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Interim Report of National Finance Committee

I will continue the debate on the report of the Finance Committee so that my colleague can come back in a few minutes and ask the questions that he was seeking to ask. With the indulgence of honourable senators, as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, you have heard me talk for the last four years about the desperate need for a national area of selection in the public service hiring process.

Honourable senators, bear in mind that the Public Service Commission only deals with the positions that are publicly advertised.

Statistics indicate that there were 85,000 new hirings in the last eight years. Seventy-five per cent of those, which is roughly 70,000 new public servants hired on a full-time basis, had previous jobs within the public service but as casuals or for term positions of three to six months. That gave them the edge. Of course, these casuals — 99.9 per cent of the casual jobs within the public service — are not publicly advertised. Term positions are not publicly advertised, or very rarely so. A somewhat incestuous situation is happening within the public service.

I do not want a tax credit on that, Senator Comeau.

This chamber must realize that, in the last four years, the National Finance Committee has done much work on this issue of public service hiring. Unfair practices have been happening for decades: managers hiring one another's relatives and after six months they would have a term extension for another six months if that person did not have the opportunity to learn the job and needed another six months in order to perform in a publicly advertised job.

Therefore, when do people from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Vancouver or Regina have an opportunity to showcase their ability as a public servant for all Canadians within the public service? It is almost zero.

In order for a young person from Vancouver or Newfoundland, for example, to have an opportunity to acquire a position within the public service in this region, they must have a contact who is a relative.

I admire Ms. Barrados because she has only been in her job for two years and in that time we have seen progress. However, that is the will of one person in a key position. There are 90 people in this chamber who should have the same will so that their region, wherever it is, and their people, whom they represent in this chamber, have a decent chance to showcase their competency and provide good services to the taxpayers of Canada and to any government, whatever colour.

This is not a political issue to me at all. It is a question of fairness, decency and abiding by the Constitution of Canada, which states very clearly that no one should stop a Canadian from moving from one province to another to earn a decent living. That is the fundamental law of the land. I believe it is part of our mission to stop the unfairness and the bypassing of decent Canadians who want to provide good service to Canada for the future of this country. That is our responsibility.

I am proud of the work that the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has done so far. We have done a good job, but there is much more to do in order to ensure a fair system.