The nature of the paradox found in this country respecting the public service
The nature of the paradox found in Canada with regards to the public service is that, most Canadians view the state as having both positive and negative influence.
The first part of the paradox is the negative attitude that the Canadian government tend to suffer from members of the public. The Canadian government has found itself under much criticism over the last few years. Much cynicism has been directed towards the public service as it is deemed as inefficient by most people. Most people hold the view that the civil service does not address their needs.
The Canadian government has lost public confidence and many people believe that the government institutions are awkward and slow. Canadian citizens have developed an attitude of distrust towards their government. They no longer believe in the promises that are made by their government. The government has disappointed them by failing to act on its promises. Most Canadians are tired of the unkempt promises by the government.
They have in turn disengaged themselves in most of the government activities. These citizens feel disillusioned and betrayed by their own government. They believe that the government has not carried out its rightful role of acting as their representatives. The public servants are not devoted to their duties. Bureaucracy is the order of the day in most government offices. Bureaucracy in federal government has the effect of causing fragmentation i.e. it causes a situation in which the needs of the communities are overshadowed. Most people feel that the public servants are incompetent. Public servants are usually accused of protecting their jobs at the expense of the citizens.
They are deemed by many Canadians as too unproductive. They also act in an unprofessional manner by being not accountable to the people. Most people have the feeling that public jobs occurs in a political context. Most Canadian citizens believe that the public servants are selected based on political considerations. Also, most Canadians view the government as the root cause of their problems by imposing high taxes on them. In the past decade, taxation and spending in Canadian government has been dominated by politics.
These policies by the Canadian government have left most people in a miserable state. They have brought about fiscal crisis as the upper income of people is heavily taxed. Thus, most people feel that the government is not useful as it have failed to address to their needs (Johnson 27-66).
The second part of paradox is that, most Canadians are proud of their government. The fact that Canada is ranked as the state with the highest quality of life than any other state in the world makes many citizens to be proud of it. This makes many people to prefer to live in Canada. The quality of life in Canada is different with the one that is found in South America.Therefore, most citizens feel that their wellbeing is catered for by the government.
Some of the factors that enhance the living conditions of the Canadians include effective government policies and programs. For istance, the healthcare system is put in such a way that it guarantees all citizens medical care of high quality. This health care system caters for both the poor and the rich. The citizens also find pride in their education system. Canadian education system is usually meant to provide all the children with quality primary and secondary education. Both the primary and secondary education in Canada is financed by the federal government. The post-secondary education offers all the qualified students a life-enhancing education.
The state also bears most of the costs related to post-education. Most people also find joy in the federal government’s welfare system. The pension plan as well as the Quebec plays an important role of offering retirement benefits to all the adults. This thus provides the elderly people in the society with financial security once they retire from their jobs. The issue of joblessness is also adequately addressed in Canada.The federal government provides those facing joblessness with income which is obtained from the states’ employment insurance programs. This is important as it ensures that the unemployed gets income to meet their daily needs.
The workers issues are also catered for through the provincial workers compensation schemes that compensate them in case they suffer from work related injuries. People who are faced with natural calamities like floods, drought, and earthquakes are also guaranteed support by the federal government through its provincial welfare systems. This ensures that no citizen goes without food or lacks other basic needs like clothing and shelter. Thus, many Canadians feels that the federal government’s presence is significant as it responds directly to their social, economic and political needs. Most people believe that the government has made substantial efforts of promoting their quality of life (Johnson 27-66).
Whereas the Canadians are cynical about their federal government, the same people tend to value most of the programs and policies that are provided by the state. A puzzle therefore exists because the same citizens who praise the federal government are on the front line to criticize it. Therefore, most people do not distinguish between facts and myths (27-66).
The role of the public service of the Canadian Federal Government
The last few years have seen an enormous expansion of the activities that are performed by the Canadian government. The continuing expansion of the activities at all the government levels i.e. provincial, municipal and federal have made a significant impact on the citizen’s daily lives. Usually, the misery or happiness of the Canadian people is largely dependent on the decisions that are made by the federal state. The following are the main functions of the federal government;
The federal government has the role of providing the citizens with social services. The following are some of the social services that the federal government can provide to the Canadians i.e. medical services ,education, water supply e.t.c.The government should also provide its citizens with good infrastructural facilities like access to good roads and good housing (Johnson 187-189).
The federal government has the role of carrying out regulatory activities. Some of the regulatory activities that the Canadian government performs include setting of drugs and food standards, restraining restrictive trade practices, enforcement of employment and fair housing regulations e.t.c. (Johnson 67-100).
The public service has the role of maintaining internal security. It is the states’ role of ensuring that its citizens are not threatened with external aggression. In this regard, the Canadian government incurs the following costs i.e. the cost of hiring police and judiciary to maintain law and order, the cost of hiring the armed forces such as the army and air force to protect citizens against external aggression and the cost of hiring provincial and general administration (Johnson 67-100).
The federal government has the role of ensuring that income and wealth is evenly redistributed through such aspects as public spending and taxation. The government should therefore tax those who are able to afford taxes such as the rich. Taxation usually has a direct impact on the lives of people and so, it is important for people to have a clear understanding about it (Johnson 67-100).
Challenges faced by federal government with respect to public service
The main challenge with regards to public service by the federal government is that the public servants tend to loose their morale. The public servants tend to lower their morale following the government’s decision to reduce costs. The government usually adopts such approaches as the introduction of early retirement programs which in turn reduces the morale of the public servants. The public servant usually loses trust with the government by breaking the moral agreement that it made with them (Johnson 627).
The other challenge that the federal government faces with respect to public service is the competence crisis. Lack of competency by the public servants usually makes it hard for the federal government to attain its goals. Individual incompetence implies that the public servants don’t have the sufficient competence to make rational decisions regarding the provision of services to the public. For instance, ‘Generation Y’ has tarnished the image of the public service by not having a strong service ethic. Usually, the top positions in public service requires one to have greater experience and the necessary training in order to serve the public effectively and efficiently.The new generation lacks this experience and therefore, they lacks the competence to work in the public service.( Johnson 627).
The other challenge that the federal government faces with respect to public service is information overload. In modern world, information overloads have been on the rise. The amount of information that is available to the civil servants is too much. Information overload have been brought about by such factors as the desire to serve the members of the public in an efficient manner and instantly, the desire for instant feedback and data access among others.
The public servants usually find it difficult in deciding their limits and creating a personal management system that is ideal for them. They are usually faced with the problem of setting limits around the time that they have to respond to emails. Information overload is disadvantageous as it can cause the public servants to miss on the key information (Johnson 627).
How the federal government can better manage its public services
The federal government can best manage the public services by ensuring that its officials have a strong sense of duty. The public servants should be accountable to the members of the public. They should take their responsibilities seriously. The public officials should behave in a creative manner and should be fair in all their dealings. They should also be humble and readily available to address to people’s needs. They should be in a position to earn trust among people whom they serve.Also, public servants should embrace the spirit of togetherness.The government should provide guidelines to the politicians on how to head government ministries.
In order to better manage its services, the federal government must independently evolve principles. Officials who serve in the public service must be appointed on merit and not on basis of political consideration.This independent appointment of the public servants will ensure that they remain politically impartial. The public servants will also act to serve the public interest without the fear that their career prospects are in threat. This in turn will ensure that the public services are effectively delivered to the public.
The federal government should act to reduce costs in the public service. The government can effectively reduce costs by reducing the number of departments and ministers. Other approaches that can help to curb costs in the public service includes the decision to legislate compensation rollbacks for workers, introduction of lay off and early-retirement policies for the public servants among others.
The public service should adopt the use of new information systems in order to enhance the delivery of services to the public. Information technology plays an important role of changing the routines of federal government administration as well as the array of services that can be carried out. Information technologies enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing service delivery systems.
They also provide the public servants with new ways of delivering services to the public. Sophisticated information technology enables the senior officials in the government such as the ministers to monitor the delivery of services by contractors. It also allows the public to offer feedback regarding the provision of services by the contractors.
The government should provide the required training to the public servants in order for them to carry out their duties enthusiastically. Only those civil servants with high professional and academic qualifications should be considered for public service jobs.
Johnson, David. Thinking government: public sector management in Canada.Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.