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I Decision-Making Process
The decision-making process in Manitoba rests with the Premier and the full Cabinet (Executive Council). The Executive Council is composed of 17 Ministers plus the Premier. Deliberations are secret and only Ministers may participate. However, backbenchers may participate in some Cabinet committees. Typically, Cabinet committees are composed of five or six Cabinet Ministers. This configuration allows some caucus input into the decision-making process.
The creation of Cabinet committees is possible through the Executive Government Organization Act, enacted in 1970. The statute provides the Premier with the flexibility to modify the role which committees play in policy development. The Clerk of the Executive Council advises the Premier on Cabinet organization, but, at the end of the day, decisions relating to the organization of Cabinet and Cabinet committees remain the Premier's.
The government of Manitoba is in the midst of reviewing the makeup of Cabinet committees and pending some final approvals, the Cabinet committee structure in Manitoba will be the following (the committees follow normal patterns and mandates are usually consistent with similar committees in other jurisdictions):
- Economic Development Board Committee (7)*;
- Human Services Committee (9);
- Provincial Land Use Committee (8);
- Public Sector Compensation Committee (4);
- Sustainable Development Committee (8);
- Treasury Board Committee (6); and
- Urban Affairs Committee (11).
There is also a joint Cabinet caucus committee called Legislation and Regulatory Review Committee of Cabinet, which includes six Ministers and six caucus members.
During the Estimates review and preparation, four sectoral committees operate. There are four ministerial committees, one for each sector parallelled by four Deputy Minister committees. These committees only function for the purposes of preparing estimates within those sectoral envelopes.
There are at least twice yearly Cabinet retreats and one or two full government caucus retreats where presentations on the fiscal and legislative frameworks are made.
The Treasury Board, the Economic Development Board of Cabinet and the Human Services Committee of Cabinet currently play important roles in support of Cabinet itself in the development of overall government policy. The Public Sector Compensation Committee was established several years ago to deal with significant public sector compensation issues, primarily those relating to negotiations and settlements within public sector unions, and those involving publicly funded groups like nurses and doctors.
Over the past 20-25 years, Manitoba has experienced a number of changes in the use of Cabinet committees and the changing degree of centralization in staff support on policy matters. The present Government prefers a minimal number of formal Cabinet committees and a fairly decentralized system of staff support.
The policy development role within government is also quite decentralized; it is usually done within departments. However, the Executive Council ensures that the individual policy directions of each area of government are monitored and coordinated in order to reflect central policy goals and objectives. While the government does have a Policy Management Secretariat within the Executive Office reporting to the Clerk, this secretariat generally does not provide overall central policy development. It provides basic analysis of policy issues for use by the Premier and Ministers, such as when answering questions in the legislature or in other forums within the province.
In early September of each year, all the proposals for legislation are assembled and submitted to Cabinet for approval in principle by the various departments. TheLegislation and Regulatory Review Committee of Cabinet is mandated to look at the proposals in more specific detail. Caucus is briefed by Ministers, especially when it comes to controversial bills.
There are presently 57 Members of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. They are divided among the following party lines:
- 31 Progressive Conservatives;
- 23 New Democrats; and
- 3 Liberals.
II Central Agencies
In Manitoba, the Premier and the Cabinet are supported in the exercise of their responsibilities by the Executive Council Office which includes five branches under the Clerk of the Executive Council:
1) the Premier's Secretariat;
2) the Intergovernmental Relations Branch;
3) the Policy Management Secretariat;
4) the Cabinet Administration Branch; and
5) the Cabinet Communications Secretariat.
Treasury Board (a committee of Cabinet) is supported by a secretariat housed within the Department of Finance.
1. The Executive Council Office
a) The Office of the Clerk of the Executive Council
In Manitoba, the Executive Council Office supports the Premier and Cabinet (the Executive Council) in the exercise of their functions. The Office of the Clerk of the Executive Council ensures that all aspects of the Executive Government Organization Act are administered properly and within the corporate agenda of the Government.
The Office is required to assist in developing and fostering intergovernmental relations, both domestically and internationally.
As the senior Deputy Minister and head of the civil service, the Clerk plays a liaison role between the various departments of government in order to ensure that the broad corporate undertakings by government are coordinated and fully implemented according to the wishes expressed by the Premier and Cabinet.
In his capacity as Cabinet Secretary, the Clerk ensures that information being presented to Cabinet has been thoroughly analysed and presented in such a way that Cabinet can understand the key issues and render decisions which contribute to the fulfilment of their established policy agenda. The main functions of the Office are to:
- organize and develop the Cabinet agenda;
- ensure that Cabinet decisions are clearly communicated to the departments and agencies of government;
- liaise with Deputy Ministers and other senior public servants in order to ascertain the status of departmental problems, priorities and programs;
- provide departmental support to the Premier; and
- liaise with federal and provincial counterparts.
The Human Services Committee of Cabinet is supported by a senior manager who reports to the Clerk. However, the Executive Council Office does not serve all Cabinet committees. The Economic Development Board of Cabinet is served by a small secretariat in the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism. The secretariat in turn reports to the Clerk. The Chair of that Cabinet committee is the Premier. Treasury Board also has a separate secretariat in the Department of Finance. The Executive Council Office remains responsible for the Records of Decision.
b) The Premier's Secretariat (Office of the Premier)
The Premier's political office is headed by a Chief of Staff, who is supported by an executive assistant and a small policy coordination unit which manages daily and longer term political issues, and takes care of the Premier's itinerary and correspondence. The politically appointed staff have no tenure. The administrative support staff are civil servants.
Relations between the Premier's Chief of Staff and the Clerk of the Executive Council can best be described in terms of "structural informality". Both usually have daily discussions and meet twice a week on a more formal basis. The Clerk and Chief of Staff strive to give the Premier joint advice on pressing issues and try to ensure that all advice is "balanced". On rare occasions, an issue has been forwarded to the Premier because they did not agree.
c) The Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat
The Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat reports through the Clerk to the Premier (although the head of the Secretariat may also report directly to the Premier).
The Secretariat provides corporate and strategic advice to the Premier and Cabinet, coordinates and monitors issues related to federal-provincial, interprovincial and international relations. It maintains up-to-date knowledge and assessment of the interests of other governments. It links, where appropriate, Manitoba's initiatives with those of other governments. It supports departments in their management of intergovernmental relations and provides necessary interdepartmental coordination. The Secretariat also represents the interests of the Manitoba Government in Ottawa and provides intelligence support on policy and program developments at the federal level.
The Secretariat, together with the Office of the Executive Council, establishes the Government's position for the Annual Premiers' Conferences, Western Premiers' Conferences, Western Governors' and Premiers' meetings and First Ministers' Conferences.
More specifically, the Secretariat ensures that material developed for intergovernmental meetings is consistent and meets the policy objectives established by the Government. This coordinating role assists the Premier, as Minister for Federal-Provincial Relations, to determine the direction his Government will take in intergovernmental relations at the ministerial and officials' level.
d) The Policy Management Secretariat
The Policy Management Secretariat reports to the Clerk. Despite its title, the mandate of this office is generally not one of overall central policy development. This unit is mandated with the task of providing basic analysis of policy issues for use by the Premier and Ministers, such as when answering questions in the legislature or in other forums within the province (i.e., issues management).
e) The Cabinet Administration Secretariat
The Cabinet Administration Secretariat provides corporate support to the Premier and Cabinet by reviewing and assembling all materials prior to establishing a Cabinet agenda. It manages the paper flow in and out of Cabinet via the agenda and processes orders in council, regulations and proclamations. The branch also records Cabinet decisions and ensures that the minutes are communicated and stored properly. In addition, it looks after finances, personnel administration, protocol and computer administration.
f) The Cabinet Communications Secretariat
The Cabinet Communications Secretariat, led by the Premier's Press Secretary, is the group responsible for working directly with Ministers on the government's corporate and political communications. The staff deal directly with the media and review final drafts of press releases that are produced in departments and the Information Resources Division of government. The Secretariat also has representatives sitting on various committees that are in charge of information and advertising campaigns such as tourism, consumer protection campaigns, etc.
2. The Department of Finance
The Department of Finance is headed by a Deputy Minister. However, because the Minister of Finance is chairman of the Treasury Board, there is also a Secretary to the Treasury Board at the Deputy Minister level who reports to the Minister. The department is responsible for establishing the provincial fiscal framework and taxation policy. The department is also responsible for revenue collection.
The Treasury Board is established under the provisions of the Financial Administration Act, and it exercises certain authorities and responsibilities under that Act. It is primarily responsible for resources allocation between sectors, and estimates forecasts, but it does not act as government employer. Approximately 40 people in the Treasury Board Secretariat support the Treasury Board.
A Chief Information Officer (CIO) has been recruited and is in place. The CIO is at a Deputy Minister level and reports to the Minister of Finance as the Chair of Treasury Board. In addition, other technical staff and system coordinators are seconded to the office to work on special projects. The CIO has the responsibility for overall coordination of government information (computer) systems and more importantly for coordination and development of the strategy for new investments including having a key role in major re-engineering projects.
3. The Civil Service Commission (CSC)
The Civil Service Commission is the central agency responsible for the Manitoba Government's human resources management services. It is responsible for:
- professional staff development and training;
- labour relations and bargaining with unions;
- appeals; and
- the auditing of hiring.
The Civil Service Commission's Staffing Program supports the appointment, career progression and retention of human resources in the Manitoba civil service under the principles of merit, fairness and equity. Affirmative action is a factor in selection. Applicants are encouraged to indicate if they are from any of the following groups: women, Aboriginal people, visible minorities and persons with disabilities.
The Labour Relations Division in the CSC negotiates collective agreements for civil servants. Under authority delegated from the CSC, most government departments maintain their own Human Resources offices and exercise staffing authority for the majority of positions in their department. The employing authorities are Deputy Ministers and hiring is conducted through open competitions.
The highest ranking civil servants, namely the 21 Deputy Ministers and the Clerk of the Executive Council, together with the Civil Service Commissioner, are named by the Lieutenant Governor in Council at pleasure. The Premier consults with Ministers and the Clerk of the Executive Council before making the final selection. Deputy Ministers are not provided mandate letters, and are instead verbally briefed on the exercise of their functions. Associate/Assistant Deputy Ministers are also Lieutenant Governor in Council appointments; everyone else is a civil service appointment. Employees in the Executive Council are exempt from union membership and collective bargaining, as is the senior management in other departments.
As head of the civil service, the Clerk of the Executive Council is responsible for providing leadership and vision. The Government of Manitoba has initiated public sector reform initiatives entitled "Service 1st". In addition to the general public sector reform activities, there are two other significant sub-components: "Better Systems" is an initiative involving several departments which will enhance service to and interaction with the public through the redesign of government processes and the implementation of information technology to allow enhanced electronic communication; and, "Better Methods" is a major re-engineering project involving government-wide corporate processes such as human resources, payroll, financial management and reporting. "Service 1st" reports to the Clerk in his capacity as Cabinet Secretary. One of the special projects under "Service 1st" is the "Service 1st Fund" which promotes innovative activities and reforms by providing seed money on a non-repayable basis.
Senior bureaucrats traditionally developed their careers within a single department, but the Clerk is increasingly advising them to look at other departments and encouraging "cross-fertilization". An annual review of the senior management in government is undertaken by the office of the Clerk together with the Civil Service Commission. As for the Clerk, he or she is selected and evaluated by the Premier.
To deal with the demographics of the Manitoba civil service, there exists an entry level internal management recruitment program which offers Master's level graduates three years of diversified experience in government. Approximately half a dozen candidates are recruited yearly as part of this pilot project. There also exists an Aboriginal management program to encourage the greater mobility of Aboriginal civil servants within government.
The Manitoba civil service has endured a five year wage freeze and a 4 per cent reduction which was enforced through ten days leave without pay - seven summer Fridays and three days during the winter holidays. As of April 1st 1998, the wage reduction has fallen to 1.9 per cent, which translates into five days leave without pay. The reduction will be totally lifted in 1999.
Currently, there are no incentives or bonus pay in the Manitoba civil service. Performance evaluations, however, are conducted for every employee on a yearly basis. Political staff are evaluated by the Chief of Staff, Assistant Deputy Ministers are evaluated by Deputy Ministers, and Deputy Ministers are evaluated by the Clerk of the Executive Council in consultation with the Minister.
(An Information Technology Project completion bonus plan has been announced and details will soon be communicated. Senior manager bonus plans in other jurisdictions are currently being examined, but to date, there is no decision to implement such a plan in Manitoba.)
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