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!