6.0 HR Value: "Fairness"
6.1 "Fairness" defined
Parks Canada defines "Fairness" as: 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.
6.2 Where the Review Team looked for evidence of "Fairness"
"Fairness" is a difficult value for the review team to comment on. It is difficult to both observe and to measure and it is a value that is relative and perceptual. What seems "fair" to one person may not appear to be so to another. Thus determining whether the Agency consistently applies Fairness as a value is subjective and relative, depending on context, circumstance and the perspectives of those involved.
Notwithstanding this difficulty, we sought to examine "Fairness" in the following ways:
- Do the HR policies and procedures of the Agency clearly articulate roles, responsibilities, and authorities?
- Are there recourse processes available in the Agency for those who believe that "unfairness" has occurred?
- Is staffing in the Agency free from political influence and other forms of patronage?
- Are staffing and promotion processes seen by stakeholders to be fair, open and consistent? Is diversity respected in the staffing process?
- Do employees in the Agency perceive fairness in the way that the Agency is managed?
- Are opportunities for learning and development open to all employees on an equitable basis?
- Are employees performing similar work in different locations paid equitably?
- Are supervisor and managers perceived to be fair in their interpretation and application of collective agreements?
6.3 What the Review Team found with respect to "Fairness"
The review finds that the Agency is consistent in observing the value of "Fairness". Specifically, the review finds:
That the HR policy framework of the Agency is reasonably comprehensive and that the Agency has worked and continues to work to fill in the gaps in its policy framework. At its inception as an Agency, Parks Canada largely "borrowed" the HR policy framework in place in the core public service and then worked to tailor that framework to it own requirements. The policy framework is an important determinant of fairness in that HR policies identify the positions and practices of the Agency, set out roles and responsibilities for the implementation of policy, and define expected outcomes. Policies provide a standard by which members of the Agency can judge whether due process has been followed and whether intended outcomes have been achieved, in other words whether "fairness" has been observed. In our work, the HR policies (e.g., staffing, official languages, occupational health and safety, etc.) that review team examined do provide clarity on process, roles, responsibilities and authorities and meet the requirements for "fairness" in terms of providing structure. The review team acknowledges that there is still work to do on the policy development front in areas such as learning and development and classification.
That there are many fora available to members of the Agency at which issues of fairness can be raised and tabled (labour management consultation committees, occupational health and safety committees, etc.) and that there are well developed redress mechanisms in place that members of the Agency can use to test fairness (grievance processes, ITPRs, etc.).
That there is no evidence to suggest political influence in the staffing processes of the Agency. We did however hear from front line employees in the field some allegations of bureaucratic patronage in the appointment and recall of seasonal and casual employees. However, the review team has no means of substantiating these allegations, or their extent. On the subject of "fairness" in staffing, the Parks Canada Employee Survey had this to say, "Close to half of all employees (48 per cent) have participated in a competition in the last three years. Of those who have participated in a competition, over half agree that these competitions were run in a fair manner. Just over six in ten (62 per cent) feel that the competitions were fair, while one-third (32 per cent) believe that these were unfair, and the balance (six per cent) do not know. The perception of fairness in competitions at Parks Canada is similar to that found in the broader Public Service."
That with respect to "equitable treatment of employees both individually and collectively while respecting diversity" the Agency has taken active steps to ensure equitable treatment of both official languages and to ensure the equitable treatment of members of employment equity target groups in staffing processes.
That staff perceptions of "fairness" are mixed. The Parks Canada Employee Survey reports that "Parks Canada employees appear confident that fairness and respect exist within their individual work unit, but are less confident that it permeates the overall organization.
Employees' general trust in the organization to treat them fairly is not very high, both overall and in comparison to the Public Service (by 20 per cent, the largest single difference between Parks Canada and the Public Service).
Most elements of the supervisor relationship are also seen in a positive light, which contributes positively to quality of work life. These results all point to a high level of respect and fairness promoted at Parks Canada."
That there appear to be concerns about equitable opportunity for learning and development as the Parks Canada Employee Survey states, "Career development (and the part that supervisors play in helping to plan careers), as well as some key elements of fairness and respect (related to perceptions of fairness and consistency of treatment), as well as the perceived openness to employee feedback are much weaker areas."
That employees performing similar work in different locations are not yet necessarily paid equitably due to delays in implementing a large scale, national classification review. (Implementation was delayed by the need to replace the UCS as the job evaluation plan and subsequently by a public service wide freeze on salary changes as a result of reclassification). However this national review is now well down the road of implementation and it will address and resolve any classification anomalies and related pay anomalies. In our discussions we found that management and staff were supportive of the objectives of the national classification review but were critical of pace of progress on this initiative.
That supervisors and managers are perceived to be fair in their interpretation and application of collective agreements. In fact, this was highlighted in the Parks Canada Employee Survey that stated, "Most employees feel that everyone in their work unit is accepted equally, that their supervisor treats them with respect, and that their supervisor understands and respects the provisions of the collective agreement. The respect of supervisors is by far the most positive aspect of working life, according to a large number of staff. In fact, supervisors' respect of the collective agreement is viewed more positively than in the Public Service."