This policy takes effect on August 1, 2006. This version of the policy incorporates updates effective April 1, 2012.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that communications across the Government of Canada are well co-ordinated, effectively managed and responsive to the diverse information needs of the public.
It is the policy of the Government of Canada to:
This policy is issued under the authority of the Financial Administration Act (FAA), Section 7, and applies to all institutions of the Government of Canada identified in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Act, unless excluded by specific acts, regulations, or Orders in Council. All other public institutions subject to the FAA, particularly Crown corporations identified in Schedule III (Parts 1 and 2), are encouraged to become familiar with this policy and to apply its principles to their own communications management.
Requirements of this policy that involve the monitoring of departmental compliance by central and common service agencies; the consultation, collaboration or coordination with ministers and their offices, central and common service agencies, and other institutions; the integration of Government of Canada themes and messages; and the accountability to the Cabinet, ministers, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and the Secretary of the Treasury Board do not apply to the following institutions:
Requirement 8, Public Opinion Research and Requirement 23, Advertising and all procedures do not apply to the institutions listed in the above paragraph. The deputy heads of these institutions are solely responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with this policy within their institution, and for responding to cases of non-compliance in accordance with any Treasury Board instrument providing principles and guidance on the management of compliance.
Institutions of the Government of Canada must provide the public with open access to information about policies, programs, services and initiatives. Information for public use must be disseminated or readily available in all regions of Canada using all forms of media practical. The communication needs of Canadians travelling or residing abroad must be taken into account as well so they, too, have access to information on policies, programs, services and initiatives.
To assure quality service that meets the information needs of all Canadians, institutions must ensure that:
Institutions must provide information free of charge when the information is in their control and it:
An institution's duty to inform the public includes the obligation to communicate effectively. Information about policies, programs, services and initiatives must be clear, relevant, objective, easy to understand and useful.
To ensure clarity and consistency of information, plain language and proper grammar must be used in all communication with the public. This principle also applies to internal communications, as well as to information prepared for Parliament or any other official body, whether delivered in writing or in speech.
In all communications, institutions must respect the equality of status of the two official languages as established by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and given effect through the Official Languages Act and the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations. Institutions must adhere to all legal requirements and regulations derived from these statutory provisions.
Institutions must identify and respect all official language requirements that apply when engaging in any of the communication activities stipulated in this policy. Institutions must abide by the Treasury Board's Official Languages Policy Framework, which sets out various requirements with respect to communications. They must also abide by the requirements of the Federal Identity Program Policy concerning the visual presentation of the official languages in communications or information materials.
Clear and consistent corporate identity is required to assist the public in recognizing, accessing and assessing the policies, programs, services and initiatives of the Government of Canada.
To maintain a recognizable and unified corporate identity throughout the government, institutions must ensure that their buildings, facilities, programs, services and activities are clearly identified in accordance with the Federal Identity Program (FIP) Policy. Institutions must manage communication design and presentation along common lines and in a co-ordinated manner consistent with FIP.
In identifying contributions or activities, institutions must give prominence to the official symbols of the Government of Canada. Institutions must display the Canada Wordmark, which is the global identifier of the Government of Canada, in all information and communication materials, regardless of medium, for internal or external use.
Institutions must ensure their publications and other communication materials depict the diverse nature of Canadian society in a fair, representative and inclusive manner. The requirements of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act must be respected at all times.
Institutions must be sensitive to differences among and within the various regions of Canada. They must ensure balance in their communication plans and activities so that the needs and interests of local and regional populations are reflected and addressed. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 15, Regional Operations.)
To evaluate and address public needs and expectations effectively – to anticipate issues that may arise and to formulate appropriate response strategies – institutions must routinely monitor and analyse the public environment as it relates to their policies, programs, services and initiatives. Institutions use a variety of tools to assess the environment in which they operate, including citizen feedback, inquiry analysis, media monitoring and opinion research.
As an element of effective environment analysis, institutions must identify and track current and emerging public issues and trends reported by the media. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) offers institutions an electronic media monitoring service. Institutions that choose to use this service must register with PWGSC for right of access.
Public opinion research helps the government to better understand Canadian society and to identify citizen needs and expectations. It is used to assess the public's response to proposals or to possible changes or initiatives; to assess the effectiveness of policies, programs and services; to measure progress in service improvement; to evaluate the effectiveness of communication activities such as advertising; and to plan and evaluate marketing initiatives, among other applications.
Public opinion research is the planned gathering, by or for a government institution of opinions, attitudes, perceptions, judgements, feelings, ideas, reactions, or views that are intended to be used for any government purpose, whether that information is collected from persons (including employees of government institutions), businesses, institutions or other entities, through quantitative or qualitative methods, irrespective of size or cost.
The information gathering may be associated with a broad range of activities, for example: policy research; market research; communications research, communication strategies and advertising research; program evaluation; quality of service/customer satisfaction studies; omnibus surveys, with the placement of one or more questions; syndicated studies; or product development.
The following research and/or methods for obtaining opinions and/or advice are not considered to be opinion research: literature reviews or reviews of secondary sources, including reviews of already conducted public opinion research; secondary analysis of previously collected public opinion research data; and verification of performance of services or delivery of goods in contract situations.
In keeping with the principles of a non-partisan public service, institutions may not issue contracts or expend public funds for research on electoral voting intentions, or political party preferences or party standings with the electorate.
Institutions must adhere to the requirements of the Treasury Board's Contracting Policy and Common Services Policy when contracting public opinion research to quantify, qualify or evaluate the views, attitudes or perceptions of a given population. The bidding process for government public opinion research must be open, fair and transparent. Institutions must ensure the quality and value of research they commission or produce.
To ensure coherent, cost-effective management of public opinion research throughout the government, institutions must:
Communication requirements must be taken into account in the planning, management and evaluation of consultation and citizen engagement activities. Open and responsive communications are critical to the success of public consultations, as is factual information presented to participants in plain language.
Communications staff provide advice and support to managers who plan, implement or evaluate an institution's consultation and citizen engagement processes. Managers responsible for consulting the public work collaboratively with communications staff, who prepare and help to implement communication plans and strategies.
Institutions must inform Canadians about opportunities to participate in public consultation and citizen engagement initiatives. This may be done through Web sites, letters of invitation, notices to the media, paid advertising and other vehicles normally used by institutions to communicate with the public, including publishing notices in the Canada Gazette. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 27, Publishing.)
Institutions must ensure that information about their external public consultations and citizen engagement activities is posted on their Web sites and information, including Web links, is submitted to the Consulting with Canadians Web site maintained by Service Canada. The Consulting With Canadians Web site serves as the government's gateway for public access to information on consultations planned, underway or recently completed by institutions.
Institutions must ensure as well that communication or information materials prepared for consultative purposes are well identified as being from the Government of Canada, according to the requirements of the Federal Identity Program Policy.
Institutions must anticipate and assess potential risks to public health and safety, to the environment, and to policy and program administration. Usually understood to embody an element of possible danger, hazard or threat, risk in the broadest sense is associated with a willingness to take a chance on uncertainty in order to achieve some potential gain.
Plans and strategies for communicating risk to the public must be developed as needed. To communicate about risk effectively, institutions must demonstrate interest and concern for all opinions and positions, understand different perspectives, and respect their underlying premises. Effective risk management requires open and transparent communication among differing or even opposing interests.
While the terms "crisis" and "emergency" are not synonymous, effective communication is an integral part of both crisis and emergency management.
A "crisis" is a situation that somehow challenges the public's sense of appropriateness, tradition, values, safety, security or the integrity of the government. A crisis need not pose a serious threat to human life or property. Effective communication management is imperative to help maintain or restore the public's confidence in the government during times of crisis.
An "emergency" is an abnormal situation that requires prompt action, beyond normal procedures, in order to limit damage to persons, property or the environment. Some emergencies may also be, or become, crises; if, for example, it is perceived that the government has no control over a situation. Effective communication management is imperative before, during and after an emergency to help prevent injury or loss of life, to help limit damage to assets and property, to help maintain public services, to assist in the process of recovery, and to help maintain or restore public confidence in the government.
Under the Emergency Preparedness Act, institutions are required to prepare plans for dealing with emergencies. The Policy on Government Security, issued by the Treasury Board, also requires institutions to develop plans and procedures for handling emergencies.
Institutions must recognize that extraordinary and rapid efforts may be required in times of crisis or emergency. They must be prepared to adjust priorities and resources accordingly. The necessary plans, partnerships, tools and methods must be in place to allow government officials to communicate effectively and efficiently in both official languages during an emergency or a crisis.
Several government agencies at the national, provincial or local level may be involved in responding to an emergency or crisis. Co-operation with others, such as industry or community leaders and non-governmental organizations, may also be required.
Agreement among governments and their institutions regarding lead responsibility for communications during a crisis or an emergency is essential for the timely provision of accurate, relevant and consistent information. It is necessary to facilitate the delivery of services, to eliminate the potential for contradiction or confusion, and to demonstrate government leadership.
Lead institutions must undertake contingency planning and develop standard operating procedures. They must seek agreement with regional and local authorities on the co-ordination of government assistance and the designation of a single focus of responsibility for all communications with the public.
Lead responsibility must be identified as part of the planning process. Where it is unclear which government authority may have the lead in particular circumstances, institutions must seek guidance from the Privy Council Office.
Institutions must integrate communications into corporate management processes and procedures. Communications are a shared responsibility that must be co-ordinated with other areas of management.
Clear working links must be maintained at all times between communications and other core functions: policy and program management, service delivery, human resources management, information management, and the management of information technology.
Institutions must integrate communication planning into their annual business planning process and evaluate communications work as an integral part of business operations. Business plans must take account of an institution's communication requirements.
Every institution must prepare a corporate communication plan that:
The corporate communication plan must be periodically reviewed, evaluated and updated in conjunction with the business planning and budgeting cycle.
A Memorandum to Cabinet must include a communication plan and identify resources dedicated to achieving communication goals and objectives, as prescribed by the Cabinet Paper System.
A communication plan with budget information is also required in Treasury Board submissions that concern significant investments of public funds, a major new policy, program, service or initiative, or matters in which the public has demonstrated or could express sensitivity and concern. A communication plan is not required in a submission that is the subject of a preceding Memorandum to Cabinet. A communication plan is also not required in a submission for the release of advertising funds from the Treasury Board acting on the basis of policy direction from the Cabinet or a designated Cabinet committee.
To ensure appropriate measures and adequate resources are recommended to meet planned communication objectives, the head of communications reviews the memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board submissions an institution prepares.
Regional offices responsible for delivering programs and services in the different regions of Canada must be involved in an institution's communication planning, development, implementation and evaluation.
Co-ordination between headquarters and regional operations in communication matters is essential. Regional communications staff must be included from the outset in planning and developing strategies to achieve an institution's communication objectives at the local or regional level.
Heads of communications and regional communications managers must confer regularly to ensure an institution's communication objectives are met in all regions of the country.
When issuing communications or public information with a regional focus or orientation, or when participating in a local event, institutions must ensure that appropriate senior staff from the regional operation(s) concerned are involved in communications planning, strategy and implementation. Similarly, regionally driven communications activities must involve headquarter operations.
Institutions must ensure that regional operations have the resources needed to carry out the requirements of this policy and to effectively manage the communications function. Institutions must ensure that all regional communications conform to the Federal Identity Program Policy.
Regional events and activities frequently involve multiple institutions in communication planning and management. Regional communications involving multiple institutions are co-ordinated by the Privy Council Office (PCO). PCO works closely with the regional councils of senior federal officials, and with communications managers in the regional offices of institutions, to improve and facilitate government communications in the provinces and territories.
Communication among managers and employees must be open and collaborative to achieve government goals and institutional missions, and to ensure quality information services for the public.
Internal communication must be two-way, a dialogue. Listening to employee ideas, concerns and suggestions for achieving results and improving service, and acting upon them, is just as important as keeping employees informed about the goals and priorities of an institution, or about developments, changes or new initiatives affecting their work. Taking account of the views and concerns of employee unions, representatives and associations can also lead to more effective organizational management.
Engaging employees in a conversation for action allows institutions to tap into a vast pool of intelligence and expertise. Properly engaged in the life of an organization, employees can be valuable allies in external communications – helping to inform the public, professional colleagues and prospective employees about their organization.
Internal communications is an integral part of an institution's corporate communications strategy and must be addressed in the corporate communication plan. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 13, Planning and Evaluating.)
Effective internal communication is a shared management responsibility. The deputy head champions an institution's commitment to open and collaborative internal communications with the support of the entire management team. Collaboration, particularly between human resources management and the communications function, is essential to ensure internal communication requirements are met.
Managers and supervisors must communicate with employees openly, frequently, and before or at the same time as information is communicated to the public. Training in communications must be available to them to help ensure they are effective communicators.
To foster employee knowledge, awareness and understanding, internal communication includes a mix of published materials (in multiple formats), oral presentations, staff meetings and learning events. Representation on newsletter editorial boards, internal communication advisory committees and evaluation task forces provide additional avenues to engage managers and employees in a conversation for action.
Internal communication activities and processes must be reviewed from time to time to evaluate results, to identify areas for improvement, and to make adjustments as needed.
All internal communications must be managed in accordance with the requirements of the Official Languages Act (particularly Part V concerning the language of work). Institutions must comply with the Treasury Board's Official Languages Policy Framework, particularly its requirements for Language of Work and Communications between Regions.
Internal communication materials must be identified in accordance with the Federal Identity Program Policy.
Institutions must maintain a capacity for innovation and stay current with developments in communications practice and technology. As they adopt new means of communication, institutions must continue to reach, in a timely manner, citizens whose access to technology may be limited or who prefer to receive government information through more traditional means.
To ensure new technology advances an institution's ability to connect with Canadians in efficient and practical ways, all investment plans and decisions must be developed collaboratively by managers in information technology, communications and other key functions, such as program and service delivery, and human resources.
Investments in new communications technology must serve to:
The Internet, World Wide Web and other means of electronic communication are powerful enablers for building and sustaining effective communication within institutions and with their clients across Canada and around the world.
An important tool for providing information and services to the public, the Internet facilitates interactive, two-way communication and feedback. It provides opportunities to reach and connect with Canadians wherever they reside, and to deliver personalized services.
Institutions must maintain an active presence on the Internet to enable 24-hour electronic access to public programs, services and information. E-mail and Web sites must be used to enable direct communications between Canadians and government institutions, and among public service managers and employees.
Institutions must advance Government of Canada on-line initiatives aimed at expanding the reach and quality of internal and external communications, improving service delivery, connecting and interacting with citizens, enhancing public access and fostering public dialogue.
Institutions must ensure that Internet communications conform to government policies and standards. Government of Canada themes and messages must be accurately reflected in electronic communications with the public and among employees.
To ensure congruence with other communication activities, an institution's Web sites, sub-sites and portals must be reviewed regularly by the head of communications, or his or her designate, who oversees and advises on Web content and design.
Web site managers, at headquarters and in regional offices, must consult with communications staff on the editorial and visual content of Web pages, including design and presentation, to ensure publishing standards and other communication requirements are met.
Collaboration is also required between communications and information technology specialists to ensure effective planning and management of electronic information services. Managers and employees responsible for the operational and technical aspects of an institution's Web-based systems work in consultation with communications staff who provide strategic advice on Web content and the use of technology for communication purposes. (Also see Web site references in Requirement 23, Advertising, Requirement 24, Partnering and Collaborative Arrangements, Requirement 26, Marketing and Requirement 27, Publishing.)
Journalists and other media representatives play an important role in the democratic process – providing the public with news and information about government, and reporting on the public's views and opinions of government. Institutions must cultivate proactive relations with the media to promote public awareness and understanding of government policies, programs, services and initiatives.
Institutions must operate and respond effectively in a 24-hour media environment. They must be able, on short notice, to reach and inform the media on issues of importance to decision-makers and the public. Institutions engage the media using a variety of communication tools, including news conferences, background or technical briefings, news releases, and audio-video presentations.
Institutions must facilitate information or interview requests from the media, and manage plans and strategies for communicating with the media. Institutions must consult their minister's office when planning media campaigns or strategies that could involve ministerial participation, or when preparing a response to a media enquiry that could have implications for the minister.
Institutions must respect the authority and responsibility of Parliament, whose members are entitled to learn about planned legislative initiatives before information about them is released to the media.
Institutions must ensure the quality and consistency of information services provided to the media in both official languages. Media enquiries, whether by phone, email, letter or in person, must be addressed promptly to accommodate publication deadlines.
Institutions must ensure processes and procedures are in place to assist managers and employees in responding to media calls. Communication specialists responsible for media relations ensure that media requests, particularly for interviews or technical information on specialized subjects, are directed to knowledgeable managers or staff designated to speak as official representatives of their institution. (For further policy requirement, see Requirement 20, Spokespersons.)
Ministers are the principal spokespersons of the Government of Canada. They are supported in this role by appointed aides, including executive assistants, communication directors and press secretaries in ministers' offices, and by the senior management teams of government institutions, which include deputy heads, heads of communications and other officials.
Ministers present and explain government policies, priorities and decisions to the public. Institutions, leaving political matters to the exclusive domain of ministers and their offices, focus their communication activities on issues and matters pertaining to the policies, programs, services and initiatives they administer.
An institution's senior management must designate managers and knowledgeable staff in head offices and in the regions to speak in an official capacity on issues or subjects for which they have responsibility and expertise.
Officials designated to speak on an institution's behalf, including technical or subject-matter experts, must receive instruction, particularly in media relations, to carry out their responsibilities effectively and to ensure the requirements of their institution and this policy are met. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 19, Media Relations.)
Spokespersons, particularly senior managers, are often called upon to represent institutions before parliamentary committees and boards of inquiry. To ensure effective communication that respects official protocol, spokespersons must be familiar with Privy Council Office guidelines on appearing before Parliament and other official bodies.
Spokespersons at all times must respect privacy rights, security needs, matters before the courts, government policy, Cabinet confidences and ministerial responsibility. When speaking as an institution's official representative, they must identify themselves by name and position, speak on the record for public attribution, and confine their remarks to matters of fact concerning the policies, programs, services or initiatives of their institution.
Institutions, both at headquarters and in their regional offices, must identify opportunities to inform the public about significant initiatives or contributions of the Government of Canada. Public events and announcements, including news conferences, must be arranged from time to time for communication purposes.
Institutions determine whether they will participate in a public event or issue an announcement. They must contact their minister's office to determine if the minister or other parliamentarian(s) chosen by the minister will represent the government.
Institutions must plan and co-ordinate events with ministerial staff when a minister will attend, or with a parliamentarian's staff when a Member of Parliament or Senator will attend. When multiple institutions are involved in a public event or announcement, they must co-ordinate their participation with the Privy Council Office.
Institutions must ensure that the Government of Canada is appropriately identified and represented at events and announcements, including those involving other participants, such as other levels of government, non-governmental organizations, industry or business. Institutions must identify all materials, displays or presentations prepared for public events or announcements in accordance with the Federal Identity Program Policy. Official language requirements must also be addressed.
Institutions must not participate in, or lend support to, partisan events organized for political party purposes.
Institutions may place advertisements or purchase advertising space or time in any medium to inform Canadians about their rights or responsibilities, about government policies, programs, services or initiatives, or about dangers or risks to public health, safety or the environment.
Government of Canada advertising is defined as any message, conveyed in Canada or abroad, and paid for by the government for placement in media such as newspapers, television, radio, Internet, cinema and out-of-home.
Institutions must determine their obligations under Sections 11 and 30 of the Official Languages Act to ensure compliance in all advertising. Moreover, institutions must ensure that positive measures are taken for the implementation of the Government of Canada's commitment, stated in Part VII of the Act, to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities. Advertising plans and campaigns must address the needs, concerns and language preferences of such communities. Media buys must include the purchase of advertising space and time in organs serving a community's official language minority, be it English or French.
The placement or purchase of advertising may also be directed at audiences outside of Canada to promote Canadian interests. To ensure compatibility with government communications and marketing abroad, institutions must consult with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada when planning to advertise in foreign markets.
Advertising placed in Canadian foreign language media is normally translated into the appropriate foreign language. If a translation is not available, the ad must appear in the two official languages of Canada each displayed with equal prominence in the same advertising space.
Institutions must not publish in their communication materials, services or vehicles, regardless of medium, advertisements from a private-sector or non-government source. Institutions must not sell advertising space or time, either on their Web sites or in any of their publications, to the private sector or to any source outside of government.
Institutions must avoid the appearance or public perception of endorsing or providing a marketing subsidy or an unfair competitive advantage to any person, organization or entity outside of government. Institutions must not advertise or publicly endorse the products or services they purchase or obtain from the private sector under contract. (For further policy direction, see Requirements 24, Partnering and Collaborative Arrangements and Requirement 25, Sponsorships.)
Institutions must not use public funds to purchase advertising in support of a political party.
Institutions must suspend their advertising during general elections of the Government of Canada. Advertising is only permitted when: an institution is required by statute or regulation to issue a public notice for legal purposes; an institution must inform the public of a danger to health, safety or the environment; or an institution must post an employment or staffing notice. Otherwise, advertising plans and activities must be held in abeyance effective the day that the Governor in Council issues a writ for a general federal election, and must not resume until the day the newly elected government is sworn into office.
To ensure the integrity and efficacy of government advertising, institutions must:
Communication requirements must be taken into account when planning, negotiating or implementing a partnering or collaborative arrangement.
Joint activities or initiatives involving another government, a company, an organization, a group or an individual must be communicated in a manner that is fair and equitable to all parties. The parties involved in a collaborative arrangement have shared or compatible objectives, contribute resources (financial or in-kind), share in the benefits, and agree to a fair allocation of risk-taking.
Agreements governing collaborative arrangements establish the communication roles and responsibilities of the parties involved. Official languages, corporate identity, visibility, publishing, marketing and promotional activities are among the communication requirements delineated in partnering agreements.
Managers responsible for negotiating, implementing or administering collaborative arrangements must consult with their institution's head of communications, or his or her designate, for communication advice and support. Such consultation must take place prior to establishing a collaborative arrangement, as well as when one is under way, to ensure compatibility with the communication goals of the government and the institution.
When informing the public or publishing information about partnering activities, institutions must ensure that the contributions of all participants are fairly acknowledged and attributed. Corporate names and logos, without promotional tag lines, are appropriate identifiers for use in acknowledging the contributions of participants.
Institutions must use the Canada Wordmark when identifying their own participation in a collaborative arrangement, as required under the Federal Identity Program Policy, to enable public recognition of the contributions of the Government of Canada.
Institutions must ensure that the parties involved also acknowledge the Government of Canada's contribution in their own communications with the public.
In its communications with the public, whether on its Web sites or in any of its publications, an institution must not advertise the commercial products or services of private-sector participants. Information issued by an institution about a collaborative arrangement and its participants must be objective and factual, not promotional.
For the purpose of this policy, to ensure fair acknowledgement of contributors, the simple display of a corporate name or logo in communication materials intended for public dissemination in any medium does not constitute advertising.
A collaborative arrangement may include advertising or promotional efforts involving the media as part of a communication strategy. However, such efforts must not be the focus of partnering activities, but simply an aide to informing the public about them. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 23, Advertising.)
In all partnering and collaborative arrangements, institutions must:
Institutions both issue and receive sponsorships – arrangements in which one party provides another with financial resources or in-kind assistance to support a project or activity of mutual interest and benefit. Like all collaborative arrangements, sponsorships must be communicated in a manner that is fair and equitable to each party.
Institutions must acknowledge their sponsors when communicating with the public about a sponsored activity. Similarly, institutions must ensure sponsorship recipients – individuals, groups, companies or other governments – acknowledge the Government of Canada's contribution(s) to their activities.
Managers responsible for arranging or administering sponsorships must consult with their head of communications, or his or her designate, before issuing or accepting a sponsorship to ensure its compatibility with the government and institution's communication goals. The institution's deputy head must be regularly informed as well of communication plans and activities related to sponsorship arrangements. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 24, Partnering and Collaborative Arrangements which also applies to sponsorships.)
Institutions must not accept a sponsorship from the private sector in exchange for advertising the goods or services of the sponsor.
A sponsored project or activity may include advertising or promotional efforts involving the media as part of a communication strategy. However, such efforts must not be the focus of a sponsorship, but simply an aide to informing the public about it. (For further policy direction, see Requirement 23, Advertising and Requirement 24, Partnering and Collaborative Arrangements.)
Marketing assists in promoting an institution's policies, programs, services and initiatives to the public. Institutions must integrate marketing with the communications function. This ensures that promotional activities, whether in support of specific market needs or broader policy objectives, advance the communication goals of the government and the institution.
To ensure congruence with other communication activities, the head of communications, or his or her designate, must review marketing plans and strategies before they are implemented.
Like other communication activities, the design and implementation of marketing initiatives, projects or campaigns must conform to the requirements of the Federal Identity Program Policy. Similarly, marketing efforts conducted through an institution's Web site must conform to the requirements of the Treasury Board's Standard on Web Accessibility and Standard on Web Usability.
For marketing initiatives that involve advertising in any medium, the advertising must be coordinated with PWGSC and PCO in accordance with the Procedures on Planning, Contracting and Evaluating Advertising. (For further policy direction see Requirement 23, Advertising, Requirement 24, Partnering and Collaborative Arrangements and Requirement 25, Sponsorships.)
Institutions must facilitate public access to their publications – all information materials, regardless of publishing medium, produced for public dissemination or for limited circulation outside of government.
To ensure public access to government publications, and that statutory requirements for government publishing are met, institutions must:
Institutions must comply with the Copyright Act and ensure that the ownership rights associated with works subject to copyright are fully respected in all media applications.
Institutions must manage the administration and licensing of Crown copyright in co-ordination with Public Works and Government Services Canada. Institutions must comply with the Treasury Board's Common Services Policy and Policy on Title to Intellectual Property Arising Under Crown Procurement Contracts. Institutions also must comply with the requirements of the Federal Identity Program Policy with respect to Government of Canada symbols and identifiers protected under the Trade-marks Act.
The production, distribution and evaluation of motion picture films, videotapes, television programs, interactive videodiscs, CD ROMs, audiovisual and multimedia productions must be contracted through Public Works and Government Services Canada. PWGSC ensures the integrity of the contracting process between institutions and private- or public-sector producers. It oversees contracting, quality control and storage services, while institutions handle all other aspects of project management.
All film, video, audiovisual and multimedia productions commissioned by institutions must comply with the requirements of the Federal Identity Program Policy and the Treasury Board's Common Services and Contracting policies. In accordance with the Library and Archives of Canada Act, copies of all finished productions in film, video, compact disk, audiovisual and multimedia formats must be deposited with Library and Archives Canada. Official language requirements also must be met.
Communication materials and published information in all formats must be well-catalogued and securely maintained to ensure current as well as long-term accessibility.
Institutions must provide their managers and employees at all levels with orientation in the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada. Incoming employees must be informed about the policy, and encouraged to familiarize themselves with it, upon appointment.
Under the Canadian parliamentary system, ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister and to Parliament for presenting and explaining government policies, priorities and decisions to the public.
Ministers, both individually and collectively as members of Cabinet, are the principal spokespersons for the Government of Canada and its institutions. It is their role to provide leadership in establishing the priorities and overall themes of government communications.
The Treasury Board of Canada is responsible for approving and promulgating general administrative policy for the Government of Canada, in accordance with the Financial Administration Act. Institutions subject to the FAA are responsible, and their deputy heads are accountable, for meeting the requirements of Treasury Board policies.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat advises and supports the Board and its President in the development, management and evaluation of administrative policy. The Secretariat has key responsibilities for the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, which include:
The Cabinet, supported by designated Cabinet committees, sets and monitors the government's strategic communications direction and provides day-to-day co-ordination for the implementation of the government's agenda. It ensures that emerging issues are managed effectively throughout the government and acts as the gatekeeper for policy and legislative proposals. It sets policy direction and funding allocations required for Treasury Board to release funds for advertising contracts based on the Government Advertising Plan. The Privy Council Office advises and supports the Cabinet, helping to set and manage its agenda, and develops the Government Advertising Plan.
The Privy Council Office (PCO) has a central role in the co-ordination and management of government communications, as determined by the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is responsible for:
For the purpose of this policy, deputy heads include all deputy ministers appointed to the government departments listed in Schedule I, and the appointed heads of all institutions listed in Schedules I.1 and II, of the Financial Administration Act.
Deputy heads lead, and are responsible for, the overall management of communications and its integration with other key functions, particularly policy and program management. They champion an institution's internal communications.
Deputy heads are accountable to:
Deputy heads must ensure that any instructions issued by the Clerk of the Privy Council, and all relevant Cabinet decisions, concerning communication priorities of the Government of Canada are fully implemented.
Deputy heads must ensure that the requirements of the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada are fulfilled in all operations of the institutions they lead, both within Canada and abroad. This includes ensuring that institutions manage both internal and external communications according to the values and principles expressed in the policy.
An institution's deputy head shall designate a senior official, referred to herein as the head of communications, to support the deputy head in the implementation and application of this policy.
The head of communications is the senior official designated to support the deputy head in co-ordinating and directing their institution's implementation of this policy.
Heads of communications are members of senior management and report directly to deputy heads. They are accountable to deputy heads for managing the communications function, as described in Appendix B of this policy, both at the headquarters and in the regional offices of institutions. They are also accountable for ensuring that the corporate identity requirements of the Government of Canada, as determined by the Federal Identity Program Policy, are adhered to in all applications.
Heads of communications manage corporate identity, advertising, publishing, marketing, environment analysis, public opinion research, media relations, event participation, and other communication activities. They oversee an institution's Web content to ensure it meets communication standards. They also manage horizontal communication issues and priorities that involve a number of government institutions as identified and co-ordinated by the Privy Council Office.
Heads of communications and communications staff are actively involved in the planning, management and evaluation of policies, programs, services and initiatives – providing communications advice and support in all phases of operation.
The head of communications must ensure that the activities of an institution's communications staff, at headquarters and in regional offices, conform to the requirements of this policy regardless of reporting relationships or placement within organizational structures.
Communications staff carry out all duties associated with the communications function. Advocating on behalf of those who will or should receive information, communications staff ensure the clarity and utility of information for the end user. They work collaboratively with other key personnel (as noted in Subsection 7 below) providing communications advice and support.
The communications function is a shared responsibility that requires the support, co-operation and interaction of various personnel throughout an institution. Policy advisers, program managers and other functional specialists – analysts, researchers, human resource officers, access to information and privacy co-ordinators, marketing specialists, information technologists, Web masters, graphic artists, librarians, receptionists and call-centre staff – must carry out the requirements of this policy in all aspects of their work. Their supervisors must ensure that the head of communications, or his or her designate, is consulted on all activities and initiatives involving communication with the public or which have implications for an institution's internal communications.
Such personnel must participate actively in the planning, co-ordination and implementation of an institution's communications, including the use of new technologies. Their co-operation is required to ensure sufficient resources for communications are allocated within operational budgets. Active working links and ongoing liaison with communications staff are imperative to ensure that an institution's communication needs, both domestic and international, are fully accounted for and addressed in all program and policy activities.
Collaboration among policy advisers, program managers, analysts, researchers, marketing specialists and communications staff ensures that public needs and concerns are routinely identified and addressed in the planning, management and evaluation of policies, programs, services and initiatives. It also ensures that the communication goals and priorities of the government are consistently and coherently reflected in programs and services.
Collaboration between specialists in human resources and communications staff ensure that an institution's internal communication requirements are met. Collaboration among information technologists, Web masters, call-centre operators, graphic artists and communications staff ensures that proposed activities or methods of communication are technically feasible and practical.
Librarians assist institutions in providing public access to information and in organizing and retaining published materials in all formats according to internationally accepted standards. Librarians play an active role in every phase of the information life cycle, from assistance to authors and editors, to publication management and dissemination, ensuring current and long-term access to government information, and preserving the nation's published heritage.
Co-operation with access to information and privacy (ATIP) co-ordinators or advisers is also required. Such personnel ensure that the appropriate institutional officials are informed in a timely manner of information that is being disclosed to the public. Communications staff assist ATIP co-ordinators as needed to ensure that requests under the Access to Information Act are promptly and fully addressed in accordance with the legislation.
Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) operates as a common service agency for the Government of Canada. It provides institutions with various mandatory and optional information services to ensure that government communications are well-integrated and cost effective pursuant to Treasury Board policies.
PWGSC co-ordinates contracting services with institutions to ensure consistent and efficient delivery of government communications. It ensures the integrity of the government contracting process for advertising and public opinion research, for publishing and electronic media monitoring, for film, video, audiovisual and multimedia productions, and for fairs and exhibitions.
As well as managing the contracting process for professional advertising services, PWGSC manages the contract with the government's Agency of Record. Institutions procure media space for advertising through the Agency of Record. PWGSC also provides advisory services to institutions and maintains the Advertising Management Information System (AdMIS), which documents the advertising activities of institutions throughout the government and forms the basis for annual reporting on such activities.
In its role as the government's technical and co-ordinating authority for public opinion research, PWGSC advises institutions on their research plans and strategies, and maintains standing offers and other tools to facilitate the purchase of research services. PWGSC publishes an annual report on the government's research activities and manages a Web-based database that is used to co-ordinate public opinion research activities throughout the Government of Canada.
Representing the Queen's Printer for Canada, PWGSC is responsible for the administration of Crown copyright and the management of priced publications throughout the Government of Canada.
In accordance with the Statutory Instruments Act and its Regulations, the Queen's Printer is also responsible for publishing the Canada Gazette, the official newspaper of the Government of Canada. PWGSC provides a common service co-ordination role to government institutions required by statute to publish in Part I of the Gazette.
PWGSC also maintains the Government of Canada's central publishing database and acts as a central warehouse and distribution channel for the priced publications of government institutions. It manages the Depository Services Program as well.
PWGSC also assists institutions and the government in monitoring the public environment.
To ensure sound financial management and the consistent application of Treasury Board policies and directives, PWGSC provides to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, as required, information and advice on the allocation of expenditures in contracts for communication services.
The Government of Canada's one-stop service delivery network brings the range of federal information, programs and services together to meet the needs of Canadians. Service Canada offers citizens quick access to all Government of Canada programs and services through 1 800 O-Canada, on the Web through the common point of online access to federal institutions, the Canada Site portal, and through its points of service. It also manages Publiservice, the government's intranet site for public service managers and employees.
Library and Archives Canada is the permanent repository of the Government of Canada and its institutions. Preserving published and unpublished information for current and future generations, the agency works to ensure that government information is available and accessible to decision makers and the public both in the immediate and long-term. It works with institutions to preserve the nation's published heritage.
Under the Library and Archives of Canada Act, institutions are required to deposit all newly published material in various formats with Library and Archives Canada. The agency manages the redistribution of library materials institutions have declared surplus. It is responsible for co-ordinating government library services, and for providing them with leadership and direction.
Library and Archives Canada also has audit and evaluation responsibilities with respect to the materials institutions publish. It monitors whether published material in all formats is deposited with an institution's internal library as well as with Library and Archives Canada. It also monitors the management of an institution's published material, and reports and advises on its long-term access and preservation in all formats.
Library and Archives Canada has a lead role in facilitating the management of information in government institutions. It performs this role in close collaboration with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Public Works and Government Services Canada.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will monitor and evaluate implementation of this policy throughout the Government of Canada. Evaluations will be conducted by the Secretariat to assess the effectiveness of institutions in meeting the policy requirements and to assess the effectiveness of the policy in helping the government to meet its objectives.
Evaluation findings will contribute to a formal review of this policy to take place within five years of its effective date. Evaluations of communications management by institutions will also inform the policy review and provide input to the development of best practices in this area. In monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of communications management practices, the Secretariat and institutions will conform to the Treasury Board's Policy Framework for Financial Management, Policy on Evaluation and Policy on Internal Audit.
The Secretariat will monitor compliance with all aspects of this policy in a variety of ways that can include media and parliamentary scanning, tracking information requests and correspondence, Web site navigation, and examining communication plans, strategies, reviews, audits, evaluations and related documents (as shown in Table 1 below). Investigative reports and special studies by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Office of the Information Commissioner may also be reviewed.
The Privy Council Office will monitor the implementation of Cabinet direction on communications by reviewing communication plans and through ongoing liaison with institutions.
|Policy Requirement||Monitored Plans and Activities|
|8(a) - (f)||Public opinion research plans, contracts and reports.|
|10||Plans and strategies for communicating risk.|
|11||Plans and strategies for crisis and emergency communications.|
|13||Corporate communication plan, periodic reviews and updates.|
|13(c) - (m)||Communication plans and strategies for policies, programs, services and initiatives. Audit and evaluation plans and reports.|
|14||Communication plans in Memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board submissions.|
|19||Media plans and strategies.|
|21||Plans for public events and announcements.|
|23(a) - (j)||Advertising plans, contracts, pre-testing and evaluations.|
|24||Plans and agreements for partnering and collaborative arrangements.|
|24(f)||Audit and evaluation reports for collaborative arrangements.|
|25||Sponsorship plans and agreements, audit and evaluation reports.|
|26||Marketing plans and strategies.|
|27(e)||Publishing plans for priced publications.|
|31(b)||Communication training plans for managers and employees.|
As stated in the Policy Requirements, institutions must co-ordinate certain communication activities with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), Service Canada and/or with the Privy Council Office (PCO). To ensure efficient co-ordination, institutions must follow all administrative procedures established for these activities, listed in Table 2 below.
The Secretary of the Treasury Board issues mandatory administrative procedures supporting the policy requirements. Such procedures are developed with the support and advice of PCO, Service Canada and PWGSC, which co-ordinate their administration with institutions.
Copies of all relevant procedures institutions must follow under this policy are available through the responsible centre(s) shown below.
|Policy Requirement||Co-ordinated Activity||Responsible Centre|
|1(k)||Updating public access information for 1 800 O-Canada and the Canada Site.||Service Canada|
|7||Accessing the electronic media monitoring service.||PWGSC|
|8(a), (b) and 23(i)||Planning and contracting public opinion research.||PWGSC|
|9 and 18(h)||Posting information about consultations on the Consulting With Canadians Web site.||Service Canada|
|18(d)||Connecting to the Government of Canada Internet (Canada Site) and intranet (Publiservice) portals.||Service Canada|
|23(a) and (b)||Advertising planning.||PCO|
|23(a)||Advertising implementation.||PWGSC, Service Canada|
|23(c) and (d)||Contracting advertising services, and purchasing media space through the Agency of Record.||PWGSC|
|23(g) - (i)||Pre-testing and evaluating advertising.||PWGSC|
|23(j)||Documenting advertising activities using the Advertising Management Information System (AdMIS).||PWGSC|
|27(b) and (c)||Registering publications with the Depository Services Program and central publishing database.||PWGSC|
|27(d)||Publishing notices in the Canada Gazette.||PWGSC|
|27(e) and (f)||Planning and producing publications for sale.||PWGSC|
|28||Administration and licensing of Crown copyright.||PWGSC|
|29||Contracting film, video, audiovisual and multimedia productions.||PWGSC|
The Secretary of the Treasury Board issues guidelines from time to time to assist institutions in applying this policy and in adopting best practices in various areas of government communications. Institutions must familiarize themselves with these guidelines, which are published as annexes to this policy.
For questions on this policy instrument, please contact TBS Public Enquiries.
Communications are central to the work and management of the Government of Canada. As a function of good management, open and proactive communication ensures that the public receives government information, and that the views and concerns of the public are taken into account in the planning, management and evaluation of policies, programs, services and initiatives.
Government communications represent a vital public service that involves both providing information and listening to the public. To develop policies, programs and services that meet the needs of a diverse public, the government must understand the environment within which it operates and respond to the concerns of the public in relevant and useful ways. This includes communicating in the official language of a person's choice, and producing information in multiple formats to accommodate diverse needs.
Communications entail more than simply providing or receiving information. The manner in which information is exchanged is also important. The quality and timeliness of the transaction has an impact on the value of the information and the credibility of its source.
Communications within the Government of Canada is a shared responsibility involving officials and employees at all levels. Effective policy and program development and administration requires co-operation and co-ordination throughout the government: among ministers, senior officials, policy advisers, analysts, program managers, communications staff, specialists in human resources, information technologists, Web masters, graphic artists, researchers, marketing specialists, access to information and privacy co-ordinators, librarians, receptionists, call-centre staff and others.
Co-operation and co-ordination between institutions are also necessary to better serve and inform the public. It ensures that government themes and priorities are clearly and consistently reflected in the information and messages communicated to Canadians at home and abroad.
In budgeting for and delivering communication services, it is essential that all elements of the communications function be properly resourced. Sufficient resources must be allocated to all local, regional, national and international operations to ensure the requirements of the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada are fulfilled.
The communications function, under the stewardship of heads of communications in all institutions of the Government of Canada, includes the following:
Best practice guidelines in various areas of communications management will be developed over time and published as annexes to the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will notify institutions as each set of guidelines becomes available.
Listed below are 16 subject areas for which guidelines are planned: