All posts tagged Treasury Board

Closing VAC Offices, Closing Hope for Veterans

Sean Bruyea

Military veteran Alfie Burt recently questioned Minister Julian Fantino’s insistence on closing nine Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) offices, “What the frig is wrong with that guy?”

To be fair, the same question can easily be asked of various Ministers and the most senior VAC bureaucrats over the past eight years. However, closure of VAC offices has become another incendiary device condescendingly tossed into the national outrage as to how Canada’s veterans are mistreated by government.

At issue is Ottawa’s effort to balance the books irrespective of veteran outcry. Problematically, Veterans Affairs, unlike most other federal departments did not have a significant hiring surge when the Conservatives took power in 2006. In fact, VAC has not only experienced one of the largest employment cuts of any department but the assault on its frontline employees began in 2011, a year before the government-wide downsizing.

At its peak in 2009, VAC was authorized a mere 7% increase in employees from 2006 levels. Since that time, employee positions have been consistently cut. Today, the department has almost 10% less positions (3,370) than when Mr. Harper became Prime Minister. When the axe stops swinging in 2016, VAC will have lost more than a quarter of its work force or 1000 positions since the Conservatives took power, not including 800 further positions to be lost when Ste.Read the rest

Federal Integrity Commissioner claims to be making headway

Feds rooting out wrongdoing in the public sector

That’s what the headline reads in several newspapers. The basis of this claim is a report by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, where Mario Dion is the Commissioner. In it, he claims that the office is receiving more complaints of wrongdoing.

How journalists leap from “more complaints” to “rooting out wrongdoing” is beyond us, particularly as most complaints received still aren’t being investigated and only one instance of wrongdoing has been found. To make matters worse, that solitary case included no sanctions for the wrongdoer (who had left the public service) or the people who were supposed to be supervising her. She wasn’t even named. Parading this sole case as a triumph is, frankly, laughable. Furthermore, expecting public servants to be impressed insults their intelligence. They won’t be fooled, nor surprised: such propaganda-like overstatements are commonplace in the bureaucracy.

While Dion is a huge improvement over his predecessor, the disgraced Christiane Ouimet, it is our opinion that he is still the wrong man for the job. He showed a lack of integrity in accepting the post – which he had promised not to seek, and then denied making the promise.… Read the rest

Here’s the real skinny on how power works in Ottawa

Published in the Hill Times on September 19, 2011

We should be forgiven if we believe that ministers, or in the case of this government, the Prime Minister’s Office is in complete control of Ottawa. This dogma of the Westminster model of government stands in the way of reality. Given the need to restore Canadians’ faith in our federal government while managing the inevitable cutbacks requires we fully
understand Ottawa if we are to make its powerbrokers truly accountable.

The reality is that the senior mandarins are the ultimate arbiters of power in Ottawa. They exercise control through departmental agendas and complex Treasury Board processes that often have little to do with the public their
namesake institution claims to serve.

It has become a near truism that the Prime Minister’s Office under the Harper government has carried out unprecedented centralization of our federal government. This does not mean he is in control. Even with 130-plus
staffers, the PMO is vastly outnumbered by 1,000 or so public servants in the Privy Council Office.

Beyond that, there are less than 500 mostly inadequately experienced political staffers to direct, control and oversee almost 400,000 public servants. These are odds more akin to the Fellowship of the Ring fighting the armies of Sauron.… Read the rest