FAQs on the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector

The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector came into force on , and all federal public sector employees are required to adhere to the Code as a term and condition of employment. Appendix A of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, Assets, Liabilities and Trusts remains in effect until its replacement.

Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector

  • What is the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector?

    The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (Public Sector Code) outlines the values and expected behaviours that guide public servants in all activities related to their professional duties. By committing to these values and adhering to the expected behaviours, public servants strengthen the ethical culture of the public sector and contribute to public confidence in all public institutions. Adherence to the Public Sector Code is a term and condition of employment.

    The creation of the Public Sector Code stems from Subsection 5(1) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), which requires the Treasury Board to establish a code of conduct applicable to the public sector. The previous Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (2003) applied only to the core public administration.Footnote 1

    Given the broader application, it was necessary to revisit the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service to ensure that the values and guidelines contained within the document would be applicable to the broader public sector.

    The Public Sector Code is an evolution of its predecessor but its foundation and core principles remain the same. The Public Sector Code enumerates five values: respect for democracy, respect for people, integrity, stewardship and excellence.

    The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has also developed a new, separate Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment to complement the Public Sector Code. The Policy will apply only to the core public administration and came into effect at the same time as the Code.

  • When did the Public Sector Code come into force?

    The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector was tabled in Parliament on , and came into force on . As of that date, federal public sector employees are required to adhere to the Code as a term and condition of employment.

  • Which organizations are subject to the Public Sector Code?

    The Public Sector Code applies to the "public sector" as defined in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA). This includes parent Crown corporations, separate agencies and organizations of the core public administration, specifically:

    1. the departments named in Schedule I to the Financial Administration Act and the other portions of the federal public administration named in Schedules I to V of that Act; and
    2. the Crown corporations and the other public bodies set out in Schedule I of the PSDPA.

    However, subject to sections 52 and 53, “public sector” does not include the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the Communications Security Establishment. These organizations are not covered by the Public Sector Code.

  • What covers the organizations that are not subject to the Public Sector Code?

    Each of the excluded organizations (Canadian Forces, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Communications Security Establishment Canada) has its own legislated mandate, infrastructure, policies and procedures in place to promote an ethical workplace and to uphold the public trust.

    A further obligation was to establish a disclosure mechanism that is similar to the one in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, another key component of a values and ethics regime. These have now been established.

  • Is the Public Sector Code the only code of conduct for public sector employees?

    The Public Sector Code is the overarching code of conduct for the federal public sector but the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) requires each organization to implement its own organizational code of conduct that is consistent with (i.e. does not contradict or lower the minimum standard of behaviour set out in) the Public Sector Code.

    Organizational codes allow each organization to outline behaviours specific to their unique mandate and work environment. For example, organizations that serve the public on a regular basis may wish to elaborate on the expected behaviours of their public-facing officers, such as postal workers, border services officers, employment counselors, etc.

  • Which code is the condition of employment for employees?

    Both the Public Sector Code and the organizational code are terms and conditions of employment.

    In addition, for organizations of the core public administration, Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment is also a term and condition of employment. Appendix B contains detailed requirements on how public servants are to deal with conflicts of interest (e.g. what types of conflict of interest they might encounter, how to treat assets, gifts, solicitations) and post-employment situations (e.g. reporting and limitation periods).

  • Does the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector apply to contractors?

    As contractors are not public servants, they are not subject to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.

    However, the contracting policies of both the Treasury Board Secretariat and Public Works and Government Services address conflicts of interest regarding contractors and consultants.

  • Does the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector apply to term and casual employees?

    Yes. Term and casual employees in the public sector are subject to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.

  • What happens if someone breaches the Public Sector Code or the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment?

    Acceptance of the new Public Sector Code is a condition of employment for all public servants in the federal public sector, regardless of their level or position. A breach of these values or the expected behaviours may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.

    Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment is also a term and condition of employment in the core public administration. A breach of the Policy may result in disciplinary measures being taken, up to and including termination of employment.

Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment

  • What is the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment?

    The Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment complements the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and outlines the responsibilities of deputy heads for managing conflict of interest and post-employment situations within their organizations, while giving them the flexibility to tailor such measures to their organizations’ operational risks.

    The Policy provides direction and measures to assist organizations and public servants in effectively dealing with real, potential and apparent conflict of interest situations that may arise during and after employment in the Public Service. Preventing, managing or resolving conflict of interest situations in favour of the public interest is one of the principal means of maintaining public trust and confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the Public Service.

    Organizations in the core public administration are expected to familiarize themselves with the detailed requirements under the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment to effectively manage conflicts of interest.

    The Policy is to be read in conjunction with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.

  • When did the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment come into force?

    The new Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment came into effect at the same time as the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, on .

    The implementation of the Policy will be delayed for employees who are in a “statutory freeze” position, in other words, where the employer has been notified of an application for certification or where notice to bargain collectively has been given in accordance with the Public Service Labour Relations Act. In the meantime, Chapters 2 and 3 of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service will apply to those employees.

  • Which organizations are subject to the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment?

    Organizations in the core public administration are subject to the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment. Appendix B of the Policy outlines conflict of interest and post-employment requirements that are a condition of employment for employees in the core public administration.

    Public sector organizations outside of the core public administration are responsible for their own conflict of interest and post-employment provisions.

    See the Application section of the Policy for more information.

Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest

  • What is the Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest?

    The anticipated Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest will provide organizations with direction, procedures and measures to effectively report and manage financial conflict of interest situations between a public servant's assets and liabilities and his or her related duties and responsibilities.

    Under the Directive, deputy heads will determine which assets and liabilities must be reported by employees in their organization based on their specific organizational risks.

    The Directive is being developed to support the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the Treasury Board Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, as well as organizational codes of conduct and conflict of interest policies. It will provide more options to help organizations manage financial conflicts of interest than were available in Appendix A of the former Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

  • When will the Directive come into effect?

    The Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest is expected to come into effect in the winter of 2012.

  • Which organizations will be subject to the Directive?

    Organizations in the core public administration will be subject to the Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest. The core public administration consists of those departments and agencies listed in Schedules I and IV of the Financial Administration Act.

  • What is the role of the Directive?

    Public servants are responsible for reporting any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest that arises between their private activities and their official responsibilities as public servants so that any such conflicts may be resolved in the public interest. The Directive will provide the framework for departments to ensure effective management of identified financial conflicts of interest.

  • Who will ensure that organizations are taking measures to ensure that public servants are accurately reporting their assets and liabilities?

    Deputy heads will be responsible for enforcing the Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest and for ensuring that employees are aware of their obligations and can obtain appropriate advice within their organization on ethical issues, including possible financial conflicts of interest.

Organizational Codes of Conduct

  • What are organizational codes of conduct?

    Organizational codes of conduct outline the values and expected behaviours within an organization. The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act requires each chief executive to establish a code of conduct applicable to the portion of the public sector for which he or she is responsible.

  • Do organizational codes need to be approved by the Treasury Board Secretariat?

    No. It is not the role of the Treasury Board Secretariat to approve organizational codes. However, since organizational codes have to be consistent with the Public Sector Code, the Secretariat has provided information and tools to enable organizations to create codes consistent with the Public Sector Code.

  • Should organizations include conflict of interest requirements in their organizational code?

    Organizations can choose to use their organizational codes of conduct to communicate this information or they can establish a separate conflict of interest policy instrument for this purpose. The new Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment requires organizations in the core public administration to identify and manage the operational risks around conflicts of interest and post-employment in relation to their organization's specific mandate. Organizations will need to communicate certain information to their employees, such as which positions are subject to a one-year period of post-employment restrictions.

    Organizations outside of the core public administration may choose to use the Policy as a guide for drafting their internal conflict of interest measures.

  • If employees have concerns over values and ethics in their day-to-day work, what resources are available to them?

    Employees can always discuss their concerns with their supervisors, if they feel comfortable to do so. Alternatively, all organizations have senior officials who are responsible for Values and Ethics in their organization, and some organizations have confidential ombudsman services. Employees may also consult their respective bargaining agent for advice.

    For more specific information and advice in cases of suspected wrongdoing, employees may consult their Senior Officer for disclosure or the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

Date modified: