Assessing the 2018 Public Service Employee Survey Results

The results of the 2018 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) are in and, as with last year’s results, offer food for thought on the government’s progress (or lack of it) in some key areas of concern to PIPSC members.

Harassment in the workplace

While in previous years (2017 and 2014) 18% and 19% of respondents respectively reported being a victim of harassment, in 2018 only 15% reported the same. However, since the reporting period covered in the most recent survey was changed from two years to one, these results are not comparable.

More tellingly, perhaps, satisfaction with how harassment is dealt with in departments is viewed positively by only 48% of respondents to the PSES.

The survey also reveals significant differences based on gender. Women reported experiencing harassment on the job in the last year at a rate 3% higher than men. Respondents who were gender diverse reported experiencing harassment at a rate of 30% compared to 13% for men and 16% for women. 

Employees in the Scientific and Professional Category (which includes most PIPSC members) reported levels of harassment slightly less (2% in 2018) than the public service generally as well as slightly less satisfaction (1%) with how management is addressing it.

As a result, the latest survey data give greater urgency to our bargaining demands that members deserve stronger anti-harassment protections. In short, the government can Do Better.

Psychological wellness

Data on psychological wellness, on the other hand, show some signs of improvement. Compared to 2017 when only 56% of respondents described public service workplaces as healthy, 59% now do.

Moreover, when it comes to raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, 71% of respondents believe their department is doing a good job compared to 67% a year ago.

It is still too soon to say whether or not this is due to the Mental Health Strategy launched two years ago.


To no one’s surprise, the Phoenix pay system remains a grave concern. Seventy percent of respondents to the PSES said they were negatively impacted by it in the past year, an increase of 3% from 2017. Among Professional and Scientific Employees the increase is even greater – 5% – from 62% in 2017 to 67% in 2018.

Moreover, satisfaction with how departments and the pay centre handle issues has remained unchanged and is very low. Only 36% of respondents overall indicate they are satisfied with the assistance they received from their department or agency in resolving their pay issues.

Missing regular pay remained unchanged, with 10% of Professional and Scientific Employees reporting missed pay in both 2017 and 2018.

While there have been some improvements, it seems absurd to consider them a cause to celebrate in a year when 29% of Professional and Scientific Employees were underpaid and 30% received incorrect acting or overtime pay.

The sooner we get a new working pay system the better.