Publication

New ways of working

In our efforts to provide the best service possible and the most up to date information to you, our clients, CICS welcomes your comments and suggestions.

Here are our coordinates:

General Inquiries
Telephone: (613) 995-2341
Fax: (613) 996-6091
E-mail: info@scics.gc.ca
www.scics.gc.ca

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 488, Station ‘A’
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 8V5

Location / Deliveries
222 Queen St., 10th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5V9

Table of Contents

Message from the Secretary

Photo of the Secretary, Mr. André M. McArdleThe Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat (CICS) continues to play a key and pivotal role in the domain of intergovernmental machinery in Canada by providing impartial senior level conference services to federal, provincial and territorial governments.

In fiscal year 2014-15, the Secretariat served 95 intergovernmental conferences, a 9% increase over the previous year. Out of this total, 65 were federal-provincial-territorial meetings and 30 were provincial-territorial conferences.

In order to effectively and efficiently provide services to these meetings, the Secretariat has gradually transformed its service delivery model and gained recognition among governments for its expertise in the utilization of new technologies to support conferences and its constant quest to innovate its service delivery model.

As an example of this evolution, CICS achieved a significant milestone on January 29, 2015 when it provided full services for a virtual meeting of federal-provincial-territorial Ministers of Labour, a first at the Ministerial level. It is also interesting to note that in the last year, the Secretariat provided its support to19 teleconferences thereby significantly reducing the costs associated with these meetings.

The success of the Secretariat has always been founded on the capability, adaptability and professionalism of its staff. That is the reason that CICS continues to invest on policies which are focused on building a confident and high performing workforce in order to maintain our tradition of excellence as a service provider.

André M. McArdle
Secretary

By the Numbers

In 2014-15, CICS served 37 different intergovernmental tables

In 2014-15, CICS served 37 different intergovernmental tables

Aboriginal Affairs MIN 5*
Agriculture MIN 2
Child & Youth Advocates DM 1
Citizenship & Immigration MIN 2 DM 1
Consumer Affairs DM 1
Coroners DM 1
Culture & Heritage MIN 2** DM 4
Education MIN 1 DM 6
Election Officials DM 2
Energy & Mines MIN 1 DM 3
Environment MIN 1 DM 1
Fisheries MIN 3
Francophonie MIN 2
Health MIN 2 DM 5
Housing DM 2
Information & Privacy Commissioners DM 1
Intergovernmental Budget DM 1
Justice & Public Safety MIN 2 DM 3
Labour MIN 2 DM 2
Labour Market MIN 3 DM 1
Lobbyists Registrars & Commissioners DM 1
Local Government MIN 1 DM 1
Natural Resources – Forestry (CCFM) MIN 1 DM 2
Natural Resources – Wildlife & Biodiversity MIN 1
Eastern Canadian Premiers / New England Governors PREM 1
Western Premiers PREM 1
Public Guardians & Trustees DM 1
Public Service Commissioners DM 1
Public Works DM 1
Seniors MIN 2 DM 1
Service Delivery DM 2
Social Services DM 2
Sports & Recreation MIN 1 DM 1
Status of Women MIN 1 DM 1
Tourism MIN 2 DM 1
Transport MIN 1 DM 4
Governor General & Lieutenant Governors VICE REGAL 1

*One Ministers’ meeting combined with Social Services

**One Ministers’ Meeting combined with Tourism

By the Numbers

F-P-T Conferences 65
P-T Conferences 30
In person 75
Teleconferences 19
Virtual conference 1
Ministers 38
Deputy Ministers 54
Premiers 2
Vice-Regal 1

Our First Virtual Conference

January 29, 2015 marked a significant milestone for CICS in the use of new technologies. Full services were provided for a virtual conference of FPT Ministers of Labour. This was the first time that a virtual conference was attempted at the FPT Ministerial level. All 14 jurisdictions participated remotely by videoconference from their own boardrooms (except one jurisdiction who used teleconference) along with the added benefit of simultaneous interpretation in both official languages.

Participants Reaction

The meeting was considered a success and highly useful by all who participated. The advantages of being able to meet as an FPT group while eliminating travel costs and time away from the office were highlighted by all participants and the technology worked smoothly to allow for meaningful exchanges among the Ministers.

Innovative approach. Format could also be well-suited for coordinating on emerging or high priority items.’ (Alberta)

‘The meeting was quite useful. It provided a means for all stakeholders to participate and stay in touch without having to travel across the country. The savings on travel time itself makes this endeavor worthwhile. It is a great supplement to the annual face-to-face meetings.’  (Newfoundland & Labrador)

‘The meeting was very useful as an interim update on specific agenda items and the video conference was very efficient in all respects.’ (Prince Edward Island)

‘The videoconference was useful and interesting. This new tool allows us to discuss issues between annual meetings of Ministers.’ (Québec)

‘The video conference equipment worked well. Ontario was able to see and understand all of the participants clearly. The translation line did have a slight bit of interference but it did not interfere with the translation itself.’ (Ontario)

Behind the scenes

The success of a virtual conference is highly dependent on the collaboration of all the partners during the planning phase. Planning really needs to begin at least two months prior to the conference to ensure compatibility of all the different videoconferencing units being used. During the planning phase, CICS works closely with the Chair’s and/or Co-Chair’s office to ensure proper briefings on how the videoconference will work. Secondly, CICS works with each individual jurisdiction to test technical compatibility of their system and problem-solve as necessary. Next, a full test-run with as many jurisdictions as possible is held at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting (and repeated if necessary). This test-run also serves as an introduction for jurisdictions on how the simultaneous interpretation will work and allows for testing. A final technical test also takes place in the 2 hours immediately preceding the conference.

Regular communication among the right people and commitment to timelines on the part of all parties involved are the definite keys to success of this new way of conducting meetings.

Lessons Learned

  • A virtual meeting should never be longer than 2 hours.
  • There must be a focused agenda and strong leadership from the Chair to facilitate discussion and participation.
  • Clear logistical instructions must be given at the beginning of the conference.
  • Jurisdictions must have a way to visually signal their desire to speak. (In this first event, we used tent cards which worked well).
  • The placement of the camera and the lighting in the room highly affects the quality of the image being sent out.
  • To increase the professional quality of their image, jurisdictions may wish to choose and install a backdrop such as a flag or a banner.
  • Not all jurisdictions have access to the same quality of videoconferencing equipment. This does affect the quality of the individual images on the screen.
  • The test-runs are necessary and offer the perfect opportunity for jurisdictions to learn how the videoconference and simultaneous interpretation will work. The staff participating in these sessions are then able to properly brief their respective Ministers and delegates.

The Way Forward

CICS would welcome the opportunity to work with other sectors who are interested in trying this technology to support a meeting at either the Deputy Minister or Minister levels. We would be happy to share our expertise with you. With sufficient lead time, and a firm commitment on the part of all involved, we can help you to create a successful virtual conference that collectively your group will be proud of.

Who We Are

Role and Mandate

The Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat (CICS) is an impartial agency whose mandate is to provide administrative support and planning services for federal-provincial-territorial and provincial-territorial conferences of first ministers, ministers and deputy ministers, throughout Canada.

The primary objective of CICS is to relieve client departments of the numerous technical and administrative tasks associated with the planning and conducting of multilateral conferences, thereby enabling participants to concentrate on substantive intergovernmental policy issues. CICS provides continuous, effective, impartial administrative support to these meetings.

Strategic Statement

As a key partner, CICS provides excellence in planning, expertise in service delivery, innovative solutions, impartiality and a commitment to official languages to meet current and future challenges in the field of intergovernmental conferences.

Our Values

Excellence, Respect, Integrity

Respect

We offer a collegial and rewarding work environment that fosters trust, civility, dignity and fairness.

Integrity

We conduct ourselves in an ethical, honest and transparent manner and with financial probity.

Excellence

We strive to fulfill the requirements of our mandate through teamwork.

Mission

We thrive on helping governments by delivering impartial and professional conference services, with innovative solutions.

Vision

Working together to make it happen.

Organizational Structure

The Secretariat is divided into the following sectors:

Secretary’s Office

Serves as the executive office of CICS. Its function is to provide support to the Secretary in his day-to-day activities as the deputy head of the agency.

  • Secretary
  • Assistant Secretary
  • Planning and Reporting Analyst
  • Executive Assistant

Corporate Services

Responsible for the financial, human resources, procurement, security and administrative advice and services to managers and staff of the CICS.

  • Director
  • Corporate Procurement and Administrative Officer
  • Financial Officer
  • Human Resources and Administrative Support Officer

Conference Services

Delivers the agency’s core mandate by providing services and advice to the Chair and Co-Chairs with the planning, organizing and the logistics management related to senior level intergovernmental conferences.

Conference Services personnel are a mix of federal, provincial and/or territorial government employees.

  • Director
  • Conference Managers
  • Conference Administrative Officers
  • Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officers
  • Conference Assistants
  • Travel Services and Administrative Assistant

Information Services

Responsible for information management, information technology and library services to the organization. It also maintains a permanent archive of audio-visual records and a selection of photographs from various conferences served by CICS.

  • Director
  • Head, Information Management
  • Information Management Coordinator
  • Support Analysts, Infrastructure and Operations

Executive Committee

Our executive team is experienced and committed to delivering innovative conference solutions. Working together, they are focused on excellence in client service and achieving value-for-money for all stakeholders.

Photo of the Executive Committee

From left to right:
Brian J. Berry, Assistant Secretary; André M. McArdle, Secretary; Bernard Latulippe, Director, Information Services; Louise Seaward-Gagnon, Director, Conference Services; Laurent Bissonnette, Director, Corporate Services

Our People

Our people are a key priority and in 2014-15, we continued to implement our five-year strategic plan focused on building a capable, confident and high performing workforce.

Group photo of CICS personnel

Over the course of the 2014-15 fiscal year, CICS employed a total of 27 employees, of which 18 were employed with Conference Services and the remaining 9 with Corporate Services, Information Services and the Secretary’s Office.

The objective of CICS is to have half the staff of the Conference Services division consisting of provincial-territorial public servants who are seconded to the agency from their respective governments. Our agency offers these employees a unique developmental opportunity in the field of intergovernmental affairs. Upon completion of the secondment, the provincial/territorial public servants return to their respective governments enriched with an overview of the machinery of intergovernmental relations and the experience of working with key sectors of intergovernmental activity. Most of these employees serve three-year terms. Their presence ensures that the CICS can fulfill its mandate as a neutral intergovernmental body and boosts the organization’s knowledge of provincial and territorial governments as well as Canadian cities and regions.

For their part, the Information Services and Corporate Services divisions are staffed by federal government employees, as is the Executive Office. To address the demands for conference services in peak periods, the Secretariat continues to cross-train employees from these divisions.

Interested in a career development opportunity?

WE HAVE OPENINGS!

There are assignments available for provincial/territorial public servants.

For more information, click here

Successfully managing change

Our workforce underwent significant changes in the 2014-15 fiscal year. With retirements and provincial-territorial employee rotations, CICS experienced a staff turnover rate of 34%. Our employees continue to amaze us with their flexibility and adaptability. Experienced personnel continued to mentor new employees and departing employees were offered alternative work arrangements in order to stagger departure dates and lessen the impact of the staff turnover.

Given the central role that staff play in the organization’s success, CICS continues to invest significantly in employee training and development. During 2014-15, we offered a variety of workshops pertaining to team-building, Occupational Health and Safety and first aid.

Arrivals and Departure

Thank you to our departing employees for your dedication and hard work during your time with us.

List of departures:

  • Laurette Sylvain, Manager, Conference Services (Yukon)
  • Marcel Bérubé, Manager, Conference Services (Manitoba)
  • Michel Daigle, Manager, Conference Services (New Brunswick)
  • Jacqueline Gervais, Conference Administrative Officer (Manitoba)
  • Angela Donatucci, Conference Administrative Officer (Ontario)
  • Chris Caldwell, Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officer (British Columbia)
  • Robert Kehayes, Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officer
  • Pat Fagan, Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officer
  • Janie Renaud, Executive Assistant
  • Robert Gosselin, Support Analyst, Infrastructure Operations
  • Daniel Racine, Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officer (July 2015)
  • Marc Laroche, Corporate Procurement and Administrative Officer (May 2015)

Welcome to all new arrivals. We hope you draw tremendous satisfaction from working alongside your colleagues and planning partners.

List of new arrivals:

  • Carmen Kantchono, Manager, Conference Services (Quebec)
  • Nathalie Houle, Conference Administrative Officer (Ontario)
  • Solange Pilon, Conference Administrative Officer
  • Caroline Régimbald, Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officer
  • Matthieu Letang-Keithlin, Conference Procurement and Technical Services Officer
  • Diane Chalifoux, Corporate Procurement and Administrative Officer
  • Luc Thériault, Manager, Conference Services (New Brunswick) (June 2015)
  • Éric Paquette, Support Analyst, Infrastructure Operations (May 2015)

CICS now makes use of the Federal Student Work Exchange Program across all divisions on a regular basis to encourage interest in the public service.

We’re getting younger!
In 2013, the average age of a CICS employee was 49. In 2015, it’s 46.

Our Business

Expertise in service delivery

Working with CICS is the best way to ensure the success of your conference. We offer a wide range of services that can be tailored to meet your needs, including:

  • Complete set-up of main conference room (from flags, tables and chairs to multi-media equipment);
  • Set-up of press conference and scrum area;
  • Sourcing, installation and operation of multi-media equipment;
  • Videoconferencing;
  • Teleconferencing;
  • Online registration;
  • Online document retrieval;
  • Digital recording of the meeting and press conference;
  • Translation of conference documents in both official languages;
  • Secure disposal of conference documents;
  • On-site WiFi;
  • On-site security;
  • Simultaneous interpretation of the conference proceedings and press conference in both official languages; and
  • Support for drafting of communiqués, including word processing, translation, printing, distribution and Internet posting.

CICS maintains a conference office on-site to provide administrative support and guidance on protocol, and to quickly resolve logistical issues. The office is equipped with a scanner, photocopier and message centre.

Who can use CICS and what are the costs?

CICS services are available to any federal, provincial or territorial department that organizes an intergovernmental meeting of First Ministers, Ministers or Deputy Ministers.

The host government is responsible for the costs of conference rooms and hospitality events; CICS covers the cost of most other conference services. CICS is financed by both the Government of Canada (through parliamentary appropriations) and by the provinces (through contributions).

To request our services, please contact our Director of Conference Services at 613-995-4328 or Info@scics.gc.ca. We look forward to working with you on your next event!

Learn more at www.scics.gc.ca

Unique collection

Archives

The CICS archives, totalling over 50,000 documents, form a unique collection. The collection, including agendas, lists of delegates, records of decisions, news releases, presentations, reports, as well as all the documents tabled at meetings served by the Secretariat since 1973, is carefully inventoried and conserved.

Whether you need an overview of the last conference in order to prepare for the next one or want to establish a profile of intergovernmental initiatives in a given sector, the collection is a valuable asset. In fact, these records are for the use of federal, provincial and territorial delegates and all the documents collected are the legal property of the governments that issued them.

Nevertheless, researchers, analysts, students, journalists, institutions and members of the public have access to public documents, which are available every year through our website or on request.

Should you have any questions concerning CICS records, please contact info@scics.gc.ca. We would be pleased to help you.

 


Photo of CICS archives

Press Releases get posted to the CICS website immediately after they are issued. This section of our website received 6,553 user views in 2014-15.

We responded to 48 requests for information in 2014-15 and our website received more than 27,000 views.

 Web page icon

The Evolution of Conferences

Photo spread showcasing the evolution of conference services from 1973 to 2015

The Year in Review: 2014-15

In 2014-15, the Secretariat provided its services to 95 senior-level intergovernmental conferences; a 9% increase in the number of conferences from the previous year. This included 65 federal–provincial–territorial conferences and 30 provincial–territorial conferences.

Conferences by Location

Map of Canada illustrating the number of conferences held in each province and territory

Province/Territory Number of Conferences
Ontario 18*
Quebec 8**
Nova Scotia 1
New Brunswick 0
Manitoba 4
British Columbia 4
Prince Edward Island 20
Saskatchewan 0
Alberta 11
Newfoundland and Labrador 3
Yukon 1
Northwest Territories 1
Nunavut 1
United States 1
Teleconference 19
Videoconference 1

* 7 of which we held in the National Capital Region

**2  of which we held in the National Capital Region

The number of teleconferences organized by CICS has risen sixfold over the previous year. This is a relatively new service and has proven to be the perfect complement to face-to-face meetings for a variety of our sectors, including Education, Immigration, Social Services, Culture & Heritage, and Energy & Mines, who have used the service on a number of different occasions.

In 2014, Prince Edward Island hosted a large number of FPT conferences in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown conference.

Group photo of delegates at a conference in PEI in 2014.

Photo Courtesy Communications PEI / Brian L. Simpson

New Sector

CICS was pleased to provide its services to one new sector in 2014-15; the Chief Electoral Officers.

Group photo of the Chief Electoral Officers.

Photo: Stéphane E. Perrault, 2014

Intergovernmental Document Collection

Conference Level Number of Documents in CICS Archives
Federal-Provincial-Territorial 35,593
Federal-Territorial 54
Provincial-Territorial 15,240
Grand Total 50,887

Newer Services

Usage of Newer Services

Graph comparing the usage of newer services from 2012-2015

“On behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, I want to thank the CICS team for your role in the success of the National Aboriginal Women’s Summit (NAWS IV). It was a pleasure meeting and working with you. Your help and guidance was truly appreciated!”

Performance Analysis

In 2014-15, CICS provided its services to 95 senior-level intergovernmental conferences; including 75 face-to-face meetings, 19 teleconferences and one virtual conference. This represents an overall increase of 9% in the number of conferences from the previous year.

CICS is committed to ensuring high quality administrative services for the planning and conduct of each and every conference it serves. As such, on an annual basis, CICS hires an objective, third-party research firm to conduct telephone interviews with a sampling of those people who were involved in the planning of one or more events in the past year to assess CICS’ performance and to provide valuable feedback.

This year, twenty-seven representatives from federal, provincial and territorial government departments were interviewed by telephone. Of these, 90.5% agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with CICS services in support of conference planning.

“Keep up the excellent work!”

Excellence in planning

CICS also seeks regular feedback on its services from conference delegates who attend the meetings. In 2014-15, approximately 350 surveys were completed on-line or on-site with 96.3% of these conference delegates indicating that they were satisfied or very satisfied overall with CICS conference services. Comments regarding our use of new technologies such as charging stations and WiFi in the main meeting room continue to receive high praise from delegates. Based on numerous suggestions on how to improve on-line registration and secure document retrieval site to further meet the needs of the end-users, CICS designed a further customization of the software program to enhance both systems. Implementation will take place during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“The quality of the service was phenomenal. Each staff member was available and ready to assist when we needed them.”

“I want to thank you for the work you did to organize and facilitate the FPT Ministers of Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity Conference. You were extremely professional and willing and able to solve every problem and issue that arose. You treated me with patience and helped me in the work that I was doing. I really learned a lot from you all and thank you for accepting me into your space.”

Finance

Budget

The Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat (CICS) is financed by both the Government of Canada through parliamentary appropriations and by the provinces through contributions under a shared cost agreement. The amount requested from the provinces last fall, for the 2014-15 budget, was calculated by taking the difference between CICS’s total budget and the federal government contribution1 and adjusting it on the basis of the funds that were not used in 2013-14, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. 2014-15 CICS Budget ($ thousands)

2014-15
Budget
Less: 2013-14
Budget adjustment2
Adjusted Budget
CICS Main Estimates Budget 5,957.2 (256.7) 5,700.4
Less: Federal Share1 3,464.8 (219.1) 3,245.6
Total Provincial Share 2,492.4 (37.6) 2,454.8

Provincial Contributions

The total provincial share of the CICS budget is then split among the provinces on a pro rata basis, according to their population as determined by the last Population Census. Table 2 shows the provinces’ shares for the 2014-15 budget, as well as the actual amounts received.

Table 2. Distribution of Provincial Contributions towards CICS’ 2014-15 Budget ($ thousands)

% based on 2011 Population Census Distribution of Provincial Share of CICS
2013-14 Budget
Distribution of Provincial Share of the Adjustment2 2014-15
Requested Contribution
2014-15
Actual Contribution Received
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.5 37.4 (2.6) 34.8 34.8
Nova Scotia 2.8 69.8 (4.9) 64.9 64.9
New Brunswick 2.3 57.3 (4) 53.3 53.3
Prince Edward Island 0.4 10 (0.7) 9.3 9.3
Quebec 23.7 590.7 590.7 131.3
Ontario 38.5 959.5 959.5 265
Manitoba 3.6 89.7 (6.3) 83.4 83.4
Saskatchewan 3.1 77.3 77.3 23
Alberta 10.9 271.7 (19.1) 252.6 252.6
British Columbia 13.2 329 329 95
Total *100 2,492.4 (37.6) 2,454.8 1,012.6

Maintaining quality while seeking efficiencies

Financial Results

A summary of CICS’s financial results are presented in table 3. The total funding is composed of the Main Estimates budget and adjustments. The Main Estimates are the voted appropriations at the beginning of the fiscal year, which started on April 1, 2014. Total funding for CICS has increased by some 35 thousand dollars due to the request for the operating budget carry forward which was not requested in 2013-14.

Total spending for 2014-15 has decreased by approximately 0.7 million dollars (or 12%) when compared with 2013-14. This decrease results from lower personnel, professional and rental costs. The decrease in personnel costs results from timing differences in hiring new staff to replace retired personnel and to fill vacancies. Other cost reductions result from an increased number of teleconference and videoconference over 2013-14 reducing costs associated with professional and special services (primarily for interpretation and translation services).

Table 3. 2014-15 CICS’ Financial Results ($ thousands)

2014-15 2013-14
CICS Budget
Main Estimates 5,957.2 6,035.5
Adjustments and Transfers 203.1 86.1
Total Funding 6,160.3 6,121.6
CICS Expenditures
Salaries and Wages 2,381.6 2,638.1
Employee Benefit Plans 318 349.5
Sub-total: Personnel Costs 2,699.6 2,987.6
Other Operating Costs 2,448.6 2,748.4
Capital Costs 21.3 128.9
Sub-total: Other Operating and Capital Costs 2,469.9 2,877.3
Total Expenditures 5,169.5 5,864.9
Lapsed (over expended) 990.8 256.7

Looking Ahead

As we transform our service delivery model and gain recognition for our expertise in using new technologies to support conferences, we need to continue to invest resources and encourage innovation so that modern tools will be used to their full potential for conference service delivery. Finding additional ways to share our success stories, in particular in the area of virtual conferences, is important to both the organization and our partners.

The success of CICS is founded on strong and positive relationships with our clients. Balancing our expertise, a client-centered service approach and the efficient use of resources requires effort and flexibility. Enhancing our relationships with our clients and involving them in determining our service improvements needs to continue to be a strategic priority for the organization.

As CICS is experiencing a period of high staff turnover due to retirements, the transfer of corporate knowledge and the successful integration of new employees will require significant attention in order to maintain our tradition of excellence as a service provider.

Did you know?

A number of sectors reserve their meetings 12-14 months in advance

The Secretariat’s Strategic Priorities for 2015-20:

  1. Enhance and expand strategic partnerships
  2. Transform our service delivery model
  3. Review and adapt management practices to increase efficiencies
  4. Continue to build a capable, confident and high performing workforce

Click here to learn more by reading our 2015-20 Strategic Plan.

 

1 The Federal share includes fifty percent of the total budget plus the employee benefit plans for federal, provincial and territorial employees, the translation costs, the tenant services, the capital costs and any revenue shortfalls resulting from the non-payment or partial payment by the provinces of their respective share.

2 The 2014-15 Budget adjustment represents the difference calculated from the Main Estimate less actual expenditures. The provincial share of the budget adjustment is distributed between provinces which fully contributed towards CICS operational budget.