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ARCHIVED - Treasury Board Use of Real Property Facilities Policy

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1. Effective date

This document contains the policy as revised June 1, 1998. It replaces the version dated November 15, 1993.

2. Policy objective

To ensure the efficient use of federal facilities while maintaining a safe, healthy, and productive environment for users.

Note: For interpretation of this policy in the Province of Quebec, "real property" means "immovable" within the meaning of civil law of the Province of Quebec and includes the rights of a lessee in respect of such an immovable.

3. Policy statement

It is the policy of the government that departments administering federal real property shall provide a safe, healthy, and productive environment in their facilities within the minimum functional space required to meet the operational needs of the users of the facility.

4. Application

This policy applies to all departments within the meaning of section 2 of the Financial Administration Act unless specific acts or regulations override it.

5. Policy requirements

(a) Custodian departments must establish, maintain, and implement quantity and quality standards for the provision and fit-up of normally recurring space allocations. For non-recurring situations, the project description will normally define the standards to be used in those cases.

(b) Standards established under 5(a) must be used in the resourcing process. Departments are expected to identify them and, where appropriate, deviations from them, when seeking approval of budgets or projects through procedures such as the long-term capital plan, business plans, or project approval processes. Determination of the levels of resources provided will be subject to affordability considerations.

(c) Tenant departments share the responsibility, with the custodian department providing the space to them, for developing and applying standards for the space they occupy. Both must take into consideration the operational requirements and program objectives of the user, and the practices and standards of other public- and private-sector organizations of comparable size and mandate.

(d) Operational requirements of user departments that are not reflected in quantity, quality, or fit-up standards (e.g. location) must be defined in a way that does not arbitrarily exclude minimum-cost options available to the custodian department to provide the facilities the user requires to deliver its program objectives.

(e) Custodian and tenant departments must formalize their real property arrangements in writing. The agreements must describe their respective responsibilities.

(f) Custodian departments that regularly provide space in their facilities to other federal tenant departments must establish a process to resolve disputes with user tenants.

(g) Custodian departments must maintain current records on the use of their facilities, whether by themselves or by others and, where practicable, compare such usage to the appropriate standard. For example, in office space, where the standard can be expressed in metres squared (m▓) per occupant, the records would compare the number of m▓ per occupant to the standard. In cases where tenant information such as the number of people occupying the space is needed to maintain such records, it must be made available.

(h) Custodian departments must act to prevent friable materials containing asbestos from contaminating a building wherever such materials are in poor condition or when major alterations that would disturb the materials are taking place. In all other circumstances a management-in-place approach must be followed. Custodian departments must operate control programs that assess and reassess, on a cyclical basis, those areas within buildings where friable materials containing asbestos are present but no health hazard currently exists. Asbestos-containing materials in good condition must not be disturbed.


The appendix to this chapter lists important legislation, standards, and government policies that might affect the use of real property.

6. Responsibilities

(a) Health Canada is responsible for the organization, administration, and supervision of the Public Service Health Program and for monitoring departmental compliance with, and promoting implementation of, the Treasury Board's safety and health directives, policies, and standards.

(b) Human Resources Development Canada is responsible for prescribing, monitoring, and enforcing the safety and health regulations issued pursuant to the Canada Labour Code and for providing fire safety services.

(c) The Treasury Board of Canada, the employer of persons working in the Public Service, is responsible for developing (in consultation with the National Joint Council) and promulgating occupational safety and health policies and standards that incorporate, as a minimum, the requirements of the Canada Labour Code.

7. Monitoring

The Secretariat will determine how effective this policy is, find out how it is applied in departments, and decide whether it needs to be revised. It will do this through ongoing contact with departments, consulting with the Treasury Board Advisory Committee on Real Property, and noting audits and reviews conducted by departments or the Auditor General of Canada. The Treasury Board Guide to Monitoring Real Property Management provides information so that departments can monitor and assess policy implementation.

8. References

8.1 Authority

This policy is issued pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, subsections 7(1), 9(1.1), and 9(2).

8.2 Treasury Board publications

Treasury Board Guide to Monitoring Real Property Management

Treasury Board Real Property Glossary

9. Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this policy to your departmental headquarters. For interpretation of this policy, departmental headquarters should contact:

Real Property and Materiel Policy Directorate
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
L'Esplanade Laurier
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0G5

Telephone: (613) 941-7173
Facsimile: (613) 957-2405

Appendix - Index of Other Policies Relating to Facilities

The following legislation and Treasury Board policies have an effect on federal real property activities related to the requirements of this policy:

Accessibility: The Treasury Board Real Property Accessibility Policy contains the policy requirements and provides the references to the legislation that covers accessibility.

Airborne contaminants: Several contaminants contained in building materials have the potential to pose some risk to the health of occupants. Information on this issue appears in the section on "Control of Hazards," contained in the Hazardous Substances Directive of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) group of Treasury Board policies. The OSH policies also contain the procedures dealing specifically with occupational exposure to asbestos.

Boiler, pressure vessel, and elevating device inspection requirements: Both standards appear in the Canada Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (COSHR). For more information, see the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Directive and the Elevating Devices Directive under the OSH group of Treasury Board policies.

Canada Labour Code (Labour Code): The Canada Labour Code and COSHR pursuant to the Code can be found in the Consolidated Statues and Regulations of Canada.

Environment: The Treasury Board Real Property Environment Policy contains the policy requirements and provides some references to the legislation that applies to federal facilities.

Ergonomics: The Guideline on Office Ergonomics can be found in the Treasury Board Information Technology Standards group of Treasury Board policies. These policies also contain several other standards that affect the fit-up of real property, such as the Office Systems Standard and Building Wiring Standard. The OSH group of policies also contain A Guide on Video Display Terminals.

Fire protection: The Policy on Fire Protection, Investigation, and Reporting can be found in the Real Property group of Treasury Board policies and the Fire Protection Services of the OSH group of Treasury Board policies. These policies contain requirements in addition to those of the Labour Code and the COSHR.

Food facilities and other amenities: In general, the principles that apply to real property also apply to food facilities and other amenities in that real property. These policy principles include:

  • the market value principle;
  • the principle of limiting real property holdings to those required to directly support user programs; and
  • the principle of seeking opportunities to earn revenue.

Living accommodation: The Living Accommodation Charges Directive appears in the Government Travel and Living Accommodations group of Treasury Board policies.

Office accommodation: Public Works and Government Services Canada has a document entitled Policy on Framework for Office Accommodation and Accommodation Services.

Physical security: This is covered in the Security group of Treasury Board policies. Further guidance on this subject is available from the Security Systems Branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). See the RCMP Guide to the Preparation of Physical Security Briefs.

Risk management: The policy of the government with respect to risk assessment and liability protection is in the Risk Management group of Treasury Board policies.

Treasury Board's occupational safety and health directives and standards: The Treasury Board directives and standards, which are supplementary to the Labour Code, appear in the Occupational Safety and Health group of Treasury Board policies. These include the Use and Occupancy of Buildings Directive and the Hazardous Confined Spaces Directive.

Workplace day care centres: The Workplace Day Care Centres policy appears in the Human Resources group of Treasury Board policies.

Workplace fitness: The Workplace Fitness Programs policy can be found in the Occupational Safety and Health group of Treasury Board policies.