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Public Servant-in-Residence Initiative

Launched in 2003, the Public Servant-in-Residence (PSIR) Initiative allows mid-career public servants (EX minus 2 to EX) to spend a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 2 years at a Canadian university to acquire new knowledge that relates to their work and departmental objectives, as well as broader government priorities.

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The objectives of the PSIR Initiative are to:

  • encourage greater collaboration between the federal government and Canadian universities through knowledge exchange
  • collaborate with Canadian universities on joint research
  • provide the Canadian federal public service with recruitment opportunities
  • provide tomorrow's workforce with an understanding of how the federal government works

The initiative offers many benefits. It allows a successful applicant to:

  • access leading-edge thinkers in their area of expertise
  • contribute to public service renewal with recruitment activities on campus
  • have an intellectually, professionally, and personally rewarding opportunity
  • have an opportunity to develop a network in the public service based on their PSIR experience
  • feel a sense of pride and accomplishment through an experience that sets them apart and expands their horizons

It allows the host university to:

  • access practitioners who have practical experience and knowledge
  • gain insight on what skills are required to train successful federal public servants
  • expand their networks and opportunities within the federal government
  • access an experienced peer who can support research, teaching, mentorship, and talent recruitment events for the federal government

Application process

Who can apply

Who can apply

The initiative targets mid-career (EX minus 2 to EX) federal public servants and Canadian universities.

In general, the application process is initiated by individual public servants with a personal interest in the initiative, , or from Canadian universities interested in hosting residents from the federal government. Interested universities can send us their announcements of residency opportunities for publication. These announcements highlight what universities are looking for and can be accessed through the Current opportunities section of this web page.

Canadian universities interested in having a resident may also seek support from the Canada School of Public Service (the School), which will help them identify candidates.

On occasion, applicants are also supported by a professional network (for example, a Government of Canada functional community) that has a stake in the applicant's projects.

All prospective applicants and Canadian universities should contact the PSIR Initiative team to discuss their residency plans before they apply to get help and guidance with their application.

How to apply

How to apply

Step 1: Define your project

The first step is to think about the parameters of the project. During this step, ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what the impact of your residency will be, both personally and on the federal public service as a whole.

The role of the School's PSIR Initiative team is to help applicants prepare their applications to meet the criteria for the initiative, including whether the project fits within the current needs and priorities of the federal government and the applicant's plan to share the knowledge gained following their residency.

Contact the PSIR team by emailing:

Step 2: Seek endorsement for your project

Once your project is defined, it is important to ensure that you have the support of your senior management. Since the costs of your residency will be covered by your home department and the type of research or teaching you will be doing may have an impact on your department, you will need to inform your management of your plans and ensure that they endorse your project.

For this reason, applications must be endorsed by two deputy ministers (the President of the School and the deputy minister of the applicant's home department) to ensure credibility and the advancement of departmental or federal government priorities. The applicant obtains the endorsement of their home department, while the PSIR team obtains the endorsement of the School's President.

Step 3: Submit your application package

Once you have defined your project and obtained endorsement, you can submit your PSIR Initiative application online.

There is no specific date to submit an application; however, we encourage you to take into consideration the important dates in the academic calendar, as well as administrative delays in processing applications. For example, we suggest a submission by July 31 for a September start date, or November 30 for a January start date.

A complete application will consist of the following:

  • The completed and signed online application form. The description of the project should be as detailed as possible.
  • Curriculum vitae demonstrating the applicant's relevant academic and work experience and attesting to the applicant's potential for success in an academic environment.
  • Deputy minister letter or email of support, which must include a commitment to pay the applicant's salary, benefits and reasonable moving expenses (if applicable) while on assignment, in addition to a commitment to support the applicant's reintegration back into the federal public service following the assignment.
  • Host university letter or email of support, which must include a commitment to host the applicant and provide them with office space, equipment and administrative support.

Step 4: Get approval for your application

Applications to the PSIR Initiative are reviewed and approved by the President of the School. In approving applications, the School will consider:

  • the applicant's relevant academic and work experience, which should show strong abilities and a commitment to excellence
  • how well the project is aligned with federal government and School priorities, and how it will support these priorities
  • the applicant's demonstration of how they intend to share the knowledge, skills and abilities they acquire upon their return to the federal public service
  • if appropriate, the applicant's commitment to support their host university's DMUCNote* activities (for example, working with universities to facilitate lectures and presentations by senior federal public servants, advising graduate students of employment opportunities within the federal public service and promoting the public service as a career choice, assisting faculty members in the development of research projects and activities to increase the relevance of their work for the federal public service
  • the applicant's commitment to collaborate with the School (for example, to develop learning products or events, to support potential PSIR Initiative applicants)
  • the relevance of the project to the applicant's career plans

Once the application is approved, the PSIR team prepares a draft Interchange Canada agreement. The applicant completes and signs the Interchange Canada agreement and has it signed by the deputy minister of their home department. The applicant then returns the document to the School for the president's final signature.

The full approval process for a PSIR Initiative application may take between 4 weeks and 3 months, depending on the complexity of the file. It is always better to expect a longer rather than a shorter approval time when planning the starting date of the residency, and to take into consideration the academic and annual calendars (for example, holiday season breaks).


Expectations for participants during and after their residency

Participants are expected to:

  • complete the project described in their application form
  • honour the commitments made to the host university
  • return to the federal public service after their residency
  • share the knowledge gained with their colleagues and the broader federal public service

In addition to these commitments, the School expects residents to:

  • participate in individual follow-up meetings
    Depending on the length of the residency, the School will have a number of follow-up meetings with the participant. These meetings are intended to support participants in their journey and to help them realign, if necessary, the objectives and expected outcomes of their residency.
  • attend biannual meetings
    The School hosts biannual meetings with potential, new and current participants, as well as with recent PSIR Initiative alumni, to leverage their experience, share best practices, and network among themselves.

These activities are intended to strengthen the sense of community among new and returning participants and allow them to share experiences and best practices. Ultimately, the goal is for these public servants to become part of a network of individuals engaged with Canadian universities.

Apply now

Current opportunities

The approach to take advantage of the PSIR Initiative may come from federal public servants who want to participate, or from Canadian universities interested in hosting residents from the federal government. Interested universities can send us their announcements of residency opportunities for publication. These announcements highlight what universities are looking for and can be accessed through this section.

School of Public Policy and Administration, York University

Location of the residency: Keele Campus, York University
Toronto, Ontario
Duration of the assignment: 4, 8 or 12 months

The appointee will:

  • act as a guest lecturer in SPPA courses that align with the appointee's expertise and skills
  • conduct research either as a
    • co-researcher on one or more existing faculty projects of interest to the appointee and/or
    • as a sole researcher on a study or project proposal initiated by the appointee (per approval of the School Director)
  • organize a workshop for students on a federal policy issue or hot topic

The residency is in-person.

Other elements:

The School of Public Policy and Administration has a full calendar of events and activities for our graduate and undergraduate students. The appointee is expected to attend the majority of these activities. Here are some examples of our events.

Current participants

Dean Barry, Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, September 2021 to August 2023

Dean has over 20 years of experience working in the federal public service, which he joined in 2001 from the University of British Columbia's PhD program in Sociology to pursue a career as a federal public servant. Since 2010, he has been working for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, where he has developed a strong expertise in immigration policy.

PSIR Projects: Dean is currently a public servant-in-residence (PSIR) with the Toronto Metropolitan Centre for Immigration and Settlement (TMCIS), a two-year assignment he began on September 1, 2021. During his residency with the TMCIS, Dean is researching topics that pertain to comparative immigration policies and programs, particularly those of the United States and Canada. A second area of research for him focuses on developing a more strategic and data-driven approach to identifying and recruiting top economic and skilled talent to Canada. Dean will provide input into research work being done by colleagues and graduate students, deliver guest lectures, mentor students and offer information sessions with students who are considering a career with the federal public service.

Credentials: Bachelor (Honours) at Queen's University (1992) and Master of Arts at University of British Columbia (1995).

Carly Dybka, Carleton University, Ottawa, January 2022 to December 2022

Carly works as the Assistant Director of Social Media and Social Care at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and is primarily interested in the Government of Canada's (GC's) use of social media. She is currently researching the GC's social media monitoring activities, and will be providing the GC with advice and recommendations on how to optimize monitoring while being aware of its risks and limitations. She is also developing training materials on GC use of social media, in collaboration with the Privy Council Office and its Communications Community Office.

PSIR projects: Through the PSIR Initiative, Carly is teaching a fourth-year BA course for students in public administration and policy management. In addition, she is offering series of professional development workshops for students in the Communication and Media Studies program geared towards finding work and excelling in GC communications. Carly is also applying her professional expertise to develop internal guidelines for Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication regarding the use of social media to achieve departmental objectives and manage risks and crises.

Credentials: Bachelor and Master Degree in Communications and Graduate Diploma in Information Studies from the University of Ottawa. Due to graduate with a PhD in Communication from Carleton University in 2023.

Former participants

The following is a list of federal public servants who have participated in the PSIR Initiative since 2019:

  • Sean Boots, Carleton University, ON; March 2022 to August 2022
  • Elana Aptowitzer, Carleton University, ON; May 2019 to April 2022
  • Kerry Badgley, University of Ottawa, ON; September 2020 to August 2021
  • Rory O'Connor, York University, ON; September 2020 to May 2021

The following is a list of other Canadian universities that have participated in the initiative from 2017 to 2022:

  • Dalhousie University, NS
  • Queen's University, ON
  • University of Ottawa, ON
  • University of Waterloo, ON
  • Université de Moncton, NB
  • Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, QC

Contact information

Have questions? Get in touch with the PSIR Initiative team by emailing:

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