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Photograph of delegates to the Liberal Party convention at Ottawa, 1893
Group of small photographs of the members of the International Boundary Commission, 1893-1895
The public service or civil service encompasses the many administrative facets of government, from central agency personnel in the Privy Council Office to employees in federal departments and crown corporations.
The origins of Canada's public service can be traced to the colonial administrative bodies that were brought together under the British North America Act. The following year, the first Civil Service Act was passed. That act was amended in 1882, establishing a board of examiners and qualifying examinations for appointments to the service. In 1908 a Civil Service Commission was created and the merit principle was introduced to combat patronage appointments. By 1918, the Commission's authority extended to the entire federal public service, covering such matters as recruitment, job classification and pay scale recommendations. The merit principle was reinforced by the Civil Service Act of 1961, which also gave staff associations the right to be consulted on pay and working conditions.
The contemporary Public Service Commission was created in 1967 as a politically independent agency reporting to Parliament and responsible for administering the Public Service Employment Act. The Commission is appointed by Cabinet, and its mandate -- modified in 2003 by the Public Service Modernization Act -- involves cultivating a highly skilled public service through objective staffing, training and development.