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Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service

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Summary of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service

The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (the Code) is intended to:

  • Provide public servants with a written framework of public service values and ethics.
  • Maintain and increase the confidence of Canadians in the Public Service.
  • Strengthen appreciation of the important role of the Public Service in Canadian democracy.
  • Underscore the accountability of Deputy Heads for application of the Code.
  • Emphasize the responsibility of each individual to respect certain rules of conduct in order to minimize conflict between personal and professional interests.

The Code consists of four Chapters:

  1. Statement of Public Service Values and Ethics;
  2. Conflict of interest measures;
  3. Post-Employment measures;
  4. Avenues of resolution.

Chapter 1: recognizes the essential role of the Public Service in the Canadian democratic society. It identifies and explains the four families of Public Service values: democratic, professional, ethical and people values.

Chapter 2: discusses measures concerning conflict of interest issues. In most cases, to comply with these measures, public servants will need only to submit a confidential report to the designated authority within their organization.

Chapter 3: sets out rules of conduct concerning post-employment. Before leaving employment with the Public Service, the Code requires public servants to disclose their future employment intentions and discuss any potential conflict of interest with their Deputy Head.

Chapter 4: for the first time, suggests written avenues of resolution for public servants who feel a breach of the Code has occurred within their organization. Ongoing dialogue with one's manager and/or the designated Senior Official is the recommended approach. However, if the issue cannot be resolved through this route, public servants may avail themselves of the measures described in the Policy on the Internal Disclosure of Information Concerning Wrongdoing in the Workplace.


Confidential report

What is it?: A written declaration of assets, outside activities or firm employment offers that might put a public servant in an apparent, potential or real conflict of interest situation.

Public servants are responsible for assessing their own personal circumstances to determine whether there is a risk of real, potential or apparent conflict of interest. If the answer is yes, the public servant is required to prepare a confidential report containing details on the items in question. They may fill out the form provided by the Treasury Board Secretariat or present any other form of detailed report as long as it is in writing.

When in doubt, fill out a confidential report:

This form can be accessed through the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Web site at the following address: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/tou/dwnld/dis-eng.pdf

Deputy Head

What is a Deputy Head?: The Deputy Head is either the Deputy Minister of a line department or Head of an Agency. He or she is responsible for satisfying the requirements of Parliament, departments and central agencies as expressed in statutes, regulations and other directives, in view of financial visibility, control and accountability through the establishment, maintenance and operation of system of financial administration.

The Deputy Head has a responsibility to exemplify the values of the Public Service and to infuse them into all aspects of the organization's work. This includes encouraging and maintaining an ongoing dialogue on Public Service values and ethics within the organization. In short, the Deputy Head has a duty to create a climate that fosters debate and discussion, without fear of reprisal, on issues of concern related to Public Service values and ethics.

In terms of concrete action, the Deputy Head must establish structures to ensure implementation of the Code and to help public servants understand and respect the provisions and spirit of the Code. Since public service organizations often differ in set-up and culture, Deputy Heads may create the structures they consider appropriate for their respective organizations. However, all Deputy Heads have one common obligation: they must designate a senior official to help public servants discuss issues arising from the application of the Code.

Internal disclosure of information concerning wrongdoing in the workplace

This policy, which has been in effect since November 30, 2001, is designed to enable public servants to disclose information about alleged wrongdoing in the workplace, in an atmosphere that ensures fairness and protection from reprisal. Each department and agency has a Senior Officer who is responsible for this policy.

Management Accountability Framework (TBS)

In its simplest form, the Management Accountability Framework contains a set of 10 statements that summarize the expectations of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) for modern public service management (i.e. governance and strategic direction, Public Service values, policies and programs, human resources, citizen-focused service, risk management, accountability, results and performance, and learning, innovation and change management). The Framework aims to give Public Service managers, especially Deputy Heads, a detailed list of management expectations within a global framework for high organizational performance.

Office of Public Service Values and Ethics

The Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada (formerly TBS), through the Office of Public Service Values and Ethics, provides advice on the interpretation and promotion of the Code. The Office provides departments and agencies educational material such as questions and answers, videos and an interpretation guide. As well, the Office organizes series of activities to raise awareness and provide information.

The Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada (formerly TBS) monitors the implementation of the Code in departments and agencies. This means that it routinely assesses departmental performance in terms of the application of the Code. Before such an assessment is undertaken, departments and agencies will be notified of the terms and conditions.

Public Service Integrity Officer

Who is the Public Service Integrity Officer?: Dr. Edward Keyserlingk became on November 30, 2001, the first Public Service Integrity Officer. His role is to act as a recourse outside of departments and agencies.

In terms of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, the role of the Public Service Integrity Officer (PSIO) is to receive, record and review disclosures of wrongdoing in the workplace, including breaches of the Code, and to make recommendations where warranted to Deputy Heads for resolution. Moreover, the PSIO may also report on cases related to breaches of the Code in the annual report to the President of the Privy Council, which is tabled in Parliament.

Senior Officer responsible for disclosures of allegations of wrongdoing

What is the Senior Officer?: In accordance to the Policy on Internal Disclosure of Information Concerning Wrongdoing in the Workplace, the Senior Officer is responsible for, among other things, receiving, recording and reviewing disclosures of information concerning wrongdoing and establishing if there are sufficient grounds for further action.

Since breaches of the Code are included in the definition of wrongdoing, pursuant to the Policy on Internal Disclosure of Information Concerning Wrongdoing in the Workplace, there is now a new role under the Code for the Senior Officer responsible for disclosures of alleged wrongdoings. In accordance with the responsibilities set out in the Policy on Internal Disclosure of Information Concerning Wrongdoing in the Workplace, the Senior Officer can receive allegations of wrongdoing, primarily breaches related to Chapter 1, Statement of Public Service Values and Ethics.

Senior official

What is the senior official?: The senior official is designated by the Deputy Head to inform, support and advise public servants on their professional conduct in connection with the Code. His or her role is primarily that of facilitator to public servants. He or she must listen to the ethical dilemmas of public servants and offer avenues of resolution. In addition, he or she has a responsibility to provide public servants with awareness, training and educational activities and materials.

The choice of senior official is at the discretion of the Deputy Head. The Treasury Board does not favour officials from any particular occupational group over any other. However, the individual must be at the executive (EX) or equivalent level, taking into account the nature of the organization. If, for example, in a small organization, a person at the AS-07 level is a member of the senior management team, even though this person is technically not an (EX), he or she can be designated by the Deputy Head. The essential criteria is that he or she has easy access to the Deputy Head.

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