Concept

Deputy minister (Canada)

Summary
In Canada, a deputy minister (DM; sous-ministre) is the senior civil servant in a government organization, who acts as deputy head. Deputy ministers take political direction from a minister of the Crown, who is typically an elected member of Parliament and responsible for the department. The Canadian position is equivalent to the position of permanent secretary in the United Kingdom and the Australian position of departmental secretary. This position should not be confused with the deputy prime minister of Canada, who is not a civil servant at all, but a politician and senior member of the Cabinet. Much of the current management structure of the Government of Canada – including the role of deputy heads – originates from the Royal Commission on Government Organization, also known as the Glassco Commission. The title is not only used for the federal (national) government, but also for equivalent positions in the provincial and territorial governments. A deputy minister has responsibility for a department's day-to-day operations, budget, and program development. As members of the public service, deputy ministers are nonpartisan. The deputy minister is the functional head of the department in question, while the minister is the department's political master. Unlike most other public service positions, deputy ministers are Governor-in-Council appointments made on the advice of the prime minister of Canada. Accordingly, deputy ministers can sometimes lose their positions as a result of a change of the party in power, particularly if they are seen as too closely identified with the policies of the previous government. Under the Interpretation Act and departmental legislation, deputy heads are typically permitted to exercise powers of their ministers for all purposes aside from creation of regulations. Deputy heads also possess powers under their own right under the Financial Administration Act, Public Service Employment Act, powers delegated by the Treasury Board of Canada, and Public Service Commission of Canada.
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