Ida Chong, the minister responsible for the British Columbia public service agency, says the results of a recent government employee survey indicate "there's room for improvement" in the civil service. That survey, which was reported on exclusively by Public Eye, found an average of just 29 percent agreed with statements such as "executives in my organization make effective and timely decisions" and "I have confidence in the senior leadership of my organization."
When asked why she thought executives received so few favourable reviews, Minister Chong said there has been a change in the government work environment "in terms of perhaps new and different responsibilities" since the Liberals were elected. She also noted the survey was conducted in February and March - "prior to all the wage settlements" with public sector unions. And "sometimes, a very large influence or factor in responses can be (wage) satisfaction."
Minister Chong then went onto explain her government has done much to promote excellence and innovation amongst government workers - including introducing awards recongizing such service and establishing a leadership centre that develops career opportunities for bureaucrats.
But, if that's the case, then why are civil servants so dissatisfied, we wondered? Well, one explanation, advanced by Minister Chong, is that the Campbell administration "might have to do a better job in terms" of letting civil servants know about those initiatives. "Sometimes it's just awareness."
And awareness also seems to be a problem amongst members of the Campbell administration's executive council. In an earlier interview with Public Eye, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mike De Jong said he hadn't seen the public service survey. "And if I have, I don't remember it."
Asked about that response, Minister Chong said the survey might not have been "as well publicized amongst all my colleagues as it should have been." But better communications isn't the only measure the Campbell administration will be taking to make the civil service a more attractive work environment. The premier's deputy minister Jessica McDonald recently announced corporate human resources plan which includes among its goals "improved workplace health and employee engagement.â€ Although, that plan wasn't "a direct responseâ€ to the survey results, said Minister Chong.