Public Service Commission of Canada

Public Service Commission of Canada

October 05, 2010 10:28 ET

PSC Flags Improper Use of Temp Help

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 5, 2010) - The 2009-2010 Annual Report of the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC), along with nine audit reports and a study on the use of temporary help services, were tabled today in Parliament. The PSC also released two other studies.

The Annual Report covers the PSC's fourth year of operation under the modernized Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). Overall, the PSC concluded that the core values of merit and non-partisanship and the guiding values of fairness, access, transparency and representativeness are generally being respected across the public service. 

PSC President Maria Barrados stated that "significant progress has been made in implementing the PSEA over the past four years." She added, "However, concerted effort is needed to ensure a values-based approach to staffing. More work needs to be done to ensure that managers fully understand how to apply the core and guiding values in their decisions."

Although progress has been made in many key areas, the PSC remains concerned about the length of time it takes to staff permanent positions and about the use of temporary help contracting to address long-term staffing needs.

Responding to a request from Parliament, the PSC undertook a study of the use of temporary help services. Although there is a role for temporary help services to address short-term staffing needs, the study found that these services have been used improperly to address long-term needs. The PSC believes that long-term resourcing needs should be addressed through staffing mechanisms pursuant to the PSEA. The study also showed that temporary help expenditures nearly tripled between 1999-2000 and 2008-2009.

Temporary workers are hired through contracting mechanisms outside the PSEA and are not subject to the principle of merit. The study revealed an additional workforce within the public service – one that is not subject to the PSEA and that is being used for long-term and continuous work. Mrs. Barrados stated that "the PSC is concerned that some temporary help is being used improperly, in a way that circumvents the PSEA."

While there was a notable reduction in the time it takes to staff collective, advertised processes, individual processes remained relatively unchanged at about 23 weeks. According to Mrs. Barrados, "The time it takes to staff permanent positions can be significantly reduced. Organizations need to be more aggressive in addressing this issue by establishing firm benchmarks."

The PSC also reported that three of the four employment equity groups – women, visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples – are now appointed into the public service at a proportion exceeding their respective workforce availability. Persons with disabilities remain the one group whose share of appointments is below workforce availability.

In 2009-2010, the public service continued to grow, but at a slower rate, 3.4% as compared to 4.5% in 2008-2009. Organizations under the PSEA also conducted fewer hiring and staffing activities. 

Of the seven organizations audited, the PSC placed conditions on the staffing authorities of one organization, the National Parole Board. The Board has provided the PSC with an action plan outlining how they will respond to the audit recommendations. In addition, the PSC fully restored the staffing delegation to the Canadian Space Agency as a result of a follow-up audit.

The PSC is an independent agency reporting to Parliament. Its mandate is to safeguard the integrity of the public service staffing system and the non-partisanship of the public service. In addition, the PSC recruits qualified Canadians from across the country.

The PSC's 2009-2010 Annual Report, nine audit reports and three studies are available on the PSC Web site at

Related documents

  • 2009-2010 Annual Report
  • Audit reports (consolidated for the first time – audits of seven organizations plus one follow-up audit)
  • Audit of Appointments from Collective Staffing
  • Study: Use of Temporary Help Services
  • Study: Verification of Educational Credentials
  • Study: Casual Employment: Sources and practices

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