Tiny increase in young appointees to federal posts after Liberal overhaul

OTTAWA — The Liberal government's changes to the federal appointments system has yielded a small increase in the number of younger people getting government posts, but their overall representation lags their proportion of the Canadian population, newly released documents show.

Documents from the Privy Council Office show that when the Liberals took office in late 2015, a tiny fraction of the hundreds of posts filled by ministerial and cabinet appointments were people between the ages of 25 and 34.

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By March 2018, the figure increased by a small amount to 1.3 per cent of all appointees — or 24 people out of 1,829 total jobs — even though the group made up just under 20 per cent of the national population.

For administrative tribunals, such as those that would make decisions about immigration and social security claims, the age group made up 2.3 per cent of appointees, or 10 of the 443 incumbents.

Overall, fewer than five per cent of all new appointments made under the Liberals' merit-based system were of applicants between the ages of 25 and 34.

The documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under the access-to-information law, don't say where the appointments were made.

A spokesman for the Privy Council Office said the government plans to "continue to increase youth representation" at federal corporations and agencies by working with organizational heads, boards and decision makers "to promote the importance of having youth ... in appropriate and available positions."

The government's recently released youth strategy aims to have youth representatives on the boards of 75 per cent of Crown corporations within the next five years.

Months after taking power in late 2015, the Liberals changed how the government makes hundreds of appointments each year to positions such as the boards of Crown corporations and tribunals that make decisions on benefit payments and immigration claims. The numbers don't include senators, judges or a handful of officers of Parliament such as the ethics commissioner, who are not chosen through the same process.

The Liberals' said their system would make appointments based on merit, where applications are open to anyone and selection committees recommend names based on precise criteria.

Selection committees are usually made up key decision-makers from the federal organization in question, plus someone from the Prime Minister's Office and Privy Council Office.

Most of the 1,500 positions subject to the new appointment rules are part-time and only people over age 18 are eligible. The changes led to some 25,000 applications through the government's online portal, and more than 900 appointments by March 2018.

The pages of reports, graphs and presentations obtained by The Canadian Press under the access-to-information law provide a detailed look at the outcomes of the Liberal changes.

The documents show, for instance, that the overall number of women appointment-holders increased from 35 per cent in late 2015 to over 40 per cent by last year.

As well, just over half of people appointed through the new process were deemed fluent or functional in both English and French. That stat meant that 51.4 per cent of the 1,747 incumbents by late November 2018 were bilingual, an increase from the 42.8 per cent recorded three years earlier.

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