Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Quebec must do better for public service

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

Whether they enjoy independence, autonomy, or national obedience, it is sadly clear that successive governments in Quebec since the Quiet Revolution have not been able to match the opportunities that the federal government can offer to competent and ambitious youth. This is evidenced by the generous Canadian Public Service programs that aim to engage fresh graduates in second and third cycles of universities who stand out in their community.

The lack of an equivalent program in Quebec then highlights the economy in which the Quebec government is seriously considering attracting such talent in its public administration. This presents a particular problem if, like the current government, we consider Quebec society to be the reference political community for its citizens.

In this sense, to align with the self-governing convictions of the CAQ and a significant portion of the population, I am proposing that the Treasury Board draw inspiration from the Canadian Public Service and develop a program that also aims to enhance talent attraction in Quebec Public Administration.

Concretely, the Advanced Program for Policy Analysts and the Policy Leaders Recruitment Program were established in 1988 and 2004 respectively, and they aim to impress new graduates who show great potential to join the Federal Administration. They are selected at the end of a highly competitive annual competition, with just under twenty of them being appointed to strategic positions in ministries and central government bodies, among others in terms of development and public policy analysis.

These ambitious civil servants have access not only to favorable working conditions when they take up their position, but also to great opportunities for advancement. The second program even includes mentorship from senior public officials, such as deputy ministers.

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These federal programs, however, have no equivalent in the administration of Quebec. This suggests that the nation is likely to deprive itself of qualified civil servants who have been promised great jobs in the public sector. Even worse, this situation indirectly shows that the Quebec government funds higher education without necessarily maximizing its potential. It also contributes to a certain brain drain, because many positions in the federal administration generally get better pay and are located outside of Quebec.

If the CAQ government wanted to, it could now remedy the situation by emulating federal programs, and why not do better. A Quebec-based program is really needed insofar as English is the working language of Ottawa in general, which is a detrimental factor for Francophone when it comes to getting promotions. It also contradicts the government’s desire to promote French. It would also be an ideal opportunity to recruit more Kibekers from ethnic, cultural and racial groups, who are unfortunately underrepresented, particularly in managerial positions.

This new program will concretely and firmly demonstrate that attracting and developing talent in the public service is not the prerogative of the Canadian federal government, and that is for the benefit of Quebec society.

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