Archived - Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Departmental Plan

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DFO's Integrated Business and Human Resources Plan

DFO's Program Activity Architecture

Government departments use a Program Activity Architecture (PAA) for the collection, management, and reporting of financial and non-financial information. The PAA shows how DFO's programs align with the Department's three strategic outcomes and the internal services need to support these programs. DFO is currently redesigning its PAA for to better reflect the departmental mandate.


In all our planning, we focus on three strategic outcomes

  • Safe and Accessible Waterways is about providing access tho Canadian waterways and ensuring the overall safety and integrity of Canada's marine infrastructure for the benefit of all Canadians.
  • Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture is about delivering an integrated fisheries and aquaculture program that is credible, science based, affordable and effective, and contributes to the wealth of Canadians, while respecting Aboriginal and treaty rights.
  • Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems ensures the sustainable development and integrated management of resources in or around Canada's aquatic environment through oceans and fish habitat management. It also involves carrying out the critical science and fisheries management activities that support these two programs.

Message from the Deputy Minister

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is an exciting and dynamic place to work. Our employees work in a wide range of occupations in a variety of settings at more than 400 locations across Canada. We count among our employees hydrographers, research scientists, fishery officers, technicians and technologists, project engineers, search and rescue co-ordinators, ships' officers and ships' crew, electrical/electronic engineers, executives, and administrative personnel, and they work in settings ranging from offices to research facilities to Canadian Coast Guard vessels.

As the Department’s Deputy Minister, I am responsible for people management in our Department, as well as for ensuring that we achieve our business objectives. Over the next year, the management team and I will work with our human resources professionals to make sure that we can do the work we need to do in 2010-11. We will of course be doing this in the context of Budget 2010, which charts the course to restrained growth in spending by freezing all departments’ operating budgets at 2009-10 levels.

The Departmental Plan describes the key human resources and business challenges we may face over the next twelve months and our strategies for addressing them. In doing so, it highlights both the gaps we need to fill and our employees' commitment to meeting these challenges.

I encourage all DFO employees, as well as anyone who would like to work at DFO, to read our 2010-11 Departmental Plan.

Claire Dansereau
Deputy Minister
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

At DFO, our human resources planning is integrated planning

This involves factoring in all the resources — people, money, assets, and support services — needed to do our work well.

Integrated planning at DFO begins with an examination of the previous year's performance, a review of the risks facing the Department, and a comprehensive environmental scan. Each September, the Departmental Management Committee (DMC) considers this information and establishes priorities for the coming year. While much of what DFO does involves routine activities that change little from year to year, priority-setting ensures the Department stays on track to achieve its most pressing objectives.

These priorities and the key strategies for achieving them are then set out in the Report on Plans and Priorities. Next, DFO sectors, regions, Coast Guard, and internal service providers prepare their own business plans. These plans specify what each sector, region, etc., expects to do in the next twelve months, as well as the human and financial resources required. DMC reviews and approves all of these business plans.

The Departmental Plan takes the priorities set out in the RPP and the human resource implications outlined in the individual business plans and integrates them into a high-level summary of Department-wide and priority-specific challenges, as well as the strategies for addressing them. The key plans for delivering these strategies are presented in DFO's 2010-11 Report on Plans and Priorities, tabled in Parliament in March 2010 (

Our planning and reporting cycle

We have accomplished a lot in the past year

In 2009, $250 million of stimulus spending under the Economic Action Plan helped repair and maintain key fishing harbours and renew the Coast Guard fleet. We are building the first commercial fishing harbour in Nunavut to boost the viability of the Northern fishery. Work to protect and restore species at risk in Canada and to ensure that our aquatic habitats remain healthy and productive continues. Initiatives such as the Lobster Sustainability Measures will help to ensure the long-term viability of this important fishery. Work to strengthen the aquaculture industry in Canada has continued, and DFO Science has continued to provide solid research to support our decisions and programs.

Our Vision

Excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters.

Within the Department, we implemented a new governance structure for human resources, establishing both a new Human Resources and Corporate Services (HRCS) sector and a Chief Financial Officer position. These changes, which reflect a government-wide change introduced in early 2009, ensure that we can manage our people effectively.

We also took steps to implement the new vision for the Department that is centred on excellence in client service. For example, we created an International Affairs Directorate, laid the groundwork for an enhanced policy capacity, and created an Ecosystems and Fisheries Management Sector.

Our new vision for service excellence will position us to effectively respond to the changing environment in which we work and address the evolving needs of our clients. By working together with Canadians, we will build strong, sustainable fisheries and maritime sectors for future generations.

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), a Special Operating Agency within DFO, is responsible for services and programs that contribute to the safety, security, and accessibility of Canada's waterways. CCG supports other government organizations through the provision of a civilian fleet and a broadly distributed shore-based infrastructure.

This is what we need to do this year

This year, DFO will continue to deliver programs and services that are important to Canadians. DFO's employees are a key part of the delivery, representing over one-quarter of the Department's annual budget. To ensure that Canadians receive the programs and services they expect, DFO needs to focus on human resources challenges at two different levels:

  • Department-wide challenges — These affect all of our ongoing programs. Just like other government departments and the private sector, DFO faces challenges in recruiting and retaining the right employees for its work. As the workforce changes, DFO needs to attract new employees and ensure that they have the training and knowledge needed to serve Canadians.
  • Priority-level challenges — DFO's priorities focus on key activities or initiatives that affect specific groups or functions. While each priority has specific human resources challenges, most are also affected to some degree by the Department-wide challenges summarized below.


  • Most regions, sectors, and the Canadian Coast Guard are facing recruitment and retention challenges as the current workforce starts to retire and competition for a younger and more mobile workforce increases. These challenges are compounded by the need for more specialized and complex skill sets to deliver programs.
  • The need to recruit more employees more quickly increases the workload of existing managers and human resources specialists.
  • Staff turnover is present in all areas of DFO, and the rate is increasing as more and more employees approach retirement age. This both increases workload in staffing and has implications for the retention of corporate knowledge.
  • Internal communications is key to employee effectiveness and engagement. There will be an ongoing requirement for communication support and strategic advice on government-wide priorities and renewal efforts, as well as major departmental initiatives.
  • There is an ongoing need for tools to improve the work environment and create staffing efficiencies.
  • While CCG has been able to maintain a stable pool of employees, it has identified five at-risk occupational groups that are essential to service delivery: Ships' Officers, Ships' Crew, Marine Communication and Traffic Services Officers, Marine Electronics Technologists, as well as the engineering community. Because of labour market pressures, as well as specialized training and experience requirements, recruiting and retaining these occupational groups is especially challenging.


  • Strategies include job fairs, training, coaching, job shadowing, mentoring, targeted and national recruiting, and joint learning plan/PSAC employment equity initiatives. When necessary, DFO may have to reallocate resources between programs and priorities or hire temporary staff, students, and consultants to meet specific needs.
  • Strategies include integrated human resources and business planning, collective staffing, better classification procedures, national work descriptions, national organizational structures, and succession plans.
  • DFO is improving succession planning as a way to pass on and retain corporate knowledge. Other strategies include mentoring and job-shadowing programs to permit long-term employees to pass on their knowledge and expertise to the next generation.
  • DFO will reallocate resources and hire temporary staff, students, and consultants as necessary to support priorities.
  • Tools such the National Organizational Structure and national model work descriptions will continue to be developed and used throughout DFO.
  • Strategies include recruitment at a national level in every occupational group, individual learning plans, performance reviews, leadership development, and language training. For more information, see CCG's 2010-11 Human Resources Strategy.

Priority-level Challenges

DFO has identified 11 priorities to focus on in 2010-11. The following tables describe the key human resources challenges associated with each priority and the strategies for addressing them.

These priorities reflect the activities we need to carry out this year to fulfil our mandate and achieve our strategic outcomes. We set these priorities through our integrated planning process, and we provide full descriptions of all 11 priorities and the key plans for delivering them in our 2010-11 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP).

The RPP, tabled in Parliament in March 2010, also provides information on the Department's structure and mandate, strategic context, risk profile, regional issues and initiatives, the challenges facing program activities, and strategies for addressing challenges.

Globally Competitive Fisheries

Description and Rationale

Canada has the largest coastline in the world and an aquatic environment that provides excellent conditions for natural and farmed fish harvesting. This harvesting capacity is distributed across commercial, recreational, aquaculture, and Aboriginal fishing interests. The goal is to manage these activities in an integrated and sustainable fashion in all three of Canada's oceans such that each separate fishery can grow wealth within a broad and robust fishery sector. The end result is an integrated and globally competitive fishing sector for Canada.

Why is this a priority?

  • Fishing in Canada generates approximately $12 billion in economic activity each year. This includes approximately $5 billion per year from commercial fisheries, aquaculture, and the processing industry, and an estimated $7.5 billion annually from the recreational fisheriesFootnote 1. As such, fishing and related activities are important for sustaining coastal communities across Canada.
  • The future of the resource hinges on ensuring its sustainable use through renewed Integrated Fisheries Management Plans and the Sustainable Fisheries Framework and improved aquaculture governance.
  • Changes in international markets require the Department to work with harvesters on market access initiatives (e.g., certification and traceability) to maintain and expand markets.
  • Recent legal decisions — such as the BC Supreme Court ruling that aquaculture is a federal responsibility and the Saulnier decision upholding that fishing licences are considered property in defined contexts and can be used in support of access to capital — provide opportunities to improve and modernize the regulation and management of fishing activity in Canada.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • DFO must ensure that its employees in Headquarters and the regions have the right skill sets to respond to new and changing program requirements:
    • The new Career Progression Program for Commerce Officers will train fisheries and aquaculture resource managers in the new integrated approach to decision-making and develop their capacity to work in the areas involved in managing the fisheries.
    • Information sessions and training on how to administer complex land-claims obligations and Aboriginal programs will improve employees' understanding of departmental obligations in these areas.
  • Workloads will increase as programs are introduced or changed. DFO will address this by prioritizing deliverables; working collaboratively with industry, universities, and provinces/territories; using joint planning processes; and realigning project assignments as required.

Health of the Oceans

Description and Rationale

The Health of the Oceans (HOTO) initiative consists of 22 distinct components spanning five departments and agencies (Fisheries and Oceans, Transport, Indian and Northern Affairs, Environment, and Parks Canada). Advancing a national network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), controlling pollution, and collaborative oceans management will all contribute to the health of Canada's oceans.

Why is this a priority?

  • Reflects a Budget 2007 commitment of the federal government.
  • Contributes to meeting domestic legal obligations under the Oceans Act and international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • Vacancies in Headquarters are affecting delivery of this priority. DFO will fill these positions through acting assignments and the use of co-op students.
  • To take full advantage of new equipment for responding to oil spills in the Arctic, the Coast Guard needs to train personnel and conduct training exercises.

Fleet Renewal

Description and Rationale

CCG is building a versatile fleet of vessels and helicopters capable of meeting the current and future on-water needs of the Government of Canada. The CCG fleet will be capable, sustainable, and operationally ready.

Why is this a priority?

  • Supports safety, security, and maritime commerce.
  • Enables DFO and other government departments to carry out conservation and protection activities, scientific research, and environmental response.
  • Ensures that CCG is capable of meeting the evolving on-water needs of the Government of Canada.
  • Partially mitigates one of DFO's key corporate risks: Physical Infrastructure.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • Implementing the Fleet Renewal Plan will increase the need for project management and procurement skills in CCG, as well as the need to maintain a pool of qualified engineers and naval architects.
  • As new vessels are produced, the operation and maintenance of newer, more sophisticated assets will require technical training and certification.
  • Ongoing focus on outreach and recruitment strategies to attract students to the CCG College will be needed to address operational requirements.
  • CCG will make use of various recruitment mechanisms, including co-op programs, student bridging programs, and development programs, to increase its technical capabilities.

Implementing e-Navigation in Canada

Description and Rationale

E-Navigation will enhance berth-to-berth navigation and related marine services, thus increasing the safety, efficiency, and protection of the marine environment. The International Maritime Organization expects the concept of e-Navigation to be implemented world-wide in the next 10 to 15 years.

Why is this a priority?

  • Enhances safety, has positive economic effects, and brings efficiency benefits to the broader shipping industry while enhancing environmental marine protection.
  • Positions Canada to be at the forefront of e-Navigation, to set international standards, and to benefit the Canadian shipping industry sooner.
  • Partially mitigates two of DFO's key corporate risks: Stakeholder Expectations and Partnering and Collaboration.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • A trained and skilled workforce will be required to operate this new service, especially in the Marine Communication and Traffic Services, Waterways Management, and Navigational Products and Services programs. Pilot projects in the Québec and Pacific regions are beginning to introduce this new system to CCG and Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) operations and should help identify the new skill sets required.

Economic Action Plan (EAP)

Description and Rationale

Through the EAP, announced in Budget 2009, the Government of Canada provided DFO with $392 million in direct funding and $58.7 million in indirect funding, through other departments and agencies, to build and repair departmental assets such as ships, harbours, and laboratories.

Why is this a priority?

  • Alleviates the effects of the recession by creating or maintaining jobs within construction and shipbuilding communities.
  • Partially mitigates one of DFO's key corporate risks: Physical Infrastructure.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • The initiatives of the two-year Economic Action Plan have increased project-delivery and project-reporting workloads in the regions and at Headquarters, particularly for Small Craft Harbours, CCG Real Property, the Office of Environmental Coordination, and Communications.
  • To ensure it delivers this priority, DFO will do the following for the remaining year of the EAP: reallocate resources; develop computer systems to support improved EAP reporting; hire temporary staff, students, and consultants as necessary; and streamline procurement processes.

International Leadership

Description and Rationale

International leadership promotes and influences sustainable regional fisheries management and healthy global marine ecosystems while contributing to the growth of international trade for Canadian fish and seafood products.

Why is this a priority?

  • Addresses challenges confronting international fisheries and ecosystems.
  • Contributes to the sustainability of Canada's fisheries, the health and productivity of Canada's aquatic ecosystems, and the Government of Canada's international priorities.
  • Seeks to ensure that international standards, norms, and management decisions reflect Canadian objectives and interests.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • The uniqueness of trade policy work in support of market access makes it difficult to staff positions; this is a government-wide problem. DFO will address this challenge by using collective staffing and assignments where possible.
  • Biodiversity files demand mature officers with strong analytical and organizational skills to develop and coordinate Canadian positions from a wide range of stakeholders. There is a very small pool of qualified officers with international experience. DFO needs to attract and retain skilled staff in this important area.
  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea project requires both specialized skills and significant continuity of knowledge. DFO will identify the unique skills needed; attract, recruit, and develop the hydrographic expertise required; and mentor and cross-train staff.

Northern Strategy

Description and Rationale

Retreating polar ice, global demand for resources, and the prospect of year-round shipping are creating both risks and opportunities in the North, affecting DFO programs, oceans users, Northerners, and international partners. DFO/CCG is committed to ensuring that Canada's Northern waters can be used, and off-shore resources exploited, in an environmentally sustainable and safe manner, while also fulfilling its role in the government's Northern Strategy.

Why is this a priority?

  • Supports the government's Northern Strategy, in which DFO plays a key role.
  • Responds to demands for a long-term vision in the North for CCG.
  • Provides critical support to Northern commerce, safety and security, sustainable resource development, protection of Arctic ecosystems and habitats, and Northerners' quest for greater economic prosperity.
  • Reinforces Canadian Arctic sovereignty, especially through the presence of CCG and its support to Northern marine shipping.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • Recruitment and retention in the North is challenging, as the capacity to run programs must increase, and requirements associated with land-claims agreements must be met. A recruitment and retention strategy that focuses on recruitment and retention in and to the North is essential, as is addressing policies that may be disincentives to permanent recruitment. This will also involve raising skill levels in Northern communities to meet future needs. Initiatives that could form part of a future integrated strategy include:
    • Implementing the North of 600 Recruitment Policy;
    • Further developing the formal partnership with Aurora College, in Iqaluit;
    • Developing a Conservation and Protection video to help educate high school students and to use at career fairs;
    • Creating a development/mentorship program; and
    • Developing recruitment materials to promote careers in fisheries in the Public Service.
  • With the International Polar Year program coming to an end, much expertise may be lost, along with the ability to respond to requests for advice. Addressing this challenge involves addressing Arctic climate issues collectively, for example, through increased collaboration with government and academic partners both domestically and internationally.
  • Coast Guard will conduct outreach and recruitment strategies to attract new employees to the Arctic.

Regulatory Improvement (Streamlining)

Description and Rationale

The focus is on improving and streamlining DFO's regulatory review and approval processes, especially those for major resource projects.

Why is this a priority?

  • Ensures that the Department continues to support healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems while stimulating the economy through the EAP.
  • Supports the review of approximately $300 billion of major resource projects across Canada.
  • Ensures that regulatory review and approval processes are more efficient, timely, transparent, and effective in protecting fish habitat.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • DFO plans to hire new staff to implement the aquaculture environmental management and regulatory approaches to habitat.
  • The Habitat Reconfiguration Strategy will be used to partially mitigate the human resources challenges associated with major projects, environmental assessments, regulatory obligations under the Fisheries Act, and partnership development.

People Management

Description and Rationale

Effective people management ensures that the right people are in the right jobs and are well supported. Continued attention to the core elements of people management will lead to high levels of employee engagement and contribute to building a culture of excellence in the Public Service.

Why is this a priority?

  • Responds to recommendations from the Public Service Renewal Action Plan.
  • Addresses concerns raised in the most recent Public Service Employee Survey.
  • Responds to Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) recommendations in the Department's recent Management Accountability Framework (MAF) assessment.
  • Mitigates one of DFO's key corporate risks: Human Capital.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • The Human Resources group is facing the same recruitment and retention challenges as the rest of the Public Service. To address the resulting workload, Human Resources has established a reduced service delivery model across all regions and communicated this change to program managers throughout the Department.
  • A National Science Human Resources Strategy has been developed and is being implemented to ensure the Science program develops, recruits, and maintains the highly skilled scientific workforce needed in areas as diverse as geographic information systems, marine biology, and computer science.
  • Human Resources is also using strategies such as Knowledge Transfer Agreements, student hiring and development, and the Fast-Track Staffing System to address workload issues.

Asset Management

Description and Rationale

DFO uses 25,000 capital assets and over 90,000 moveable assets to manage, protect, and monitor Canada's fisheries and oceans. With an initial acquisition value of $5.1 billion, the replacement value could be significantly greater. The Department's asset base includes significant real property holdings, such as research facilities, small craft harbours and lightstations, equipment for cutting-edge scientific research on oceans and aquatic resources, the Coast Guard fleet, and informatics infrastructure.

Why is this a priority?

  • Ensures that the Department has the right assets in place to deliver its programs.
  • Ensures that the Department complies with government policies and directives concerning asset management.
  • Responds to TBS recommendations in the Department's recent MAF assessment.
  • Partially mitigates the key corporate risk Physical Infrastructure.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • Asset management requires a highly specialized and comparatively rare skill set. The asset management priority is therefore facing recruitment, retention, and workload challenges. DFO will use human resources planning to address classification, staffing, succession, and learning needs to attract employees with the required skill sets.
  • DFO is considering developing a student hiring strategy to address its recruitment needs.

Information Management

Description and Rationale

Effective decision-making depends heavily on the timely availability of accurate information. The retention and availability of corporate knowledge will be a significant challenge during the upcoming period of unprecedented workforce turnover. DFO is implementing a five-year Information Management Strategy to ensure that information is safeguarded as a public trust and managed as a strategic asset. A strengthened evaluation function will provide advice on performance measurement and assess DFO's ability to produce objective information for decision-making. DFO will also ensure that the Department's information holdings comply with access and privacy legislation.

Why is this a priority?

  • Mitigates one of the key corporate risks: Information for Decision-making.
  • Responds to recommendations from the recent MAF assessment.
  • Complies with the new Policy on Evaluation, effective April 1, 2009.
  • Complies with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Key Human Resources Challenges and Strategies

  • The upcoming period of unprecedented workforce turnover will make the availability and retention of corporate information a challenge. DFO is implementing a five-year Information Management (IM) Strategy to ensure that information is safeguarded as a public trust and managed as a strategic asset.
  • The initiatives in the IM Strategy require highly trained specialists with significant experience at DFO who are capable of leading during periods of change. DFO's strategy is to continue to be an employer of choice for senior professional employees within 5 to 10 years of retirement eligibility and to give entry- and intermediate-level professionals significant opportunities to gain the broad technical, operational, and management experience they need to develop in their careers. Term employees and contractors with the skills, experience, and organizational knowledge DFO requires may also be used.

People Management at DFO

People management at DFO goes beyond the transactional activities associated with human resources — staffing, classification, and labour relations, for example — to encompass the elements driving workforce and workplace excellence and productivity, such as leadership, values and ethics, employee engagement, and employee development.

Ultimately, people management at DFO is about building relationships and partnerships among those who have a direct impact on our workplace and workforce, including employees, supervisors and managers, human resources professionals, bargaining agents, and senior leaders.

In 2010-11, our deliverables will focus on building these relationships by:

  • Developing and implementing a national approach to resourcing;
  • Reducing the average time it takes to staff a position to 133 days by implementing components of the national approach to resourcing;
  • Addressing future leadership needs by implementing leadership development and talent management programs;
  • Increasing the representation of women, visible minorities, Aboriginals, and persons with disabilities by a minimum of 5% by March 31, 2011; and
  • Improving the engagement and effectiveness of employees by continuing to communicate internally about government- and Department-wide priorities and by developing action plans to address the results of Public Service Employee Survey 2008.

DFO faces many of the same demographic challenges as the rest of the federal Public Service. The Department has been actively managing the impacts of an aging workforce and renewing at a time of increased technological change and complexity, globalization, challenging economic conditions, and increased diversity of Canada's population.


Our Workforce

  • C&A — Central and Arctic
  • FTE — Full-time Equivalent
  • HAPAE — Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems
  • IS — Internal Services
  • N&L — Newfoundland and Labrador
  • NCR — National Capital Region
  • SAW — Safe and Accessible Waterways
  • SFA — Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture


Financial Information

  • G&C — Grants and Contributions
  • HAPAE — Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems
  • IS — Internal Services
  • O&M — Operations and Maintenance
  • SAW — Safe and Accessible Waterways
  • SFA — Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • SO — Strategic Outcome


More Information

The Career Opportunities page on our website links to fact sheets on many of the employment opportunities available at DFO. This page also includes a number of employee profiles and links to the current job openings at DFO.

Human Resources Policies and Directives

To ensure the government is well managed and accountable, central agencies have established an array of government-wide rules and reporting requirements; departments and agencies have put in place their own sets of unique rules and processes.

While checks and balances are necessary, too many rules and procedures can negatively affect decision-making, productivity, and innovation, ultimately hindering effective service delivery to the public.

The Public Service is working toward finding the right balance between rules and risk, reducing the number to those that are truly necessary, and clarifying the responsibilities of all key players.

The human resources policies in force at DFO are available at the address below.

Information on government-wide human resources policies is available on the website of the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.

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