Prince Edward Island
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I Decision-Making Process
The decision-making process in Prince Edward Island rests with the Premier and his full Cabinet (Executive Council). The Executive Council is the Prince Edward Island government's ultimate authority in policy setting and decision- making.
The Executive Council includes the President of the Executive Council (who is usually the Premier) and the Ministers of the various departments of government as set out in the Public Departments Act. There are nine members of the Executive Council (including the Premier).
The Executive Council, its committees, and its supporting staff positions, are established by the Executive Council Act. Specific functions of the Executive Council include:
- establishing government objectives;
- setting government policy;
- determining government priorities;
- initiating, revising or terminating government programs;
- finalizing budget estimates for consideration by the Legislative Assembly;
- determining legislative requirements and approving draft bills for consideration by the Legislative Assembly; and
- exercising such specific authority as has been delegated by the Legislative Assembly to the Lieutenant Governor in Council (for example, the authority to make or approve regulations, the authority to make appointments, etc.).
The Executive Council is supported by three Cabinet committees - the Treasury Board, the Strategic Planning Committee and the Legislative Review Committee. Treasury Board is chaired by the Provincial Treasurer and four other Cabinet Ministers are members. It deals with all matters having financial implications. The Strategic Planning Committee is comprised of three Cabinet Ministers and four non-ministerial Government members of the Legislative Assembly. It is chaired by the Premier. It deals with all policy matters, both social and economic. The Legislative Review Committee is chaired by the Government House Leader (a non-ministerial Government member of the Legislative Assembly). It examines legislative proposals, provides drafting instructions, reviews proposed new and amended regulations, and scans the legislative landscape to avoid redundancy. Its membership consists of one Cabinet Minister and three other MLAs. The Secretary is a lawyer. All members of the Government caucus, except for the Speaker, sit on either the Executive Council or a Cabinet committee or both. All members of all Cabinet committees, Ministers and MLAs alike, take an Oath of Confidentiality upon appointment to a Cabinet committee.
Each of the Cabinet committees employs analysts to work with staff in line departments to ensure that an appropriate framework and an orderly process exists to guide:
- the development and ongoing review of legislation and regulations;
- the uniform administration of government business;
- the equitable enforcement of sound practice; and
- the creative development of new or modified approaches to dealing with issues.
It is expected that all legislative proposals, all suggested new regulations and regulatory amendments and all matters with significant policy or financial implications will have been considered and a recommendation rendered by one or more of the Cabinet committees prior to Executive Council's being asked to determine the direction to be taken. While Treasury Board is assigned certain decision-making powers under the Financial Administration Act, the other two committees have no governing legislation and make recommendations to Executive Council only.
The Legislative Review Committee, after having reviewed legislative proposals, authorizes officials to proceed to the drafting stage. Draft legislation is normally reviewed by caucus and not Cabinet (except for contentious issues or matters expected to have far-reaching implications).
The Executive Council also relies on the "Senior Management Team" for assistance with strategic policy development and implementation of government policy direction. The Senior Management Team is chaired by the Premier's Principal Secretary and includes the Clerk of the Executive Council, the Secretaries to the three Cabinet committees, the Deputy Heads of all line departments, and the Chief Executive Officers of the human resource agencies (Staffing and Classification Board and Human Resource Management Services Inc.). The members of this group are accountable for departmental or agency responsibilities and as well for the development of certain corporate directions as determined by Cabinet. It meets weekly.
Treasury Board draws staff support in the areas of financial and corporate policy analysis from the resources of the Department of Provincial Treasury, while the Strategic Planning Committee is served by staff of the Executive Council Office and the Legislative Review Committee by Executive Council's Legal Counsel with assistance, as required, from the Department of Community Affairs and Attorney General.
There are currently 27 members in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. They are divided among the following party lines:
- 18Progressive Conservatives;
- 8 Liberals; and
- 1 NDP.
II Central Agencies
The government reform process initiated in the early 1990's resulted in significant changes to the structure of the Government of Prince Edward Island. Two of the major objectives of the reform activities were:
- to increase administrative flexibility; and
- to improve the accountability of departments and agencies in the context of a strengthened "corporate" approach.
Impacts on central agencies included the restructuring of the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Civil Service Commission and the Executive Council Office.
Responsibility for financial and administrative policy remained with the Provincial Treasury (previously the Department of Finance). The Treasury Board Secretariat ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity, but the budget and policy analysts and administrative support staff previously employed in the Secretariat became staff of the Department of Provincial Treasury, with duties and responsibilities essentially unchanged. Responsibility for some personnel policy functions such as payroll administration, employee benefits and training were transferred to the Provincial Treasury from the former Civil Service Commission, renamed the Staffing and Classification Board. The new Staffing and Classification Board retained responsibility for recruitment and selection to the civil service and for administration of the classification plan.
Responsibility for collective bargaining, previously divided between the former Treasury Board Secretariat and the former Civil Service Commission, was assigned to a newly created corporation, Human Resource Management Services Inc. Recently, however, the Government has taken a decision to privatize Human Resource Management Services Inc. and to combine the Staffing and Classification Board with the Human Resource Division of the Provincial Treasury back into a single human resource body called the P.E.I. Public Service Commission. It is to be an arm's length entity with three Board members appointed as per the Staffing and Classification Board's legislation. (The legislative mechanism to effect the reestablishment of a single human resource entity within government is expected to go forward in this session.)
With the conclusion of government reform and the implementation of the new structures in April 1993, the Cabinet Committee on Government Reform, staffed from the Executive Council Office, was disbanded and in its place, a central Policy Unit was established. Further refinement occurred in December 1996 with the formal creation of the Policy Board as a Cabinet committee and the conversion of the Policy Unit to the Policy Board Secretariat. Approximately one year later, in January 1998, the Policy Board was abolished and two new Cabinet committees, the Strategic Planning Committee and the Legislative Review Committee were established. The staff of these committees, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the P.E.I. Ports Commission and the Office of the Clerk comprise the Executive Council Office.
1. The Executive Council Office
The major functions and responsibilities of the Executive Council Office include:
- to co-ordinate planning and policy development (via the Strategic Planning Committee) within the provincial government;
- to review, analyse and assess the social and economic effects and impacts of issues, proposals or recommendations to Executive Council;
- to undertake or co-ordinate special projects;
- to inform and advise Executive Council with respect to intergovernmental issues;
- to assist in negotiating and monitoring Economic and Regional Development Agreements with the Government of Canada;
- to coordinate the government's legislative program;
- to organize and manage Executive Council documents and to create and maintain the official records; and
- to liaise with Government House and the Privy Council Office or the Department of Canadian Heritage on matters of protocol and procedure.
In carrying out its responsibilities, the Executive Council Office frequently staffs positions via the secondment of senior employees from line departments and agencies of government for terms of up to two years. This provides government with the benefit of diverse perspectives, while giving experienced employees the opportunity to participate in planning and policy development at the central agency level.
The Executive Council Office is divided in the following manner:
- Office of the Clerk, which includes the staff of Clerk of the Executive Council, Strategic Planning Committee, Legislative Review Committee, Intergovernmental Affairs and P.E.I. Ports Commission; and
- Premier's Office, which includes the Principal Secretary, the Chief of Staff, the Executive Assistant and administrative staff.
The Premier's Office is headed by the Principal Secretary who oversees all activities in the Premier's office. Information is channelled through the Principal Secretary to the Premier, including that from the Senior Management Team.
a) The Role of the Cabinet Secretary
The functions that might normally fall to a Cabinet Secretary are divided in Prince Edward Island between the Premier's Principal Secretary, who serves also as Deputy Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Policy Advisor, and the Clerk of the Executive Council.
i) The Principal Secretary
The Principal Secretary, with assistance from the Senior Management Team, advises the Premier and Cabinet on matters of policy and strategy.
ii) Clerk of the Executive Council
By law, the Clerk of the Executive Council is responsible for the official records of the Executive Council. The Clerk as manager provides a full range of administrative and policy supports to the Premier, Executive Council and the Cabinet committees, and administrative direction to the civil service. Both the Principal Secretary and the Clerk attend all meetings of Cabinet.
b) Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
The Prince Edward Island Office of Intergovernmental Affairs operates as a division within the Executive Council Office and is responsible for:
- Federal-provincial relations;
- Constitutional and national unity matters;
- Aboriginal affairs;
- Atlantic provinces economic and social cooperation;
- International and internal trade policy; and
- Social policy renewal.
The Premier is the Minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs and his Principal Secretary and Senior Policy Advisor is the Deputy Minister. Protocol responsibilities are coordinated from the Premier's Office.
The Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has immediate access to the Premier to review various issues. This ensures that the Premier has an early opportunity to identify positions on priority issues for upcoming meetings.
Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) staff coordinate the preparation of briefing materials for all intergovernmental meetings involving the Premier. Normally, there are discussions several months in advance among Intergovernmental Affairs officials of the jurisdictions involved regarding the meeting agenda. Once a draft meeting agenda is determined, the Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs requests briefing notes. Internally, IGA staff consult with line departments regarding agenda items and coordinate the assembly of the briefing package. As the draft notes are received, IGA staff review them to ensure they provide a useful and comprehensive summary, to eliminate any inconsistencies, to discuss expected outcomes and to obtain additional information, if required. IGA staff usually prepare the briefing notes on issues which involve several departments.
Once the briefing notes are in order, a formal briefing with the Premier takes place. In addition to IGA and Premier's Office staff, Ministers, Deputy Ministers or other Senior staff may participate in briefing sessions.
IGA staff ensure that line departments receive ongoing Cabinet direction on issues where required; for instance, the authorization of the Executive Council is sought before a Minister enters into an intergovernmental agreement.
These processes also apply to the Annual Premiers' Conference, the Conference of Atlantic Premiers, and the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers.
Intergovernmental Affairs does not have an Ottawa office. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism maintains a Trade and Investment Office in Hong Kong.
The Intergovernmental Affairs Office does not issue an annual report, nor does it have enabling legislation.
2. Department of the Provincial Treasury/Treasury Board
Section 8 of the Executive Council Act provides that:
8(1) There shall be a committee of the Executive Council called the Treasury Board which shall advise on budget preparation, financial analysis, government organization, operating policy and procedures, financial administration, collective bargaining, staff relations, human resource development and classification.
(2) The Board shall consist of the Provincial Treasurer and not more than four other members of the Executive Council appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
(3) The Provincial Treasurer shall be the chairperson of the Board.
(4) The Deputy Provincial Treasurer shall be the Secretary to the Board.
(5) The Board shall determine its own procedure.
Treasury Board meets weekly; during the course of these meetings requests from Departments and Agencies for authorization in any of the areas of Board responsibility are addressed. In many areas (e.g., tender awards, position creation or abolition, contract renewals, etc.), Treasury Board has the authority to give direction in its own right, while in other matters (loan guarantees, special warrants for additional budgetary appropriation, direction on the year-end financial statements of Crown Corporations) the Board must refer its recommendation to Executive Council for decision.
The Department of the Provincial Treasury, which supports the Treasury Board, is responsible for central fiscal management and the allocation of resources. Specific functions include:
- establishing fiscal goals and priorities;
- research and analysis on fiscal matters;
- preparing economic reviews, analyses and forecasts for budgetary and economic planning;
- federal/provincial fiscal arrangements;
- levying and receiving provincial revenues;
- tax administration;
- banking and money management;
- borrowing/debt servicing;
- preparing and administering operating and capital budgets;
- payment processing;
- provincial property records;
- information systems delivery;
- administering insurance and risk management;
- coordinating of corporate leadership;
- human resource development (personnel administration, training, employee assistance);
- establishing general administrative policies for the public service; and
- controlling the establishment and abolition of classified positions.
3. Staffing and Classification Board
The Staffing and Classification Board is an independent agency established under the Civil Service Act. The Board consists of three members - one selected by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, one appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council from a list of three nominees submitted by the Union of Public Sector Employees, and one, to be chairperson, selected by the Lieutenant Governor in Council from a list of at least two nominees submitted jointly by the other two members.
The position of Chief Executive Officer is at the Deputy Minister level and appointment is made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
In addition, employees in the Human Resources Division of the Provincial Treasury provide support in the following areas:
- Human Resources Administration;
- Employee Assistance;
- Employee Benefits;
- Learning Centre; and
- Occupational Health and Safety.
The Staffing and Classification Board includes two divisions. Staffing Services provides leadership and support in ensuring that government hiring practices are consistent and equitable and that qualified employees are selected for vacant positions Classification Services is responsible for organization review, compensation research, job evaluation and position classification.
All senior director positions are filled via in-service or open competition. On the basis of interviews and other assessment tools, candidates are ranked and, in the case of an open competition, the names of the three highest ranking candidates are presented to the Minister for selection and subsequent appointment by the Board. In the case of an in-service competition the highest ranking candidate is appointed.
Staff members below the Deputy head level must go through competitions established by the Staffing and Classification Board to be appointed to the public service. Appeals from competition decisions are handled through an appeal mechanism that has been built into the Civil Service Act.
4. Human Resource Management Services Inc.
Human Resource Management Services Inc. is an arm's length organization which has been mandated to handle all of the Government's negotiations with the various unions (i.e., Nurses, Teachers, Union of Public Sector Employees, Government's Excluded Employees Group, etc.). At present, it is composed of six employees.
5. Evaluation and Remuneration
Directors are subject to annual performance management assessments based on a combination of organizational and personal objectives established by each director in consultation with his or her deputy head.
Deputy heads are selected by the Premier and appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. They may be promoted from within the senior director ranks, or hired from outside the provincial government service.
There is currently no provision for performance pay, and no system of performance measurement for deputy heads.
The current government has appointed six deputy heads from outside the public service and three from within. Of the remaining deputy heads, seven were appointed from the civil service by previous administrations and only one from the outside.
There have been two salary roll-backs in recent history. From November 1988 until March 1989, there was a voluntary roll back. The second occurred in May 1994 until October 1996. This, however, was a legislated roll-back in which a 7 ½ per cent reduction was applied to the public sector at large. The pay rate was restored in October 1996, retroactive to May 1995. There has not been a wage increase for deputy heads since 1992.
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