This chapter provides an overview of Parks Canada's mandate and its status as an Agency, explains the purpose and nature of this review, and addresses the development of the HR regime of the Agency.
2.1 Background – Parks Canada – Mandate and Organization
Parks Canada has a mandate to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage, and to foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations. Parks Canada's employee base consists of approximately 4500 employees, including a substantial group of seasonal employees. The majority of the employees (i.e., about 80%) work in one of the 41 national parks and national park reserves, 2 marine conservation areas or 149 national historic sites managed by Parks Canada. The parks and sites are organized into thirty-two geographically based field-units managed by field unit superintendents (FUS) who are responsible to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) through Annual Business Plans and Reports. Operational human resources services are the responsibility of the Director Generals Eastern Canada and Western/ Northern Canada.
About 10% of the Agency's employees work in service centres located in Halifax, Quebec City, Cornwall/Ottawa, and Winnipeg (with small branch offices in Calgary and Vancouver). The service centres provide technical and professional services to field units (e.g., science, architecture and engineering). National office, less than 10% of the employee base, consists of five directorates (national parks, national historic sites, strategy and plans, human resources and communications) who provide legislative, operational policy, planning, program direction, financial management, and human resources functions and services.
Parks Canada has a very long history that pre-dates its transformation into an Agency. The federal government announced in its 1996 Budget its intention to establish Parks Canada as an Agency, along with two other agencies as pilot Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) agencies. Parks Canada was established as an agency under Schedule II of the Financial Administration Act in December 1998. As an independent Agency, Parks Canada at that time became separate from the Department of Canadian Heritage of which it was formerly a component.
At the time this review commenced, the Minister of Canadian Heritage was responsible for the overall direction of the Agency and was accountable to Parliament for all Parks Canada activities. A recent change in ministerial portfolios transferred responsibility for Parks Canada to the Minister of the Environment. This transfer did not affect the legal status of Parks Canada. It remains an Agency with its own corporate governance and management framework, including a human resources regime, which has been tailored to meet its program needs.
2.2 The Legislative Requirements for this Review - A Strategic Level Review
The requirement for Parks Canada to have a set of values and principles that govern the management of human resources in the Agency is established in Section 16 (1) of the Parks Canada Agency Act. This sections states:
"The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for establishing a charter for the Agency that sets out the values and principles governing:
(a) the provision of services by the Agency to the public; and
(b) the management of the human resources of the Agency."
The requirement for a review of these values and principles in the context of human resource management is established in Section 35 (1) of the Parks Canada Agency Act. This section states that:
"The Chief Executive Officer must, at least every five years, have prepared by a person or body, other than the Agency, or any of its officers or employees, a report on the consistency of its human resource regime with its values and principles that are to govern management of its human resources."
This report fulfills the requirement for a review set out in Section 35 (1). This review is intended as a broad, strategic level assessment of the consistency of Parks Canada's human resource regime with the values and principles that govern management of its human resources. This review and this report should not be viewed as comprehensive audit or an evaluation of the HR program.
To understand the findings of this review and to put those findings in context, it is important to appreciate how the HR regime of the Agency differs from the HR regime of the "core" public service.
Parks Canada as an Agency and its Chief Executive Officer have considerably more authority and autonomy for human resources management than is typically the case within the "core" public service, (i.e., that portion of the public service for which Treasury Board at the time exercised the role of Employer and that portion of the public service to which and within which the Public Service Commission exercised exclusive right and authority to make appointments). The Parks Canada Agency Act provided the foundation for a different HR regime by conferring on the Agency's Chief Executive Officer many of the authorities for human resources management that in the "core" public service resided with and were exercised by the Treasury Board or the Public Service Commission. Specifically, The Parks Canada Agency Act states:
"13. (1) The Chief Executive Officer has exclusive authority to (a) appoint, lay-off or terminate the employment of the employees of the Agency; and
(b) establish standards, procedures and processes governing staffing, including the appointment, lay-off or termination of employment otherwise than for cause, of employees.
Right of employer
(2) Nothing in the Public Service Staff Relations Act shall be construed to affect the right or authority of the Chief Executive Officer to deal with the matters referred to in paragraph (1) (b).
(3) Subsection 11(2) of the Financial Administration Act does not apply with respect to the Agency and the Chief Executive Officer may
(a) determine the organization of and classify the positions in the Agency;
(b) set the terms and conditions of employment, including termination of employment for cause, for employees and assign duties to them; and
(c) provide for any other matters that the Chief Executive Officer considers necessary for effective personnel management in the Agency."
Section 13 (3) of the Parks Canada Agency Act exempts the Agency and its Chief Executive Officer from the following provisions of Section 11(2) of the Financial Administration Act, provisions which in the core public service gave the Treasury Board authority to:
"(a) determine the requirements of the public service with respect to human resources and provide for the allocation and effective utilization of human resources within the public service;
(b) determine requirements for the training and development of personnel in the public service and fix the terms on which such training and development may be carried out;
(c) provide for the classification of positions and employees in the public service;
(d) determine and regulate the pay to which persons employed in the public service are entitled for services rendered, the hours of work and leave of those persons and any matters related thereto;
(e) provide for the awards that may be made to persons employed in the public service for outstanding performance of their duties, for other meritorious achievement in relation to those duties and for inventions or practical suggestions
(f) establish standards of discipline in the public service and prescribe the financial and other penalties, including termination of employment and suspension, that may be applied for breaches of discipline or misconduct, and the circumstances and manner in which and the authority by which or whom those penalties may be applied or may be varied or rescinded in whole or in part;
(g) provide for the termination of employment, or the demotion to a position at a lower maximum rate of pay, for reasons other than breaches of discipline or misconduct, of persons employed in the public service, and establishing the circumstances and manner in which and the authority by which or by whom those measures may be taken or may be varied or rescinded in whole or in part;
(g.1) provide for the termination of employment of an employee to whom an offer of employment is made as the result of the transfer of any work, undertaking or business from a portion of the public service specified in Part I of Schedule I to the Public Service Staff Relations Act to any body or corporation that is a separate employer or that is outside the public service, and establish the terms and conditions under which, the circumstances and manner in which and the authority by which or by whom that termination may be made or may be varied or rescinded in whole or in part;
(h) determine and regulate the payments that may be made to persons employed in the public service by way of reimbursement for travel or other expenses and by way of allowances in respect of expenses and conditions arising out of their employment;
(h.1) subject to the Employment Equity Act, establish policies and programs with respect to the implementation of employment equity in the public service; and
(i) provide for such other matters, including terms and conditions of employment not otherwise specifically provided for in this subsection, as the Treasury Board considers necessary for effective personnel management in the public service."
With respect to "staffing" in the "core" public service, Part II, Section 8 of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) conferred upon the Public Service Commission "the exclusive right and authority to make appointments to or from within the Public Service of persons for whose appointment there is no authority in or under any other Act of Parliament." In the case of Parks Canada, the Chief Executive Officer was exempt from the authority of this provision of the PSEA and was empowered to exercise appointment authority for Parks Canada under Section 13 (1) of the Parks Canada Agency Act which states:
"13. (1) The Chief Executive Officer has exclusive authority to
(a) appoint, lay-off or terminate the employment of the employees of the Agency; and
(b) establish standards, procedures and processes governing staffing, including the appointment, lay-off or termination of employment otherwise than for cause, of employees."
In summary, the Parks Canada Agency Act conferred upon the Chief Executive Officer many of the human resource authorities that in the "core" public service were exercised by either the Treasury Board or the Public Service Commission, particularly with respect to:
- Selection, appointment, promotion, and termination
- Training and development
- Organization and job classification
- Terms and conditions of employment
- Performance management
- Collective bargaining
- "any other matters that the Chief Executive Officer considers necessary for effective personnel management in the Agency.»
2.3 HR "Regime" Defined
For the purposes of this review, the term "HR regime" is defined as the complete spectrum of HR roles and responsibilities, strategy, policies, programs, resourcing, structure, implementation and evaluation. This is not a review of the human resource management division or its programs and activities. This is a broader assessment of the extent to which the values and principles of the organization are reflected in the Agency's human resource management regime and the extent to which these values and principles are consistently applied within that regime.
2.4 HR Values and HR Operating Principles Identified
The HR values and HR operating principles of Parks Canada are:
Competence: The knowledge, abilities, personal suitability and other qualities required performing effectively in the workplace. The Agency:
- Commits to employing competent people.
- Maintains and transmits "corporate memory" as an essential part of Agency renewal.
- Invests in individual development and career planning to maintain competencies and to support personal and Agency growth.
Respect: Mutual trust, recognition of accomplishment, self-esteem and regard for others.
- Respect individual differences.
- Recognize individual and team contributions.
- Respect the need to balance work and personal lives.
- Recognize employees' rights to union membership, representation and participation in union activities.
- Respect and apply principles concerning official languages, employment equity, privacy, health and safety, protection from harassment and discrimination.
Fairness: Activities and decisions are just, timely, impartial and objective.
- Equitable treatment of employees both individually and collectively while respecting diversity.
- Equitable processes supported with attitudes, acts and decisions that are well reasoned.
- Open and honest communication of practices and decisions.
- Staffing decisions and other human resources practices are free from political influence and other forms of patronage.
HR Operating Principles
Answerability for carrying out responsibilities in accordance with our HR values and operating principles.
Making the best possible use of human, time and financial resources.
Achieving the expected results.
Acting in a similar manner in similar circumstances.
Adjusting to circumstances while encouraging innovation and creativity.
Making things as uncomplicated as possible.
Ensuring straightforward and honest communication.
2.5 The Evolution of the HR Regime within Parks Canada
At the time Parks Canada became an Agency, the starting point for it HR regime was the regime that it brought with it from the "core" public service. The Parks Canada Agency Act essentially provided Parks Canada and its CEO with the authority to shape and develop the HR regime of the Agency in whatever manner it was determined best suited the organization's requirements. The Act thus provided the opportunity for Parks Canada to tailor its human resources regime to fit its managerial, operating and workforce requirements. Parks Canada viewed this as an opportunity to move from a "layered, hierarchical organization with a traditional command and control leadership culture with dispersed, complex accountability, and with complex, public service-wide human resource systems and processes..."1 to a less complex, values-based regime that fits the needs of the new agency and its 24/7 highly seasonal, operating environment.
2.5.1 Initial Progress in Developing an HR Regime from Inception of Agency to mid-2001
The transformation to a HR regime tailored to the Agency was a large and complex undertaking that required substantial investments of time and effort. In the first two years of Agency status, Parks Canada made progress towards developing it own HR regime. In the first two years of Agency status, the following was achieved:
- Formulation of the Agency's HR values and HR operating principles
- Implementation of a de-layered, decentralized organization structure for the Agency.
- Development, approval and implementation of new human resources frameworks and policies for staffing, employee recourse, and health and safety, joint union-management working groups.
- Establishment of a framework for dispute resolution and a process for independent third party review.
- Definition and delegation of human resources decision-making authorities.
- Approval for a single bargaining unit from the Public Service Staff Relations Board.
- Certification of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as the sole bargaining agent.
- Implementation of labour management consultation
- Commencement of collective bargaining.
- Creation of a Corporate HR function and organization a development of a fully functioning network of human resources staff to provide advice and service.2
The HR focus in the initial years of Agency status was to put in place the framework for HR and the key structures, policies and processes that would enable the Agency to carry on its business and to serve its publics. These initial steps in the development of the HR regime were to get the organization "up and running" from an operational perspective. In subsequent years, the Agency addressed other HR initiatives designed to give greater substance and depth to its HR regime.
2.5.2 Priorities for the HR Regime from Mid-2001 to 2004
For the period mid 2001 through 2004, Parks Canada identified the following key HR priorities to be accomplished:
Compensation and Classification
- Develop agency compensation strategy and tools
- Complete development and implement senior management classification and compensation system/plan
- Identify and implement new agency classification system
- Re-design pay processes and procedures and terms and conditions of employment following first collective agreement and conversion to new classification system.
Labour and Employee Relations
- Adjust agency-wide labour management consultation framework to reflect Public Service Labour Relations Board decision.
- Achieve needed exclusions and designations
- Implement integrated dispute resolution strategy:
Implement independent third party review (ITPR) system
Work with the national ADR champion to introduce Agency-wide alternate dispute resolution (ADR) system, including training, network and tools.
- Establish and maintain labour costing system
- Undertake two rounds of collective bargaining and implement results
- Negotiate conversion to new classification system.
Recruitment and Advancement
- Develop and implement employment equity strategy
- Support senior management functional heads in developing targeted recruitment/retention/succession planning/training strategies for respective functional area
- Work with central agencies and other Part 2 agencies to eliminate barriers to public service-wide mobility.
- Develop Employment Equity infrastructure: National Occupation Classification Code (NOC), Self ID data collection, Employment Equity plan and progress reporting within a corporate standardized reporting system.
- Adapt staffing policy and system to revised compensation and classification system.
HR Planning, Training and Development
- Design orientation program.
- Assist identified functional leads to assume functional roles for their respective core work streams.
- Establish national qualification standards and development and succession plans for human resources community.
- Develop human resources accountability framework for Parks Canada, corporate reporting tools and key performance measurement indicators and tools.
- Develop and implement automated human resources systems and processes that generate efficiencies (e.g. automated transaction processing tools, virtual human resources applications, and integrated databases).
- Complete national classification reviews of all remaining jobs
- Establish appropriate funding to provide basic level of service pending streamlined classification system, collective agreements and automation. Realign national HR structure with HR Priorities and Plans.
- Determine on-going resource requirements post-build
- Conduct targeted process simplification
- Research best practices and support designated executive champion in design of recruitment/succession strategy for senior management.
- Strengthen advisory support to establish equally accessible advice and coordination service standards monitoring and performance mechanisms in pay and benefits, classification and grievances.3
Progress has been made on many of these priorities, as discussed in the body of the report.
The next chapter explains the methodology that we used to examine this HR Regime followed by several chapters that speak to the consistency with which Parks Canada applies its HR Values and Operating Principles within this HR Regime.
1 HR Plans and Priorities, May 2001, page 2
2 Summarized from a briefing document prepared by Parks Canada HR.