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Policies for Ministers' Offices - January 2011

Part 8 — Services and Hospitality

8.1 Parking

A minister's vehicle, being the property of the Crown, is allotted a parking space at the minister's office.

All exempt staff members must pay for their parking in government parking areas at the same rates paid by Public Service employees.

8.2 Relocation

8.2.1 Relocation

A minister may, at his or her discretion, reimburse the relocation expenses of appointees who accept employment as exempt staff at the EX-02 equivalent and above. Any benefits are negotiated between the minister and the individual. Any negotiated relocation assistance for those individuals is to be paid from the minister's own other operating budget. Relocation assistance may be up to the full provisions of the NJC Relocation Directive.

A third-party service provider provides professional relocation assistance, which is co-ordinated through each departmental national co-ordinator, who should be the first point of contact for any relocation inquiries or assistance. The letter of offer or other correspondence to be placed on the appointee's file should clearly state the specific relocation expenses to be reimbursed to the appointee, including a provision for the pro-rated recovery of expenses for early voluntary termination of employment, consistent with Treasury Board policies. There are no provisions for reimbursing relocation expenses on completion of employment. No relocation expense should be incurred by the appointee prior to obtaining formal authorization.

8.3 Hospitality and gifts

8.3.1 Hospitality—ministers

While events that a minister hosts personally are exempt from the Directive on the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences, the guidelines set out in the directive are appropriate to hospitality extended on behalf of the government. These guidelines list the appropriate occasions, the various forms of hospitality, and the types of facilities that should preferably be government-owned, but that must never be commercial facilities that engage in discrimination practices.

Because it might seem that ministers benefit personally from hospitality functions, they should be aware that high standards are expected of them. They should avoid giving the slightest impression of using public funds and facilities for anything other than purely official purposes. Accounting

When seeking reimbursement for hospitality expenditures, ministers must make a statement that includes the following sentence:

"I certify that the foregoing expenditures have been incurred by me on official business in [month] [year]."

[minister's signature]

This certification is pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act.

Along with their signed attestation, ministers are required to submit original receipts and supporting documentation for hospitality and travel reimbursements to appropriate departmental officials. Receipts under the control of government institutions are subject to Access to Information (ATI) legislation and thus obtainable through ATI requests.

Ministers are required to post all hospitality expenses on their departmental website. These must be posted on a quarterly basis within 30 days following the last day of the quarter and must include the following information:

  • the total amount of hospitality incurred; and
  • the establishment or restaurant where the hospitality occurred.

All parliamentary secretaries and exempt staff members of ministers are also required to post all hospitality expenses on the departmental website (see section 8.3.2).

Ministers should maintain complete records of each hospitality occasion so that they can respond to any questions that may arise later.

8.3.2 Hospitality—ministers' staff

There may be instances when a minister requires a parliamentary secretary3 or staff member to extend hospitality on behalf of the minister or department. Such hospitality may be necessary because it will economically facilitate the business of the department or agency or because it is considered essential as a matter of courtesy or protocol. In these instances, such hospitality shall be extended in accordance with the Directive on the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences and all the requirements for documentation shall be met. Claims for reimbursement should be approved by the chief of staff or minister, as appropriate.

Separate claims should be submitted when a member of a minister's staff claims reimbursement for his or her own hospitality expenses and for hospitality disbursements made on behalf of the minister. The latter should be accounted for separately, included in any reports of ministerial office expenses, and accompanied by the ministerial certification.

Parliamentary secretaries and ministers' exempt staff are also required to post all hospitality expenses on their departmental website. These must be posted on a quarterly basis within 30 days following the last day of the quarter and must include the following information:

  • the name of the staff or exempt staff member who provided the hospitality;
  • the total amount of hospitality incurred; and
  • the establishment or restaurant where the hospitality occurred.

8.3.3 Gifts, hospitality, or other benefits received

There may be restrictions on ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and exempt staff receiving gifts, hospitality, or other benefits. For details, please consult the Conflict of Interest Act.

8.3.4 Gifts given

It has been government practice that official gifts and mementoes are presented only on occasions where:

  • they further international relations;
  • official hospitality abroad is involved; or
  • foreign visitors or delegations are hosted in Canada.

Whenever any of these circumstances arise, minister's staff should contact the Gift Bank, which is operated by the State Ceremonials Directorate of Canadian Heritage. The Gift Bank also ensures that official gifts are distinctively Canadian. Appropriate gifts include contemporary arts and crafts or items representative of Canadian culture, arts, and cultural products or Canadian manufacturing. The Gift Bank can provide advice on appropriate types of gifts and will ensure that official gifts are of a value suitable to the status of the recipient.

If a gift other than one from the Gift Bank is being considered, and as a last recourse and under exceptional circumstances, certain authorities may be needed. These may include the authority to make the acquisition of the gift a legitimate expenditure of public funds, and the authority to transfer the gift. A submission to the Treasury Board for a recommendation to the Governor in Council may be required to secure such authorities.

8.4 Memberships

In accordance with the Treasury Board Membership Fees Policy, part of employee entitlements, the department or agency may reimburse ministers' exempt staff for memberships and registrations. Memberships are limited to departmental requirements and should be held in the department's name whenever possible. Memberships that are not a legal requirement of the position and whose main purpose is to increase the public's contact with departmental operations should be authorized only in the most exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the minister. The reasons justifying these memberships must be beyond question, particularly when they include social or recreational facilities, considering exempt staff may have specific requirements in the course of their political duties that are distinct and separate from departmental requirements.

8.5 International conferences

Participation in major international government conferences headed by a minister should be limited to a delegation of eight Canadian representatives, where possible. These eight include the minister's staff, but not essential technical personnel.

The deputy minister of Foreign Affairs should be advised of delegations where representation may include more than one department, in order to co-ordinate the overall Canadian representation.

The lead departmental minister heading the delegation has the final decision as to the number of representatives.

8.6 Legal services

Under the Government Contracts Regulations, contracts to perform legal services may be entered into only by or under the authority of the Minister of Justice.

8.6.1 Indemnification and legal assistance

This protection is currently identical to those covering Crown servants, as set out in the Policy on Legal Assistance and Idemnification. Ministers and their exempt staff will be entitled to indemnification against personal civil liability and will be eligible for legal assistance, provided they meet basic policy requirements, which are to have acted honestly and without malice within the scope of their duties and met reasonable expectations. This need may arise from any act or omission of the minister or exempt staff member in the conduct of portfolio or other official
government business.

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