Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
October 18, 2010

PSC report finds government abuse of temporary help services

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a report on the government’s use of temporary help service workers that shows a clear pattern of abuse. Meant for short-term use, almost one in five such workers were employed for over 52 weeks. The report sets out other concerns that include the limiting of access to public service jobs and increasing expenditures for temporary help services.

For unions, the broad concern is one of contracting-out. Temporary help service workers operate within a framework of limited rights, and as their numbers grow the government gains an expanded workforce working together with, but legally separated from, public service staff.

While the Public Service Commission recognized the need for temporary help services to meet short-term, immediate requirements, it noted that the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) also allowed for short term needs to be met by term and casual appointments. But long-term needs are another matter, and should be met through staffing actions under the PSEA. When they are not, what develops is a separate, parallel workforce within the public service.

Heavy use of temporary help service workers has also led to a back door recruitment process into the public service that limits access to other Canadians. One in five temporary help service workers were appointed to public service positions in the same departments where they had worked on contract, and 30% were appointed through non-advertised processes.

Between 1999 and 2009, expenditures for temporary help services nearly tripled while expenditures for term and casual employment leveled off or decreased. The PSC report takes this as further evidence of the risk to the integrity of the staffing system.

As a result of its findings, the PSC plans to consult with the Treasury Board Secretariat and Public Works and Government Services Canada and will, in addition, consider proposing changes to the Public Service Employment Act.


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