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Canada/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

As chapter 3.1 indicates, the organisational structure of the Department of Canadian Heritage includes the Deputy Minister and the Associate Deputy Minister and five Assistant Deputy Ministers responsible for five Sectors, respectively (Cultural Affairs; Citizenship and Heritage; International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Sport; Public and Regional Affairs; and Planning and Corporate Affairs. The Department of Canadian Heritage, with its headquarters located for the most part in Gatineau Quebec, delivers over sixty programmes, ten of which are delivered by the Department's five Regional Offices. In addition to delivering programmes, the Department plays an important role in developing and implementing policies and programme design, building partnerships, conducting outreach and communications to traditional and new clients and stakeholders and providing analysis and advice to the Minister.

The governance structure of the Department comprises three management levels:

  • Decision-making committees (Executive Committee chaired by the Deputy Minister and Departmental Audit Committee, including, inter alia, members outside the department);
  • Operational Committees chaired by the Deputy Minister or Associated Deputy Minister (Communications and Coordination, Strategic Policy, Planning and Evaluation - newly integrated and to be operational in early 2008-09, Operations and Management); and
  • Advisory Committees (Policy reporting to the Strategic Policy, Planning and Evaluation Committee, a newly integrated Planning Committee including risk management, Human Resources, Finance, Information Management and Information Technology, Programme Management and Service Delivery, and Legal Services Planning and Priorities).

The above governance structure is designed to enhance consistency within such a disparate organisation as well as the transparency of the decision-making process and to ensure progress towards the achievement of the Department's strategic outcomes (see  chapter 2).

Under Canada's Parliamentary system, members of the Cabinet are also Members of Parliament. Parliament is bicameral in Canada, comprising the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate which operates as a forum for "sober second thought" of proposed legislation. It enacts enabling legislation and approves federal spending. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is responsible for conducting national reviews of major cultural issues such as broadcasting, feature films and book publishing, holding hearings on culture bills and amending them before a Third (and final) Reading in the House of Commons and Senate.

"Arm's length relations" refer to the separation from direct ministerial control of every-day operations of federal cultural agencies and Crown corporations while reserving the Minister's responsibility for culture in Cabinet and in Parliament. This provision is often contained in mandate-defining legislation and operating practices although, in certain cases, additional provisions are made for Cabinet to send back for further review or to rescind regulatory decisions other than broadcasting licensing decisions.

Canadian Heritage Portfolio

The Canadian Heritage Portfolio reports to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and, in addition to the Department of Canadian Heritage (including the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) and the Canadian Heritage Information Network) and consists of 19 other federal organisations that operate in the audio-visual, heritage, arts, human rights and public service human resources areas. The Minister is responsible for ensuring that the Canadian Heritage Portfolio agencies and Crown corporations support the priorities of the government of Canada.

The Portfolio agencies produce their own performance reports, except for the Crown corporations, which prepare annual reports, summaries of which are tabled in Parliament in accordance with the reporting obligations set out in the applicable enabling legislation. The Canadian Heritage Portfolio institutions are funded by Parliament and make use of the instruments and tools required for the implementation of federal cultural policy. Moreover, these federal institutions are the repository of much of the government's accumulated expertise and experience throughout its history of active intervention in the cultural sector. The following organisations comprise the Canadian Heritage Portfolio:  


The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC / Radio-Canada), Canada's national public broadcaster creates and delivers programming and information through a comprehensive range of media.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission regulates and supervises all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system with a view to implementing the broadcasting policy set out in the Broadcasting Act.

The National Film Board produces and distributes audiovisual works that provide a uniquely Canadian perspective, including diverse cultural and regional perspectives, recognised across Canada and around the world.

Telefilm Canada is dedicated to the development and promotion of Canada's audiovisual industry. Telefilm finances original, diverse and high quality films, television programmes and new media products, which reflect Canada's linguistic duality, cultural diversity, and regional character.


Library and Archives Canada preserves the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations. It is a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. It facilitates cooperation in the Canadian knowledge community, and serves as the continuing memory of the government of Canada and its institutions.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation fosters scientific and technological literacy throughout Canada with its collection of scientific and technological objects. The Corporation oversees the operation of the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation Museum and the Canada Agriculture Museum.

The Canadian Museum of Nature increases interest in, knowledge of, and appreciation and respect for the natural world with its collection of natural history objects.

The Canadian Museum of Civilisation Corporation increases knowledge and critical understanding of, and appreciation and respect for, human cultural achievements and human behaviour with its collection of objects of historical or cultural interest. The Canadian War Museum is an affiliated museum.

The National Gallery of Canada furthers knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of art for Canadians with its collection of art. The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography is an affiliated museum.

The National Battlefields Commission preserves and develops the historic and urban parks of the National Battlefields Park in Quebec City and in the surrounding area, including the Plains of Abraham and Des Braves Park.

The Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board determines whether cultural property is of "outstanding significance and national importance" pursuant to the Cultural Property Export and Import Act for the purposes of export control and fiscal measures.


The Canada Council for the Arts fosters the development of the arts in Canada by providing artists and professional arts organisations in Canada with a broad range of grants through peer evaluation committees.

The National Arts Centre has become Canada's pre-eminent performing arts centre. It creates, showcases and celebrates excellence in the performing arts, and strives to symbolise artistic quality, innovation and creativity for all Canadians.

Human Resources

The Public Service Commission is responsible for safeguarding the values of a professional public service: competence, non-partisanship and representativeness. It does this in the public interest as part of Canada's governance system.

The Public Service Labour Relations Board is an independent, quasi-judicial statutory tribunal responsible for administering the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication system in the federal Public Service and Parliament as well as providing mediation and conciliation services to help parties resolve differences without resorting to a formal hearing.

The Public Service Staffing Tribunal is an independent and quasi-judicial body which conducts hearings and provides mediation services in order to resolve complaints related to internal appointments and lay-offs in the federal public service.

The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal is responsible for determining, for each application referred by the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, whether a complainant of wrongdoing has been subjected to a reprisal and whether the person or persons identified in the application as having taken the alleged reprisal actually took it; it may make an orders granting a remedy to the complainants.

Chapter published: 19-01-2011

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