Serving the Public

Serving People

On December 20, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 23 of each year as United Nations Public Service Day (resolution 57/277). It encouraged member states to organize special events on that day to highlight the contribution of public service in the development process.

This day was created to:

  • celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community;
  • highlight the contribution of public service in the development process;
  • recognize the work of public servants;
  • and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

Here in Canada, the Public Service has expanded over the years as populations have grown. The number of services provided to Canadians has increased with the introduction of new offices throughout the country. The civil service has also been reduced several times, often due to restraint programs -, such as the reductions of the mid 1990s led by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and most recently under the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012.

The public sector is highly unionized in Canada. Approximately 80% of those public-sector employees eligible for collective bargaining are covered by collective agreements, compared with only 25% in the private sector. Most federal government employees belong to the 150 000-member Public Service Alliance of Canada, and have had bargaining rights since passage of the 1967 Public Service Staff Relations.

There probably aren’t many days that the average Canadian doesn’t access services that are made possible by our dedicated Public Service. Let’s all take the time to be thankful for the thousands of Public Service workers in our midst. Happy Public Service day!

By: Mark Klein


Why you should care about Public Service Day

I have to admit, Public Service Day on June 23 is not really on anyone’s radar. Most people have never heard of this particular celebratory day. It’s a relatively new day that was created by the United Nations (UN) in 2003.

The day was designed to acknowledge the important work government workers perform on a regular basis. Their work is much more valuable than anyone even realizes. The UN even gives out awards that fight government corruption, improves the delivery of services, creates a climate of innovation, and advances knowledge management in government.

Many people aren’t very sympathetic to the interests of civil servants. Many believe they are overpaid, enjoy too much job security, receive too much vacation time, enjoy good quality health and dental benefits, and well-funded pension plans.

But let me ask you something: are these necessarily bad things? Is it a bad thing to enjoy a good salary that covers your living expenses? Is it wrong to know your job won’t be eliminated to streamline costs? Doesn’t everyone want more vacation time? Isn’t a comprehensive health and dental plan something every worker should have? Shouldn’t we all have pensions that can fund our retirements?

Of course they are. But instead of attacking public employees and demanding to bring them down to everyone else’s level, why don’t people start demanding the same rights, privileges and benefits that civil servants enjoy? Why don’t they form a union in their workplace and begin demanding job security, higher pay, improved benefits, pensions and more vacation time?

The answer: It’s not easy. It’s not easy asking your boss for more vacation time AND a raise at the same time. Those two things usually don’t go together. But a union can demand those things.

Let’s salute our public sector workers. They are smart, highly professional employees who provide critical services that we all rely on.