The new head of the Treasury Board says public servants want a modernized public service, but that unlike his predecessors, he won't be taking "potshots" at the public service in the media using "half-baked opinions" to achieve reform.

Former Treasury Board head Tony Clement vowed to save $900 million this year by changing public service sick leave and disability programs, legislating the change through the former Conservative government's budget bill, which was passed earlier this year.

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Former Treasury Board president Tony Clement said the public service sick leave system was "broken" and needed to be fixed. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Public service unions walked away from bargaining meetings earlier this year, but the bill gave the former government the ability to act before the conclusion of bargaining, something the unions argue contravenes the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

Canada's public sector unions have since filed legal challenges on the issue.

Asked by Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan on Tuesday about what he plans to do about sick leave, Brison did not give specifics. He said he doesn't want to compromise negotiations planned for December by making public statements.

"What I'm not going to do is what my predecessors under the previous government did, and that is use issues like [sick leave] as political footballs and negotiate through the media. We will negotiate respectfully as part of a collective bargaining process," Brison said.

"I will not go to the airwaves to take potshots at public servants with half-baked opinions based on ideology, not evidence. One of our key priorities as a government is to bring back evidence-based decision-making to replace decision-based evidence-making," he said.

'When we disagree, we will do so without being disagreeable'

Brison said public servants do want reform and change in their departments, and that the government won't always agree with public sector unions at the bargaining table.

"We're not going to agree with the unions on every single issue. But when we disagree, we will do so without being disagreeable," he said.

"I really believe we have the opportunity to create a golden age for Canada's public service. We can work with our current members of the public service, we can attract Canada's best and brightest young Canadians to the public service, and make a real difference," Brison told Bresnahan.

"... But the starting point is actually understanding that public servants, yes, they're union members, but they're also Canadian citizens who want to make a real difference in the lives of their fellow citizens."