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Message from the Chief Human Resources Officer

To: Deputy Heads, Heads of Agencies (including separate Employers), Presidents of Regional Federal Councils, Heads of Human Resources


COVID-19 has required us to adapt our tools, approaches and strategies to a rapidly changing context. Students, representing nearly 10,000 members of the public service workforce at any given time, can be a powerful part of this response. That said, over the past few weeks, offers to students have fallen to less than half the usual rate.

We are, therefore, issuing a call to all managers to hire students with the express purpose of responding to the crisis and supporting the recovery. Beyond the general capacity that students can provide in support of our active teams, they also afford us quick access to high-demand skill-sets, in areas such as public health, technology, and data analytics.

While managers should continue to ensure, as a priority, that existing staff are meaningfully engaged to the extent possible, this approach aligns with public commitments to lower youth unemployment and help young people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as answering calls from universities and colleges. It also provides students, including Indigenous students and those with disabilities, with the opportunity to acquire valuable experience in personal and organizational resilience. 

Managers can re-hire current or former students or draw new students from the Public Service Commission’s student inventories. To support your organizations, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Public Service Commission, and the Canada School of Public Service are working closely together to develop targeted tools and supports.

At some point in the future, we intend to come back to you to seek nominations for the Public Service Awards of Excellence for managers who took on this challenge.  We will also look to enlist your support in engaging students in an ideation exercise to share their experiences, including on how to be more agile, inclusive and equipped, helping inform future student programs and services.

Students, and the ideas, enthusiasm, and energy that they bring are a great resource for the public service and for the nation, today and tomorrow. We look forward to celebrating and recognizing this contribution in the months to come. Together, let us step up for students!