The Leader of the P.E.I. NDP tackled patronage in his first press conference of the campaign – proposing to scrap the Public Service Commission and establish a new public body to oversee government hiring.
James Rodd appeared before the media Friday for the first time since the writ was dropped on Sept. 6.
He criticized the hiring practices of the Public Service Commission, calling it “an arm of political patronage.”
“It’s my understanding that Public Service Commission presents, after interviewing, a list of three people, and then it’s at the discretion of the premier who gets the job,” he said.
“What we want to do is eliminate the interference of the premier and the other MLAs with the hiring process.”
He proposed to establish a new public body made up of professional human resources personnel who would deliver what he termed “more objective hiring without political control from the premier’s office.”
“MLAs will be removed from the hiring process once and for all,” he said.
The Guardian contacted the Public Service Commission for comment on Rodd’s charges.
CEO Aidan Sheridan said he didn’t want to comment, as it is not the role of the commission to get involved in political issues.
He referred to the commission’s human resources policy and procedure manual for information on its hiring practices.
The manual states in the section that deals with appointing an advertised position: “in relation to open competitions, one of the top three candidates based on merit will be appointed to the position after consultation with the employer.”
Rodd claims this policy allows elected officials the final say on who gets hired for government jobs.
“The government of P.E.I. has a duty and a responsibility to ensure fair and objective hiring practices for all workers and all government departments, including agencies and boards,” Rodd said.
“Unfortunately, political patronage remains a way of life on P.E.I. It’s a means of control and reward for politicians who should have no hand in the hiring of public employees or in award government contracts.”
In addition to a new body to oversee hiring, Rodd proposed to appoint an ombudsperson to ensure a more fair hiring process.