Position profile: Assistant Deputy Minister, Primary Agriculture

Learn more about the position in the job posting.

  • Job Title: Assistant Deputy Minister, Primary Agriculture
  • Ministry: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Competition Number: 1055880

Position Summary

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for the policies, legislation, regulations and services necessary for Alberta’s agriculture, food and forest sectors to grow, prosper and diversify; inspires public confidence in the quality and safety of food, environmentally sustainable resource management practices, and wildfire and forest management;  and leads collaboration that enables safe and resilient rural communities.

The agriculture sector is a significant contributor to the Alberta economy and operates in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. With anticipated growth in demand for food with a world population expected to exceed nine billion by 2050, shifting demographics, and evolving public and consumer expectations at home and abroad, the sector operates in a complex, often interconnected economic, environmental and social landscape that presents opportunities as well as challenges.

Reporting to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) position leads the Primary Agriculture Division, one of four divisions in the department that is responsible for policies and programs that enable the growth and competitiveness of Alberta’s agriculture sector. The division supports leadership in plant and animal health, enhancing disease management and assurance, building science-based policies, knowledge and technology transfer, and science and research. It aims to improve the resilience and sustainability of the agriculture sector through enabling governance, strong regulatory frameworks, assurance systems, and focused science, research, and innovation. The ADM’s extensive knowledge of the Agriculture sector and stakeholder network will be important in establishing effective relationships and advancing key priorities.

As member of the Ministry Executive Team, the incumbent contributes to the strategic agenda and direction of the ministry and government; champion all corporate initiatives and management of Ministry operation; and articulates clear strategic priorities and initiatives for the Division consistent with Ministry business plan goals.

The six branches within the Division work with a wide range of clients and stakeholders; developing strong relationships with industry stakeholders, partners within government and other levels of government, communities, and academia to engage and consult, promote opportunities, and address challenges.  Branches include:

  • Animal Health and Assurance
  • Crop Health and Assurance
  • Livestock and Crop Research
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Marketing Council and Research Coordination
  • Irrigation and Farm Water

The ADM provides leadership that fosters organizational cohesion and complementarity among the three branches of the Division; is responsible for the effective management of a staff complement of approximately 423 full time equivalents and a budget of approximately $96 million; for directing the overall administration, financial, priority setting, human resources and communications functions of the division.

The ADM ensures divisional plans, strategies and operations are aligned and in compliance with the relevant legislation; provides effective leadership, advocacy, and collaboration in federal-provincial-territorial engagements in the areas including but not limited to: anti-microbial resistance, traceability, Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program development, disease surveillance, animal welfare, environmental monitoring, pest management, and bee health.

The ADM oversees the administration of legislation related to the business of the ministry and the division1 other legislation related to leadership responsibilities and delegated authorities.

Specific Accountabilities

Inspire public and consumer confidence in the crop and livestock systems. 

  • Creates and maintains Crop and Animal Health policies (acts and regulations) that provide clear direction for both government oversight and industry responsibility.
  • Develops and implements risk and science-based inspection and surveillance systems and policies in response to existing and emerging crop and livestock health providing effective guidance, extension services.
  • Maintains a high level of collaboration with commodity partners for timely and effective response to crop and animal disease outbreaks; maintaining response protocols and provide training outbreak events.
  • Supports Alberta's agri-food industry to invest in equipment, tracking systems, and training to improve food safety systems and production/processing practices.
  • Through effective surveillance and working with Federal-provincial-territorial governments and agencies, ensures regulatory compliance and market access outcomes, for livestock and crop systems
  • Works closely with national and provincial partners, as well as the crop and livestock industry in the development of risk- and science-based policy.
  • Provides regulatory oversight for weeds, pests and bee’s in partnership with industry, municipalities and other government agencies. Leadership over regulatory compliance (inspections and investigations, and licensing services) to the various Acts and Regulations under this ministry.

Strategically delivering and aligning research and extension outcomes for the primary agriculture industry in Alberta.

  • Provides leadership in research programs that effectively and efficiently addresses issues critical to the competitiveness and sustainability of Alberta 's primary agriculture industry.
  • Develops and maintains strong collaborative relationships with industry partners and other research institutions in order to deliver on research programs that effectively and efficiently address issues critical to the competitiveness and sustainability of Alberta's livestock and meat industry.
  • Delivers integrated research and extension programs and services and delivery of an applied research, knowledge, and technology commercialization program.
  • Ensures AF investments in research and innovation and extension activities are aligned with the strategic priorities of the industry and of government.
  • Develops and maintains the scientific and professional staff expertise and infrastructure capacity to ensure new knowledge and technologies are used to maximum benefit, taking the work done by universities (basic research, curiosity based) and applying that knowledge to address industry priorities.
  • Strives to create regional competitive advantages through research and innovation, business development, and extension policies and programs.
  • Supports the expansion of market opportunities both domestically and internationally.
  • Provides leadership and support in the development and implementation of approaches to improve environmental scanning of new and emerging issue in crop and livestock research and development.
  • Champions service excellence through collaborations with secondary educational institutions, the federal government, other provincial governments, and other key industry organizations.
  • Provides leadership and support in the development of processes to establish and address research priorities based on risk, economic considerations and alignment to Department Business Plan and Strategic Priorities.
  • Contributes to integrated planning, policy development, implementation and evaluation of results, specifically by integrating research development strategies to enhance industry competitiveness.
  • Develops effective relationships with stakeholders including producers, processors, value adders, supply chain management and applicable government agencies that will enable cooperative and collaborative engagement on issues and challenges needing to be addressed including innovative policies, programs and activities
  • Acts as a catalyst for cooperation and positive change in the industry.
  • Builds and develops strong relationships with key businesses and business organisations in the Alberta crop and livestock, and meat sector to ensure a strong demand-led approach to innovation policy, programs and projects.
  • Provides leadership to identify priority initiatives on Research and Development to achieve specific measurable industry targets and outcomes with a priority on producing more high-value differentiated products.

Support and align Primary Agriculture industry outcomes through extension, collaboration and coaching initiatives.

  • Supports practice change while coordinated strategic opportunities for crop and livestock businesses.
  • Provides extension services for the primary agriculture Sector.
  • Develops policy alternatives that consider the complex research, business and regulatory environments and yet support more effective ways to achieve outcomes
  • Partners and collaborates with private industry and other agencies to develop new tools and resources for the primary agriculture producer of Alberta.
  • Actively participates with partners across the Ministry to identify and resolve key operational and strategic issues impacting the primary agriculture industry. 
  • Provides leadership to key crop and livestock commodity organizations partnering in the delivery of projects that align with the Department’s and Ministries Outcomes.

Leadership of irrigation and farm water management programs to enhance water use efficiency and water quality.

  • Ensure agricultural interests are aligned with GOA initiatives, such as Water for Life and Land Use Framework, and are reflected in agricultural planning, policies, recommendations and actions.
  • Encouraging the adoption of new technologies, systems and processes that improve water use and water conveyance efficiency.
  • Leadership and oversight on delivery and administration of programs – i.e. water pumping program, Irrigation Rehabilitation Program to Irrigation districts, Farm Water program.
  • Support and leadership provided by the Irrigation Secretariat which supports the Irrigation Council.

Strategically delivers programs and policy support to cross ministry initiatives associated with agricultural land use and biodiversity, and environmental sustainability.

  • Strategic engagement with industry, at all levels from national to local commodity organizations, to identify collaborative opportunities to enhance sustainability initiatives.
  • Deliver programs that provide producers with solutions to help improve their stewardship management practices on farms, or encourage adoption of practices that provide revenue opportunities for industry.
  • Deliver on farm resource management decision making tools and resources.
  • Deliver programs aimed at encouraging adopting of best management practices.

Support the oversight and strategic support to twenty agricultural marketing boards and commissions on board governance, strategic planning, regulatory and policy matters.

  • Ensuring effective governance practices and regulatory compliance among the boards and commissions
  • Leadership for the Appeal Tribunal established under MAPA.

Knowledge / Experience

  • Extensive related executive management experience, including proven success as a leader, formulating strategies and directing diverse groups to achieve results.
  • Knowledge of related governance and accountability requirements for agricultural policies, strategies and programs, and an understanding of the associated economic, political, and social trends and implications.
  • Knowledge of government strategic policies, programs and services; knowledge of management and leadership principles, practices and approaches.
  • Understanding of government economic growth, diversification, and job creation priorities.  
  • Knowledge of economic and industry development practices and strategies.
  • Understanding of where the economy is going and what is required to keep Alberta competitive; understanding of the global marketplace.
  • Strong leadership skills to develop and influence policies and strategic direction, manage diverse issues, and work within a broadly defined framework.
  • Demonstrated relationship management skills and ability to communicate and collaborate within the Ministry, across government, with clients, partners, and stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated ability to initiate, lead, and evaluate complex initiatives and manage change while delivering results.
  • Proven leadership with a commitment to create and sustain an environment that inspires staff to achieve results.
  • Ability to take a system-oriented strategic approach while identifying opportunities for innovation and striving for continual improvement and creative solutions to issues.
  • Exceptional verbal, written, listening and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Superior analytical, problem solving, and decision making abilities.
  • Experience leading and managing significant human and financial resources.
  • A related graduate degree is preferred.

Leadership and Business Know-How

This position requires leading in a complex and ever changing economic, social, and political environment, forming strategic partnerships and working collaboratively with a wide range of partners and stakeholders in developing strategies, policies, and programs and managing emerging issues.

The ADM leads a large number of professional staff; coaches and mentors staff emphasizing strategic thinking and leadership skills; models ethical behaviour consistent with the values of the Alberta public service; champions change management through innovation, personal flexibility and resilience to meet ongoing challenges in achieving goals and priorities.
The ADM encourages team work to develop strategies, communicates a compelling vision, and generates excitement, enthusiasm and commitment from direct reports, division staff, and partners to meet future challenges.

Strategic Thinking

  • Takes a system-wide view, identifies interdependencies, key linkages, options and implications
  • Considers the big picture in considering possible short term and long term opportunities and assessing current activities.
  • Develops strategic priorities for own Division that supports the government's and Ministry’s vision; understands the direction of the government and anticipates potential changes and their impact on the Ministry and the Division.
  • Continually explores new ways and means of delivering programs and services to meet organizational goals more effectively and efficiently.
  • Engages others in strategic thinking and challenges them to take action in spite of barriers.

Relationship Building

  • Develops formal and informal relationships with a wide range of stakeholders and contacts.
  • Develops strategic relationships with the intent of achieving Ministry goals and business plans, and effective delivery of relevant services.
  • Manages difficult and complex interpersonal relationships effectively; treat others with dignity and respect, consideration and concern; promotes fairness and impartiality.
  • Demonstrates well developed negotiation skills, persuasion and assertiveness abilities to gain support for ideas and initiatives, influence colleagues and other decision makers and effectively represent the interests of the Alberta government.

Resource Management

  • Identifies partnerships and other indirect resourcing approaches to achieve organizational goals.
  • Identifies appropriate fiscal and human resources based on organizational strengths and weaknesses, and positions them to meet specific issues.
  • Effectively oversees a range of significant programs and time-sensitive issues using appropriate resources; ensures appropriate accountability and performance standards are met.
  • Delegates authority and responsibilities appropriately.
  • Conducts sound workforce planning, including succession and staff development.

Results Orientation

  • Sets goals and priorities and takes calculated risks in order to deliver results and services consistent with government direction, departmental objectives and public expectations.
  • Identifies what results are important to achieve and focuses resources and initiate actions to achieve them.
  • Applies knowledge of all the factors affecting results within the Ministry and the division to improve performance; keenly uses information from program/policy evaluation measures to improve performance.

Problem Solving

Developing and improving primary agriculture systems to enhanced our global competitiveness. Single incidents have the capacity to cause significant political and economic impacts and loss of trust that takes a long time and effort to regain. Ensuring our assurance systems are up to standards, exploring innovations, and having the ability to respond to animal and crop disease incidents are critical.

Agricultural research enables the sector to adopt and apply new technologies and innovate in a highly competitive global market. Maintaining competitiveness is critical to industries long term success and finding creative ways to enable and support the long term success of the primary agriculture industries is critical. This is achieved through policy development, strong collaboration both internal and external to government and aligning programs with the core strategies in research, extension and business development.

While the ministry and the division play an important enabling role for the primary agriculture industry success, industry itself plays the leading role. Understanding industry needs and challenges; developing initiatives and taking actions to address those needs; establishing trust and partnership; ability to manage diverging interests of the Ministry, industry and other clients is key to succeed in this role.

The division is responsible for several acts and regulation. In addition to overseeing the implementation of existing legislation, the ADM will need to anticipate and ensure the availability of the policy capacity for future policy needs and legislative amendments.

The division is responsible for leading, developing and implementing a new research governance framework to support farmer-led research and agriculture industry.

Relationships / Contacts

Clients Frequency Nature and Purpose of Contact
Minister's Office, Deputy Minister Daily To receive direction, give advice; develop strategic solutions, 2 way exchange.
Executive Team Bi-Weekly Two way exchange to ensure policy integration, alignment with GOA objectives.
Executive Council ADMs
Cross-ministry ADMs and DMs
As necessary Two way exchange to ensure policy integration, alignment with GOA objectives.
Executive Directors in Division, other division staff Daily, as necessary To give direction, receive advice, share information, coach, mentor, Build capacity.
Producer organizations, etc. Ongoing, as necessary Share information, receive input, advice, collaborate on strategic solutions on products/events
FPT ADMs Monthly Share information, discuss program matters, collaborative opportunities, input into federal policies
Academia Ongoing, as necessary Share information, collaborative opportunities.

Impact and Magnitude of Job (Scope)

Economic growth and diversification is a government priority and the agriculture sector plays a significant part in achieving this goal.  In order to achieve these priorities it is critical to have focused primary agriculture research activities aligned with industry and government with the intent of enabling economic, environmental and socially sustainable agriculture sector.

Supporting extension and business development to our primary agricultural production is a key strategy for the Ministry. Strategically moving research outcomes into sector adoption in areas of highest potential benefit provide for economic, social and environmental benefit for generations into the future. (e.g. Automated nutrient systems, zero tillage agronomic practices, etc.)

Strong assurance systems are critical aspects of a strong and vibrant agriculture system. In an effort to protecting the primary agriculture sector from disease and pests through monitoring, surveillance and response is essential to prevent potentially billions of dollars in negative economic, social and environmental impact to the industry.

This position deals with sensitive and often controversial issues and situations that can have significant political and economic impact for the government.

The Assistant Deputy Minister provides leadership and direction to a diverse group of professional staff who collaborate and work with industry, industry associations, rural municipalities and societies, academia, FPT counterparts, cross ministry partners.

The Assistant Deputy Minister is responsible for identifying industry needs; developing initiatives and taking actions to address those needs; establishing and nurturing partnerships and building trust for effective collaboration and services delivery.

Agriculture is a shared jurisdiction with the federal government and important policy and regulatory decisions are made at federal-provincial-and territorial (FPT) tables. The ADM position requires an understanding of federal and provincial roles, FPT relationships, and facilitating effective partnerships with provincial and federal counterparts to advance Alberta interests.


1 Agricultural Pest Act and Regulations, Agricultural Service Board Act and Regulations, Bee Act and Regulations, Animal Health Act and Regulations, Weed Control Act and Regulations, Irrigation Act, Animal Protection Act, Agricultural Operations Practices Act and Regulations, Soil Conservation Act, Animal Keepers Act, Dairy Industry Act and Regulation, Feeder Associations Guarantee Act and Regulation, Fur Farms Act and Regulation, Line Fence Act, Livestock Industry Diversification Act, Domestic Cervid Industry Regulation, Livestock and Livestock Products Act, Marketing of Agricultural Products Act, Irrigation Districts Act

The Government of Alberta is committed to a diverse and inclusive public service that reflects the population we serve to best meet the needs of Albertans. Consider joining a team where diversity, inclusion and innovation are valued and supported. For more information on diversity and inclusion, please visit the Diversity and Inclusion Policy.