Code of Values and Ethics for the Canada School of Public Service
Table of Contents
Section 5 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act requires that the Treasury Board establish a Code of Conduct applicable to the federal public sector. This was done in April of 2012, when Treasury Board put into place the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (Public Sector Code).
Section 6 of that Act requires all chief executives to establish organizational codes of conduct that are consistent with the Public Sector Code. The Code of Values and Ethics for the Canada School of Public Service (School Code) fulfils this requirement. Employees and bargaining agents were consulted during its development.
For ease of reference, the School Code reprints the principles and requirements of the Public Sector Code, as well as conflict of interest and post-employment requirements established by the Treasury Board and set out in Appendix B to the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment. Employees are nonetheless responsible for being aware of their obligations with respect to all Treasury Board requirements. More information on these requirements with respect to values and ethics can be found on the Treasury Board Secretariat's website.
This Code is effective December 20, 2013.
The Code of Values and Ethics for the Canada School of Public Service (School Code) applies to every person employed by the Canada School of Public Service (the School), term employees, casual employees, seasonal and part-time workers, students and interns and individuals working with the School by means of a secondment or assignment or through an Interchange Canada agreement. Employees on leave, including leave without pay, continue to be subject to the Code for the extent of their leave. Contractors and volunteers, and those hired under section 15.2 of the Canada School of Public Service Act, are expected to respect the intent of the School Code.
The School Code elaborates on the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (Public Sector Code), adherence to which is a condition of employment. The School Code sets out how the values and behaviours included in the Public Sector Code apply in the context of the School. A breach of these values or expectations of conduct may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment. A serious breach of either the School Code or the Public Sector Code is included in the definition of wrongdoing under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
Managers and executives have a particular responsibility to lead by example. They must also ensure that the School Code has been provided to and discussed with all new employees of the School. However, every employee is responsible for being aware of the content of the School Code and for applying its values in the workplace.
Part 1: Our Values in Practice
The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (Public Sector Code) sets out five core public sector values:
- Respect for Democracy
- Respect for People
These values are the compass that guides public servants in everything they do. Public servants at the Canada School of Public Service (the School) are expected to reflect these values in their work and behaviour. Everyone at the School can expect to be treated in accordance with these values.
As situations often touch on or test more than one of these values, they cannot be considered in isolation from each other. Where there are uncertainties as to what to do in a given situation, guidance should be sought from a manager or someone else with the authority to provide assistance or give direction. Part 3 of this document gives details about the resources available at the School to resolve dilemmas and support ethical decisions and conduct.
1. Respect for Democracy
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:
1.1 Respecting the rule of law and carrying out their duties in accordance with legislation, policies and directives in a non-partisan and impartial manner.
1.2 Loyally carrying out the lawful decisions of their leaders and supporting ministers in their accountability to Parliament and Canadians.
1.3 Providing decision-makers with all the information, analysis and advice they need, always striving to be open, candid and impartial.
At the Canada School of Public Service, Respect for Democracy also means:
1.4 Aligning our efforts, energy and expertise to support government priorities.
1.5 Creating an environment in which all employees are able to raise concerns about our work and the workplace with management or by using the internal processes available to us (see Part 3: Avenues of Resolution and Support).
1.6 Respectfully providing full and frank advice to management based on evidence and full consideration of the options, and loyally and professionally implementing decisions that have been lawfully taken.
2. Respect for People
Treating all people with respect, dignity and fairness is fundamental to our relationship with the Canadian public, and it 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:
2.1 Treating every person with respect and fairness.
2.2 Valuing diversity and the benefit of combining the unique qualities and strengths inherent in a diverse workforce.
2.3 Helping to create and maintain safe and healthy workplaces that are free from harassment and discrimination.
2.4 Working together in a spirit of openness, honesty and transparency that encourages engagement, collaboration and respectful communication.
At the Canada School of Public Service, Respect for People also means:
2.5 Behaving in a courteous and professional manner with everyone we serve; providing learners with a safe and healthy environment in which to learn and a high-quality learning experience in both official languages.
2.6 Taking all reasonable steps to accommodate special needs of both employees and learners.
2.7 Behaving professionally with each other and with colleagues and partners in departments, in academia and in the private sector; working with others at all times in a spirit of collaboration and openness; trying to resolve problems or conflicts quickly and seeking help from others who are in a position to help us when we are not able to resolve a problem alone.
2.8 Taking responsibility for contributing to workplace safety and security.
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:
3.1 Acting at all times with integrity, and in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that may not be fully satisfied by simply acting within the law.
3.2 Never using their official roles to inappropriately obtain an advantage for themselves or to advantage or disadvantage others.
3.3 Taking all possible steps to prevent and resolve any real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest between their official responsibilities and their private affairs in favour of the public interest.
3.4 Acting in such a way as to maintain their employer's trust.
At the Canada School of Public Service, Integrity also means:
3.5 Recognizing that how we achieve results is as important as the achievements themselves; trying our best to get things done efficiently, without trying to get around policies and good practices that contribute to transparency, accountability and the sound management of public funds.
3.6 Contributing to the prevention and correction of situations where there is, or appears to be, a conflict of interest, favouritism or nepotism by creating an environment in which all employees are able to raise related concerns using the internal processes available to us (see Part 3: Avenues of Resolution and Support).
3.7 Living up to our commitments to each other in the workplace.
3.8 Accepting responsibility for our own conduct and actions.
3.9 Creating an environment in which all employees are able to take appropriate action when concerned about the conduct of others by using the internal processes available to us (see Part 3: Avenues of Resolution and Support).
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:
4.1 Effectively and efficiently using the public money, property and resources managed by them.
4.2 Considering the present and long-term effects that their actions have on people and the environment.
4.3 Acquiring, preserving and sharing knowledge and information as appropriate.
At the Canada School of Public Service, Stewardship also means:
4.4 Trying to find more efficient and cost effective ways of doing our work – sharing resources, information and expertise, and combining efforts wherever possible.
4.5 Treating all information that we create or possess as a valuable resource; protecting private information as required by law, and properly managing and filing all other information so that it can be part of the official records of government and available to those who have need of it.
4.6 When spending public money, doing so in a way that fully respects the appropriate policies and processes and can withstand scrutiny.
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:
5.1 Providing fair, timely, efficient and effective services that respect Canada's official languages.
5.2 Continually improving the quality of policies, programs and services they provide.
5.3 Fostering a work environment that promotes teamwork, learning and innovation.
At the Canada School of Public Service, Excellence also means:
5.4 Meeting the highest professional standards in fulfilling our responsibilities at the School, and requiring the same from those for whom we are responsible.
5.5 Providing regular feedback to each other and recognizing a job well done.
5.6 Continuing to learn; challenging ourselves and striving to broaden our expertise and perspectives for the betterment of School programs and services as well as our own development.
5.7 Collaborating and consulting with internal and external stakeholders and incorporating the best of what others can offer into our programs and services.
Part 2: Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment
The following are conflict of interest and post-employment requirements established by the Treasury Board. They are set out in Appendix B to the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment (Requirements for public servants to prevent and deal with conflict of interest and post-employment situations). These requirements are a condition of employment for public servants in all organizations subject to this policy, including those at the Canada School of Public Service.
These requirements are grounded in and serve to uphold the values contained in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. By upholding these ethical standards, public servants conserve and enhance public confidence in the honesty, fairness and integrity of the public service.
More information on the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment can be found on the Treasury Board Secretariat's website.
For information and assistance on how these requirements are applied at the School, please contact the Office of Values and Ethics (see Part 3: Avenues of Resolution and Support).
Prevention of conflict of interest
A public servant maintains public confidence in the objectivity of the public service 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. While financial activity is important, conflicts of interest in any area of activity can have a negative impact on the perceived objectivity of the public service. With the permanent and pervasive nature of information technology, public servants 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.
It is impossible to foresee every situation that could give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest. When in doubt, public servants should refer to the requirements found in this document and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector to guide appropriate action. Public servants can also seek guidance from their manager, from their deputy head or his/her delegate.
In addition to the requirements outlined in this document, public servants are also required to observe any specific conduct requirements contained in the statutes governing their particular department or organization and their profession, where applicable.
1. A public servant's general responsibilities and duties
These include the following:
- 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;
- Unless otherwise permitted in this document, refraining from having private interests, which would be unduly affected by government actions in which they participate, or of which they have knowledge or information;
- Not knowingly taking advantage of, or benefiting from, information that is obtained in the course of their duties that is not available to the public;
- Refraining from the direct or indirect use of, or allowing the direct or indirect use of government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities;
- Not assisting private entities or persons in their dealings with the government where this would result in preferential treatment of the entities or persons;
- Not interfering in the dealings of private entities or persons with the government in order to inappropriately influence the outcome;
- Maintaining the impartiality of the public service and not engaging in any outside or political activities that impair or could be seen to impair their ability to perform their duties in an objective or impartial manner; and
- Ensuring that any real, apparent or potential conflict that arises between their private activities and their official responsibilities as a public servant is resolved in the public interest.
2. Requirements for preventing and dealing with situations of conflict of interest during employment
Public servants are required to report in writing to the deputy head, in accordance with their organization's procedures, all outside activities, assets and interests that might give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in relation to their official duties. Such a report is to be made within 60 days of their initial appointment or any subsequent appointment, transfer or deployment.
On a regular basis thereafter, and every time a major change occurs in their personal affairs or official duties, every public servant is required to review his or her obligations under the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and this document. If a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, he or she is to file a report in a timely manner.
When negotiating financial arrangements with outside parties, public servants are to comply with the requirements listed in this document as well as other related directives or policies issued by the Treasury Board. When in doubt, public servants are to immediately report the situation to their managers in order to seek advice or direction on how to proceed.
Public servants are required to evaluate their assets, taking into consideration the nature of their official duties and the characteristics of their assets. If there is any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between the carrying out of their official duties and their assets, they are to report this matter to their deputy head in a timely manner.
Where their deputy head determines that any of these assets results in a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in relation to their official duties, public servants may be required to divest those assets, or to take other measures to resolve the conflict. Public servants may not sell or transfer assets to family members or anyone else for the purpose of circumventing the compliance requirements.
The types 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.
2.2 Outside employment or activities
Public servants 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 the public servant.
Public servants are required to provide a report to their deputy head when their outside employment or activities might subject them to demands incompatible with their official duties, or cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties or responsibilities in a completely objective manner. The deputy head may require that the outside activities be modified or terminated if it is determined that a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists.
Public servants who receive a benefit or income either directly or indirectly from a contract with the Government of Canada are required to report to their deputy head on such contractual or other arrangements. The deputy head will determine whether the arrangement presents a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, and may require that the contract be modified or terminated.
Any public servant considering involvement in political activity should seek the advice of their manager, a designated departmental official, the Public Service Commission (PSC) or a human resources advisor before acting.
Public servants are required to seek and obtain permission from the PSC to seek nomination for or be a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal election, in accordance with Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).
"Political activities" are defined in Part 7 of the 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."
Any public servant 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 their deputy head.
Similarly, any public servant who is subject to this policy but who is not subject to Part 7 of the PSEA, including casual and part-time workers, who wishes to engage in any political activity that could constitute a conflict of interest, is to report the proposed activity to the deputy head.
2.3 Gifts, hospitality and other benefits
Public servants 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 Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, this document and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.
Public servants 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.
The acceptance of gifts, hospitality and other benefits is permissible if they are infrequent and of minimal value, within the normal standards of courtesy or protocol, arise out of activities or events related to the official duties of the public servant concerned, and do not compromise or appear to compromise the integrity of the public servant concerned or of his or her organization.
Public servants are to seek written direction from their deputy head 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.
With the exception of fundraising for such officially supported activities as the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), public servants may not solicit gifts, hospitality, other benefits or transfers of economic value from a person, group or organization in the private sector who has dealings with the government. When fundraising for such official activities, public servants should ensure that they have prior written authorization from their deputy head in order to solicit donations, prizes or contributions in kind from external organizations or individuals.
Similarly, if an outside individual or entity, with whom the organization has past, present or potential official dealings, offers a benefit to the organization such as funding for an event or a donation of equipment, public servants are to consider whether any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, and obtain the consent in writing of the deputy head prior to accepting any such benefit.
The deputy head 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. These provisions are designed to ensure that this policy is consistent with paragraph 121(1) (c) of the Criminal Code.
2.5 Avoidance of preferential treatment
Public servants 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 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 are not to offer extraordinary assistance to any entity or persons already dealing with the government without the knowledge and support of their supervisor. They also are not to disadvantage any entity or persons dealing with the government because of personal antagonism or bias.
Providing information that is publicly accessible is not considered preferential treatment.
3. Requirements for preventing post-employment conflict of interest situations before and after leaving office
All public servants have a responsibility to minimize the possibility of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between their most recent responsibilities within the federal public service and their subsequent employment outside the public service.
3.1 Before leaving employment
Before leaving their employment with the public service, all public servants are to disclose their intentions regarding any 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 manager or their deputy head or his/her delegate.
3.2 Post-employment limitation period for public servants in designated positions
Deputy heads are responsible for designating positions of risk for post-employment conflict of interest situations as per section 6.1.2.(f)(i) of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.
Public servants in these designated positions are subject to a one-year limitation period after leaving office. Before leaving office and during this one-year limitation period, these public servants are to report to their deputy head all firm offers of employment or proposed activity 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, these public servants may not, during this one-year period, without their deputy head's authorization:
- accept appointment to a board of directors of, or employment with, private entities with which they had significant official dealings during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their service. The official dealings in question may either be directly on the part of the public servant or through their subordinates;
- make representations to any government organization on behalf of persons or entities outside of the public service with which they had significant official dealings, during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their service. The official dealings in question may either be directly on the part of the public servant or through their subordinates; or
- give advice to their clients or employer using information that is not publicly available concerning the programs or policies of the departments or organizations with which they were employed or with which they had a direct and substantial relationship.
3.3 Waiver or reduction of limitation period
A public servant or former public servant may apply to the deputy head for a written waiver or reduction of the limitation period. The public servant is to provide sufficient information to assist the deputy head in making a determination as to whether to grant the waiver taking into consideration the following criteria:
- the circumstances under which the termination of their service occurred;
- the general employment prospects of the public servant or former public servant;
- the significance to the government of information possessed by the public servant or former public servant by virtue of that individual's position in the public service;
- the desirability of a rapid transfer of the public servant's or former public servant's knowledge and skills from the government to private, other governmental or non-governmental sectors;
- the degree to which the new employer might gain unfair commercial or private advantage by hiring the public servant or former public servant;
- the authority and influence possessed by that individual while in the public service; and/or
- any other consideration at the discretion of the deputy head.
With respect to the arrangements necessary to prevent real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, or to comply with the requirements set out above, it is expected that situations will be resolved through discussion and agreement between the public servant and the deputy head or delegate. When a public servant and the deputy head or delegate disagree on the appropriate arrangements to resolve a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, the disagreement will be resolved through the resolution procedures established by the deputy head.
A public servant who does not comply with the requirements set out in this appendix may be subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.
Part 3: Avenues of Resolution and Support
Many employees will, from time to time, find themselves in situations where they are uncertain about how they should act or where they have concerns about something that they have been asked to do or are expected to do. Asking the following questions can help in deciding the appropriate course of action.
- What is difficult about this situation? What values are in conflict?
- Is what I want to do (or am being asked to do) legal and consistent with guidelines, policies and this Code of Values and Ethics?
- What are the consequences and impacts of the possible actions and decisions in this situation? Do they in any way affect my ability, real or perceived, to do my job effectively and impartially?
- How might others perceive the situation if they knew about it?
- Have I asked for advice from an independent, trusted person or service?
- Am I comfortable with the decision I am about to make and am I prepared to be publicly accountable for it?
Employees may also find themselves in situations where they have concerns about the conduct of another person. The questions above may also be helpful in these situations. When ethical issues arise, however, employees should discuss and resolve them with the help of their manager, the Office of Values and Ethics, the Senior Officer for Disclosure or another appropriate mechanism in a timely manner. Employees should feel free, as a starting point, to approach any of the resources listed below with any ethical concern they may have.
Office of Values and Ethics
If you have any questions related to this Code or for additional guidance, you may contact Eppo Maertens at the Office of Values and Ethics in confidence at 1-613-996-7915 or by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Access to this voicemail box and email is restricted to Mr. Maertens and a designated backup.
Senior Officer for Disclosure
A serious breach of a Values and Ethics Code is one of the definitions of wrongdoing in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA). The Senior Officer for Disclosure helps promote a positive environment for disclosing wrongdoing and deals with disclosures of wrongdoing in the workplace. The Senior Officer for Disclosure is responsible for supporting the Deputy Minister in meeting the requirements of the PSDPA.
For more information or to discuss your situation in confidence, contact the Senior Officer for Disclosure, Ann-Marie Etheridge, at 613-996-7914 or at email@example.com. Access to this voicemail box and email is restricted to Ms. Etheridge and a designated backup.
Alternatively, wrongdoing can be reported directly to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Informal Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution provides employees and managers with a confidential, neutral forum in which to discuss and resolve workplace conflicts before initiating a formal process, or after putting a formal process on hold to attempt to resolve the conflict informally. The School intranet includes information on how you can access this service. For more information or to discuss various options, you can contact the Office of Values and Ethics.
If you are a represented employee, your local union representative is available to you to discuss any concerns you may have with respect to values and ethics. The union websites are accessible through the School intranet.
Employee Assistance Program
Employees who find themselves in a challenging personal situation (difficulty managing time, health issues, substance abuse, relationship issues, etc.) are encouraged to speak in confidence to their direct supervisor and\or use the Employee Assistance Program.
EAP's confidential, bilingual service is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-268-7708 (hearing impaired persons: 1-800-567-5803).
This website is continually being updated in response to your feedback.