PIPSC: best ideas come from shop floor

THE HILL TIMES-July 26, 2010

Re: “Feds’ idea to reward public servants with cash doomed,” The Hill Times, July 19, p. 13). Sean Bruyea and Allan Cutler make a number of valid points regarding the culture of intimidation that frequently surfaces in the day-to-day operations of the federal government. Certainly few would deny that “whistle-blowers” who expose unethical and/or illegal practices within their department or agency have been subjected to smear campaigns and their careers compromised as a result. We need look no further than the case of Richard Colvin.
However, while we understand their point with respect to whistleblowers, we are not of the mindset that the Employee Innovation Program (EIP) will fall victim to this state of affairs. Denouncing inappropriate or criminal behaviour is one thing, looking for better and more effective ways to serve Canadians is quite another.

Because of their experience and in-depth knowledge, public service professionals are in the best position to suggest new methods to streamline processes and to improve program delivery. The government has acknowledged this for many years, most notably through the numerous awards programs that recognize the innovation and efficiencies brought about by public service employees. Past award recipients have not been subjected to repression on the part of their employer, and their outside-the-box thinking has in fact been a source of inspiration for their peers.

While we acknowledge that “whistle-blowing” is often met by intimidation by the employer, there is no reason to believe that the EIP will be used by the government to identify the so-called “troublemakers” or “malcontents.”

The Professional Institute would argue that the best ideas for improvement come from the shop floor, and that each and every public service worker has not only the duty to report wrongdoing, but also the duty to report “right-doing” and to bring forward ideas to improve the workplace, especially in this period of diminishing resources and frozen operating budgets. To the Professional Institute, it makes perfect sense for the government to ask its employees how to make the public service as professional and as effective as possible. Canada’s taxpayers deserve no less.

Gary Corbett


Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Ottawa, Ont.