Hello! You asked about the history of merit within the Canadian Public Service and how the PSMA addresses concepts of merit.
A brief history of merit in the Canadian Public Service hiring process prior to PSMA.
1) Appointment to posts and hiring of employees depended on a competitive, numerical-based set of criteria. Although this made it easier for hiring managers to explain their selection process to those who were not chosen for appointment, some specific challenges remained (more on this later).
2) Most appointments were chosen from within the public service. This allowed civil servants to advance from within the organization, a great organizational motivator. In fact, public service employees were given first preference to compete for such positions.
3) Managers had less flexibility to appoint employees who best reflected their operational and corporate needs due to a selection process based on a rigid set of parameters.
4) Prior to the PSMA, there was no central Commission to address abuses within the public service structure; accountability issues often affected the morale of public service employees.
How the PSMA addresses concepts of merit.
The new Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), an important component of the Public Service Modernization Act (PSMA), re-defines the concept of merit-based hiring.
1) Hiring must be merit-based and free of political influence per Section 30 (1).
2) Essential qualifications must be met including those pertaining to education, language requirements, security clearances, and citizenship. However, the PSMA provides great latitude to deputy heads to exercise discretion in appointing employees based on current and future operational needs. Department heads may also take into consideration any additional qualifications that are not essential to the position but will prove to be an asset within that position. Examples include analytical thinking skills, teamwork skills, personal suitability, flexibility, and ability to apply knowledge. For your convenience, here is a look at requirements for the position of secretariat analyst based on the new PSMA rules.
3) There will no longer be a preference for hiring within the public service structure; competition for appointments will be made available to outside sources.
4) The PSMA provides for greater scrutiny and accountability regarding non-advertised appointments. In recent years, there have been complaints from department heads that their continued latitude for discretion may very well have been jeopardized by past allegations of favoritism. However, the Public Service Commission was established for the very purpose of conducting internal audits to ensure effective compliance with PSMA rules.
5) The new PSMA allows that the hiring process need not consider more than one person for an appointment for it to be considered a merit-based one. The old approach was a default competitive process.
6) In an external job competition, veterans are to be given first priority.
7) The new PSMA establishes hiring from within the public service based on the following merit standards (ranking from top downwards):
1) employees scheduled to be laid off
2) employees on a leave of absence
3) employees on the staff of a Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or House, or employees who have met essential qualifications in an advertised external job competition
4) senior staff who have been employed for at least three years have hiring preference equivalent to executive assistant to a deputy head
5) employees who have been laid off
6) persons who have been given priority, e.g. some positions may only allow for minority, aboriginal, female, or veteran hires.
I hope this helps! All sources are listed below for your perusal. Thanks for the question.