British Columbia

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I Decision-Making Process

The formal decision-making process in British Columbia is centred on the Executive Council, commonly know as the Cabinet. The Premier exercises his prerogative to appoint Ministers to Cabinet, and to the Cabinet committees. With the exception of Treasury Board and the Environment and Land Use Committee which are established by legislation, all other Cabinet committee are constituted by the Premier. These committee also have caucus members appointed to participate fully in the committees' work. The committee are as follows:

- the Treasury Board;

- the Planning and Priorities Committees;

- the Cabinet Committee on Regulations and Orders in Council;

- the Cabinet and Caucus Committee on Legislation; and

- the Environment and Land Use Committee.

Treasury Board has a sub-group called the Crown Corporations Working Group. The Planning and Priorities Committee has two sub-groups: the Fisheries Working Group and First Nations Issues Working Group.

Each committee or working group is chaired by a Cabinet Minister, except for the Planning and Priorities Committee, which is chaired by the Premier.

There are 75 members of the Legislative Assembly; 38 sit on the Government benches, of whom 19 are Ministers. Currently, 9 Government backbenchers sit on Cabinet committees (2 of whom sit on two committees).

Cabinet committees function to provide an opportunity that all cross-Ministry implications have been thoroughly explored. The committees serve to ensure that policy and fiscal initiatives are well developed before they come to Cabinet. This allows the Cabinet agenda to focus on priorities and on board public policy matters.

II Central Agencies

In British Columbia, the Premier and the Cabinet are supported in the exercise of their responsibilities, by both line Ministries, and by central agencies. The two primary central agencies are the Executive Council and Treasury Board.

The Premier is supported by two organizations. The Premier's Office is comprised of the Premier's personal and political staff. The Principal Secretary oversees the operation of this office which manages the Premier's schedule, correspondence and communications.

The Executive Council Office supports the Premier across the full range of his responsibilities as head of government. While these two organizations have very distinct roles, close consultation and coordination are necessary.

1. Executive Council Office

Under the leadership of the Deputy Minister of the Premier, this central agency provides integrated advice to the Premier and Cabinet on government wide priorities and issues. The Deputy to the Premier coordinates and oversees the management of major government issues and undertakings, provides policy advice to the Premier and Cabinet, and his Head of the Public Service.

Three Secretariats report to the Deputy Minister to the Premier: Cabinet Operations, Cabinet Policy and Communications Secretariat and Intergovernmental Relations.

The Deputy Minister to the Premier is responsible for direction and accountability within the Deputy Ministers' community. He chairs the Deputy Ministers' Council a forum that manages all cross Ministry issues, from strategic planning, budget reviews to streamlining government operations, and common government-wide initiatives.

As head of the public service, the Deputy Minister to the Premier is responsible for the management of senior levels of the public service. He provides advice to the Premier and to Cabinet on the selection, appointment, performance review and termination of Order in Council appointments. He also oversees public services renewal, and the training and development to the public service.

The Deputy Minister to the Premier is also the Deputy responsible for the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat. This Secretariat manages British Columbia's overall approach to intergovernmental relations, provides advice and strategic planning on the federal-provincial priorities of the government, monitors initiatives of the federal, provincial and foreign governments for their relevance to the province's positions on intergovernmental initiatives; and is responsible for organizing government's protocol and events functions. Reporting to the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations and to the Premier, through the Deputy Minister to the Premier, the Secretariat is responsible for providing policy analysis, advice and planning for the Premier's participation in First Ministers' Conferences, Annual Premiers conference, Western Premiers' Conference and in international trade missions. The Secretariat also oversees the operations of BC House located in Ottawa.

Cabinet Operations also reports to the Premier, through the Deputy Minister to the Premier. The Cabinet Secretary is the head of Cabinet Operations and is responsible for briefing and advising Ministers on issues before Cabinet providing management and secretariat support to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees, maintains a record of Cabinet deliberations and communicates Cabinet decisions throughout government. On all matters related to the Cabinet agenda, the Cabinet Secretary reports directly to the Premier.

Cabinet Policy and Communications Secretariat is headed by a Deputy Minister, who reports to the Premier, through the Deputy Minister to the Premier. The Policy Branch assists in the development, coordination and implementation of the government's policy priorities, and provides a policy review of all Cabinet and Treasury Board submissions, legislation and information items. The Communications Branch ensures that government communications and public relations are coordinated, consistent and serve the public in a cost-effective manner.

The Deputy Minister to the Premier has established a Committee to ensure collaboration and coordination. He, the Cabinet Secretary, the Deputy Minister of Cabinet Policy and Communications, the Premier's Principal Secretary and the Director of Communications meet regularly. Through this informal structure, emerging issues, strategic priorities and policies are coordinated as part of the comprehensive advice provided to the Premier on a daily basis.

2. Treasury Board Secretariat

Treasury Board Secretariat is the other central agency that, through the Cabinet Committee of Treasury Board, helps to support Cabinet. It is responsible for ensuring that public money is managed and distributed in the public money is managed and disbursed in the public interest by providing analysis and advice to Treasury Board, which is chaired by the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations.

The Financial Administration Act gives Treasury Board the authority to evaluate government programs for economy, efficiency, and effectiveness, and to make decisions relating to the government's accounting policy and practices, financial management and controls; and personnel management.

The Treasury Board Secretariat, led by the Deputy Minister of Treasury Board supports the Cabinet committee in development of the annual Budget and Estimates, and by managing the Consolidated Capital plan process.

3. Public Service Commission

The Public Service Commission, headed by the Public Service Commissioner, is responsible for providing the general direction on hiring policies and for overseeing the appeal mechanisms. While the hiring authority of the Public Service Commission has been delegated to individual government ministries, the ministries must ensure that the staffing policies established by the Commission are implemented. The Public Service Commission is also responsible for the publication entitled "Postings" in which advertisements for available positions in the public service may be published. Mobility is greatly encouraged for good managers and strong performers within the senior levels of the public service. Performance evaluations are conducted annually by supervisors at all levels of the public service.

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