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Senator Ringuette opens second-reading debate on Bill S-44

In the Senate yesterday, Senator Ringuette opened the debate at second reading of Bill S-44.  The Bill would do away with the practice of using geographic criteria to determine an area of selection for purposes of eligibility in Public Service of Canada appointment processes.


At the present time, the Public Service Commission can set geographic criteria for eligibility to compete in both internal and external competitions for positions in the federal Public Service.  Senator Ringuette believes that Canadians must have the right to apply for a job in their Public Service no matter what region of the country they live in.


“The current selection process is unfair and limits the access of all Canadians to jobs in the Public Service”, said Senator Ringuette.  “This is unacceptable and incompatible with the mobility rights guaranteed by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  I believe wholeheartedly that all Canadians, in any province, have the right to earn a living.”


The Senator pointed out that in the National Capital Region, which covers part of Ontario and Quebec, the population is about one million people, or just 0.3% of the Canadian population, and yet the Region’s residents have almost exclusive access to 60% of all jobs in the federal Public Service.  Moreover, this proportion does not take into account employment with Crown corporations and agencies or the 5,000 jobs on Parliament Hill.


“In our great country, the 99.7% of Canadians who do not live in the National Capital Region have access to only 40% of federal government jobs, and then on condition that they live no more than 50 kilometres from the place where the job is located.  Equally, residents of the National Capital Region should have access to jobs outside the Region.”


With regard to regional representation in the federal Public Service, Senator Ringuette added:


“For years, the hiring of federal employees has been subject to geographical restrictions; as a result, 80% of them come from Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto, and 60% of them live in the National Capital Region.  It is deplorable that residents of outlying regions and rural communities are at a disadvantage and cannot apply for and obtain federal government jobs.  It has led to resentment of federal hiring practices.”


Her Bill would also exclude Public Service appointments on the basis of bureaucratic patronage:


“For many years, parliamentarians have suspected that managers show favouritism when hiring.  Recent Public Service Commission audits have uncovered cases where qualifications have been modified to favour one particular applicant or group of applicants, both when offers of employment are open to the public and when competitions are internal.  Educational qualifications, language requirements and security requirements have all been tampered with on occasion so that they will match the profile of one applicant in particular.”


Senator Ringuette is convinced that it is time to eliminate bureaucratic and personal patronage in Public Service hiring, and make the process impartial and transparent.


Senator Ringuette’s October 18, 2005 speech and Bill S-44 are available at the following address: