, to provide advice and support to Cabinet and oversee the provision of policy and secretariat support to Cabinet and its committees; and

- as the most senior Deputy Minister, to provide leadership and overall coordination of government priorities, strategies, organization and renewal.

The Executive Council Office is responsible for supporting the operations of Cabinet. The agenda is set by the Government Leader, based on advice received from the Cabinet Secretary. The Executive Council Office prepares formal analyses of Cabinet submissions, to assist Cabinet decision-making by examining the completeness of submissions and determining whether a range of considerations (e.g., financial, legal, land claims implications, public communications), as well as the Government's overall goals have been taken into account. The Executive Council Office also provides secretariat support to the committees of Cabinet.

In addition to supporting Cabinet decision-making through the analysis of submissions to Cabinet, the Executive Council Office also undertakes policy development in areas of key cross-departmental initiatives, as well as areas of specific departmental responsibility. In addition, it chairs the interdepartmental committee of policy directors charged with the review of government policy initiatives, prior to consideration by Cabinet, to ensure that implications of recommendations are fully considered and take account of impacts on the public, other departments, and existing policies and programs.

In addition to its role in supporting Cabinet and Cabinet decision-making, the department has responsibility for intergovernmental relations, including relations with First Nation governments. Traditionally, the Government Leader of the Yukon has held the portfolio of intergovernmental affairs.

Management of the Yukon's relations with other governments and overall coordination of intergovernmental activities rests with the Executive Council Office. The Intergovernmental Relations Branch of the department, headed by an Assistant Deputy Minister, and reporting through the Secretary to Cabinet, has lead responsibility for negotiations of the transfer of provincial-type responsibilities in the natural resource area, now exercised by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, to the Yukon Government. The Yukon also has an Ottawa office responsible for matters related to intergovernmental affairs, including financial matters.

In addition to its central agency functions, the Executive Council Office also carries out several program functions, by providing government-wide services in the areas of public communications, internal audit, statistics, and French and Aboriginal Languages. The office also has responsibility for the negotiating and overall implementation of First Nation land claims and self-government agreements. As well, the Executive Council Office provides support to the Commissioner of the Yukon whose role is similar to that of a lieutenant governor in a province. The Commissioner's duties include signing legal documents, assenting to legislation and issuing proclamations.

Interactions between the Government Leader's Office and the Executive Council Office are substantial. The offices have opted for informal consultation and collaboration mechanisms which allow them to provide high quality advice and support to the Government Leader.

3. Department of Finance

The Department of Finance provides overall management of the Government's financial resources to ensure they meet the priorities of Government and statutory obligations.

Responsibility for overall fiscal management and resource allocation rests with Management Board, a Cabinet committee established under the Financial Administration Act as the financial and management committee of Cabinet. Subject to the Financial Administration Act and the direction of Cabinet, it makes the strategic decisions on financial and human resources and government assets. Given the relatively small size of the Yukon Cabinet, all Ministers regularly attend Management Board and participate fully in its deliberations.

Policy support for the Board is provided by the Department of Finance, headed by the Deputy Minister of Finance, who also serves as the Secretary to Management Board. The Cabinet Secretary and the Public Service Commissioner also act as advisors to the Board. Both the Department of Finance and the Executive Council Office provide secretariat support to Management Board.

The budget process is modelled after the traditional process that is found at the federal level, as well as in most provinces.

The financial planning and budgetary control process used by the Yukon Government is determined by Management Board. The Cabinet will first set the corporate goals and priorities for the government at large. Line departments are responsible for preparing and obtaining approval for strategic plans, departmental and program objectives and capital plan narratives, where appropriate.

Budgeting is the second major component of the fiscal planning process: an overview memorandum is prepared and reviewed by Management Board. Following this review, five-year capital financial plans are prepared and approved, as well as operations and maintenance budgets. The Yukon Legislative Assembly then debates and approves the budgets.

The final component is budgetary control. implementation of budgets and plans by departments is monitored, controlled and revised, and this exercise leads into the next planning cycle. Public Accounts are prepared at year-end, audited by the Auditor General, tabled in the Legislative Assembly, and reviewed by the Public Accounts Committee.

4. Public Service Commission

The Public Service Commission provides human resource management services to departments. The Commission is responsible for safeguarding the merit principle and for overseeing the proper functioning of the appeal mechanism. A representative of the Public Service Commission sits on selection panels and certifies the choice made when filling a vacant position.

III The Senior Levels of the Public Service

The Government Leader selects all Deputy Ministers based on a certification of qualification by the Public Service Commission. All Deputy Ministers report to the Government Leader. Deputy Ministers are appointed by Order in Council under the Public Service Act. With the exception of the Public Service Commissioner, they hold office at pleasure for an initial term of up to five years. They may be reappointed for further periods. The Public Service Commissioner is appointed for a term of up to ten years and can be removed for "just cause".

Letters of undertaking are prepared each year following discussions with the Deputy Minister, the Minister, the Deputy Minister of the Executive Council and the Government Leader. The letters are based on government goals and they are subject to final approval by the Government Leader. The letters serve as a mandate for the Deputy Minister, and are used as the basis for the annual performance evaluation.

The Government Leader and the appropriate Minister are responsible for all performance evaluations and reviews of Deputy Ministers, working closely with the Deputy Minister of the Executive Council. The Deputy Minister's performance is measured against the objectives set out in the letter of undertaking.

The Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Office and Secretary to Cabinet leads the Deputy Minister community. He or she holds informal meetings on a weekly basis for all Deputies, as well as the more formal bi-weekly meetings of the Deputy Minister Review Committee. These meetings allow the Cabinet Secretary to communicate the government's vision of the future of the public service. These meetings also enable the Deputy Ministers to deal in a coherent and effective fashion with initiatives that cross departmental lines.


* The figure appearing in parentheses indicates the number of Cabinet Ministers who are members of the committee.

* Membership on the three following committees include Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the relevant program areas.

Annex 1 - Cabinet Review Process Flow Chart


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