National Newswatch

Public service return to work thrown into doubt by Omicron variant

Dec 17 2021 — Kathryn May — Federal government departments are rethinking plans to send thousands of public servants back to the office as the new Omicron variant tightens its grip. The Treasury Board issued new guidance Thursday asking departments and agencies to put plans to return more workers to the office on hold and to review existing levels of staffing in […]

How COVID-19 could bring a downtown Ottawa revival

Dec 14 2021 — Kathryn May — Real estate executive Shawn Hamilton thinks the pandemic that emptied the nation’s capital of thousands of federal bureaucrats could eventually breathe new life into an Ottawa downtown long mocked for “the sidewalks rolling up at four o’clock.” Despite using the old line to poke fun at his hometown, Hamilton says he has always been bullish […]

Mental health struggles are a growing share of disability claims in the public service

Nov 29 2021 — Kathryn May — Fewer federal public servants went on long-term disability during the pandemic compared to previous years, but of those who did, more than half of them suffered depression and other mental health issues, which are expected to worsen with the isolation of working remotely. Public servants, like all Canadians, filed fewer long-term disability (LTD) claims during […]

Shaping a modern workplace for the public service

Nov 18 2021 — Kathryn May — Senior bureaucrat Stéphan Déry spent much of a 30-year career managing federal real estate figuring out what the office is for. Nearly two years into the pandemic, it turns out the office may not be for hard work. “Work is really what you do and not where you do it,” said Déry, assistant deputy minister […]

The pandemic upended the federal workplace. What comes next?

Oct 22 2021 — Kathryn May — The pandemic blew up the norms and structure of work behaviour in Canada’s public service and now bureaucrats want new rules and a say in how work fits into their lives as the federal government readies for a return to the office. Everything about working in the public service is up for grabs. After nearly […]

How COVID-19 could reshape the federal public service

Apr 22 2020 — Kathryn May — The COVID-19 pandemic has handed the public service a grand-scale opportunity to experiment with new ways of operating, including rethinking the need for massive office buildings in Ottawa-Gatineau and embracing digital government more fully. What public servants learn in the next few months by working remotely and in crisis could jolt the bureaucracy into a […]

Five game changers that could shape the future of work

Dec 30 2019 — Kathryn May — The head of the federal government’s foresight agency says identifying the skills that workers will need in the future, as jobs rapidly change or disappear completely, is one of the toughest challenges policy-makers have in front of them. Kristel Van der Elst, executive head of Policy Horizons, said artificial intelligence and automation’s impact on the […]

Federal union members reject new organization for gig workers

Dec 19 2019 — Kathryn May — One of Canada’s largest public service unions spent two years developing a proposal for a pioneering guild-style organization to represent professionals in precarious work, only to have the idea defeated by members in a recent vote. The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) was pushing for the establishment of Professionals Canada, a […]

Public service unions fear ‘another Harper regime’

Oct 1 2019 — Kathryn May — In the minds of some federal unions, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer might as well be former prime minister Stephen Harper. The giant Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is building its campaign as a 2015 rematch, calling for public servants to vote for anyone but Scheer, who will “pick up where Stephen Harper left off” […]

Feds using predictive analytics to craft youth policy

May 29 2019 — Kathryn May — The federal government is wading into the area of predictive analytics to try to help build more effective programs and policies before they are approved and funded. The Chicago-based data firm Mission Measurement, home of the Impact Genome Project, has already received $324,000 in federal contracts, and is currently working with federal departments to improve […]

What ever happened to deliverology?

May 15 2019 — Kathryn May — Mention “deliverology” to a public servant working on the policy frontlines, and you’ll get either a shrug or a grumble. The trendy management theory that took the federal bureaucracy by storm three years ago has struggled to live up to the initial hype. Still, the person responsible for the public management approach believes it is […]

The renegade team trying to disrupt government hiring

Dec 27 2018 — Kathryn May — A renegade group of Ottawa-based federal public servants are building the world’s first recruitment engine for gig workers who want to work in government. GC Talent Cloud is already attracting international attention for trying to reimagine the way the federal government hires for short-term work. The pilot project is currently housed within the office of […]