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Archived - Directive on the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences

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The following directive was amended October 3, 2012.

1. Effective date

1.1 This directive takes effect on January 1, 2011 and was amended October 3, 2012.

1.2 The Directive on the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences replaces the Hospitality Policy (1993).

2. Application

2.1 This directive applies to all departments as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act.

2.2 Those portions of section 7.2 that provide for the Comptroller General of Canada to monitor compliance with this directive within departments and/or request departments take corrective action, do not apply with respect to the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The deputy heads of these organizations are solely responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with this directive within their organizations, as well as for responding to cases of non-compliance in accordance with Treasury Board instruments that address the management of compliance.

2.3 Appendix A Part 2 of this directive does not apply to hospitality governed by the Official Hospitality Outside Canada (OHOC) policy established by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Heads of Post and Foreign Service Official Hospitality directives.

3. Context

3.1 Parliament and Canadians expect the federal government to be well managed with the prudent stewardship of public funds, and the effective, efficient and economical use of public resources. In doing so, they also expect the government to act at all times with the highest standards of integrity, fiscal prudence, accountability, transparency and values and ethics. These fundamental management principles apply to all government expenditures, including those related to travel, hospitality and conferences.

3.2 Travel, hospitality and conferences cover a large spectrum of legitimate activities or events, whether hosted by the government or attended or actioned by government representatives. Costs associated with these activities or events are often necessary to support statutory or regulatory requirements to deliver services to Canadians and to meet government priorities and departmental mandates. These include, but are not limited to expenditures related to the movement of troops in Canada and abroad, training and military exercises, policing and investigations, the provision of required health services to First Nations, Inuit and veterans, as well as the prevention and inspection activities in various areas such as food, transportation or border security. They also include the conduct of business with other levels of government, industry or public interest groups, visits by foreign dignitaries as well as departmental business meetings and working sessions necessary to conduct the government's business and to deliver on priorities.

3.3 All of these activities must be managed so that they demonstrate value for money and use the most economical options to minimize and/or reduce such costs whenever possible. As accounting officers, deputy heads are accountable for the management of their departmental resources. Chief Financial Officers support deputy heads by providing expert independent and objective advice on financial matters, including for the establishment and maintenance of effective departmental systems of internal control. Other senior departmental managers and all other managers are accountable for the expenditures falling within their areas of responsibility and their effective management.

3.4 This directive falls within the Policy Framework for Financial Management and supports, in particular, the Policy on Financial Resource Management, Information and Reporting, the Policy on Internal Control and the Policy on Financial Management Governance.

3.5 This directive is also to be read in conjunction with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, and that of your respective organization, other financial management policy instruments, the National Joint Council Travel Directive, the Special Travel Authorities policy instrument and the Framework for the Management of Compliance. Further contextual information is included in the Foundation Framework for Treasury Board Policies.

3.6 This directive is issued pursuant to sections 7, 9 and 11.1 (1) of the Financial Administration Act.

4. Definitions

Definitions of key terms to be used in the interpretation of this directive are provided in Appendix B.

5. Directive statement

5.1 Objective

Travel, hospitality, conferences and associated expenditures are managed with prudence and probity, in a manner that maximizes effectiveness in meeting organizational mandates, minimizes costs and demonstrates value for money.

5.2 Expected Results

Departments have effective oversight mechanisms and controls in place to ensure that travel, hospitality, conferences and associated expenditures are managed in an effective, efficient and economical manner:

  • Travel, hospitality and conference expenditures incurred are necessary to achieve departmental mandates and priorities.
  • The most economical and efficient alternatives for travel, hospitality, conferences and associated expenditures have been considered.

6. Requirements

The deputy head is responsible for:

6.1 Approving the departmental total annual budgets for travel, hospitality and conferences.

6.2 Ensuring that there are effective departmental oversight and control mechanisms in place so that:

  • There is an assessment at the planning stage of recurring events or activities to validate continued relevance, value for money, and the efficient and economical use of resources;
  • Individual proposals for travel, hospitality and conferences are reasonable and appropriate and decisions support departmental objectives and priorities;
  • Alternative means to avoid, reduce or minimize travel, hospitality and conference costs have been considered, including early bookings of travel and of facilities, using government facilities as a first choice, tele/videoconferencing whenever possible, as well as ensuring value for money when determining the location and the scale of events and the type and number of attendees;
  • Expenditures with respect to the annual departmental budgets for travel, hospitality and conferences are periodically reviewed during the year, and managers with financial authorities have access to timely reporting to support effective monitoring and fiscally prudent decisions; and,
  • The requirements for travel, hospitality and conferences set out in Appendix A are applied.

6.3 Approving departmental delegation of authority matrices relative to travel, hospitality, and conferences.

6.4 Disclosing the total annual expenditures for each of travel, hospitality and conferences fees for the department, through its website, including a brief description of the main variances from the previous year's actual expenditures. The timing of this disclosure is to coincide with the tabling of the Departmental Performance Report.

6.5 Ensuring that approval is received from the appropriate minister in cases where the total departmental cost for a single event exceeds $25,000, or any other element listed in section 2.5.2, Part 2, Appendix A are present; where the situation is the former confirming that the event provides a) value for money and b) the use of the most economical option to minimize or reduce costs, and where the situation is the latter, that total event costs are disclosed to the minister, for information.

The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for:

6.6 Providing the deputy head with independent and objective recommendations on the annual budgets and related proposals, priorities and expenditures pertaining to the management of travel, hospitality and conferences.

6.7 Supporting the deputy head and Senior Departmental Managers in putting in place and sustaining effective departmental processes, procedures and controls necessary to meet the requirements of this directive.

6.8 Ensuring that delegated financial authorities and associated responsibilities relative to travel, hospitality and conferences are clearly communicated, and adhered to by managers.

6.9 Ensuring that the information necessary to support periodic departmental reviews of these expenditures is provided to managers.

Senior Departmental Managers and other managers with financial authorities are responsible for:

6.10 Ensuring within their areas of responsibility that:

  • Recurring events or activities are assessed annually to ensure continued relevance, value for money based on past performance, efficient and economical use of resources;
  • Individual proposals and expenditure decisions for travel, hospitality and conferences demonstrate that they are necessary to achieve departmental objectives and priorities;
  • Alternative means to avoid, reduce or minimize travel, hospitality and conference costs have been considered whenever possible, including the use of early bookings of travel and of facilities, using government facilities as a first choice and tele/videoconferencing whenever possible, as well as ensuring value for money when determining the location and the scale of events and the type and number of attendees;
  • Expenditures with respect to travel, hospitality and conferences are monitored throughout the year; and,
  • The specific requirements for travel, hospitality and conferences set out in Appendix A are applied.

7. Monitoring and Reporting

7.1 Chief Financial Officers are responsible for supporting their deputy head by overseeing the implementation and monitoring of this directive in their departments; bringing to the deputy head's attention any significant difficulties, gaps in performance or compliance issues and developing proposals to address them; and reporting significant performance or compliance issues to the Office of the Comptroller General.

7.2 The Comptroller General is responsible for monitoring departments' compliance with the requirements of this directive and conducting a review of its effectiveness within five years.

8. Consequences

8.1 In instances of non-compliance, deputy heads are responsible for taking corrective measures within their organization with those responsible for implementing the requirements of this directive.

8.2 In support of the responsibility of deputy heads, Chief Financial Officers are to ensure corrective actions are taken to address instances of non-compliance with the requirements of this directive. Corrective actions can include requiring additional training, changes to procedures and systems, the suspension or removal of delegated authority, disciplinary action and other measures as appropriate.

9. References

9.1 Relevant legislation

9.2 Other relevant documents

10. Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this directive to your department's headquarters. For interpretation of this directive, departmental headquarters should contact:

Financial Management Sector
Office of the Comptroller General
Treasury Board Secretariat
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5

Email: fin-www@tbs-sct.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-957-7233


Appendix A - Specific Requirements

Part 1 - Specific requirements for travel and/or conferences

In addition to complying with the National Joint Council Travel Directive, other travel authorities, and supply arrangements, as applicable, all federal employees and travellers are responsible for exercising rigorous management of travel and conferences, including taking measures to reduce, minimize and/or avoid costs. This includes but is not limited to:

1.1 Planning:

  • Travel costs should be avoided whenever there is a reasonable and more economical alternative available and deemed sufficient to meet the intended objective (e.g. use of government facilities, tele/videoconferencing);
  • Booking transportation, accommodations and conference facilities are expected to take place well in advance to obtain optimal discounted rates where possible;
  • The number of persons sent to the same event or activities, including conferences, should be kept to the minimum necessary for the effective conduct of government business, leveraging where possible individuals already located near the event or site;
  • In situations of periodic or multiple trips to the same destination or where several persons are sent to the same events or activities, including conferences, costs are to be minimized through effective planning and coordination.

1.2 Transportation:

  • The most economical option available is chosen when selecting the mode of transportation, taking into account cost, duration, safety, and practicality respecting the principles of the National Joint Council Travel Directive;
  • This includes, as set out in the National Joint Council Travel Directive, "the standard for air travel is economy class" and the "standard for rail travel is the next highest class after the full economy class". In International Travel, the use of "business / executive class air travel shall be authorized where continuous air travel exceeds 9 hours". First class air travel is not permitted.

1.3 Accommodation:

  • As set out in the National Joint Council Travel Directive, in general "the standard for accommodation is a single room in a safe environment, conveniently located and comfortably equipped" and "government hotel directories shall serve as a guide for the cost, location and selection of accommodation".

Part 2 - Specific requirements for hospitality

All federal employees are responsible for exercising rigorous management of hospitality, including taking measures to reduce, minimize and/or avoid costs. They must ensure that the decision to offer hospitality has been carefully considered and demonstrates its necessity based on courtesy, diplomacy or protocol as well as for the effective conduct of government business. In addition, they are responsible for ensuring that the following restrictions and the requirements of Table 1 and section 2.5 are met.

2.1 Elements of hospitality and restrictions:

Hospitality expenditures are limited to the following elements:

2.1.1 The provision of food and beverages is acceptable in accordance with the standard and the maximum per person cost limits in the Table 1, which are based on the allowances set out in the National Joint Council Travel Directive.

2.1.2 The standard for hospitality is the provision of non-alcoholic beverages. The provision of alcoholic beverages is only permitted in special circumstances where it is a matter of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol involving non-federal government persons in government events. Alcoholic beverages will not be provided as hospitality at events involving only federal government persons.

2.1.3 Exceptionally, the offering to non-federal government persons of tickets to the theatre or sporting events, tours of local areas or other places of interest, and other similar entertainment activities as well as other reasonable measures deemed appropriate for reasons of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol as part of a government event. Federal government persons who are required to accompany non-federal government persons can similarly partake in the entertainment activities.

2.1.4 The provision of hospitality may also include special situations where it is provided at a federal employee's residence.

Table 1 - Food and beverage Cost Per Person (*)
Food and beverages Standard Cost per Person(1) Maximum Cost per Person(2)

(1) The Standard Cost per Person is the expected meal cost per person to be applied in normal circumstances, particularly for events involving federal government persons only.

(2) A cost per person exceeding the Standard Cost and up to the Maximum Cost per person is to be applied in exceptional circumstances, justified by the type of event, the status and nature of participants and for reasons of courtesy, diplomacy and/or protocol.

(*) This table reflects per person hospitality costs that would be provided per meal type over the course of a single day and per serving for refreshments. Allowances are set out in the National Joint Council Travel Directive.

Breakfast 1.5 [multiplied by] Breakfast Allowance 1.5 [multiplied by] Standard Cost Per Person
Refreshment 0.5 [multiplied by] Breakfast Allowance
Lunch 2.0 [multiplied by] Lunch Allowance
Reception 2.0 [multiplied by] Breakfast Allowance
Dinner 1.75 [multiplied by] Dinner Allowance

2.2 Hospitality expenditures do not include the following:

2.2.1 Local transportation to and from the event or activity is not considered as part of hospitality except in special circumstances involving non-federal government persons (e.g. a foreign dignitary) for reasons of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol.

2.2.2 Facility rental and associated costs such as audio/video equipment and technical support or translation services are not considered as part of hospitality except in special circumstances for reasons of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol (e.g. in circumstances where the costs are directly and inherently for hospitality purposes, such as the rental of a room to be used only for hosting lunch).

2.2.3 The provision of bottled water or water coolers to federal employees except in situations where they are provided as part of refreshments at events covered under this directive.

2.3 Restrictions for federal government persons:

2.3.1 Federal employees can be provided hospitality only in situations where:

  • Federal government persons are required to participate in operations, business meetings, training or similar events that extend beyond normal working hours. This includes situations where employees are required to work through normal break and meal periods. It may include situations where there are no nearby or appropriate facilities to obtain refreshments or meals and/or where staff dispersal is not effective or efficient.
  • Federal government persons are required to be part of an event, or to participate in a government hosted conference, which includes participants that are not employees of the Government of Canada and for whom hospitality will be provided as a matter of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol.

2.3.2 When a Federal government person is the recipient of hospitality, he/she is responsible for ensuring that he or she does not seek reimbursement for meals or refreshments as a part of a travel claim or other expense claim where such meals or refreshments have been provided as hospitality.

2.3.3 With the exception of a Minister or deputy head, an individual who is a participant at a hospitality event may not approve the hospitality. In such circumstances, the approval of higher authority is to be obtained. A deputy head may delegate in writing to senior departmental managers at the associate deputy head level and above the authority to approve hospitality even when the individual approving is in attendance.

2.4 Non-federal government persons:

2.4.1 Non-federal government persons can be provided hospitality in events where it is a matter of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol or is necessary to facilitate the achievement of the government's business.

2.5 Approval Authority*

(*) Approval authority required for expenditure initiation.

2.5.1 Ministerial approval is required when total departmental costs associated with the event exceed $25,000.

2.5.2 When total departmental costs associated with an event are $25,000 or less, Ministerial approval is required for the following elements unless delegated under 2.5.2.1 or 2.5.2.2. In all circumstances, total departmental event costs will be provided to the Minister for information purposes.

  1. Total hospitality costs associated with the event exceed $5,000; or
  2. Alcoholic beverages will be provided; or
  3. Food and beverage costs exceed the maximum or standard cost per person (Table 1); or
  4. Entertainment will be provided; or
  5. Hospitality or entertainment will be provided to a spouse or to a person accompanying an event participant; or
  6. Hospitality paid by the federal government will be extended at the residence of a federal employee; or
  7. Hospitality for honouring a distinguished Canadian.

2.5.2.1 Ministers may choose to delegate to a deputy head, in writing, any element of the approval authorities in 2.5.2 a. to f. When a deputy head has increased delegation for any element of 2.5.2 a. to f., ministerial approval is still required for all events where total departmental costs exceed $25,000.

2.5.2.2 Increased hospitality approval authority limits under 2.5.2 a. may be delegated only when the deputy head has government-wide responsibility for a community of practice, including training delivery, or to meet operational requirements.

2.5.2.3 Where the purpose of an event is to honour a distinguished Canadian, the minister is to ensure that prior approval of the purpose has been obtained from the Prime Minister, Cabinet or Treasury Board as appropriate.

2.5.3 Where an event requiring ministerial approval is hosted by the department, the minister will also be provided, for information, the total estimated federal cost for all participating departments.

2.5.4 With respect to the Office of Auditor General, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Language and the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, deputy heads of these organizations can exercise the ministerial approval authority in the preceding sections.

2.5.5 Deputy head approval of an event is required when the event has the following characteristics:

  1. Total departmental costs associated with the event exceed $5,000 but are less than $25,000; or
  2. Total hospitality costs associated with the event exceed $1,500 but are less than $5,000; and
  3. None of the elements listed in 2.5.2 a. to g. are present for which delegated authority has not been provided.

2.5.6 Senior departmental manager or delegate approval of an event is required when the event has the following characteristics:

  1. Total departmental costs associated with the event are $5,000 or less; and
  2. Total hospitality costs associated with the event are $1,500 or less, and
  3. None of the elements listed in 2.5.2 are present.

2.5.7 According to Section 12.(1)(b) of the Financial Administration Act, deputy heads have authority to provide for awards to employees and may approve hospitality as a part of a related ceremony consistent with this Directive. Deputy heads may also provide hospitality consistent with the National Public Service Week Act.

Appendix B - Definitions

Business meetings (réunion d'affaires)
meetings conducted to advance government objectives or operations, including departmental and/or interdepartmental working sessions, work planning meetings, advisory and management committees and staff retreats. Business meetings may or may not involve non-federal government persons.
Conferences (Conférences)
refers to a congress, convention or a seminar or other organized or formal gathering where participants debate or are informed of the status of a discipline (e.g. sciences, economics, technology, management etc.). (This definition is based on the object of expenditure 0823 Conference Fees of the Receiver General Chart of Accounts). Guest speakers are often part of such conferences that involve federal government and/or non-federal government persons. Retreats, work-planning meetings and training seminars or courses that provide training are not considered as conferences.
Entertainment (divertissement)
includes, but is not limited to tickets to musical, theatre, sporting or similar events, tours of local or other places of interest, and other similar activities for reasons of courtesy, diplomacy and protocol.
Events (événements)
include business meetings, conferences as well as any other formal gathering of federal government or non-federal government persons invited to participate in activities such as interviews for recruitment into the public service, prestigious ceremonies, awards and recognition ceremonies. This may include participants from other levels of government or foreign governments, foreign or political dignitaries, national or international organizations, industry representatives and public interest groups. For the purpose of an event approval, total costs include items, such as conferences fees, professional services, hospitality, accommodation, transportation, meals and other relevant costs including those for participants on travel status.
Federal Government Person (Personne faisant partie du gouvernement fédéral)
is any person who is currently paid a salary or remunerated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Hospitality (accueil)
consists of the provision of meals, beverages or refreshments to non-federal governmental persons in events which are necessary for the effective conduct of government business and for courtesy, diplomacy or protocol purposes. In some circumstances and within restrictions defined in this directive, hospitality can also be provided to federal government persons. Exceptionally, in situations involving non-federal government persons, it may also include entertainment, local transportation to and from events as well as other reasonable measures deemed appropriate for reasons of courtesy, diplomacy or protocol. Hospitality does not normally include expenditures for federal government persons or individuals on travel status subject to the National Joint Council Travel Directive; local transportation to and from events or activities for federal employees; rental of facilities and associated costs; and bottled water or water coolers provided to federal employees on on-going basis above and beyond an event.
Non-Federal Government Person (Personne ne faisant pas partie du gouvernement fédéral)
is any person who is not currently paid a salary nor remunerated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Protocol (protocole)
is a set of conventions governing correct etiquette and precedence.
Reception (réception)
an extended period between when attendees arrive and when the meal is served, these might also serve the purpose of sustaining attendees during the wait before a meal. Reception food may also be served with no main meal afterward if circumstances dictate.
Refreshments (rafraichissements)
include beverages or food (e.g. light snacks) or both, that do not constitute a normal meal but are served between meals.
Senior Departmental Managers (cadres supérieurs des ministères)
For the purpose of this directive, senior departmental managers are defined as managers reporting directly to a deputy head and also includes, where applicable, the most senior regional departmental managers.