2013-2014 Part III - Departmental Performance Report (DPR) - Privy Council Office

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Additional Details on PCO's Performance and Achievements in 2013-14
Sub-Program 1.1.1: Issues, policies, machinery and appointments

Support for Policy, Legislative and Administrative Priorities of the Government

In 2013-14, PCO provided professional, non-partisan advice and support to assist the Government in framing its policy and legislative agendas for the second half of its mandate, and supported the announcement of these priorities through the 2013 Speech from the Throne. The department also played a central monitoring and coordination role for the government-wide implementation of Canada’s Economic Action Plan (EAP) 2013, and supported the formulation of EAP 2014.

In support of the Government’s objective to return to balanced budgets in 2015, PCO worked throughout the year to provide advice and support regarding budget measures, including the balance of expenditures and revenues needed to achieve this objective. PCO also oversaw and supported implementation of government-wide measures to strengthen the Government of Canada’s Expenditure Management System and improve the fiscal management of both new and existing spending.

PCO provided advice and support for the implementation of both targeted savings measures and broad-based reviews, with a view to controlling government direct program spending and ensuring federal organizations remain focussed on improving the efficiency of their internal operations. This included targeted departmental spending reductions, a government-wide operating budget freeze, and continuing efforts to manage compensation costs by further aligning federal employee compensation with that offered by other public and private sector employers. PCO worked closely with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat regarding the negotiations on changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan that introduced equal cost sharing for retirees, which would make the plan more comparable to those of other large employers. PCO also provided advice regarding the latest round of collective bargaining with the core public administration.

With regard to the Government’s jobs and growth agenda, PCO provided strategic advice to the Prime Minister on a variety of initiatives, such as the Canada Job Grant, reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and the new Expression of Interest system of immigration. Furthermore, PCO provided advice and support for the development of the New Building Canada Plan, which continues to focus on supporting infrastructure projects of national, regional and local significance that enhance economic growth, job creation and productivity.

PCO supported the Prime Minister’s broader international engagements, including participation in summits and bilateral incoming and outgoing visits. PCO also supported the Government in advancing its trade and prosperity agenda through the completion in principle of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the completion of the Canada-Korea Trade Agreement. PCO also supported other ongoing trade negotiations including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

In support of Responsible Resource Development, PCO advised on new measures introduced during the year to enhance tanker and pipeline safety. It also directly supported the efforts of the Government of Canada’s Special Federal Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure in his efforts to engage Aboriginal communities in British Columbia and Alberta with an interest in energy infrastructure development.

In order to improve defence procurement, PCO collaborated with Government leads on the development of the new Defence Procurement Strategy. The goals of the Strategy are to deliver the right equipment to the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard in a timely manner, leverage purchases of defence equipment to create jobs and economic growth in Canada, and streamline defence procurement processes.

PCO supported the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada in advancing food safety initiatives through the policy approval process. The results of this work led to the EAP 2014 announcement of $390 million in investments over five years to strengthen Canada’s food safety system. PCO also worked with Health Canada to expand the National Anti-Drug Strategy to include prescription drug abuse, and to bring forward new patient safety legislation to protect Canadians from unsafe drugs.

PCO worked with Veterans Affairs Canada and National Defence in preparing for the National Day of Honour on May 9, 2014, in order to recognize and commemorate Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan.

PCO worked in collaboration with other departments and agencies to advance shared priorities on a range of issues important to First Nations communities, such as: providing job and skills training; improving water and wastewater systems; strengthening transparency and accountability for First Nations governments; and enhancing the rights and protections offered to First Nations people living on-reserve.

With regard to domestic emergencies, such as the Alberta flooding and the Lac-Mégantic derailment, PCO provided timely advice and horizontal coordination for the Government’s responses. With respect to the incident in Lac-Mégantic, this resulted in a number of significant steps being taken to improve rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods.

Timely advice was provided to the Prime Minister on the management of urgent issues related to the efficient transport of grain, and supporting Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Transport Canada on the development of new emergency legislation aimed at taking action to resolve rail supply chain issues.

PCO worked closely with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to establish a new pilot program related to livestock price insurance, which is in line with the Government's aim, announced as part of EAP 2014, to develop new industry-led risk management strategies. PCO also advised the Prime Minister on all significant developments related to the Canadian Wheat Board, including the development of its commercialization strategy.

PCO supported Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the renewal of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program to advance an economically viable and ecologically sustainable Canadian aquaculture industry.

To facilitate key investments in infrastructure and transportation, PCO supported Transport Canada in moving forward with the planning and construction of the new Windsor-Detroit International Crossing, which will improve the flow of people and goods between Canada and the United States. PCO also supported Infrastructure Canada in advancing the construction of a new bridge for the St. Lawrence river.

In order to help manufacturers and businesses succeed in the global economy, PCO provided advice regarding the renewal of the Automotive Innovation Fund (AIF), which will support significant new strategic research and development projects and long-term investments in the Canadian automotive sector. In addition, PCO supported the launch of the Western Innovation Initiative and the Business Innovation Access Program pilot initiative, both of which will help small- and medium-sized enterprises bring innovations to market faster.

PCO contributed to the Government’s commitment to invest in world-class research and innovation by providing advice and support regarding the transformation of the National Research Council (NRC) so that it can better serve Canadian businesses and help them compete in the global marketplace. PCO also advised on targeted investments in science and technology, including support for the Rick Hansen Institute to conduct spinal cord injury research, and support for research and development by CAE-a global leader in modelling, simulation and training for civil aviation and defence.

PCO provided advice regarding measures to protect consumer interests and foster greater competition in Canada’s wireless telecommunications sector, including measures to reduce roaming rates on domestic networks in Canada.

The department provided advice and support that led to the signing of an Agreement in Principle to Move Towards a Cooperative Capital Markets Regulatory System with the governments of British Columbia and Ontario.

PCO played an important and ongoing role in the planning and coordination of the Government’s legislative agenda during the year. It worked closely with the Department of Justice Canada and other departments to assist in the development of legislative priorities and supported these priority initiatives throughout the Parliamentary decision-making process. For example, in 2013-14, PCO provided professional, non-partisan advice on the development of the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. The resulting act represents the most comprehensive reform to citizenship legislation in more than a generation to strengthen and protect the value of Canadian citizenship. PCO also supported the Government’s Tough on Crime agenda, by advising on reforms to the not criminally-responsible provisions of the Criminal Code, strengthening the criminal justice system’s response to child sex offenders, supporting new legislation to address cyberbullying, and introducing legislation to establish a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

PCO also provided legal advice and coordination of legal files relating to the Government’s major policy initiatives and legislative agenda. This includes advice on high-profile litigation and matters that pose significant legal risks. Examples in 2013-14 included advice on and coordination of major legal files relating to: high-profile litigation and references; the Constitution; Aboriginal and treaty rights; national security; the Government’s major commercial transactions; regulatory matters; employment law; international law; and the law of armed conflict.

Coordination of Government-Wide Communications

PCO coordinates government-wide communications so that they are effectively managed and responsive to the diverse information needs of the public. As part of this role, PCO coordinated strategic communications planning for all government announcements and priorities during the year. This includes communications related to priorities such as the Speech from the Throne, the Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. PCO also continued to support the coordination of government-wide communications for Canada’s Economic Action Plan (EAP), and was responsible for the ongoing update and maintenance of the EAP website.

In addition, PCO coordinated the development and implementation of the Government of Canada’s annual Advertising Plan, which included major advertising campaigns such as the Better Jobs - Skills Initiatives, Anti-Cyberbullying, Tax Measures and Remembrance Day.

During the year, PCO made positive strides to modernize the communications function across government. PCO supported the planning, development and launch of a new Government of Canada website (www.Canada.ca) that will consolidate all Government websites and make it easier for Canadians to find and access government information online. In addition, PCO successfully completed the re-engineering of its media monitoring services. PCO also introduced a new Government of Canada news release format that is more compatible with social media.

PCO also provided extensive communications support for Blueprint 2020, an important initiative led by the Clerk of the Privy Council to engage all public servants on a vision for the future of the Public Service.

Support for the Prime Minister's Responsibilities for the Organization of Government

PCO provided advice to the Prime Minister in support of the exercise of his prerogative to structure and organize the government. In 2013-14, this included advice and support pertaining to: the largest mid-mandate Cabinet shuffle in recent history; the establishment of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; and the consolidation of entities such as the Public Service labour boards, federal bridge corporations and the proposed Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada.

Support for Governor-in-Council Appointments

PCO provided policy advice and operational support to ensure the successful management of competency-based selection processes for Governor-in-Council appointments. In 2013-14, PCO coordinated and managed a total of 92 selection and recruitment processes at various stages of completion for Governor-in-Council appointments, a significantly larger number than the 72 selection and recruitment processes that were underway in 2012-13. The creation of a number of new organizations in 2013-14, with requisite leadership and other full-time appointment positions, contributed to the elevated number of processes during the year.

In total, there were 551 Governor-in-Council appointments made during the fiscal year. Some notable examples include: the Chair and three Vice-Chairs of the new Social Security Tribunal; the Chair of the Board and also the President of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; the President of Export Development Canada; the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada; the Usher of the Black Rod; the Parliamentary Budget Officer; and the Commissioner of Competition.

Please Note: The above examples of PCO’s performance and achievements during the 2013-14 fiscal year are meant to be read in conjunction with the department’s 2013-14 Departmental Performance Report.