Role of the Public Service Commission

Non-partisanship is a core value of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) and an essential element of both a professional public service and responsible democratic government. A non-partisan public service is one where appointments are based on merit and free of political influence, and where public servants perform their duties, and are seen to perform their duties, in a politically impartial manner.

Part 7 (Political Activities) of the PSEA and its related regulations provide a regime for governing the political activities of public servants, recognizing the need to balance their rights to engage in political activities with the principle of an impartial public service. As such, public servants may engage in any political activity as long as it does not impair, or is not perceived by others as impairing, their ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner.

The Public Service Commission is responsible for safeguarding the political impartiality of the public service and public servants' involvement in political activities, including:

  • Providing guidance with respect to involvement in political activities;
  • Granting permission and leave for candidacy in federal, provincial, territorial and municipal elections; and
  • Investigating allegations of improper political activities and taking corrective action when they are founded.

Definition of a political activity

Part 7 of the PSEA defines a political activity as:

  • Carrying on any activity in support of, within or in opposition to a political party;
  • Carrying on any activity in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate before or during an election period; or
  • Seeking nomination as, or being, a candidate in an election before or during the election period.

Reports to Parliament on political activities

You may read the following documents to learn more on current activities of the PSC: