2010 March Report of the Auditor General of Canada

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Human Resource Capacity—Government of Nunavut

Main Points

Introduction

Human resource management structure
Human resource challenges
Focus of the audit

Observations and Recommendations

Planning

Departments do not know the extent of their shortages in human resource capacity
Departments lack concrete plans to address human resource shortages
Initiatives in plans were not enough to achieve their targets
The lack of human resource capacity has many consequences

Staffing

The competitive staffing process is not timely
The reasons for unsuccessful competitions are not assessed
Use of temporary staffing practices to fill permanent positions creates problems
Supporting documentation for non-competitive appointments is inadequate

Training and development

Most training programs are adequately resourced
Departments do not systematically identify impediments to the success of training programs

Human resource tools

Departments are not using the tools available to properly manage their human resources

Conclusion

About the Audit

Appendix—List of recommendations

Exhibits:

1—The number of public service positions increased between 2000 and 2009, and up to one quarter of positions remain vacant

2—Percentage of public service positions held by beneficiaries, by occupational category

3—Responsibilities, budgets, and staff positions of selected departments

4—The Department of Education has concrete practices and plans to address its needs for teachers

5—Growth in representation of beneficiaries varied by occupational category between 2000 and 2009

6—Managers use four main options to staff positions

7—Positions can be vacant for over 10 months before a job offer is made

8—Nine specialized training programs

Main Points

What we examined

Human resource capacity is about ensuring that an organization has enough people with the necessary skills to achieve its objectives. The Government of Nunavut has developed programs and services to meet its objectives, and they are delivered to Nunavummiut through its public service—a workforce of around 3,000 employees in the Office of the Legislative Assembly, 10 government departments, and 3 territorial corporations. The Government has staff in all 25 communities of Nunavut.

Each department is responsible for determining the people it needs to carry out its responsibilities. The Department of Human Resources is responsible for staffing positions in all departments, with a few exceptions such as teaching positions, which are staffed by the Department of Education. Human Resources provides general training for the public service; each department is responsible for providing any position-specific training needed by its employees.

We looked at how the Department of Human Resources and a selection of other departments (Community and Government Services, Education, Environment, and Finance) have managed their human resource needs to meet the objectives of the Government. We focused on the areas of planning, staffing, and training. Our audit included interviews, file reviews, and data analysis conducted in Iqaluit as well as in six other communities. Audit work for this report was substantially completed in September 2009.

Why it’s important

In previous reports to the Legislative Assembly, we have noted that a lack of capacity has hampered the Government’s ability to deliver some programs and perform certain tasks. Filling positions in the public service is an ongoing challenge for the Government, with 800 positions (23 percent) vacant at the end of March 2009.

In addition, the Government is obligated under Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to have a public service that is representative of the Nunavummiut—that is, a public service that has 85 percent of positions staffed with beneficiaries of the Agreement in all occupational categories. The Government of Nunavut has set a goal of achieving a representative workforce by 2020, with an interim target of 56 percent by 2010.

What we found

  • Except in the Department of Education with respect to teaching positions, the departments we examined have either not gathered or not analyzed the information that would tell them what qualifications and skills they have in their current workforce. They also lack information on how many people they need, with what qualifications and skills, to deliver their programs and services and meet their objectives. As a result, they are unable to develop plans for filling the gaps in capacity over the short, medium, and long terms. In addition, they have not assessed to what extent a chronic lack of particular skills may be due to factors such as lack of housing, salaries that are not competitive, and lack of qualified beneficiaries with the necessary education.
  • The majority of the vacant positions filled each year are staffed through external competitions in a process that takes, on average, 318 days. However, more than half of this time passes before the hiring department asks the Department of Human Resources to get involved. In addition, over a two-year period that we looked at, almost half of the staffing competitions undertaken were unsuccessful in selecting a qualified candidate, and the reasons why have not been analyzed. Departments have also used temporary hiring practices to fill permanent positions, which may provide a short-term solution but creates additional staffing work and uncertainty in the future.
  • In view of the Government’s goal of attaining a representative public service, the selected departments have put forward initiatives such as training and development programs to increase the representativeness of their workforce. However, the initiatives were not enough to achieve the 2010 interim target. In addition, it is clear that representativeness will not be achieved in each occupational category by 2020. One exception is the Department of Education, which has taken concrete steps to fill its gaps in capacity over the short, medium, and long terms, and is currently implementing a ten-year strategy for achieving representativeness by developing beneficiaries as teachers. While it should be recognized that the Department has some advantages when it comes to filling gaps in capacity, including authority to staff its own positions, it nevertheless has followed some good practices that other departments could use.

The Government of Nunavut has responded. The Government agrees with all of our recommendations and has provided a detailed response to each recommendation throughout the report.

Introduction

1. The Government of Nunavut came into existence on 1 April 1999. Many of its initial public service positions were transferred from the Government of the Northwest Territories, and by 31 March 2000, the number of public service positions totalled 2,701. From 2000 to 2009, the public service grew to 3,837 positions, 23 percent of which were vacant at 31 March 2009 (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1—The number of public service positions increased between 2000 and 2009, and up to one quarter of positions remain vacant

Bar graph

[text version]

Source: Government of Nunavut Combined 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 Public Service Annual Report and Towards a Representative Public Service Report (March 2001 to March 2009)

2. The Government’s public service is chiefly composed of positions located within the Office of the Legislative Assembly, the 10 government departments, the Nunavut Arctic College, the Nunavut Housing Corporation, and the Qulliq Energy Corporation.

3. Under Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the Government is obliged to increase the level of beneficiary participation in all occupational categories of government employment to a level that reflects the ratio of beneficiaries to the total population in the Nunavut Settlement Area (currently 85 percent).

4. The Government set a target date of 2020 to attain this representative level of 85 percent beneficiary employment, with an interim target of 56 percent by 2010. As of March 2009, 52 percent of the positions in the Government were held by beneficiaries. This is an increase from 44 percent in 2000, the first full year for which statistics were reported. However, while most administrative positions are filled by beneficiaries, their representation in management and professional positions is around 26 percent (Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 2—Percentage of public service positions held by beneficiaries, by occupational category*

Line graph

[text version]

*Occupational categories

Executive—The most senior positions within departments or territorial corporations that are responsible for the overall management of the organization.

Senior management—Positions that report to the Executive category and are responsible for the planning and operations of the organization.

Middle management—Positions that include responsibilities such as day-to-day management and direct supervision of staff.

Professional—A position that requires a professional designation or a position where there is a requirement for a highly developed or specialized body of knowledge usually acquired through university education.

Paraprofessional—Officer-level positions that provide support to professionals.

Administrative support—Positions that play a supporting role in an organization by performing clerical tasks and other duties.

Source: Government of Nunavut Combined 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 Public Service Annual Report and Towards a Representative Public Service Report (March 2001 to March 2009)

Human resource management structure

5. The primary authorities governing the management of human resources in the Government are the Public Service Act and Regulations. The Public Service Act provides the legislative authority, rules, and procedures for the appointment, direction, employment terms and conditions, and collective bargaining for Government employees. Other authorities include the Priority Hiring Policy, the Human Resource Manual, the Management Handbook, and the collective agreements with the Nunavut Employees Union and the Nunavut Teachers’ Association.

6. While departments and territorial corporations are responsible for planning to meet their own staffing needs, the Department of Human Resources is responsible, with a few exceptions, for managing all staffing through job competitions for all departments and the Nunavut Housing Corporation. The Minister of Human Resources has delegated staffing authority to a few territorial corporations and departments. Specifically, the Department of Health and Social Services staffs nursing positions, the Nunavut Arctic College staffs all college positions, and Qulliq Energy Corporation staffs all its positions. Under the Education Act, the Department of Education staffs all teaching positions.

7. Each of the 10 departments, the Office of the Legislative Assembly, and the three territorial corporations are responsible for providing position-specific training to their employees, while the Department of Human Resources provides general training to staff across the Government.

8. We examined five of the ten government departments—Human Resources, Community and Government Services, Education, Environment, and Finance. Exhibit 3 shows the departments’ responsibilities, budgets for the 2009–10 fiscal year, and total number of staff positions for the five departments at 31 March 2009.

Exhibit 3—Responsibilities, budgets, and staff positions of selected departments

Department and responsibilities Budget
($ millions)
Number of staff positions
(31 March 2009)
Human resources

Provides human resource management support through recruitment, job evaluation, training and development, employee relations, and Inuit employment planning.

18 89
Community and Government Services

Provides community services such as capital planning, emergency management services, and the acquisition and distribution of petroleum products. Also provides to government departments centralized services such as architectural and engineering, procurement, and information technology.

155.2 335
Education

Provides educational programs and services that support childhood activities, the K–12 school system, post-secondary education, income support, apprenticeships, and career development.

177.6 1,193
Environment

Oversees the protection, promotion, and sustainable use of natural resources in Nunavut by managing the environment, wildlife, and parks.

19.4 123
Finance

Provides financial management to the Government by reporting on its revenue and expenditure positions; managing the Government’s accountability framework, including payroll and financial systems; and developing policy direction.

53.8 221
Total 406 1,787
Source: Towards a Representative Public Service Report, March 2009, and Government of Nunavut Business Plan 2009–2010
Human resource challenges

9. Services provided in a vast area with a sparse population. With the creation of the territory in 1999, the Government assumed a major role in the largest Aboriginal land claim in Canadian history. Nunavut comprises 25 communities across approximately one fifth of Canada’s total land mass. The population of these communities ranges from about 7,000 in Iqaluit to only a few hundred in several other communities. The Government must have enough qualified human resources in these communities to provide its programs and services.

10. High cost of living. The remote location of many communities in Nunavut contributes to the high cost of living. For example, the cost of building a house in Nunavut is about three times higher than in southern Canada, and food costs are at least twice as much. It is important that the Government consider the high cost of living when trying to attract candidates either from inside or outside the territory.

11. Employable population. Presently, Nunavut has a population of about 32,000 people. However, about 42 percent of the population is either under 18 years of age or over 65 years of age and therefore most are not available for Government employment. Of the remaining population, some are students in post-secondary schools and others are employed elsewhere in the territory or are already working for the Government. In addition, throughout the territory there is a lot of competition for skilled beneficiaries to work in the private sector, at other levels of government, and in Inuit organizations. As a result, the Government of Nunavut needs to compete for skilled beneficiaries.

12. Low graduation rates. Over each of the past five years (2004–2009), about 30 percent of Nunavut students graduated from high school, and a smaller percentage of those graduates went on to post-secondary education. In 2009, 243 students graduated from high school in Nunavut. Thus, there is a small number of local candidates with the education required to work at certain levels of the Government. In his 2006 report, The Nunavut Project, Justice Thomas Berger emphasized that, fundamentally, it is impossible to consider the objectives of Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement without also considering that a great majority of positions in the public service require educational qualifications. Because of the low number of high school graduates, departments face the additional challenge of finding qualified candidates from Nunavut communities for positions that require post-secondary education.

Focus of the audit

13. We looked at how five departments (Human Resources, Community and Government Services, Education, Environment, and Finance) have determined their human resource needs and how they planned to fill positions with a view to attaining a representative level of beneficiaries. We also looked at the staffing processes used to fill vacant positions. Finally, we looked at the training that departments provided to beneficiaries in order to fill gaps in the skills they need.

14. More information on the audit objective, scope, approach, and criteria are in About the Audit at the end of this report.

Observations and Recommendations

Planning

15. Human resource planning starts with establishing a complete picture of an organization’s current workforce and of its future need for people, competencies, and experience. To ensure that its work continues, an organization must decide how best to obtain people with the skills it needs, whether by staffing (hiring, transfers, and promotion), training, or contracting out the work. Each department in the Government of Nunavut is responsible for determining and planning for the human resources that it needs to operate. The Department of Human Resources is not responsible for overall government-wide human resource planning.

Departments do not know the extent of their shortages in human resource capacity

16. In order to develop meaningful human resource plans and strategies, departments must first have an understanding of their current workforce, vacant positions, and related gaps in skills and experience. We expected each of the five selected departments to collect and analyze appropriate information related to its current and its estimated future workforce and related gaps.

Human resource capacity—A measure to ensure that an organization has a sufficient number of qualified people in the right place at the right time to achieve its objectives. A lack of capacity has a direct impact on an organization’s ability to deliver programs and services and perform certain tasks. The Government of Nunavut’s measure of human resource capacity is the number of occupied positions expressed as a percentage of total full-time positions.

17. We looked at and analyzed the information collected to answer the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of the departments’ workforce (what do they have)?
  • How many people, with what qualifications, are needed to get the work done (what do they need)?
  • Where—and to what extent—does a gap exist between the needed and the current Government workforce (what is the gap)?
  • How do certain factors prevent the departments from getting the workforce they need to deliver their programs and services (what are the challenges)?

18. Understanding what they have. We found that the departments collect basic information on their workforce, including beneficiary status and work history of employees (years of service and full-time or part-time employment) and compensation data (salary and leave records). They also have information on their positions (vacancies, incumbent, location by communities). However, we found that they do not track or analyze other key information about their employees, such as level of education (certificates, diplomas, and licences), skill sets, and experience.

19. Understanding what they need. We found that the departments do not compile sufficient information on their human resource needs. When a position becomes vacant, the hiring manager identifies in the job description the qualifications and experience that the position requires. However, because this information is not compiled department-wide, departments do not know how many people they need with specific skill sets. For example, none of the departments knew how many accountants they needed. Nor is this kind of information compiled and analyzed government-wide.

20. In some cases, the information needed to conduct this type of analysis is readily available. For example, in September 2009, we counted a total of 108 positions in the departments we examined for which an accounting designation was either required or would be an asset. Of those positions, there were 21 for which an accounting designation was a definite requirement. Of these 21 positions, 16 were filled at that time, but only 6 were filled by people who hold an accounting designation. The departments could have used this information to identify the number of accountants they still needed.

21. Identifying the gaps. Assessing the skills required in positions against what the workforce currently possesses provides the basis for identifying the gaps in workforce skills. We found that although departments know what skills are needed in each position, they do not have detailed information about the extent of the gaps in or shortage of skills in their workforce government-wide. For example, while they know that there is a lack of qualified people to fill financial management positions, they have not identified how many people and what qualifications, experience, and skill sets are needed to fill the vacant positions. Without this information, departments cannot develop plans for filling these positions. Furthermore, long-term vacancies in specific positions (for example, financial management, biologists, and informatics) suggest a chronic problem. We found that managers are dealing with some long-term vacancies by filling the positions temporarily. This approach, however, is not effective in addressing the long-term problem.

22. Addressing the challenges. We found little supporting analysis done by departments to identify and assess the underlying causes or factors affecting their ability to fill vacancies. For example, we did not find any study that compared the current levels of compensation for accountants within and outside the territory to determine whether the Government of Nunavut is offering what the market demands. However, officials at all levels of the Government and in all the regions cited several factors that they perceive to affect the ability to hire qualified staff:

  • uncompetitive compensation packages (including northern allowances);
  • a lack of available staff housing;
  • decentralization of specialized positions (located in communities other than Iqaluit); and
  • a lack of qualified beneficiaries with the levels of education required for the positions.

23. Most of these factors are perceived to be common to all departments. Their impact may vary depending on the skill gaps and vacancies in each department. Because of this, it may be more efficient to analyze the underlying causes of chronic gaps in human resource capacity from a government-wide perspective.

24. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should

  • identify key skill sets and qualifications that departments need in the short, medium, and long terms;
  • determine what skill sets and qualifications they have now;
  • determine the extent to which gaps exist at both the department- and government-wide levels, by identifying how many people they need and what specific skill sets and qualifications are needed in the short, medium, and long terms;
  • identify the underlying factors that affect the ability to fill gaps in capacity and analyze to what extent these factors represent chronic problems; and
  • assess the underlying causes of the common gaps in key skill sets and qualifications identified across departments.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with this recommendation.

In the short term, the Department of Human Resources will lead the Government in coordinating the collection of data from each department to focus on the identification of the key skills sets and qualifications required across government in the short, medium, and long term. This data will be cross-referenced with current staff skills and qualifications to determine and quantify the gap. The gap analysis will seek to identify common issues that have an impact on this gap to determine contributing cyclical or systemic challenges. Over the long term, this data and analysis will assist the government with drafting strategies to close the gap.

Departments lack concrete plans to address human resource shortages

25. There are two main planning documents in the Government of Nunavut. Annual business plans of each department outline department priorities and spending for the upcoming fiscal year as well as the critical issues that could have an impact on the department. Inuit employment plans of departments, required by Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, focus on attaining a representative workforce; these plans cover a four- or five-year period.

26. Without adequate planning, there is a risk that the Government will not reach the full human resource capacity it requires or attain its goal of a representative workforce. We therefore expected that department- and government-wide planning documents would adequately identify how the Government plans to meet current and future human resource needs and attain a representative workforce.

27. We examined human resource information contained in departmental business plans for the 2007–08, 2008–09, and 2009–10 fiscal years to determine the extent to which they address human resource issues in the public service. Our review included all documentation referred to in the business plans that was related to human resource planning, such as human resource strategies.

28. We found that apart from the Department of Education’s planning for teachers, departmental business plans contain few concrete initiatives, measures, or strategies for addressing gaps in the departments’ human resources in the short, medium, and long terms. Exhibit 4 summarizes how the Department of Education is addressing its gaps in skills and vacancies in teaching positions and using good practices to train beneficiaries; other departments could follow these practices. Without concrete initiatives, measures, and strategies and sustained actions aimed at filling skill gaps and vacancies, departments are not in a position to adequately address issues of human resource capacity.

Exhibit 4—The Department of Education has concrete practices and plans to address its needs for teachers

Short-term plan: Recruiting from outside Nunavut

The Department of Education acknowledged that achieving a representative level of teachers was not an option through recruitment in the short term. In order to fill its immediate vacancies, it mostly staffs its teaching positions with non-beneficiaries. The Department does have some advantages when it comes to staffing, such as direct authority to staff all teaching positions, its scheduled annual hiring cycle, and a centralized recruiting website for teachers, Education Canada Network. We noted that for the past year, the Department has operated with above 95 percent of teaching positions filled.

Good practices identified

Collecting workforce data for short-term planning. Each regional office collects and maintains information on its teaching staff, such as years of service, language competencies, contract expiry dates, and possession of high-demand skills sets (such as mathematics). This information is then used to make projections of regional staffing needs for the upcoming school year.

Forming regional hiring panels and conducting block competitions. This practice enables each region to carry out a large volume of hires for the upcoming school year in a relatively short time frame. For example, we found that the average length of teacher hiring competitions (from the competition closing date to date of job offer) was approximately 43 days, which is about two thirds of the time the Department of Human Resources takes to staff a position in departments after the close of a competition.

Long-term plan: Developing qualified beneficiaries

The Department of Education has a long history of training beneficiaries for teaching positions. The Nunavut Teachers Education Program (NTEP) started in 1979 and is now a degree-granting program. The Inuit Studies Program (ISP) started in 1996 as the Aboriginal Language Specialist Program and has since grown to include cultural training. Both programs have evolved over the years.

In 2005, a formal evaluation of the NTEP highlighted the need to train additional teachers. In response to this evaluation and in preparation for the implementation of the New Education Act, the Department of Education developed “Qalattuq: 10 Year Educator Training Strategy 2006–2016.” The strategy was aimed at identifying the training needs of the Department’s existing teachers, developing more beneficiaries as teachers, and providing all teachers with greater access to training opportunities. Additionally, in 2006 the Department piloted the Nunavut Masters of Education Leadership Program (MELP), with the goal of training NTEP graduates to take on leadership roles in the education system. In July 2009, 21 students graduated from the Masters program, the first graduate program to be offered in Nunavut.

Good practices identified

Training programs for various occupational levels. Each of the Department’s training programs targets a gap in a different occupational level, ranging from paraprofessional to senior management. The training programs are linked to the Department’s Inuit employment plan targets and coincide with projected timelines for achieving goals for representativeness at each occupational level.

Training programs adjusted to meet the needs of candidates. The Department of Education and its partners have adjusted their programs without sacrificing their long-term goal of training beneficiaries to become qualified teachers. All teacher training programs have been tailored to a Nunavut-specific, culturally appropriate curriculum. The community-based NTEP and delivery of the MELP in Nunavut are both examples of how the Department has accommodated beneficiaries who are unable to leave their homes or families for extended periods of time. Additionally, a foundation year was added to the NTEP to increase candidates’ chances of success.

Training programs evaluated formally and informally. The Department has completed formal evaluations and informal assessments of all its training programs. This has helped it to determine, among other things, the rationale and relevance of the programs; the strengths and weaknesses of the Department’s administration and operations; and the efficiency, effectiveness, and future direction of its programs.

See Exhibit 8 in the Training and Development section of this report for more information on the Department of Education’s training programs.

29. Recommendation. Where ongoing gaps in specific skill sets and qualifications exist at the departmental level, the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should develop and implement strategies to address these gaps in the short, medium, and long terms.

30. Recommendation. Where ongoing gaps in key skill sets and qualifications have been identified government-wide, the Department of Human Resources should

  • develop and implement government-wide strategies to address gaps in human resource capacity in the short, medium, and long terms; and
  • monitor the implementation of the government-wide strategies over the short, medium, and long-terms.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

In the medium term, the Department of Human Resources will work with relevant departments to coordinate the development and implementation of appropriate strategies to fill gaps. Where these gaps are government-wide in nature, the Department of Human Resources will develop and implement the appropriate strategies.

The Deputy Ministers’ Committee has created a subcommittee with a focus on building capacity. This committee will continually monitor and evaluate the strategies used to address the skill gap and advise on changes to those strategies as necessary to ensure success over the short, medium, and long term.

Initiatives in plans were not enough to achieve their targets

31. As departments take steps to fill their gaps in human resource capacity, they also need to consider in their plans the Government’s objective of attaining a representative public service. Two target dates have been set to achieve representativeness in each occupational category: an interim target of 56 percent in 2010 and a target of 85 percent by 2020. To determine the extent to which plans address representativeness in the public service, we examined departmental Inuit employment plans as well as the Government of Nunavut Business Plan as it relates to representativeness.

32. We found that, to varying degrees, these plans put forward initiatives to increase the number of beneficiaries to a representative level. Some of these initiatives include the training and development of beneficiaries for positions in the public service. However, we found that the initiatives contained in the Inuit employment plans and the Government’s Business Plan were not enough to achieve the interim target of 56 percent in each occupational category by 2010. There are many reasons for this. For example, many of the training programs departments relied upon to produce potential candidates have not produced as many graduates as planned.

33. We also noted that while representativeness has increased in the public service over the past nine years, the pace at which it has grown in each occupational category has varied significantly (Exhibit 5). Representativeness already varied widely among occupational categories when Nunavut was created (from 18 percent to 79 percent) and now ranges from 23 percent to 94 percent. As shown in Exhibit 5, representativeness has been attained at the administrative level and could be reached at the paraprofessional category within the next 10 years, assuming that this category continues to grow at the same rate as it did between 2000 and 2009. For the senior management, middle management, and professional categories, it is clear that the goal of 85 percent representativeness by 2020 will not be achieved. There are many reasons for this. For example, the characteristics of the occupational categories are very different. The educational requirements for most professional positions are significantly higher than those required for the administration category. Increasing the number of beneficiaries in the professional category will depend on increasing the number who successfully complete post-secondary education; this education requirement takes longer to achieve than the education requirements of some other categories.

Exhibit 5—Growth in representation of beneficiaries varied by occupational category between 2000 and 2009

Occupational category Representation at 31 March 2000 Representation at 31 March 2009 Growth between 31 March 2000 and 31 March 2009
Executive 45% 53% 8%
Senior Management 18% 23% 5%
Middle Management 19% 27% 8%
Professional 26% 26% 0%
Paraprofessional 47% 70% 23%
Administrative 79% 94% 15%
Source: Government of Nunavut Combined 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 Public Service Annual Report and Towards a Representative Public Service Report, March 2009

34. In addition, as the middle management category is an important feeder group for the senior management category, increasing representativeness in this category will ultimately allow for greater representativeness in the senior management category. However, the middle management category is currently experiencing challenges increasing representativeness, which would have an impact on this category’s ability to feed the senior management category.

35. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should develop and implement a strategy for each occupational category in which representativeness has not yet been attained. The strategies should take into account

  • the availability of beneficiaries who have the needed skills and experience,
  • the time required for beneficiaries to obtain the necessary qualifications and levels of education,
  • the high school and post-secondary graduation rates of beneficiaries, and
  • the demand by other employers for skilled beneficiaries.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with this recommendation.

It is recognized that the Government will be more successful in achieving a representative labour force by undertaking a Labour Force Analysis as stated within Article 23.3.1, 23.3.2, and 23.3.3 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Over the short term, the Department of Human Resources will work with other departments to undertake a detailed analysis of the Nunavut labour force data provided by the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics. The analysis of this data will determine availability, interest, and level of preparedness of Inuit for government employment. These analyses will assist the Government with developing and implementing strategies for Inuit employment within the public service and identifying realistic, achievable employment targets.

The lack of human resource capacity has many consequences

36. Previous reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut have noted that the Government of Nunavut needs to improve its human resource capacity. As expected, the shortage of human resources affects the delivery of the Government’s programs and its ability to perform certain tasks. Our 2008 report recommended that the Nunavut Housing Corporation develop its human resource capacity to strengthen its delivery of programs that support the building of new housing units. In our April 2009 reports on financial management, we noted that the shortage of human resources has hindered the Government’s ability to carry out basic financial functions, including paying its bills and collecting the monies owed to it.

37. During our current audit, many of the officials we interviewed echoed these observations. Some mentioned that necessary work is not completed or that some work is not performed to the required standard. Others stated that priorities are dealt with first and the rest is done when and if there is time. In some instances, pressures of the day-to-day work have led to overwork or burnout of staff. There was a general consensus that little time is available to focus on strategic issues.

38. We found that in order to offset the impact of unfilled positions, some work that would otherwise not be performed because of a vacancy is sometimes done by contractors, casual employees, or current employees working overtime. We found that the five departments used casuals and contractors to fill up to nine percent of their vacant positions. By analyzing departmental data, we also found that departments spent 37 percent to 112 percent of their unused payroll budgets on people working on contract, overtime, and as casuals to do the work of vacant positions. In our view, gathering and analyzing this information would provide departments with a better understanding of their shortages and needs for human resources and specific skills.

Staffing

39. Staffing is a critical aspect of human resource management, the goal of which is to find the right person to do a particular job. When a position becomes vacant, managers may staff it with an employee already working for the department or the Government, or they may recruit someone from outside the Government. The manager may staff the vacant position either permanently or temporarily using four main options (Exhibit 6).

Exhibit 6—Managers use four main options to staff positions

  Staffing option Process Length
Non-competitive Direct appointment An individual is appointed to a position in the Government without a competition. The hiring department submits a request to the Department of Human Resources, which reviews the request to determine that it complies with the Policy on Appointments without Competition. Cabinet approves all direct appointments. Term or Indeterminate
Transfer assignment An employee is appointed temporarily to another position in the Government. Appointments can be both competitive and non-competitive. The Department of Human Resources reviews and approves all transfer assignments put forward by hiring departments. Transfer assignments are intended for employees to develop new skills or to provide expertise to the hiring department in a particular field. Term (3 years maximum)
Competitive  
Competitive staffing action An individual is appointed to a position in the Government through a competition. Upon a hiring department’s request, the Department of Human Resources undertakes a competition to find a qualified candidate. This is a collaborative process between the hiring department and the Department of Human Resources. Term or Indeterminate
Casual staffing action An individual is appointed on a temporary and short-term basis to a position in the Government. Departments identify the need to hire a casual employee and send a request to the Department of Human Resources outlining the proposed dates of employment, the required qualifications, and the duties to be performed. The Department of Human Resources sends suitable résumés to the hiring department, which then chooses a candidate. 4 months (12 on request)
Source: Government of Nunavut Human Resource Manual and Department of Human Resources Staffing Procedures Manual

40. In the 2008–09 fiscal year, the Department of Human Resources filled a total of 296 positions for all departments in the Government through competitive staffing actions. An additional 87 positions were filled through transfer assignments, and 56 were filled by direct appointments. In addition, all departments used a total of 1,199 casual employees during the year to fill various vacancies created when staff moved to other positions in their current department, in another Government department, or outside the Government.

41. Effective staffing policies and practices are essential to the efficient appointment of qualified candidates. We expected that the Department of Human Resources would have staffing policies that would be responsive to the human resource needs of departments, including the need to increase employment of beneficiaries. We also expected that the Department of Human Resources and the selected departments would have adequate staffing practices to fill vacancies.

The competitive staffing process is not timely

42. We found that, on average, it takes 318 days to fill a position in the departments, from the moment it becomes vacant until a candidate receives a job offer (Exhibit 7). Many officials said that the Department of Human Resources takes too long to staff positions and, in their view, this was the biggest source of delay. However, we noted that more than half (181) of the 318 days elapsed before the hiring department asked the Department of Human Resources to get involved.

Exhibit 7—Positions can be vacant for over 10 months before a job offer is made

Time line bar

[text version]

Note: Our randomly selected sample contained 44 competitive staffing action files that started between April 2007 and March 2009 and resulted in a successful placement.

43. Departments provided several reasons to explain this. For example, managers told us that they try to fill positions through other staffing mechanisms (casual, direct appointments, or transfer assignments) that are perceived to be faster than the external hiring process. However, we noted that the departments have not analyzed their own staffing processes to identify opportunities for improving their speed and effectiveness.

44. Once the Department of Human Resources receives a staffing request from a department, it takes 137 days, on average, for a candidate to receive a job offer. The Department has set service standards for two steps in the competitive process, and we found that it comes close to meeting them. However, the Department does not have standards for all the steps of its involvement in the process.

45. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should

  • analyze their internal staffing processes to identify opportunities for reducing the time it takes to staff a position,
  • identify common areas across departments where timeliness of the staffing process could be improved, and
  • implement the necessary changes.

46. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources should set a standard of service for each step of the competition process that currently lacks a standard.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

The Department of Human Resources has recently completed an organizational and functional review with the intent of identifying where improvements could be made to provide more effective and efficient client service. Recommended changes will be implemented in the 2010–11 fiscal year.

Guided by the interdepartmental Building Capacity Committee, all departments will review their internal human resource processes with a view to significantly increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of staffing practices, including through more consistent application of best practices across departments and clarification of the roles and responsibilities between departments and the Department of Human Resources.

The reasons for unsuccessful competitions are not assessed

47. When a staffing competition does not yield a successful candidate or is cancelled, the whole staffing process is affected as considerable resources are expended to run the competition with no result and another competition will likely have to be held. We found that almost half of the staffing competitions undertaken by the five departments in the 2007–08 and 2008–09 fiscal years were unsuccessful.

48. Officials told us that they believe some of the reasons included the lengthy staffing process, which can lead potential candidates to accept other job offers; lack of available housing for successful candidates; and compensation levels that may have discouraged good candidates from applying in the first place. However, neither the Department of Human Resources nor the selected departments gather data on how often such situations occur or on other reasons why competitions are unsuccessful. In addition, we found that the Department of Human Resources does not conduct any analysis to determine whether and to what extent the lack of success is caused by systemic problems. As a result, departments do not know exactly how their process needs to change when they re-advertise a position.

49. We found that some causes are within the control of the Department of Human Resources. For example, the Department does not currently prioritize staffing requests from departments, especially where the skills needed are in high demand, so that job offers may be made quickly. We also found that it does not maintain a registry of candidates who have met the screening criteria in previous competitions and who could be contacted to compete for positions requiring similar skills and qualifications.

50. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should analyze the reasons why competitions are unsuccessful, and the extent to which these reasons occur. It should incorporate the results of this analysis into its competition procedures to improve the outcomes of future competitions.

51. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources should review its competitive hiring process to determine how the process could be made more effective. It should consider

  • prioritizing positions for staffing actions, and
  • maintaining a registry of candidates who have met the screening criteria in previous competitions.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

The Department of Human Resources has recently completed an organizational and functional review with the intent of identifying where improvements could be made to provide more effective and efficient client service. As a result, there will be greater focus on strategic recruiting, analysis, and other research-type functions.

Over the medium term, the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with other departments, is committed to developing a government-wide Recruitment and Retention Strategy. This will include considering areas where the competitive hiring process could be more effective, such as prioritizing the hiring of specific positions and maintaining a bank of candidates from previous competitions who have met the screening criteria.

Use of temporary staffing practices to fill permanent positions creates problems

52. Departments have needs for both temporary and permanent staff. We expected that their staffing policies and practices would provide managers with options that would help them meet their temporary or permanent staffing needs for the short, medium, and long terms.

53. We noted many cases where managers had staffed permanent positions on a temporary basis because, as some told us, the use of transfer assignments or casual staffing provided quick solutions to their immediate vacancies. Others told us that where no beneficiary qualified for the vacant position, they would hire non-beneficiaries using term employment so that the position could be available in the future for a qualified beneficiary.

54. The use of temporary staffing practices to fill permanent positions creates many problems. For example, a transfer assignment, already temporary by its nature, creates a new vacancy in the transferred employee’s department because the Policy on Appointments without Competition does not allow departments to fill the position vacated by the transferred employee. In some instances, employees have moved from one transfer assignment to the next, thus creating a string of vacant positions that cannot be filled with a permanent appointment. These vacancies create additional staffing problems for managers, whose choices are to hire a casual or term employee, to contract the work out, or to leave the position vacant during the period of the transferred employee’s assignment.

55. In using staffing approaches and options that create temporary employment in their departments, managers have implemented short-term solutions to their long-term staffing needs. Moreover, the use of term temporary appointments affects the Government’s ability to staff positions and creates uncertainty about whether a position can be filled again with a qualified person.

56. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should identify ways to reduce the use of temporary staffing practices to fill permanent positions. This should include reviewing its existing staffing policies and determining whether additional policies are needed.

57. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources should provide guidance to departments to ensure that they use temporary staffing practices only when appropriate.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

A review of staffing policies will be undertaken in response to the data collection and analysis of the capacity gap. Any changes to the staffing policy will support identified strategies to close the capacity gap.

Supporting documentation for non-competitive appointments is inadequate

58. The Government’s Policy on Appointments without Competition recognizes that appointments without competition are occasionally both necessary and justified. The two types of appointments without competition used most frequently by the five departments are transfer assignments (temporary appointment in the same department or another department) and direct appointments (either from outside or inside the public service); both types can be either a lateral or an upward move. In the 2007–08 and 2008–09 fiscal years, these two staffing options accounted for a quarter of all appointments made by the five departments.

59. We examined whether the files on direct appointments contain supporting documentation, as the Policy requires, showing that the candidate met the screening criteria for skills, knowledge, and work experience that would have applied had the position been filled through a competition. Similarly, for transfer assignments, which may also be made without a competition, it is important that these files contain sufficient documentation to justify the employee’s assignment to the position had it been made instead through a competitive staffing process. Therefore, it is also important that the transfer assignment files contain complete documentation to support the decision to transfer the employee.

60. We reviewed all the direct appointments and transfer assignments carried out by the five departments in the 2007–08 and 2008–09 fiscal years. We found that 57 percent of the transfer assignment files contained no documentation other than the transfer assignment agreement between the departments and the individual. We also found that 54 percent of the direct appointment files we reviewed lacked documents such as résumés, job descriptions, organization charts, staffing action requests, and job evaluation forms. Further, the files contained little documentation on the assessment of the candidates’ qualifications. As a result, we could not be assured that the Department of Human Resources had exercised due diligence in assessing the qualifications of candidates.

61. We found that although the direct appointment files did not contain assessments of candidates’ qualifications, most of the files (47 out of 56) contained a statement about the candidate’s qualifications. Half of those statements said the candidate met all the skills and knowledge requirements of the position. The remaining 23 statements said the candidate met some or most of the skills and knowledge requirements of the position; those candidates would not have passed the initial screening had the process been competitive.

62. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources should ensure that direct appointment and transfer assignment files contain an assessment of each candidate’s skills, knowledge, and experience against the screening criteria in the position’s job’s description. The files should also include all the necessary documentation to support the assessment.

The Department’s response. The Department of Human Resources agrees with this recommendation.

The Department of Human Resources will ensure that the assessment of all candidates for appointment without competition is complete and thorough without compromising the timeliness of the assessments.

Departments will be tasked to ensure that all necessary documentation required under the Appointment without Competition directive is provided to the Department of Human Resources before any assessment work begins.

Training and development

63. Employers and employees benefit from the training and development of staff. Employers benefit from the increased productivity, knowledge, and contribution of employees, and workforce motivation and retention improve as employees are given an opportunity to develop new skills. As beneficiary staff develop new skills and knowledge, they may become more qualified to assume professional and management positions; this contributes to overall operational capacity and a more representative workforce.

64. The Government of Nunavut provides two types of training and development for its employees. The Training and Development Division of the Department of Human Resources is responsible for delivering government-wide training that is intended to incrementally bridge the gap in human resource capacity. This Division is also responsible for delivering the Government’s Sivuliqtiksat Internship Program available to all departments. Each department is responsible for delivering other training that is specific to positions in that department.

65. Our audit focused on currently or recently offered specialized training and development programs for beneficiaries in the five departments (Exhibit 8). These programs aim to help beneficiaries gain specific qualifications to fill some of the departmental human resource gaps.

Exhibit 8—Nine specialized training programs

Department Program name and description Number of participants Length of program Approximate cost of program per year
Community and Government Services Carpentry Apprenticeship Program—This was a one-time program focused on training beneficiary staff members to become carpenters (started October 2004 and finished December 2007). 2 enrolled:
  • 1 completed
  • 1 did not complete
3 years $76,000
Internal Internships—This program is modeled on the Sivuliqtiksat Internship Program, but positions are focused primarily in the paraprofessional category (started winter 2007). 9 enrolled:
  • 5 completed
  • 3 ongoing
  • 1 did not complete
1–2 years $233,000
Computer Systems Technician Program—The program provides students with training and expertise to support the use of computers and networks. Upon graduation, graduates are eligible for employment with the department (started in fall 2007). 15 enrolled:
  • 5 completed
  • 10 did not complete
2 years $240,000
Education Nunavut Teachers Education Program (NTEP)—This is a campus- and community-based program that prepares beneficiaries to become classroom teachers in Nunavut schools (started as the Eastern Arctic Teacher Education Program in 1979). From August 2001 to present

288 enrolled:

  • 97 completed with B.Ed.
  • 38 completed with certificate or diploma
  • 71 ongoing
  • 82 did not complete
4–5 years $1,817,000*
Language and Culture Certificate Program—This program trains Inuit language speakers to be language and culture instructors in Nunavut schools (started as the Aboriginal Language Specialist Program in 1996). 41 enrolled:
  • 22 completed
  • 5 ongoing
  • 14 did not complete
1 year $345,000
Master’s of Educational Leadership Program (MELP)—This is a graduate degree program that trains beneficiaries for leadership positions in Nunavut’s education system (started in fall 2006). 27 enrolled:
  • 21 completed
  • 6 ongoing
3 years $308,000
Environment Conservation Officer Training Program—This program consists of on-the-job learning and courses, leading to a position as conservation officer with the department (started in January 2006). 3 enrolled:
  • 2 completed
  • 1 did not complete
2–3 years $192,000
Finance Financial Internship Program—This program builds financial management capacity in the Government by training beneficiary employees for management and professional accountant positions (started in January 2003). 22 enrolled:
  • 7 completed
  • 2 ongoing
  • 13 did not complete
2–3 years $654,000
Human Resources Sivuliqtiksat Internship Program—This program consists of management, director, and specialized internships in Government departments, and includes on-the-job training and in some cases specialized coursework with a designated trainer/mentor (started in January 2003). 35 enrolled:
  • 12 completed
  • 7 ongoing
  • 16 did not complete
1–3 years $1,354,000
*Note: Additional funding for the NTEP program was provided by the Nunavut Arctic College. The amount presented represents the funding contribution by the Department of Education.

Source: Internal departmental data

66. We examined whether departments had allocated sufficient resources to the training programs and whether they had identified and acted on opportunities to improve the programs’ success rates. We reviewed documentation related to the programs and interviewed managers responsible for their delivery. We also met with past and present participants to gain an understanding of their experiences. We did not look at the content of these specialized programs or at the government-wide general training provided by the Department of Human Resources.

Most training programs are adequately resourced

67. One of the key factors in the effectiveness of training programs is ensuring that they are adequately resourced. We found that all of the programs we examined had sufficient financial resources to deliver the training; in fact, four of the programs have rarely spent their entire budget. However, we noted that the human resources available to manage two of the programs (Financial Internship and Sivuliqtiksat Internship) were not sufficient to handle the workload. In one case (Sivuliqtiksat Internship), this led to a high turnover in the position involved; in the other case (Financial Internship), responsibility for coordinating the program was added to a manager’s existing workload, leaving limited time to support the program. As a result, participants in both programs may not have received all the support they needed.

Departments do not systematically identify impediments to the success of training programs

68. The success of a program can often be measured by the number of participants enrolled and the number who complete it. Understanding why some training programs are not filled and why some participants fail to complete their training is key to determining whether changes are needed to improve the success of those programs or whether the programs should continue to be supported. Therefore, we expected that departments would monitor the extent to which their training programs were filled and completed and would identify and make any necessary changes.

69. We found that not all of the spaces available in two of the training programs could be filled. We found that in one case—the Internal Internship program at the Department of Community and Government Services—this was due to a lack of mentors to oversee the trainees in their jobs. In the other case—the Financial Internship program—the Department of Finance did not analyze the reasons why the program was not filled. The Department could not tell, for example, whether there were not enough potential participants who could meet the screening criteria.

70. We also found that while departments gathered information on participant completion rates for all programs, in some cases they did not analyze the reasons why some participants did not complete the training. In other cases, the reasons were examined as part of a formal evaluation of the program (by departments of Environment and Education). Where departments did not do the analysis, they made few adjustments to their programs and, in our view, missed an opportunity to improve participants’ success in their programs.

71. Recommendation. In cases where participation and completion rates for training programs are low, the selected departments should

  • analyze the reasons, through consultation with key stakeholders and participants;
  • identify the changes needed to improve participation and completion rates;
  • implement the changes; and
  • monitor participation and completion rates to determine whether they improve.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with this recommendation.

By learning from successful training programs such as the Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP), a monitoring and evaluation process will be put in place through the Building Capacity Committee. The process will be implemented system-wide to ensure the success of future training programs that reflect the continuous improvement objectives and the training needs of employees.

Human resource tools

Departments are not using the tools available to properly manage their human resources

72. We found that tools and policies are available to help departments better manage their human resources, including a performance management tool kit for managers and a policy on exit surveys and interviews. However, we found that departments often do not use the tools that could provide them with valuable information to help carry out human resource planning, staffing, and training and development.

73. Performance management. The Department of Human Resources has developed performance management tools, such as the Mentorship Handbook, Learning Plan Manual, and Guidelines for Performance Management. It also offers Performance Management and Learning Plans as one-day courses. The new Nunavut Education Act requires that performance evaluations be done for all school staff, and the Department of Education has recently developed evaluation tools to carry out this requirement. With the exception of Department of Education school staff, we found that there is no requirement for managers to conduct performance assessments of their staff. Many managers and staff we spoke with advised that they have not conducted or undergone a performance evaluation during their employment with the Government. The absence of discussions about performance is a missed opportunity for managers to identify their employees’ career goals and related training needs.

74. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources should develop a policy on performance management that requires department managers to conduct performance evaluations of all employees, including assessments of training needs.

The Department’s response. The Department of Human Resources agrees with this recommendation.

The Government’s Performance Management system will be reviewed and aligned with the business plans of each department. The Government recognizes the value of aligning performance expectations and monitoring with the business plans and priorities of government. In the short term, an appropriate policy on performance management will be developed, recognizing the need to review progress throughout the business cycle to provide coaching, mentoring support, and direction to employees.

75. Exit surveys and interviews. The Policy on Exit Surveys and Interviews applies when a person has transferred to another department, resigned, retired, or been dismissed or laid off. Departing employees can choose to complete an exit survey or to have their feedback recorded in an interview. We found that the Department of Human Resources could not determine the extent to which departments were conducting either exit surveys or interviews. The Department has received 386 exit survey responses over the years, but the responses are neither analyzed nor communicated to the departments. Understanding why staff leave would help departments know what is working well within their organization and what is not, in order to make any necessary adjustments to their practices.

76. Recommendation. Where participants choose to complete exit surveys or participate in exit interviews, departments should ensure that the results are submitted to the Department of Human Resources, as required by the Policy on Exit Surveys and Interviews.

77. Recommendation. The Department of Human Resources should monitor departments’ application of the Policy on Exit Surveys and Interviews, analyze the results, and share this information with the departments.

The departments’ response. The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the Department of Community and Government Services, has made improvements to the Exit Survey database. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with other departments, will review the Exit Survey directive and ensure that the questions in the Exit Survey are still appropriate and useful before ensuring, through interdepartmental meetings of Human Resources coordinators, that the directive is applied consistently by all departments.

Conclusion

78. We concluded that the Department of Human Resources and the other departments we selected for examination have not adequately managed their human resource needs, including the obligation to attain a public service that is representative of the population.

79. More specifically, except for the Department of Education with respect to teaching positions, the departments we examined do not have plans that adequately address how staffing and training will be used to fill gaps in human resource capacity for the short, medium, and long terms. The Department of Education’s planning for teacher capacity demonstrates the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to filling gaps in capacity while increasing representativeness. The Department of Education is addressing its gaps in skills and vacancies in teaching positions and using good practices to develop qualified beneficiaries; other departments could follow these practices.

80. The Government of Nunavut set an interim target of 2010 to achieve 56 percent representation in all occupational categories and a target date of 2020 to attain a full representative public service (85 percent representation). The departments we examined put forward initiatives and targets to increase the representativeness of their workforce. However, these initiatives were not enough to achieve the 2010 interim target in all occupational categories. In addition, it is clear that representativeness will not be achieved in all occupational categories by 2020.

81. Although the departments are well aware of the gaps in human resource capacity and their impact on the delivery of programs and services, they need to analyze several factors to develop a better understanding of the causes of the gaps. This analysis is essential to developing effective recruitment, retention, and training strategies.

About the Audit

All of the audit work in this report was conducted in accordance with the standards for assurance engagements set by The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. While the Office adopts these standards as the minimum requirement for our audits, we also draw upon the standards and practices of other disciplines.

Objective

The objective of this audit was to determine whether the Department of Human Resources and selected departments (Department of Community and Government Services, Department of Education, Department of Environment, and Department of Finance) have adequately managed their human resource needs, including meeting the objective of a representative public service.

Scope and approach

We examined the human resource capacity of the Department of Human Resources and selected departments for the 2007–08 and 2008–09 fiscal years to determine whether

  • the departments have collected and analyzed appropriate information on their current and future workforce and on their human resource capacity gap;
  • their planning documents have adequately identified how current and future human resource capacity and a representative public service will be addressed;
  • the staffing policies of the Department of Human Resources are responsive to the human resource needs of the selected departments and to Inuit employment;
  • they have adequate staffing practices in place to fill the workforce gaps, including those related to Inuit employment; and
  • they have adequately planned for and allocated resources toward the development and training of beneficiary staff in order to achieve a representative public service.

Criteria

Listed below are the criteria that were used to conduct this audit and their sources.

Criteria Sources

We expected that the Department of Human Resources and selected departments would collect and analyze appropriate information related to their current and estimated future workforce and human resource capacity gaps.

  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Integrated Planning Handbook for Deputy Ministers and Senior Managers

We expected that departmental and government-wide planning documentation adequately identified how current and future human resource capacity and a representative workforce would be addressed.

  • Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Article 23.4.1 Inuit Employment Plans
  • Government of the Northwest Territories, Human Resources Manual—1401—Setting Planning Objectives (1997), sections 1, 2, 33, 34, 35, and 36

We expected that Department of Human Resources staffing policies would be responsive to the human resource needs of selected departments, including Inuit employment.

  • Government of the Nunavut, Human Resources Manual, section 501, the Hiring Process
  • Government of Nunavut Business Plan 2008–09, Department of Human Resources, Our Principles and Values

We expected that the Department of Human Resources and selected departments would have adequate staffing practices to fill the workforce gaps, including Inuit employment.

  • Government of the Nunavut, Public Service Regulations, section 2
  • Government of the Nunavut, Human Resources Manual, sections 501–515, the Hiring Process
  • Government of the Nunavut, Department of Human Resources Service Standards for Job Evaluation and Staffing

We expected that the Department of Human Resources and selected departments would have adequately planned for and allocated resources toward the development and training of beneficiary staff to achieve a representative workforce.

  • Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Article 23.4.2 (d)
  • Government of Nunavut, Pinasuaqtavut (2004–2005), Ilippallianginnarniq: Continuous learning
  • Government of Nunavut, Job Descriptions for Senior Management

Management reviewed and accepted the suitability of the criteria used in the audit.

Audit work completed

The audited activities occurred between January 2004 and August 2009 inclusively.

Audit work for this chapter was substantially completed on 30 September 2009.

Audit team

Assistant Auditor General: Ronnie Campbell
Principal: Michelle Salvail
Director: Kari Swarbrick

Martin Dinan
Katherine Ludwig
Sean MacLennan
John McGrath

For information, please contact Communications at 613-995-3708 or 1-888-761-5953 (toll-free).

Appendix—List of recommendations

The following is a list of recommendations found in the report. The number in front of the recommendation indicates the paragraph where it appears in the report. The numbers in parentheses indicate the paragraphs where the topic is discussed.

Recommendation Response
Planning

24. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should

  • identify key skill sets and qualifications that departments need in the short, medium, and long terms;
  • determine what skill sets and qualifications they have now;
  • determine the extent to which gaps exist at both the department- and government-wide levels, by identifying how many people they need and what specific skill sets and qualifications are needed in the short, medium, and long terms;
  • identify the underlying factors that affect the ability to fill gaps in capacity and analyze to what extent these factors represent chronic problems; and
  • assess the underlying causes of the common gaps in key skill sets and qualifications identified across departments. (15–23)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with this recommendation.

In the short term, the Department of Human Resources will lead the Government in coordinating the collection of data from each department to focus on the identification of the key skills sets and qualifications required across government in the short, medium, and long term. This data will be cross-referenced with current staff skills and qualifications to determine and quantify the gap. The gap analysis will seek to identify common issues that have an impact on this gap to determine contributing cyclical or systemic challenges. Over the long term, this data and analysis will assist the government with drafting strategies to close the gap.

29. Where ongoing gaps in specific skill sets and qualifications exist at the departmental level, the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should develop and implement strategies to address these gaps in the short, medium, and long terms.

30. Where ongoing gaps in key skill sets and qualifications have been identified government-wide, the Department of Human Resources should

  • develop and implement government-wide strategies to address gaps in human resource capacity in the short, medium, and long terms; and
  • monitor the implementation of the government-wide strategies over the short, medium, and long-terms. (25–28)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

In the medium term, the Department of Human Resources will work with relevant departments to coordinate the development and implementation of appropriate strategies to fill gaps. Where these gaps are government-wide in nature, the Department of Human Resources will develop and implement the appropriate strategies.

The Deputy Ministers’ Committee has created a subcommittee with a focus on building capacity. This committee will continually monitor and evaluate the strategies used to address the skill gap and advise on changes to those strategies as necessary to ensure success over the short, medium, and long term.

35. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should develop and implement a strategy for each occupational category in which representativeness has not yet been attained. The strategies should take into account

  • the availability of beneficiaries who have the needed skills and experience,
  • the time required for beneficiaries to obtain the necessary qualifications and levels of education,
  • the high school and post-secondary graduation rates of beneficiaries, and
  • the demand by other employers for skilled beneficiaries. (31–34)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with this recommendation.

It is recognized that the Government will be more successful in achieving a representative labour force by undertaking a Labour Force Analysis as stated within 23.3.1, 23.3.2, and 23.3.3 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Over the short term, the Department of Human Resources will work with other departments to undertake a detailed analysis of the Nunavut labour force data provided by the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics. The analysis of this data will determine availability, interest, and level of preparedness of Inuit for government employment. These analyses will assist the government with developing and implementing strategies for Inuit employment within the public service and identifying realistic, achievable employment targets.

Staffing

45. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should

  • analyze their internal staffing processes to identify opportunities for reducing the time it takes to staff a position,
  • identify common areas across departments where timeliness of the staffing process could be improved, and
  • implement the necessary changes.

46. The Department of Human Resources should set a standard of service for each step of the competition process that currently lacks a standard. (39–44)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

The Department of Human Resources has recently completed an organizational and functional review with the intent of identifying where improvements could be made to provide more effective and efficient client service. Recommended changes will be implemented in the 2010–11 fiscal year.

Guided by the interdepartmental Building Capacity Committee, all departments will review their internal human resource processes with a view to significantly increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of staffing practices, including through more consistent application of best practices across departments and clarification of the roles and responsibilities between departments and the Department of Human Resources.

50. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should analyze the reasons why competitions are unsuccessful, and the extent to which these reasons occur. It should incorporate the results of this analysis into its competition procedures to improve the outcomes of future competitions.

51. The Department of Human Resources should review its competitive hiring process to determine how the process could be made more effective. It should consider

  • prioritizing positions for staffing actions, and
  • maintaining a registry of candidates who have met the screening criteria in previous competitions. (47–49)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

The Department of Human Resources has recently completed an organizational and functional review with the intent of identifying where improvements could be made to provide more effective and efficient client service. As a result, there will be greater focus on strategic recruiting, analysis, and other research-type functions.

Over the medium term, the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with other departments, is committed to developing a government-wide Recruitment and Retention Strategy. This will include considering areas where the competitive hiring process could be more effective, such as prioritizing the hiring of specific positions and maintaining a bank of candidates from previous competitions who have met the screening criteria.

56. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the other selected departments, should identify ways to reduce the use of temporary staffing practices to fill permanent positions. This should include reviewing its existing staffing policies and determining whether additional policies are needed.

57. The Department of Human Resources should provide guidance to departments to ensure that they use temporary staffing practices only when appropriate. (52–55)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

A review of staffing policies will be undertaken in response to the data collection and analysis of the capacity gap. Any changes to the staffing policy will support identified strategies to close the capacity gap.

62. The Department of Human Resources should ensure that direct appointment and transfer assignment files contain an assessment of each candidate’s skills, knowledge, and experience against the screening criteria in the position’s job’s description. The files should also include all the necessary documentation to support the assessment. (58–61)

The Department of Human Resources agrees with this recommendation.

The Department of Human Resources will ensure that the assessment of all candidates for appointment without competition is complete and thorough without compromising the timeliness of the assessments.

Departments will be tasked to ensure that all necessary documentation required under the Appointment without Competition directive is provided to the Department of Human Resources before any assessment work begins.

Training and development

71. In cases where participation and completion rates for training programs are low, the selected departments should

  • analyze the reasons, through consultation with key stakeholders and participants;
  • identify the changes needed to improve participation and completion rates;
  • implement the changes; and
  • monitor participation and completion rates to determine whether they improve. (63–70)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with this recommendation.

By learning from successful training programs such as the Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP), a monitoring and evaluation process will be put in place through the Building Capacity Committee. The process will be implemented system-wide to ensure the success of future training programs that reflect the continuous improvement objectives and the training needs of employees.

Human resource tools

74. The Department of Human Resources should develop a policy on performance management that requires department managers to conduct performance evaluations of all employees, including assessments of training needs. (72–73)

The Department of Human Resources agrees with this recommendation.

The Government’s Performance Management system will be reviewed and aligned with the business plans of each department. The Government recognizes the value of aligning performance expectations and monitoring with the business plans and priorities of government. In the short term, an appropriate policy on performance management will be developed, recognizing the need to review progress throughout the business cycle to provide coaching, mentoring support, and direction to employees.

76. Where participants choose to complete exit surveys or participate in exit interviews, departments should ensure that the results are submitted to the Department of Human Resources, as required by the Policy on Exit Surveys and Interviews.

77. The Department of Human Resources should monitor departments’ application of the Policy on Exit Surveys and Interviews, analyze the results, and share this information with the departments. (75)

The Department of Human Resources and the other departments agree with these recommendations.

The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the Department of Community and Government Services, has made improvements to the Exit Survey database. The Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with other departments, will review the Exit Survey directive and ensure that the questions in the Exit Survey are still appropriate and useful before ensuring, through interdepartmental meetings of Human Resources coordinators, that the directive is applied consistently by all departments.

 


Definitions:

The 10 departments in the Government of Nunavut

  • Community and Government Services
  • Culture, Language, Elders and Youth
  • Economic Development and Transportation
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Finance
  • Health and Social Services
  • Human Resources
  • Justice (Return)

Beneficiary—A person who is enrolled as a beneficiary under Article 35 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. To qualify, a person must be a living Canadian citizen, be an Inuk in accordance with Inuit customs and usages, self-identify as an Inuk, and be associated with a community in the Nunavut Settlement Area. A person can be an Inuk, but not a beneficiary of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement if he or she does not meet all of the other criteria. (Return)

Representative level—The level of beneficiary employment within the Government reflecting the ratio of beneficiaries to the total population in the Nunavut Settlement Area. (Return)

Specialized training and development programs—Training programs developed and delivered by individual departments that target specific positions (for example, accountants, IT technicians, and teachers) and are directed primarily at beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. (Return)

 

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