He did so with the utmost humility and respect for others, tenets he learned from his parents growing up on the family farm in small town Edam, Saskatchewan.
The Honourable Wayne Wouters played an influential role in many of the important public policy decisions of the last decade, and informed major government-led initiatives as Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister, Secretary to the Cabinet, and Head of the Public Service. He directed complex institutional transformations, enhanced Canada’s international trade relations and, as Secretary of the Treasury Board, oversaw an annual budget exceeding $250 billion.
His career in public service began in 1977 with the Government of Saskatchewan. With a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan and a Master’s in Economics from Queen’s University, The Honourable Wayne Wouters held several positions at the provincial level before moving to Ottawa in 1982 to join the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources as Director of Industry Analysis.
Recognized for his ability to achieve transformational change, The Honourable Wayne Wouters moved up through the ranks, accepting greater responsibilities and bringing his expertise to a diverse range of portfolios. As Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, he led the expenditure reduction plan that in 1995 brought the federal budget back into a surplus for the first time in years.
He was not afraid to tread into unfamiliar waters. Despite coming from a landlocked province, his first appointment as a Deputy Minister was with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He would also serve as Deputy Minister of Labour, of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, and of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
In 2009 he was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council, the country’s top post in public service. Throughout his career, The Honourable Wayne Wouters knew the importance of not only having a clear vision but also offering mentorship along the way.
He guided 450,000 employees into the digital era and inspired a new spirit of collaboration with the development of Blueprint 2020, a ground-breaking consultation process to create a more transparent public service. The Honourable Wayne Wouters championed a more open style of leadership and set his own example by communicating extensively to front-line workers and inviting feedback.
He reinforces the link between public service, the public good and personal giving. His contribution to building a stronger Canada extends to his volunteerism; he became the first public servant to chair the United Way Campaign in the nation’s capital.
Following his retirement in 2014, The Honourable Wayne Wouters was sworn in as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada, a rare honour for an unelected government official that recognizes his outstanding service to Canadians.
The University of Manitoba is proud to award a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to The Honourable Wayne Wouters, a visionary who has been tireless in his work for others.