Department of Justice Canada’s Blueprint 2020 Progress Report – December 2016

Canada’s Legal Team: Leadership matters

Who are we?

We are Canada’s Legal Team, made up of approximately 4,800 professionals. Almost 70% of us are women; more than 50% of us are lawyers and a little more than 40% of us work in the regions. The Department's responsibilities reflect the dual role of the Minister of Justice, who is also by law the Attorney General of Canada. In general terms, the Minister is concerned with the administration of justice, including policy in such areas as criminal law, family law, human rights law, and Aboriginal justice; the Attorney General is the chief law officer of the Crown, responsible for conducting all litigation for the federal government and upholding the Constitution and the rule of law.

Legal professionals are among the most costly human resources in the federal government. Public Service Renewal efforts are helping us to find efficiencies in the way legal services are delivered and  allowing us to effectively leverage all of our human resources.

We are also commited to continuously improving the way we work through open dialogue and collaboration. Our recent #2020videochallenge speaks to increased employee comfort with new technology, transparency and honest feedback. You’ll see these videos interspersed throughout this report.

What are we doing right?

We are staying the course. Supported by our Canada’s Legal Team vision, Blueprint 2020 continues to drive change and spur innovation at Justice.  

We are paying attention. The legal industry, initially sheltered from technology changes affecting industries globally, is now facing transformation at an unprecedented rate. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are replacing low complexity work that would otherwise be done by legal staff, thus freeing up resources to focus on higher complexity work. The Department of Justice is taking notice of these disruptive technologies and is looking at new and innovative ways legal services are being delivered in law firms across North America and around the world.

We are achieving results. Public Service Renewal has taken root at Justice. In this report we’ll demonstrate how we are creating respectful workplaces, leveraging our talent and renewing our organization in order to deliver real results and professional government to Canadians.

High performing organizations are built on personal and organizational commitments to mental health and wellness

Building healthier, safer, more respectful and more supportive work environments for federal public servants is a priority for the Government of Canada. Through Justice Canada Mental Health and Wellness (MHW) initiatives, we are encouraging as much emphasis on caring for the mind as on caring for the body. Managers and employees across the country have access to extensive MHW awareness and training that is designed to open up the dialogue with a view to destigmatizing mental health issues in the workplace.  Following is just a snapshot of initiatives in place that are increasing our understanding, collaboration, inclusivity, and respect.

Photo of Alexis Ford-Ellis

I became involved in Mental Health and Wellness initiatives, by necessity, about seven years ago when I was working in a regional office and there was a demand for learning.  Mental health awareness was not the ‘buzz phrase” it is today and open dialogue was non-existent. Interdepartmentally a number of us joined together and made things happen.  Today, the GC community is full of energy, enthusiasm and openness to creating healthy workplaces across Canada and I am proud to be leading the Mental Health and Wellness initiative at Justice.  I may not change the world today, but each day I challenge myself to be the change I want to see in mental health and wellness.

 Alexis Ford-Ellis
Director, Wellness Program
The Working Mind – Mental Health Learning Strategy

One in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime, but dealing with stigma around mental illness is often more difficult than the illness itself. It’s the stigma that stops people from getting help.

The Working Mind, an education-based course designed to address and promote mental health in a workplace setting, aims to dispel myths surrounding mental health problems, and to reduce their associated stigma. More than 1,000 employees (more than 750 employees and more than 300 managers) have received classroom training on topics such as the Mental Health Spectrum, how to promote psychological health, and how to prevent psychological harm in the workplace.

Mental Health Strategic Advisory Group
  • provides advice and recommendations on the Department’s mental health program;
  • participates in the development and implementation of mental health initiatives at the organizational level;
  • reports and develops solutions around systemic or organizational issues;
  • promotes awareness and education; and
  • provides support to the Mental Health Ambassadors and other key stakeholders.
Mental Health Ambassadors Network

The Network was created to be the point of contact in various regions, branches and sectors to support managers in Not Myself Today campaign activities as well as to support the work of the Advisory Group. To date 30 mental health ambassadors are in place across the Department.

Photo of Gwen Borowski

I volunteered to become a Mental Health Ambassador because I really believe that much more can be done to increase understanding in the workplace. I’m really hoping this campaign will help us all better appreciate that we need to help each other. As a regional employee, I also welcome the opportunity this role gives me to meet more of my colleagues across the country.

Gwen Borowski
Mental Health Ambassador, Edmonton
Not Myself Today campaign

Not Myself Today was launched on October 5, 2016 to help managers and employees better understand their own mental health, to reduce stigma, and to foster a safe, open, and supportive work environment. It is also supported by bargaining agents representing Justice employees (AJC, PSAC, PIPSC, CAPE, and ACFO).

Image of buttons with various mental states (Happy, Calm, Anxious, Not Myself Today, and Fearful)

Posters and buttons with various mental states (for example, Happy, Calm, Anxious, Not Myself Today, and Fearful) have been shared with ambassadors across the country to distribute to managers and employees as a mechanism to engage in a dialogue about mental health and illness in the workplace. Interestingly, many employees tend to select the more “positive” buttons, indicating that we either have a healthy workplace or, that we still have work to do to reduce the stigma.

WalkFit Challenges – virtual communities building healthy minds and bodies

Hundreds of employees across the country engaged in #walkfit events, unique activities to raise awareness around healthy minds. Events began emerging early in 2016 as engaging ways to talk about mental health, build community with colleagues, and engage in physical activity. Thanks to the Justice Digital Workspace, employees were able to openly track their progress, celebrate key milestones and bridge geographic boundaries.

Employees at the Public Safety, Defence and Immigration Portfolio (PSDI),for example, have collectively walked more than 100,000 kilometres.

Photo of Kristine Allen

While the goal was to virtually walk the Trans-Canada highway from Halifax to Vancouver, a trip of 5,948 km, participants succeeded in walking this distance over SEVENTEEN TIMES. PSDI employee feedback was overwhelmingly positive with employees indicating #walkfit was successful in introducing healthy habits to daily routines, improving personal well-being, work culture and connections between colleagues. Encouraging participants’ use of the Department’s Digital Workspace during the Challenge, an open, internal social media platform on SharePoint, had the added bonus of allowing participants to become comfortable to use these new new tools to post photos, tag colleagues, create and follow hashtags – social media literacy at its finest. PSDI’s Trans-Canada #WalkFit Challenge was such a success, the Portfolio plans to make it an annual event.

Kristine Allen,
A/ Deputy Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Safety, Defence and Immigration Portfolio
Screenshot image of a social media conversation. One employee posted a comment and three unique employees posted replies.
Alternative Work Arrangements Tool

Our Advisory Committee for Women at Justice and the Human Resources Branch have designed a tool to support conversations about alternative work arrangements. The tool guides employees and managers through practical questions and useful tips allowing for more creative alternatives to accommodating employee need, particularly to enhance work-life balance and mental health.

What are we learning from these initiatives?
  • An open and accessible platform, such as the Digital Workspace, to encourage dialogue and exchange ideas is essential to ensure open and on-going dialogue.
  • Continuous employee communication and collaboration with all stakeholders is key.   
  • Celebrating success – large and small – early and often sustains engagement levels.

Protecting our recruitment investments through onboarding

Legal Excellence Program (LEP)

This program supports the recruitment, training and retention of bright, engaged articling students from across the country to ensure Justice has a stable supply of high-quality, diverse, entry-level candidates to meet our short and long-term need for lawyers. To achieve these objectives, we offer participants in the LEP an assigned mentor to provide them with professional guidance and support.

Participants bring a diversity of skills, knowledge, and experience with them to the Department. Their passion for the law is surpassed only by their passion for public service. By selecting the right mix of applicants each year, we actively look for participants who can eventually become the best lawyers at the Department. Emphasis is not placed as much on what they’ve done, but rather what they’re going to do as the Department’s future Constitutional law expert or top legal policy advisor in newly developing legal fields such as the legalization of marijuana, and rapid growth of technology, for example.

Photo of Ian Medcalf

My experience in the LEP allowed me to acquire a sense of the central role that Justice plays in the Government of Canada’s operations. Throughout my time at Justice, I have benefited from both the broad perspective on the Department and contacts that I developed during my time with the LEP. After transitioning to the Trade Law Bureau as counsel, I was thrilled to become involved in high-profile trade litigation‎ and negotiations.  While in law school I never imagined that I would be able to engage in the type of work that the LEP allowed me to pursue.

Ian Medcalf
Counsel, Trade Law Bureau

What sets this program apart from traditional new hires is that students arrive in groups of 5-15 across the country each year, becoming their own “micro-community”. They support each other and share learning experiences as they complete rotational assignments across the Department working in different areas of the law.

In addition to the recruitment and hiring of articling students through the LEP, we participate in the annual internship programs administered by law schools at local universities. These programs allow second and third year law students to obtain practical experience in exchange for academic credit from their university. Students work in a number of sections, including Tax Litigation, Human Rights, and in our department legal services units. Essentially, they are embedded within a section and are given tasks which give them a practical working knowledge. More than 150 students have participated over the past five years. Many of these have gone on to apply to the LEP, work as articling students and ultimately become Counsel in the Department.

Developing the Paralegal community

The new Paralegal Services Centre is executing a strategy to strengthen our paralegal community through the implementation of a continuing paralegal training program to foster learning, the adoption of technology and the creation of a dynamic paralegals network. The goal is for paralegals to assume a more proactive role in the delivery of departmental legal services. For example, a six-month pilot project is underway that involves paralegals representing client departments in litigation matters before the Social Security Tribunal, a role previously limited to counsel. 

Using analytics to support evidence-based results

Justice Centre of Expertise for Advanced Analytics

The Centre is dedicated to analytical work (business and legal), coordination of data needs and processes, and building business analytics (BA) tools and systems. New approaches to analyses and systems are being piloted which have helped:   

  • build and deploy an affordable corporate BA system;
  • measure performance of services and identify areas for improvement; and,
  • obtain integrated analytical reports and gain novel insights into the state of affairs and performance assessments for decision-making and strategic planning.

Moving forward, the analytics roadmap is designed to empower the Department to make better, faster and more informed decisions based on evidence. To support evidence-based decision making:

  • an improved Information Technology platform is being developed, again with very modest funding; and
  • performance measurement is expected to be part of day-to-day management considerations.
Photo of Toundjer Erman

An analytics approach to business is an effective and efficient approach that offers huge potential for creating new insights, answering deeper questions, providing an integrated business perspective and encouraging higher enterprise performance.

Toundjer Erman
Director, Centre of Expertise for Advanced Analytics
Meaningful results for Canadians

In July 2016, Stan Lipinski was appointed Chief Results Delivery Officer (CRDO). Stan will lead the design and act as custodian of Justice’s evidence-based results and delivery framework – helping the Department to better achieve meaningful results for Canadians. This new role will also include supporting and challenging Justice officials in this work to advance the Minister’s mandate letter commitments.

Stan is responsibe for reporting on the Department’s progress to the Deputy Minister and to Privy Council Office, tracking our performance by working with colleagues throughout the Department. He will also represent Justice on the new interdepartmental network of CRDOs focussed to ensure engagement and collaboration on the implementation of broader government-wide priorities, which have been approved by the new Cabinet Committee on Agenda, Results and Communications, chaired by the Prime Minister.

Photo of Stan Lipinski

I appreciate the new ways we are working to develop Canada’s Legal Team. Especially as we work side by side –  legal and non-legal members of that team –  to achieve common goals. I look forward to the challenge ahead and to the great work that we will accomplish together.

Stan Lipinski, DG, Policy Integration and Coordination, Policy Sector and Chief Results Delivery Officer

Promoting openness, enabling transparency and supporting innovation to transform legal service delivery.

Open by Default

In support of the ‘open by default’ approach as set out in the new ATIP directive, Justice is taking a proactive approach to releasing information to the public, including ministerial briefing material. Beginning in 2017, Justice will be proactively publishing titles of briefing materials on its internet site.  

Justipedia enabling a culture of openness

Justipedia is an online platform where Justice lawyers post legal documents created within the Department that could be useful to other Justice legal counsel. This collaborative approach supports the principles of the Directive on Open Government as set out by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. In 2015/16 there were approximately 2,370 users posting more than 12,000 records to Justipedia – or approximately 230 documents each week. This represents an increase of more than 58% from the previous year. As a result, consultation on files increased by more than 16% compared to the previous year.  This is noteworthy, considering that traditional barriers of protected information and closed files, common to legal environments, have considerably diminished in less than three years.

Justice Digital Workspace

In just 18 months, the Digital Workspace (DW) at Justice is reaching a critical mass of adoption. With almost 2100 employees using 112 collaboration sites, new ways of sharing, collaborating and innovating are taking place daily. In the coming year, the DW will be linked with GCDOCS, making it, the primary location for information in the Department, as well as a powerful tool for sharing ideas. It will also link to the new Justice Case Management system, resulting in a true, integrated information platform for Justice employees. 

Mobile courtroom
Picture of a large monitor in the back and 2 smaller monitors and a key board sitting on a desk.

By helping litigation counsel prepare for and make representations at trials electronically, we are enabling them to become more efficient, to continuously evolve and to innovate legal service delivery. In electronic trials, counsel display evidence on a network of monitors around the courtroom, rather than referring to hard-copy documents. Collaborating with Courts and other parties allows us to gain valuable experience with portable equipment and various trial presentation software. This mobile courtroom project will assess how we can reduce the use of paper and improve the work environment for Justice litigators through the use of new and effective technology.

The #HUB
Aerial view of the S-shaped hub in an open space.

Thanks to collaborative decision-making by a small team of technology and accommodtions employees, a new Justice space called the #Hub was created in the NCR Library.

A picture of a crowd listening to a presenter who is standing in front of one panel of the Hub.

The #Hub is an example of what a collaboration space could be – a proof of concept for a variety of accommodations set–ups and technology options. It includes five zones that can be used as separate meeting spaces, or together as a large collaboration space. The #Hub was built in the NCR library space to take advantage of an already beautiful atrium and a common meeting space. It provides a safe place for employees to experiment with new presentation and collaboration technologies.

Installed in June 2016, the #Hub has become a popular space to host everything from small two to three person meetings to large events during National Public Service Week and the launch of GCWCC. The space allows groups to collaborate online with colleagues in the regions, or to share their thoughts in person by displaying their laptop screens or going old-school and writing on the whiteboard walls surrounding the workspaces.

Justice Innovation Council

Twelve members. Sixteen big ideas. Two projects. One year.  

The Innovation Council is making change happen at Justice only one year into its mandate. In March 2016, Council members received approval from Executive Committee for the implementation of #AskMeAnything and a Digital Training Hub – top ideas that surfaced following a review of the 1200 ideas collected from our BP2020 employee engagement activities.

Photo of Caroline Simard

Innovation and the legal field, a marriage made in heaven? One is defined by changes while the other is built on traditions. Yet the Innovation Council offers a platform within the Department of Justice to create a successful alliance. Our actions are aimed at improving our processes and our workplace to ultimately provide better service to Canadians. On a personal level, this opportunity allows me to work with a team of passionate and competent people, like myself, feel called to fulfill a role as an agent of change within Justice. Through this experience, I feel like I better understand the magnitude of the challenges to come as we move toward and help shape the “ideal Department of Justice”.

Caroline Simard,
Member, Innovation Council; Counsel, Business and Regulatory Law Portfolio
#AskMeAnything (#AMA) for executives
Screenshot image of a social media conversation where one employee posted a question and the Deputy Minister posted a reply.

#AMA for executives brings in a new era of employee-executive engagement. Using our Digital Workspace, a SharePoint collaboration tool open to all Justice employees, senior leaders host one hour #AskMeAnything sessions where employees ask whatever is on their minds. By the end of December, six executives, including our Deputy Minister and new Senior Associate Deputy Minister, will have hosted sessions.  #AskMeAnything enables a deeper level of engagement at all levels, facilitating open and transparent discussion on Justice topics of real interest and active use of new, open tools.

Digital Training Hub

The Digital Training Hub is an online tool to support new ways of learning. Fueled by existing ‘how to’ tutorials and training material created by employees, the Training Hub will provide a common space to share, find and follow useful training material such as legal project management tips, tips on using SharePoint and Excel tips and tricks.

Enhancing accessibility

Legislative Services, together with the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, has created a tool to improve accessibility for persons with visual impairments by allowing visitors to configure visual elements to meet their accessibility needs on the public Justice Laws website (which averages over 40,000 visits/day).

Group of people at a table with scattered lego pieces.
Lego Serious Play

Early in 2016 the Programs Branch in Policy Sector gathered for a day-long retreat, which included a facilitated team-building workshop using 3D modeling.

The interactive 3D modeling session using Lego Serious Play combined constructive self-reflection processes with opportunities to learn, share, and collaborate as a group. Through these activities colleagues reflected on and then constructed a 3D model of their role within their team and Branch as well as the interactions between different teams in the Branch. Useful insights about shared values, strengths, and areas for improvement were discussed in an engaging and relaxed atmosphere.

A small lego structure, the description for which is below
“I’m doing a lot of things”
A small lego structure, the description for which is below
“This bridge is for all the relationships I had to build when I joined the team.”
A small lego structure, the description for which is below
“This is the file I’m working on – Youth in Solitary Confinement. My hope is to make an improvement in the system”

Openness collaboration and innovation within the Public Service

Digifest

Digifest is a collaborative learning event to help foster skills development within the communications community. Launched by Justice Canada, in partnership with Correctional Service Canada, the Department of Finance, and the Communications Community Office, Digifest is a shining example of open collaboration acoss government.

Digifest is focused on empowering federal communicators to stay nimble within a digital-by-default communications environment. Through the use of gamification, communicators engaged in real-time, team-based skills competitions to develop core expertise in delivering “just-in-time” communications within a digital environment, while also learning about the need to streamline processes, tolerate risk, and drive online participation. This tech-based environment enabled collaboration, creativity, adaptability and shared learning with other departments and agencies in response to today’s changing media environment. Digifest was recognized with a Government Technology Exhibition and Conference (GTEC) 2016 Distinction Award.

First 24
Infographic of 'the First 24' for Bill C-16

The “First 24” was rolled out as a new public environment analysis tool that incorporates mainstream and social media platforms as they relate to high-profile issues at play, in one, visually striking document.

Through the use of technology, we are able to gather real-time public environment information in the media environment to analyze and interpret the information in an easy-to-read, short brief for Departmental officials that presents summary information in an infographic allowing the reader to grasp key elements in a glance.

The “First 24” is a systematic approach to finding, understanding, and using knowledge of social and traditional media conversations to achieve our communications objectives in a rapidly changing environment. As this knowledge grows and is shared throughout the Department, we will enhance our capacity to understand and adapt to Canadians’ changing expectations about government engagement and communications, specifically when it comes to creating and fostering a two-way dialogue, within a 24/7 media environment.

A renewed sense of collaboration with Canadians

External Panel on Physician-Assisted Dying

The Policy Sector was given responsibility to establish an external panel on Physician-Assisted Dying to support the government’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charter decision striking down the Criminal Code prohibition against assisted dyingdying.

Family, Children and Youth Legal Issues Video

The Communications team produced a video for the Justice Canada YouTube page that introduces Canadians to the range of free family justice tools and products available on the Justice Canada website. Launched in May 2016, the video conveys key messages and information about legal issues and responsibilities related to separation or divorce, including the importance of focusing on the best interests of children.

This project represents the first time we used animation as a communications vehicle intended for a public audience. It also includes campaign URLs (www.Canada.ca/family-law and www.Canada.ca/droit-de-la-famille) that bring Canadians directly to the Canada.ca Family Law landing page to find the most up-to-date Family Law information materials organized by topic.

International Law Policy Workshop Series

The workshop series, organized jointly by the Canadian Bar Association and the Department of Justice Canada, provides a unique opportunity for Canadian jurists, academics, members of the legal profession, and other members of the justice sector who have an interest in international development to learn about current initiatives, successes, and lessons learned in this area of the law. This year’s workshop examined the challenges in advancing legal empowerment of the poor as encountered in developing or transitional countries, and identified innovative solutions to ensuring access to justice in complex situations.

Victims and Survivors of Week

We led the eleventh Victims and Survivors of Week, which included three federal symposia (Ottawa, Vancouver, and Halifax) attended by Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould and Parliamentary Secretary, Sean Casey as well as events and projects hosted across the country, with funding from the federal Victims Fund. This year, more than $1.2 million in funding was provided to 182 Victims and Survivors of Crime Week events and projects across Canada that included activities such as workshops, public events, and training sessions for professionals.

To the left of the photo is a banner featuring multiple layered dialogue bubbles with the middle one stating "the Power of our voices". To the right, Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking at a podium.

Why do we do what we do?

The Department of Justice has a tradition of excellence and our success is rooted in our people. We recently made changes to our organizational structure to support better integration, consistency and continuous improvement in how we deliver on our mandate. Our mandate has not changed. We have been adapting and evolving to recommendations, strategies and reviews for decades. This ability to adapt and evolve has contributed to our continuous relevance and success serving the Government and Canadians. Being in a constant state of readiness now and in the future will continue to serve us well.

How do we plan to get there?

We are Canada’s Legal Team and that goes beyond speaking with one voice. It involves drawing from a shared pool of knowledge and expertise and having confidence in the person next to you. It is about working together in a spirit of trust, respect and integrity; speaking with one voice on behalf of the Government of Canada. We do not simply deliver services that are responsive to client needs. In fact, excellent service delivery includes empowering clients to become more autonomous, managing demand, and finding innovative and optimal resource mixes to deliver excellence. To make more efficient use of our resources we are creating more centres of expertise and relying more on virtual teams, giving us greater flexibility to align resources with whole-of-government priorities and allowing us to focus on key issues while leveraging expertise.

To achieve excellence we will continue to work closely with our clients and be innovative when we define new approaches to help screen, triage, redirect, and resolve requests for legal services. Our work will be informed by performance measurements and increased reliance on business analytics. We will be strategic and use evidence to inform standards, best practices and decision-making. An increased focus on business analytics will help us to identify and understand our areas of strength and those that need to be improved. Ongoing analysis will also help us identify trends which enable strategic discussions, which in turn drive improvements in the way we work, which lead to greater efficiencies at the legal, policy, program, management, and leadership levels.

Our capacity as a department to successfully implement our priorities calls for a community of employees who share information and ideas openly, collaboratively, and digitally. Knowledge is our greatest asset. Gone are the days when opinions are locked in personal drives or cabinets and shared only with permission. We default to open sharing of information. We will continue to invest in our technology, our platforms, and our tools to increase consistency and, efficiency and improve innovation. We will also continue to value our employees, enabling them to thrive by providing meaningful opportunities. We will support innovation and creativity amongst employees, and give meaningful recognition for their achievements and their contributions.

What does the future look like for Justice Canada?

Canada’s Legal Team is building the Department of Justice of the future by valuing contributions, striving for excellence, and leveraging our collective knowledge, expertise, and abilities. Our recent organizational changes provide the opportunity to collaborate and create the kind of organization that we want. We will support each other in adopting new ways of working, embracing technology, challenging ourselves and each other to go beyond the status quo and, striving for excellence through consistent, efficient and innovative approaches. Now is the time for collective leadership, innovation and forward thinking. We are working to deliver on our mandate and build a stronger organization to ensure Justice remains relevant, modern, and agile – a leader in the legal profession. Leadership at all levels matters.

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