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Policies for Ministers' Offices - January 2011


Introduction

The Compensation and Labour Relations Sector of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (the Secretariat) publishes and co-ordinates the preparation of this document based on input provided by the Prime Minister's Office and by policy centres at the Secretariat, National Defence, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and the Privy Council Office. By its very nature, the document cannot be all-inclusive and, as such, source documents are cited where appropriate. Responsibility for interpreting the Policies (this document) as they relate to various policies rests with the Secretariat's policy centres or the departments identified above.

The Treasury Board provides ministers with budgets for exempt staff (personnel exempt from the normal appointing procedures under section 128 of the Public Service Employment Act), a budget for operating their offices, and a budget for departmental staff assigned to a minister's office.

Ministers must be able to differentiate between expenses for activities related to the conduct of their portfolio and other official government business and expenses incurred as members of Parliament and members of a political party.

This document consolidates the various financial, personnel, and administrative rules and regulations that govern expenses incurred by ministers and their exempt staff when they perform duties directly related to their responsibilities, which are therefore justifiably chargeable against the appropriation of a particular department. Unless specifically exempted, ministers and exempt staff are subject to Treasury Board policies and regulations. The first source of help, information, or guidance on these matters is the deputy minister.

The Treasury Board may authorize exceptions to the Policies in special circumstances. All such requests must first be discussed by the minister with the Prime Minister's Office and the President of the Treasury Board.

The policies in this document that refer to a "minister" or to "ministers" will apply to a "minister of state" or to "ministers of state" wherever applicable (unless stated otherwise) subject to the implementation of appropriate delegation authorities (see section 4.5). In addition, text that refers to a minister's "chief of staff" will apply to a "chief of staff to the minister of state" wherever applicable (unless stated otherwise), subject to the implementation of appropriate delegation authorities (see section 4.5).

This document and Treasury Board policies are available electronically on the Treasury Board Secretariat's website.

Part 1 — Conflict of Interest

1.1 Conflict of interest

The highest standards of probity and integrity are expected of all staff of ministers. All ministers' exempt staff is subject to some or all provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner administers the Act and applies compliance measures. The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner will communicate with each individual as soon as notification of his or her appointment has been received from the office of a minister.

The requirements of the Act generally cover the following:

  • general principles and specific prohibitions;
  • mandatory reporting requirements, involving both confidential and publicly available information; and
  • post-employment conditions.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner can be reached for advice and guidance at 613-995‑0721 or by e-mail at ciec-ccie@parl.gc.ca. The Conflict of Interest Act can be found at the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's website.

1.1.1 Ministers' exempt staff

As a condition of employment, ministers' exempt staff is subject to the Conflict of Interest Act and are also subject to the Ethical Guidelines for Public Office Holders as described in Annex G of the Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State. Ministers' exempt staff who work less than 15 hours per week are public office holders. Ministers' exempt staff who work more than 15 hours per week are reporting public office holders. Public office holders are subject to certain sections of the Act, including sections 33 and 34 of Part III of the Act regarding post-employment measures. Reporting public office holders are subject to all provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act. The minister may also designate any exempt staff members as a reporting public office holder, in consideration of their specific responsibilities.

Political staff members are subject to the instructions issued by the Prime Minister in Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State (2011). According to section VI.1:

Exempt staff [members] do not have the authority to give direction to public servants, but they can ask for information or transmit the minister's instructions, normally through the deputy minister.

Accountable Government also provides that:

In meeting their responsibility to respect the non-partisanship of public servants, exempt staff [members] have an obligation to inform themselves about the appropriate parameters of public service conduct, including public service values and ethics, and to actively assess their own conduct and any requests they make to departmental officials in the light of those parameters.

Exempt staff should also be aware of post-employment obligations as referenced in the Lobbying Act.

As soon as they are known, the minister, or his or her delegate designate, is responsible for communicating in a timely and expeditious manner to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner the names and titles (designations) of all newly hired, and departures and terminations of exempt staff members, as well as the number of hours worked per week. Exempt staff members to whom Part II of the Act applies must comply with its requirements within 120 days.

1.1.2 Departmental employees

Departmental staff assigned to the office of a minister must comply with the requirements of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service. On assignment to such an office, the employee must review his or her circumstances in light of the newly assigned duties and, if necessary, complete a confidential report and submit it to the deputy minister or his or her representative.



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