'Every public servant deserves a safe and healthy work environment, period'
Unions that represent federal public servants are calling on the government to take action regarding employee dissatisfaction as a report finds they are unable to take pride in their work, according to an article by CBC News.
The Deputy Ministers' Task Team on Values and Ethics Report was published by a task force formed by Privy Council Clerk John Hannaford.
It found that “public servants must provide frank and professional advice, without partisan considerations or fear of criticism or political reprisals” and included accounts of racism and discrimination. A double standard was also present regarding the unequal application of the Values and Ethics Code of the Public Sector.
A participant noted that there seemed to be lesser accountability the higher one’s position is, while another one noted a lack of cultural competency when dealing with Indigenous Peoples, said the CBC. There were also calls for clarity regarding the proper outline about how public servants should present themselves on social media platforms.
Recommendations for public service
President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand had stated that the team will be reviewing the recommendations of the report and will discuss steps to deal with the problems presented.
“Every public servant deserves a safe and healthy work environment, period. Officials receive training on respect in the workplace and are encouraged to report any behaviour that goes against the Code,” said Anand in the CBC article.
Some of the recommendations asked senior leaders to continue to engage with equity-deserving communities and networks and central agencies to update the guidance regarding social media use.
Wayne Wouters, previous clerk of the privy council, said that the recommendations were a good start as values and ethics were important when it comes to the line of public service.
“They have far-reaching implications for governance, for public trust and for the well-being of our society and Canadians as a whole,” said Wouters in the article. “It is our foundation, it is the basis of public trust.”
Unions looking for government action
Alex Silas, regional executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said that while the union support the report’s recommendations, they still wanted to see the government take action.
“What we've seen historically, unfortunately, is that the values and ethics proposed by the federal government are not implemented in the workplaces of the federal government,” said Silas in the CBC article.
A spokesperson for the office of the privy council stated that the report’s observations and recommendations will be helpful in determining the steps that should be taken going forward.
The Deputy Ministers' Task Team on Values and Ethics Report involved more than 90 conversations with public servants and external stakeholders, which began in September 2023.