Struggling to fill vacancies, the Government of Nunavut has unveiled a remote hiring policy and a direct appointment policy.
Operating at 64 per cent capacity — 76 per cent when including casual employees — the GN is aiming to quickly fill some “highly specialized” positions with remote workers for up to three-year terms.
“Today’s labour market is tight with a limited supply of talent, particularly employees in highly-skilled occupations,” Human Resources Minister Margaret Nakashuk said in the legislative assembly on Oct. 19. “The pandemic also changed the concept of the workplace with a shift to remote or hybrid work arrangements for many employers and employees, including those in the public sector.
“The Government of Nunavut is competing, often unsuccessfully, with other regions in Canada to recruit new employees to fill critical vacancies,” Nakashuk continued. “This has resulted in an increase in the use of contracted service providers, which results in increased costs, limited outcomes, and decreased employee morale. To address this, the Department of Human Resources is introducing an interim remote hiring policy.”
Nakashuk added that accountability measures will be in place to ensure this temporary practice allows the territorial government to “meet operational requirements and supports employee productivity and wellness.”
The department is currently working on guidelines and an implementation plan to support the remote hiring policy, said Kerry McCluskey, Nakashuk’s ministerial political advisor, when asked for further details. She noted that lawyers, epidemiologists and electrical engineers would be examples of specialized, hard-to-fill positions.
Daniel Kinsella, executive director of the Nunavut Employees Union (NEU), said the union “had some concerns” and “agreed that we’d be watching how it was implemented. We were assured that these [new hires] would not be front-line workers.”
Kinsella said the NEU had put forward a proposal about accompanying mentoring programs, but “did not receive any clear answers” on that front.
“It’s certainly not our preferred way to see things happen, but it relates to larger problems with the education system… the message we want to get out is that we understand why it’s being implemented,” he said.
The NEU was also assured that these would be new hires — not displacing any existing public servants — and the policy will only be used for specialized positions unable to be filled by Nunavummiut
He emphasized that the NEU would be closely monitoring how the policy develops, and anyone with concerns could contact the organization.
The GN’s direct appointment policy will allow the government to offer indeterminate jobs directly to Nunavut Inuit employees. These improvements, according to Nakashuk, will streamline and simplify the hiring process.
“While the competitive process is used for most appointments to the public service, there are cases where it makes sense to direct appoint a candidate to a position without competition, particularly Nunavut Inuit who have been long-term employees filling casual or relief roles” she said.
As a result of the new direct hire policy, 91 Inuit have been appointed to various positions in public service. The policy also helps the Nunavut government “achieve a more representative public service, and demonstrates Pijitsirniq, serving and providing for family and community through financial stability for Inuit employees and their families” Nakashuk contended.