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Biography Wayne G. Wouters

Where I started

I was born in Edam, Saskatchewan. Edam has a population of approximately 400 and is known as “a little piece of Holland in Saskatchewan.” I grew up on a farm and I learned a lot about hard work, and the importance of community, from my surroundings. Once I’d reached adolescence, I worked on the family farm during the summers.

After completing high school, I went to the University of Saskatchewan and completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics). After receiving my B Com., I studied at Queen's University, earning a Master's Degree in Economics.

My journey in the public service

I actually began my career as a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Saskatchewan in 1975. My public service career began in 1977 when I joined the Government of Saskatchewan. I remained with the Provincial Government for five years and held several positions, during this period.

In 1982, I made the move from the provincial public service to the federal public service and moved to Ottawa. I joined what was then known as the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources as the Director of Industry Analysis. In 1986, I became Deputy Director General, Project and Fiscal Analysis and was then appointed Director General, Financial and Market Analysis in 1989.

In 1990, I accepted a position as Director, Economic Development Policy Branch with the Department of Finance, and became the General Director in 1993.

In 1994, I joined the Privy Council Office (PCO) where I was the head of the federal Task Force on the Newfoundland Economy. Being from the prairies, this position was an excellent learning opportunity as it offered me great insight and perspective on the challenges faced by Atlantic Canadians and Newfoundland in particular. I discovered that they weren’t so different than the ones faced by the people of Saskatchewan.

The Taskforce on the Newfoundland Economy fulfilled its objectives over an eight month period and upon the fulfillment of its mandate, I was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Program Review), and oversaw preparation of the expenditure reduction plan that was part of the 1995 federal Budget.

In December 1994, I was appointed Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultation). I remained with the Privy Council Office until September 1997.

My first appointment as a Deputy Minister was at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada) where I served for five years until 2002. After serving at DFO, I went to Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) as Deputy Minister and Chairperson of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission and Deputy Minister of Labour. I oversaw the reorganization of HRDC and was later appointed Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

From December 2004 to June 30, 2009, I was Secretary of the Treasury Board.

I was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet by the Prime Minister on July 1, 2009.

I consider myself very privileged to have thus far experienced such a varied and rewarding career. I am very honoured to serve as the Clerk of the Privy Council and excited and optimistic about continuing to serve Canadians. 

Spare time

I’ve always tried to manage work-life balance, it is not always easy, but it is essential. In this job you put in long hours. I work hard and think that I am quite efficient in my work. Once I’ve made a decision, I go with it and I don’t dwell on it.

I think I’m somewhat fortunate to be able to put my work away and take downtime as downtime. I am a firm believer that a healthy and productive employee is one who is able to actively pursue outside interests to balance their work life.

I enjoy playing hockey or in the summer time, golfing. I started playing hockey when I was just a kid growing up in Saskatchewan where, if you couldn’t play, there was not much else to do. I enjoy it thoroughly and I still play every week.

Over the course of my career, as the complexity of the files I have managed has risen, so has my appreciation for simple things like spending time with family and friends and giving back to the community through my volunteer work.