I am pleased to present the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's (TBS's) Departmental Code of Conduct, which provides guiding principles for ethical behaviour and decision making for all TBS employees. The Departmental Code of Conduct is an important component of our values and ethics culture at TBS, and it complements the broader Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. All employees are required to adhere to the Public Sector Code as well as the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct as a term and condition of employment, and the guidance offered by our Departmental Code will enable TBS employees to do this.
The TBS Departmental Code of Conduct was developed through extensive consultation with you. Thanks to your input, it reflects the specific environment and culture of TBS. It is accompanied by an application guide that includes scenarios intended to help us make ethical decisions, and it also provides additional information regarding the rights and obligations of public servants.
I encourage you all to read and familiarize yourselves with the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct and its guiding principles. It is by putting these guiding principles into action that we will achieve our vision of better government, with partners, for Canadians.
This document sets forth the values, policies and behavioural expectations that comprise the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) Departmental Code of Conduct to guide the work of TBS employees. The TBS Departmental Code of Conduct does not provide an answer for every situation or ethical issue that arises. Some ethical situations are black and white, while other issues may not be as clear. TBS employees are entrusted to use good judgment in their day-to-day activities and seek further information or assistance when they need it.
When in doubt, consult.
In 2007, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act(PSDPA) came into effect. As a result, the Treasury Board established the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (the Public Sector Code). The Public Sector Code applies to the public sector as a whole and replaces the 2003 Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.
Federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations are required by the PSDPA to create their own values and ethics codes to reflect their organization and special requirements. For this purpose, the TBS has created its own Departmental Code of Conduct.
The TBS Departmental Code of Conduct reflects the culture and goals of the Department and provides a set of guidelines that are intended to support ethical behaviour and decision making for all TBS employees. The TBS Departmental Code of Conduct is based on and complements the Public Sector Code.
Promoting and integrating the values and behaviours articulated in these codes is the responsibility of all those who work at TBS. It is integral to who we are and what we do.
Adherence to the Public Sector Code and the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct is a condition of employment for public servants working at TBS, regardless of their level or position. A breach of these values or behaviours may result in disciplinary measures being taken, up to and including termination of employment.
Public servants employed by TBS include indeterminate and term employees, employees on leave without pay, students participating in student employment programs, as well as casual, seasonal and part-time workers.
Although they are not public servants, individuals on incoming Interchange Canada assignments are expected to comply with, and volunteers are expected to respect, the requirements of the TBS Departmental Code.See footnote1
As the administrative arm of the Treasury Board, TBS has a dual mandate: to support the Treasury Board as a committee of ministers and to fulfill the statutory responsibilities of a central government agency.
The Treasury Board is responsible for management excellence, policy development and budget oversight. It is also the "general manager" and employer of the public service. Its three main roles are as follows:
TBS makes recommendations and supports the Treasury Board in each of its roles by providing advice on policies, directives, regulations and program spending that promote sound management of government resources. It also provides leadership and guidance on management functions to departments and agencies while respecting the primary responsibility of deputy heads in managing their respective organizations and their role as accounting officers.
TBS plays three central roles in relation to federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations:
In exercising their responsibilities, TBS employees have access to privileged information; interact directly with ministers and exempt staff and are privy to political discussions; are involved in highly sensitive program functions, such as inspecting, regulating and monitoring standards; and confer benefits of high economic value to individuals and organizations.
The TBS Departmental Code of Conduct complements, supports and integrates the fundamental values and commitments of the Public Sector Code. By committing to the Public Sector Code and adhering to the expected behaviours, TBS employees strengthen the ethical culture of the public sector and contribute to public confidence in the integrity of all public institutions. These values and behaviours take on a particular significance within the context of their roles and responsibilities.
As a policy maker for the federal government, TBS leads by example, and this is reflected in its departmental values. In this section, the values of the public sector and their expected behaviours are provided in italics, followed by the respective TBS context.
The system of Canadian parliamentary democracy and its institutions are fundamental to serving the public interest. Public servants recognize that elected officials are accountable to Parliament, and ultimately to the Canadian people, and that a non-partisan public sector is essential to our democratic system.
Public servants shall uphold the Canadian parliamentary democracy and its institutions by:
The respect for democracy that all public servants must demonstrate takes on a special meaning for TBS in serving both the minister and a committee of ministers. TBS employees must provide complete and impartial advice to the President and to the Treasury Board. They must also accept that their advice may not be heeded for reasons they may or may not agree with. TBS officials are nonetheless required to fully and responsibly implement such decisions in accordance with the law when it is their responsibility to do so.
Treating all people with respect, dignity and fairness is fundamental to our relationship with the Canadian public and contributes to a safe and healthy work environment that promotes engagement, openness and transparency. The diversity of people and the ideas they generate are the source of our innovation.
Public servants shall respect human dignity and the value of every person by:
How employees fulfill their mandate is as important as the result itself. Diversity requires us to think and act carefully in challenging and probing ideas and proposals to maintain respectful relations with colleagues.See footnote2 By taking the time to enable colleagues within the organization and from other departments to develop goals, execute plans and deliver results, TBS employees build professional respect and facilitate achieving shared objectives—better value for money in Treasury Board proposals and better management across the public sector.
Integrity is the cornerstone of good governance and democracy. By upholding the highest ethical standards, public servants conserve and enhance public confidence in the honesty, fairness and impartiality of the federal public sector.
Public servants shall serve the public interest by:
The integrity in personal and organizational practices of TBS employees is essential for the Department to fulfill its role as a central agency and as the direct advisor to the Treasury Board committee of ministers. In fulfilling their responsibility to provide complete and impartial advice to departments and ministers, in compliance with TBS guidelines, policies and directives, TBS employees demonstrate their integrity by, for example:
Similarly, when privy to confidential information, TBS officials demonstrate their integrity by treating this information carefully and respectfully to protect its sensitivity, to enable frank discussion among members of the committee of ministers, and to ensure it is not used for personal gain.
Federal public servants are entrusted to use and care for public resources responsibly, for both the short term and long term.
Public servants shall use resources responsibly by:
Canadians rightfully expect to receive the best value for their tax dollars in the delivery of government programs and services. As the central agency responsible for the public purse, TBS is expected to be its guardian and ensure that proposals, programs and operations in departments and at TBS are the most cost-effective and sustainable. TBS employees must have a clear understanding of where this role begins and ends. As the central agency that establishes and implements policies and guidelines that apply to all departments, TBS is dedicated to implementing these tools effectively and charting a sustainable path for their appropriate use. For example, TBS employees are expected to thoroughly understand Treasury Board policies so that departments receive the sound and consistent guidance they need. As guardians of sensitive information, they must act as honest brokers in handling and sharing this information, and in providing complete and impartial advice to senior management and Treasury Board ministers for informed decision making; at the same time, they must ensure that all resources are effectively managed.
Excellence in the design and delivery of public sector policy, programs and services is beneficial to every aspect of Canadian public life. Engagement, collaboration, effective teamwork and professional development are all essential to a high-performing organization.
Public servants shall demonstrate professional excellence by:
TBS strives for management excellence across government and as a department. This presents an ongoing challenge for TBS employees, especially in the Department's leadership role of aspiring to the vision of the organization, identifying the gaps between excellence and reality, and acting to fill those gaps while being proactive in accepting calculated risks. This requires a motivated and committed workforce, dedicated to continuous improvement. How TBS employees fulfill these expectations plays a big role in their success as strategic advisors. They are expected to share knowledge, expertise and experience responsibly, building a collaborative, respectful, bilingual and diverse environment within and outside the Department.
The Public Sector Code and the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct are important sources of guidance for all TBS employees in choosing their course of action. Similarly, they can expect to be treated by the Department in accordance with these values.
This section outlines specific standards of conduct and illustrates the Department's expectations for acceptable conduct and performance.
TBS employees will treat each other in the workplace with respect and dignity. The Department commits to providing a diverse work environment that is free from discrimination, harassment and violence.
For additional information on appropriate workplace behaviour, consult the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolutionand Informal Conflict Management Services for information on resolving workplace conflicts.
Sensitive information that TBS employees receive through their employment must not be divulged to anyone other than persons who are authorized to receive the information. When in doubt as to whether certain information is confidential, employees should seek guidance from their supervisor or manager before disclosing it. Information should be consulted on a need-to-know basis. Caution and discretion in handling confidential information in public spaces extends to disclosure inside and outside government. Confidentiality continues to apply after the employment relationship ceases.
TBS employees shall adhere to the Government of Canada Code of Conduct for Procurement and exercise the strictest confidentiality regarding information pertaining to a procurement process. Examples include commercially useful information about government that is not publicly available, bids and proposals, plans to evaluate responses, and results of evaluations.
TBS employees are subject to the "Duty of Loyalty." They must exercise caution to ensure that, in serving the government loyally, they do not jeopardize the perception of public service impartiality, integrity and neutrality in the performance of their duties, regardless of form.
For this reason, care should be taken in making comments or entering into public debate regarding the Department and Government of Canada policies. TBS employees must not use their position in government to lend weight to the public expression of their personal opinions.
TBS employees maintain public confidence in the objectivity of the Department by preventing and avoiding situations that could give the appearance of a conflict of interest, result in a potential for a conflict of interest, or result in an actual conflict of interest. Conflict of interest does not relate exclusively to matters concerning financial transactions and the transfer of economic benefit. Although financial activity is important, conflicts of interest in any area of activity can have a negative impact on the perceived objectivity of the Department. With the permanent and pervasive nature of information technology, TBS employees should be particularly sensitive to real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest that may arise from messages and information transmitted via the Internet and other media.
A conflict of interest is a situation in which the public servant has private interests that could improperly influence the performance of his or her official duties and responsibilities or in which the public servant uses his or her office for personal gain.
A real conflict of interest exists at the present time, an apparent conflict of interest could be perceived by a reasonable observer to exist, whether or not it is the case, and a potential conflict of interest could reasonably be foreseen to exist in the future.
A conflict of duties is a conflict that arises, not because of a public servant's private interests, but as a result of one or more concurrent or competing official responsibilities. For example, these roles could include his or her primary public service employment and his or her responsibilities in an outside role that forms part of his or her official duties, such as an appointment to a board of directors or other outside function.
TBS employees are responsible for taking all possible steps to recognize, prevent, report and resolve any real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest between their official responsibilities and any of their private affairs.
Guiding Principles to Preventing and Managing Conflict of Interest
TBS employees are required to evaluate the nature of their official duties and the characteristics of their asset holdings and liabilities. If there is any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between carrying out their official duties and their asset holdings and liabilities, they are to report this matter by submitting a Conflict of Interest Statement in a timely manner to the Values and Ethics Office.
TBS employees should be aware that investments in publicly traded securities, in particular, can give rise to a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest because of the nature of the Department's work and the market sensitivity of non-public information to which they have access.
The type of assets that should be reported and the procedures for reporting and managing such assets are set out in the Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest and the Application Guide for the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct.
TBS employees are expected to use their best judgment to avoid situations of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest by considering the following criteria on gifts, hospitality and other benefits and in keeping with the Public Sector Code, the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.
TBS employees are not to accept any gifts, hospitality or other benefits that may have a real, apparent or potential influence on their objectivity in carrying out their official duties and responsibilities or that may place them under obligation to the donor. This includes activities such as free or discounted admission to sporting and cultural events, travel or conferences.
It may be appropriate to accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits in situations where they:
TBS employees are required to seek written direction from the Secretary or delegate through a Conflict of Interest Statement to the Values and Ethics Office where it is impossible to decline gifts, hospitality or other benefits that do not meet the principles set out above, or where it is believed that there is sufficient benefit to the organization to warrant acceptance of certain types of hospitality.
TBS employees may engage in employment outside the public service and take part in outside activities unless the employment or activities are likely to give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest or would undermine the impartiality of the public service or the objectivity of TBS employees.
TBS employees must consult their respective managers if they have concerns that their outside employment or activities might subject them to demands incompatible with their work, or cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties in a completely objective manner. They are to disclose the situation by submitting a Conflict of Interest Statement to the Values and Ethics Office, if required. Depending on the situation and the impact of the conflict of interest, the Secretary or delegate, in consultation with the manager, may require that the outside employment or activities be modified or terminated if it is determined that a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists.
TBS employees who receive a benefit or income either directly or indirectly from a contract with the Government of Canada are required to report on such contractual or other arrangements by submitting a Conflict of Interest Statement to the Values and Ethics Office and inform their manager. The Secretary or delegate will determine whether the arrangement presents any conflict and may require that the contract be modified or terminated.
TBS employees or incoming public servants who have intentions to engage in outside employment that provides a benefit or income either directly or indirectly from the Government of Canada are required to seek approval from the Secretary or delegate. The Secretary or delegate will determine whether the arrangement presents any conflict and may require that the contract be modified or declined.
Any TBS employee considering involvement in political activities should seek the advice of:
"Political activities" are defined in Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act(PSEA) as "any activity in support of, within or in opposition to a political party; carrying on any activity in support of or in opposition to a candidate before or during an election period; or seeking nomination as or being a candidate in an election before or during the election period."
Public servants working at TBS are required to obtain permission from the PSC to seek nomination or be a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal election, in accordance with the PSEA, Part 7.
Any public servant working at TBS who wishes to engage in a political activity not covered by Part 7 of the PSEA that could constitute a conflict of interest is required to report the proposed activity to the Secretary or delegate.
Similarly, TBS employees who are not subject to Part 7 of the PSEA who wish to engage in any political activity should be aware that the activity could constitute a conflict of interest. The proposed activity should be reported to the Secretary or delegate through a Conflict of Interest Statement in order to determine whether the political activity could constitute a real or perceived conflict of interest.
If engaging in political activities, TBS employees must be able to retain impartiality in relation to their duties and responsibilities. They must not engage in political activities during working hours or use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of these activities.
TBS employees are responsible for demonstrating objectivity and impartiality in the exercise of their duties and in their decision making whether related to staffing, financial awards or penalties to internal and external parties, transfer payments, program operations, or any other exercise of responsibility.
This means that they are prohibited from granting preferential treatment or advantages to family, friends or any other person or entity. They also are not to disadvantage any entity or persons dealing with the government because of personal antagonism or bias.
TBS employees must recuse themselves from participating in staffing decisions when their objectivity could be compromised for any reason, or for a benefit or perceived benefit accrued to oneself.
TBS employees cannot grant preferential treatment to anyone in making decisions that result in a financial award. They shall advise their supervisor when such a situation arises and recuse themselves from the decision-making process.
TBS employees cannot offer extraordinary assistance to any entity or persons already dealing with the government without the knowledge and support of their supervisor.
With the exception of fundraising for such officially supported activities as the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, TBS employees may not solicit gifts, hospitality and other benefits or transfers of economic value from a person, group or organization in the private sector that has or could have dealings with the government. When fundraising for such official activities, TBS employees will ensure that they have prior authorization from the Secretary in order to solicit donations, prizes or in-kind contributions from external organizations or individuals.
Similarly, if an outside individual or entity, with whom TBS has past, present or potential official dealings, offers a benefit to TBS such as funding for an event or a donation of equipment, employees are to consider whether any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, and obtain the consent in writing of the Secretary or delegate prior to accepting any such benefit.
The Secretary or delegate may require that the activities be modified or terminated where it is determined that there is a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest or an obligation to the donor.
TBS employees have a responsibility to minimize the possibility of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between their most recent duties within the federal public service and their subsequent employment outside the public service.
TBS employees are required to disclose to their supervisor and the Secretary or delegate their intentions regarding future outside employment or activities that may pose a risk of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with their current responsibilities and discuss potential conflicts with their supervisor or the Secretary or delegate by filing a Conflict of Interest Statement to the Values and Ethics Office.
The post-employment one-year limitation period after leaving office applies to TBS employees in the EX, EX minus one and EX minus two categories and their equivalents (designated positions).
TBS employees occupying a designated position must submit a Conflict of Interest Statement to the Values and Ethics Office before leaving office and during the post-employment one-year limitation period, when accepting all firm offers of employment or proposed activities outside the public service that could place them in a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with their public service employment. They are also to disclose immediately the acceptance of any such offer.
In addition, employees occupying a designated position may not, during the one-year limitation period, without the Secretary's authorization:
To request a waiver or to reduce the limitation period, employees occupying a designated position will submit a Conflict of Interest Statement to the Secretary or delegate through the Values and Ethics Office. Employees must provide sufficient information to assist the Secretary or delegate in making a determination as to whether to grant the waiver, taking into consideration the following criteria:
The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act(PSDPA) gives employees of the federal public sector and Crown corporations a secure and confidential process for disclosing serious wrongdoing in the workplace with protection from acts of reprisal. This is part of the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to promoting ethical practices in the public sector.
Wrongdoing in or relating to the public sector includes the following:
If a TBS employee has information indicating a serious breach of the Public Sector Code or the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct or any other suspected wrongdoing, he or she may seek advice and guidance from, or make a disclosure under the PSDPA and in good faith, to the following:
Some of the protections afforded by the PSDPA may be limited if TBS employees choose to make a disclosure to anyone other than those listed. As well, it is important to respect the reputation of the Department and colleagues by not making false disclosures.
For more information on the PSDPA and the Department's internal disclosure mechanism, please refer to the Senior Officer for Disclosure's page page on the TBS InfoSite.
TBS employees are required to have read and agreed to comply with the Public Sector Code and the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct, and to be responsible for reflecting and living public sector values. TBS leaders are obliged to do the same. Adherence to both the Public Sector Code, the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct and Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment is a condition of employment regardless of employment status, level or position. A breach of these values or behaviours may result in disciplinary measures being taken, up to and including termination of employment.
TBS employees are required to review the Public Sector Code, the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct and Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment upon employment and upon changes in their official duties, and within 10 business days from the receipt of a letter of offer affirm that they have read and reviewed their personal circumstances in light of the requirement of both codes and the policy. Those who have conflict of interest situations to report must file a Conflict of Interest Statement within 30 days following the signed Affirmation.
Conflict of interest measures are adopted to both protect the impartiality and neutrality of the Department and maintain the public's trust in the public service. Conflict of interest does not relate exclusively to matters concerning financial transactions and transfers of economic benefit; conflicts can arise from gifts, hospitality and other benefits, outside activities, preferential treatment, solicitation, and post-employment situations. If there is a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest situation, TBS employees are to report the matter to the Values and Ethics Office as soon as they become aware of the situation and no later than 30 days.
TBS employees and any incoming public servants who receive or have intentions to engage in outside employment that provides a benefit or income either directly or indirectly from a contract with the Government of Canada are required to report on such contractual or other arrangements to the Values and Ethics Office and inform their manager.
TBS employees in the following circumstances must provide a Conflict of Interest Statement if, in their objective view, the circumstances give rise to real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with respect to their official duties:
The review of the Conflict of Interest Statement will be conducted in a timely manner. The Values and Ethics Office, with direction from the Secretary or delegate, will inform the TBS employee in writing of the determination. The Values and Ethics Office will seek the advice of the Senior Values and Ethics Committee on any unusual conflict of interest.
Conflicts arising out of liabilities, outside activities or receipt of gifts or other benefits may be resolved by requiring TBS employees to settle the liability in question; avoid, curtail, modify or withdraw from the conflicting activity; or decline, return or otherwise dispose of the gift or other benefit received.
If it is determined that publicly traded securities or other securities and assets create a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest, TBS employees are required to divest these securities as set out in the Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest.
Neither the Public Sector Code nor the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct will be able to anticipate every possible situation or ethical dilemma that might arise in the course of the work of TBS employees. When the situation arises, TBS employees are encouraged to discuss and resolve these matters with their immediate supervisor or the Secretary or delegate. They can also seek advice and support from other appropriate sources within TBS.
When a TBS employee and the Secretary or delegate disagree on appropriate arrangements to resolve a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, the disagreement will be resolved through established dispute procedures.
TBS employees at all levels are expected to resolve issues in a fair and respectful manner and consider informal processes such as dialogue or mediation. They can speak to their supervisor or contact Informal Conflict Management Services or other appropriate sources within the Department.
If a public servant has information that could indicate a serious breach of the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct, he or she can bring this matter to the attention of his or her immediate supervisor, the Senior Officer for Disclosure or the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, as provided by sections 12 and 13 of the PSDPA.
Members of the public who have reason to believe that a public servant has not acted in accordance with this Code can bring the matter to the Senior Officer for Disclosure or to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner to disclose a serious breach of this Code.
TBS employees have a shared responsibility, namely, to serve the public interest and ensure public trust. TBS employees are required to become familiar with the provisions of the Public Sector Code and the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct and be able to apply these values in their work. They are encouraged to consult their supervisor or manager or the Values and Ethics Office when they are unsure as to the conduct to be adopted.
TBS expects its employees to exhibit attitudes and behaviours inspired by the five public sector values and to comply with conflict of interest and post-employment measures. A public servant's general responsibilities and duties include:
TBS employees are required to comply with the different policies and directives aimed at the public service in general, as well as those of the Department.
TBS employees who are supervisors and managersSee footnote4 are in a position of influence and authority. This gives them a particular responsibility to exemplify the values of the public sector. Supervisors are to review with direct reports the Public Sector Code and the TBS Departmental Code of Conduct.
Supervisors and managers are responsible for discussing and promoting the exchange of ideas, eliciting questions, and fostering the search for solutions in an atmosphere of openness and awareness. TBS employees play an equally important role by participating in the dialogue and contributing to creating a work environment that reflects values and ethics.
The Secretary has specific responsibilities under the PSDPA, including establishing a code of conduct for the Department and an overall responsibility for fostering a positive culture of values and ethics in the Department.
The Secretary ensures that:
The Secretary is subject to this Code, the Public Sector Code and to the Conflict of Interest Act.
The Senior Officer for Disclosure helps promote a positive environment for disclosing wrongdoing and deals with disclosures of wrongdoing made by TBS employees. The designated official is responsible for supporting the Secretary in meeting the requirements of the PSDPA.
The Senior Officer for Disclosure's duties and powers also include the following, in accordance with the internal disclosure procedures established under the PSDPA:
Better government: with partners, for Canadians
Return to footnote reference1. Throughout this Code, the term "employees" or "public servants" include all those noted above.
Return to footnote reference2. The TBS Departmental Code of Conduct is a shared responsibility; everyone is treated as a colleague, regardless of their employment status, level and position.
Return to footnote reference3. Deputy ministers, Governor in Council appointees and assistant deputy ministers and their equivalents are subject to the Lobbying Act. In the case of any conflict between this policy and the Act, the Act takes precedence.
Return to footnote reference4. Throughout this Code, the terms "supervisors" or "managers" are for all those occupying positions that have a supervisory mandate.