Speech by the Honorable Tony Clement

The Hon. Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for FedNor
at the

2012 Ottawa Public Sector Quality Fair

Canada Aviation and Space Museum

11 Aviation Parkway


February 7, 2012

[Please check against delivery]


Bonjour. C’est avec plaisir que je suis ici avec vous aujourd’hui dans le cadre de cette journée d’apprentissage et de réseautage. [Good morning. I’m pleased to be here with you and to be a part of this important learning and networking event.]


Last year my predecessor, the Honourable Stockwell Day, spoke here. And I can tell you that when the invitation was extended to me this year, I didn’t hesitate to accept. J’aimerais d’ailleurs reconnaître les organisateurs de l’événement de cette année. Encore une fois, ils ont réussi à rassembler des participants de tous les niveaux du gouvernement et du secteur public dans son ensemble. [I would like to recognize the organizers of this year’s event. Once again, they have assembled an excellent mix of participants from all levels of government and the broader public sector.] I would like to recognize in particular the strong presence of leaders from across the federal public service.


Today, we’re here to discuss the real issues emerging in the public sector in Canada, and what needs to be done to deliver for Canadians. I will use my time to highlight three things in my mandate, that I’ve been working on with our Government, to help ensure we meet the needs of Canadians.


The first is our plan to reduce spending. I’m proud to say that we’re on track to make this happen, and our efforts are helping us create the public service of tomorrow. The second is our Government’s plan to modernize how we connect with Canadians. Today, I will talk to you about the use of new technologies and our Open Government initiative.  And finally, I will share an example of how we’re doing a better job of collaborating with our public service employees, which I hope will inspire you.


Let’s start with a few words about our efforts to find savings across government. Les Canadiens reconnaissent, aujourd’hui, l’importance de réduire le déficit et de retrouver l’équilibre budgétaire à moyen terme. Ils reconnaissent également l’importance de trouver des économies parmi les dépenses du gouvernement et de prendre des mesures ciblées, au besoin, pour appuyer la reprise économique.  [Today, Canadians understand the necessity of reducing the deficit and returning to fiscal balance in the medium term, finding savings within government spending, and taking targeted actions when necessary to support the recovery.]


This approach will boost our efforts to achieve a sustainable and prosperous recovery, and preserve our Canadian economic advantage now and in the future. Canadians understand this. And in last May’s federal election, we received a strong mandate to eliminate the deficit, keep taxes low and continue creating jobs. In the Budget that followed, we announced our plan to achieve these important objectives. Building on previous efforts to reduce government spending, we launched our deficit-reduction initiative. This initiative is about more than finding savings. It’s about retooling for the future — and providing the right programs and services at the right cost to support the success of Canadians in the years ahead. It calls on organizations to be creative in visualizing how programs and services can be delivered in a more efficient and streamlined way. In short, this is about modernizing government.


I think you’ll agree with me that one of the best ways we can find new and innovative ways to achieve a modern workplace is by exploiting the vast potential of new technologies. This includes new technologies that can improve how we communicate, consult, collaborate, manage data, and share information. That said, it’s imperative to keep pace with the rapid pace of technological change. This is not always easy. But I’m proud to say that we have been doing just that in the federal government. Much of our work in this area fits under our Open Government initiative, which we launched last spring. This initiative is about ensuring that the government is more connected to and collaborates more with Canadians than ever before.


This is being pursued through three streams:

  • First, there’s Open Dialogue. This is about using Web 2.0 tools and technologies – including Facebook and Twitter – to give Canadians a stronger say in Government policies and priorities, and therefore expanding citizen engagement. I think we can all agree on the power of such tools. At the federal level, we have been very conscious of the need to keep pace with these rapidly evolving technologies. Which is why, last November, we issued the Government’s Guidelines on the external use of Web 2.0. These guidelines encourage departments to develop tailored guidance for employees that address the behaviours, benefits, risks and consequences for all types of Web 2.0 tools. As you may know, I’m a big believer in these technologies. I have a Twitter account, which I use regularly to engage Canadians about my activities as a Minister, MP, and even personally as a sports lover! Recently, I even hosted the first Government of Canada Tweetchat on Twitter where I invited Canadians to ask me questions on Open Government–live. We had an invigorating discussion;
  • The second stream of our Open Government initiative is Open Data. This is about offering Government data to the private sector and non-government organizations who can leverage it in innovative and value-added ways for Canadians. An example is Environment Canada supplying weather observations to The Weather Network, which provides a continuous feed of weather data from coast to coast to coast. In this and other applications, Open Data gives creative Canadians raw data to reuse and succeed in the digital economy; and
  • The third stream is Open Information. This is about proactively releasing information – including information on government activities – to Canadians on an ongoing basis. By proactively making government information available, it becomes accessible to anyone who may be interested. For example, all departments are now required to post summaries of their Access to Information requests online.

So, those are our three streams. If you are interested in getting a complete picture of what we’re doing, our Open Government activities are detailed at: open.gc.ca. Il va sans dire que des initiatives pour un gouvernement ouvert sont en cours ailleurs qu’au Canada. Il s’agit d’une tendance mondiale qui promet des avances en matière d’innovation, des possibilités économiques et une plus grande participation démocratique à l’échelle de la planète. Et le Canada est un des chefs de file dans ce domaine.  [Of course, Open Government is not only a Canadian initiative. It’s a global trend that promises to propel innovation, economic opportunity and deeper democratic engagement world-wide. And our country is among its leaders.]


That’s why Canada has signed a letter of intent to join over 50 other countries in the Open Government Partnership. And I can tell you that I look forward to our conference in Brazil in April. This is because we will be presenting an action plan that will further define Canada’s commitment to Open Government.


Our action plan is shaping up to be the product of a major collaborative effort. This past December and January, we held an online public consultation on our Open Government website to find out what Canadians think we’re doing right—and wrong—or not doing at all, in the realm of Open Government. These consultations were very informative. We heard from many Canadians from across the country. And their feedback is being incorporated into our plan


As promised, I would now like to close with an example of better collaboration with employees. Collaboration is about working together to achieve a goal. And, as you know, one of our main goals right now in Government is to reduce spending and find savings where we can. We have been coming at this from many angles. As part of our many efforts, we launched a pilot initiative last year that encourages employees to identify savings and more efficient ways to deliver services in their organizations. You may have heard of it. It’s called the Employee Innovation Program. And I’m very pleased by the response it has generated. In fact, we have received 682 proposals from eight departments, of which we accepted 40 for further consideration through the development of business cases.


Let me give you an example of a proposal from Parks Canada that has been approved and is being implemented. Employees from that agency have come up with an innovative and cost-effective way to replace many of the aging valves used to operate the canal locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site in central Ontario. These valves are on average 100 years old and in need of replacement. But the cost to build and install these valves is expensive. So, frontline employees at this waterway have actually designed a new custom-made valve. This innovative prototype significantly reduces material and labour costs. Overall, cost savings could reach $4.5 million over 20 years. This is just one example of how we’re encouraging our employees to innovate, and providing opportunities for them to demonstrate their excellence. This example also shows us that achieving excellence doesn’t simply happen on its own. It requires a genuine desire to make things better, an ability to reach out, consult, collaborate and seek advice.


Achieving excellence also requires a coherent vision that reflects the realities of today – a vision that speaks to the values of all employees in your organization. Our government recently broadened and updated our vision for the public service in our new Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, which is expected to come into force this spring. Le Code de valeurs et d’éthique pour le secteur public s’appliquera à tous les employés de la fonction publique. Il énoncera très clairement les comportements nécessaires pour être fonctionnaire dans un environnement moderne et en évolution. [The Code will cover all public sector employees. The Code makes it clear what it means to be a public servant in a modern and evolving environment.]


The Code clarifies expected behaviours that correspond to the values of the federal public sector:

·        respect for democracy,

·        respect for people,

·        integrity,

·        stewardship, and

·        excellence.

One of the great things about this new Code is that it’s really a foundation document. Each organization will use it as a base to create its own code of conduct in a way that is tailored to its business needs. The new Code provides a golden opportunity for each organization to engage their employees about the core values and ethics that are important to their work.


Notre monde est de plus en plus complexe et, en raison de cela, nous devons à l’occasion faire face à des situations imprévisibles. Les périodes difficiles que nous vivons actuellement doivent être perçues comme des occasions à saisir pour augmenter notre efficience et faire preuve d’innovation.  [Clearly, we live in an increasingly complex and sometimes volatile world. But we must turn these challenging times into opportunities to be more efficient and innovative.] 

We must continue to reach out to all Canadians – including our employees, citizen groups, academics, non-governmental organizations, and beyond. We must listen to Canadians, their ideas and views. Such knowledge-sharing can only lead to better program delivery and connect government and citizens better than ever. Tough decisions will be required. But if you’re like me, there is reason to feel optimistic about the future. We have an opportunity to transform and modernize government and how we serve Canadians.


Il me fera plaisir de prendre vos questions et vos commentaires. [I would now be very interested in hearing your views and your questions.]


Merci!  [Thank you!]