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Agency Code of Conduct
Chapter I: Values and Ethics Code
The Status of Women Canada Code of Conduct came into force on April 2nd, 2012.
The Role of Federal Public Servants
Federal public servants have a fundamental role to play in serving Canadians, their communities and the public interest under the direction of the elected government and in accordance with the law. As dedicated professionals whose work is essential to Canada's well-being and to the enduring strength of the Canadian democracy, public servants uphold the public trust.
The Constitution of Canada and the principles of responsible government provide the foundation for the role, the responsibilities and the values of the federal public sector.Reference1 Constitutional conventions of ministerial responsibility prescribe the appropriate relationships among ministers, parliamentarians, public servantsReference2 and the public. A professional and non-partisan federal public sector is integral to our democracy.
The Role of Ministers
Ministers are also responsible for preserving public trust and confidence in the integrity of management and operations within public sector organizations and for respecting the tradition of a professional, non-partisan federal public sector. Furthermore, Ministers play a critical role in enabling public servants to provide professional and frank advice.Reference3
Status of Women Canada
In 1976, the Government of Canada established the Office of the Coordinator, Status of Women, with the mandate to
"coordinate policy with respect to the status of women and administer related programs." In fulfilling this mandate, public servants at Status of Women Canada (SWC) are responsible for supporting the Government of Canada's agenda for fostering equality for women and their full participation in Canadian society. To play this role effectively, SWC works with partners such as other federal departments and agencies, provincial/territorial governments, private sector institutions and non-governmental organizations. SWC also collaborates with other players to fulfill Canada's domestic and international obligations with respect to women. This Code of Conduct outlines the standard of conduct applicable to all public servants at SWC and is designed to encourage them to display a behaviour that reflects the values and conforms to ethical principles.
The overarching objective of this Code is to ensure consideration of values and ethics in all aspects of SWC's business, and to help public servants make appropriate decisions when faced with ethical issues in the workplace.
This Code describes the expected behaviours and values that are to guide public servants professional conduct towards citizens, government and their colleagues. By committing to these values and adhering to these expected behaviours, public servants help to strengthen the ethical culture of the public sector and inspire public confidence in the integrity of all public institutions.
As established by the Treasury Board Secretariat, this Code fulfills the requirement of Section 5 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA). It was developed in consultation with public servants from all directorates and levels at SWC as well as with union representatives. This Code should be read in conjunction with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (VECPS).
These values serve as a compass to guide public servants at SWC in everything they do. They cannot be considered in isolation as they often overlap. It is recognized that the manner in which public servants reach their goals is as important as the results they achieve. It is by carefully considering each of the values that public servants will find the right course of action in any given situation.
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.
Respect for People
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 wellspring of our spirit of innovation.
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 objectivity of the federal public sector.
Federal public servants are entrusted to use and care for public resources responsibly, for both the short and the long term.
Excellence in the design and delivery of public sector policy, programs and services is beneficial to every aspect of Canadian life. Positive engagement, collaboration, effective teamwork and professional development are all essential to a high-performing organization.
Federal public servants are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the values of the public sector and these expected behaviours.
1. Respect for Democracy
Public servants shall uphold the Canadian Parliamentary democracy and its institutions by:
- respecting the rule of law and carrying out their duties in accordance with legislation, policies and directives in a non-partisan and objective manner;
- loyally carrying out the lawful decisions of their leaders and supporting Ministers in their accountability to Parliament and to Canadians; and
- providing decision makers with all the information, analysis and advice they need, always striving to be open, candid and impartial.
2. Respect for People
Public servants shall respect human dignity and the value of every person by:
- treating every person with respect and fairness;
- valuing diversity and the benefit of combining the unique qualities and strengths inherent in a diverse workforce;
- helping to create and maintain safe and healthy workplaces that are free from harassment and discrimination;
- working together in a spirit of openness, honesty and transparency that encourages engagement, collaboration and respectful communication; and
- being sensitive to co-workers' needs and helping to create an effective workplace in which work and life needs are optimally balanced.
Public servants shall serve the public interest by:
- 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;
- never using their official roles to inappropriately obtain an advantage for themselves or to advantage or disadvantage others;
- 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; and
- acting in such a way as to maintain the employer's trust.
Public servants shall responsibly use resources by:
- effectively and efficiently using the public money, property and resources managed by them;
- considering the present and long-term effects their actions have on people and the environment; and
- acquiring, preserving and sharing knowledge and information as appropriate.
Public servants shall demonstrate professional excellence by:
- providing fair, timely, efficient and effective services that respect Canada's official languages;
- continually improving the quality of the policies, programs and services that they provide to Canadians and other parts of the public sector; and
- fostering a work environment that promotes teamwork, learning and innovation.
Acceptance of these values and adherence to the expected behaviours is a condition of employment for all federal public servants, regardless of their level or position. If a public servant disregards these values and expectations, he or she may be subject to administrative or disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.
As provided by Sections 12 and 13 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), if public servants have information that could indicate a serious breach of this Code, they can bring this matter to the attention of their immediate supervisor, the Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics or the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Public servants who are also managers have a particular responsibility to exemplify the values of the public sector.
The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) defines the "public sector" as: (a) the departments named in Schedule I of the Financial Administration Act and the other portions of the federal public administration named in Schedules I.I to V of that act; and (b) the Crown corporations and other public bodies set out in Schedule I of the PSDPA. However,
"the public sector" does not include the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the Communications Security Establishment.
Roles and Responsibilities
Role of Public ServantsReference4
Public servants are proud of the contributions they make to the quality of life for Canadians, their families and their communities. They do so as dedicated professionals by upholding the reputation and integrity of the Agency through their values and ethical behavior. As such, internally and externally, they preserve the public's trust in the Agency and serve the public interest. The Constitution of CanadaReference5, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and other related legislation, as well as the principles of responsible government; all provide the foundation for their roles, responsibilities and values.
Public servants are expected to abide by this Code and demonstrate the values of the public sector in their actions and behavior. Furthermore, they must also adhere to the behavioral expectations set out in this Code.
Role of Senior Management
SWC Executives at all levels have specific responsibilities under the PSDPA, including: establishing a code of conduct for the organization, and an overall responsibility for "institutionalizing" values and ethics within their areas of responsibility. They ensure that public servants are aware of their obligations under this code in addition to those under the Values and Ethics Code of the Public Sector; ensure public servants obtain appropriate advice on ethical issues, including possible conflicts of interest; ensure non-partisanship in the provision of programs and services; and help to foster a positive culture within the organization.
This includes taking an active role in ethics awareness, risk management and dialogue. It also includes setting an uncompromising example of ethical conduct, displaying leadership and professional behavior and accepting responsibility for all actions.
Role of the Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics at Status of Women Canada
The Senior Officer is responsible for supporting the Coordinator/Head of Agency in meeting the requirements of the PSDPA. The Senior Officer also helps to promote a positive and ethical environment at SWC. Pursuant to the internal disclosure procedures established under the PSDPA, the Senior Officer's duties include the following:
- provide information, advice and guidance to public servants at SWC regarding the organization's internal disclosure procedures, including making disclosures to supervisors, investigating disclosures, and handling disclosures;
- receive and record disclosures and review them to establish whether there are sufficient grounds for further action under the PSDPA;
- manage investigations into disclosures including determining whether to deal with a disclosure under the PSDPA, initiate an investigation process or cease an investigation;
- in cases where another federal organization is implicated, coordinate handling of the disclosure with the senior officer from the other organization;
- report any systemic problems that may give rise to wrongdoings, as well as findings of investigations, directly to the Coordinator/Head of Agency, with recommendations for corrective action, if any;
- provide public servants with the knowledge and tools to identify ethical risks, increase ethical decision-making capacity, and access appropriate support structures; and
- chair SWC's Values and Ethics Committee, which is comprised of representatives from all branches and levels of the organization.
The contact information for the Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics for SWC can be found at: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/ve/snrs1-eng.asp#S .
Role of the Treasury Board Secretariat - Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
In support of the President of the Treasury Board's responsibilities under Section 4 of the PSDPA, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) is responsible for promoting ethical practices in the public sector. OCHRO will work with all relevant partner organizations to implement and promote the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and will provide advice to chief executives and designated departmental officials with respect to its interpretation.
Avenues for Resolution
The expected behaviours are not intended to respond to every possible ethical issue that might arise in the course of a public servant's daily work. When these issues do arise, public servants are encouraged to discuss and resolve them with their immediate supervisor. Advice and support can be sought from other appropriate sources within SWC, such as the Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics, their union representative and Human Resources officials.
Public servants at all levels are expected to resolve issues in a fair and respectful manner and are encouraged to consider informal processes such as dialogue or mediation. As provided by Sections 12 and 13 of the PSDPA, if a public servant has information that could indicate a serious breach of this Code, the matter must be brought to the attention of his or her immediate supervisor, the Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics or the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
The Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics is responsible for supporting the Coordinator/ Head of Agency in meeting the requirements of the PSDPA, including upholding the obligations and responsibilities stated in this Code. The Senior Officer helps to promote a positive environment for disclosing wrongdoings and enabling responsible ethical conduct, thus striving to establish an ethical tone within the organization.
Members of the public who believe an employee of Status of Women Canada has acted in disregard of this Code can bring the matter to SWC's Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics. Alternately, they may contact the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner to disclose a serious breach of this Code.
This Code is supported by additional polices and legislation such as: Human Rights Act; Public Service Employment Act; Canada Labour Code (Part II and related COHS regulations); Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace; and the Public Servant Disclosure Protection Act.
Chapter II: Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Measures
Requirements for Public Servants to Prevent and Deal with Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Situations
Following are the conflict of interest and post-employment requirements that are a condition of employment for public servants. These requirements are grounded in and serve to uphold the values contained in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and this Code. By upholding these ethical standards, public servants conserve and enhance public confidence in the honesty, fairness and integrity of the public service. These requirements also form part of Canada's commitments as a signatory to international agreements on values and ethics.
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, have the 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 Appendix, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and this Code to guide appropriate action. Public servants can also seek guidance from their manager, the Senior Officer for Disclosure and Values and Ethics, their union representative and Human Resources officials.
In addition to the requirements outlined in this chapter, public servants must also observe any specific conduct requirements contained in the statutes governing SWC and their professional group, where applicable.
The following definitions are from the Post on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Measures:
- Public servant:
a person employed in organizations defined in Section 2 of this Policy. This includes indeterminate and term employees, individuals on leave without pay, students participating in Student Employment Programs, 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 this Policy. Order-in-council appointees, such as deputy heads, are subject to the Conflict of Interest Act and are not subject to this Policy.
- Conflict of Interest (COI):
- 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.
Responsibilities of Employees
1. The general responsibilities and duties of public servants include:
- 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 Policy, refraining from having private interests, which would be unduly affected by government actions in which they participate;
- not knowingly taking advantage of, or benefiting from, information that is obtained in the course of their official duties that is not available to the public;
- refraining from the direct or indirect use, 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 manner;
- refraining from either public criticism of the Government of CanadaReference6 or any political activity that could impair or appear to impair the objectivity and impartiality of the public servant or the public service; 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 conflict of interest situations during employment:
Public servants are required to report in writing to the Coordinator/Head of Agency, in accordance with SWC'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 the public servant's initial appointment or any subsequent appointment, transfer or deployment.
On a regular basis thereafter, and every time a major change occurs in his or her personal affairs or official duties, every public servant is required to review his or her obligations under this Policy, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and this Code. 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 with other related directives or policies issued by the Treasury Board. When in doubt, public servants are to immediately report the situation to their managers and 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 the Coordinator/Head of Agency in a timely manner.
Where the Coordinator/Head of Agency determines that any of these assets represents a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in relation to their duties and responsibilities, 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 reporting and managing such assets are set out in the Directive on Divestment of Assets and Establishment of Blind Trusts.
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 the Coordinator/Head of Agency 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 in a completely objective manner. The Coordinator/Head of Agency 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.
2.3 Political Activities
Any public servant considering involvement in political activity should seek the advice of their manager, 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 the Coordinator/Head of Agency.
Similarly, any public servant who is subject to this Policy but who is not subject to Part 7 of the PSEA, who wishes to engage in any political activity that could constitute a conflict of interest, is to report the proposed activity to the Coordinator/Head of Agency. This includes students appointed within Student Employment Programs, seasonal, casual and part-time workersReference7.
2.4 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 while keeping in mind the full context of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, this Code and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Measures.
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 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 official duties of the public servant concerned, and do not compromise or appear to compromise the integrity of the public servant concerned or that of Status of Women Canada.
Public servants are to seek written direction from their Manager 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 charitable organizations, public servants may not solicit gifts, hospitality, other benefits or transfers of economic value from a person, group or organization in the private sector that has dealings with the government. When fundraising for charitable organizations, public servants must ensure they have prior written authorization from the Coordinator/Head of Agency 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 Coordinator/Head of Agency prior to accepting any such benefit.
The Coordinator/Head of Agency 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 government Policy is consistent with paragraph 121(1) (c) of the Criminal Code.
2.6 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 they are prohibited from granting preferential treatment or advantage 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 person dealing with the government based on 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 the public service:
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, the Coordinator/Head of Agency or his/her delegate.
3.2 Post-employment limitation period for public servants in designated positions
The Coordinator/Head of Agency is responsible for designating positions of risk for post-employment conflict situations as per Section 6.1.2 f) of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Measures.
Public servants in these designated positions are subject to a one-year limitation period after leaving the public service. Before leaving and during this one-year limitation period, these individuals are to report to the Coordinator/Head of Agency 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 to also disclose immediately the acceptance of any such offer. In addition, these individuals may not do the following during the one-year period, without the Coordinator's/Head of Agency'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 their termination of service. The official dealings in question may be directly on the part of the public servant or through subordinates;
- make representations to any government organization on behalf of persons or entities outside of the public service with whom they had significant official dealings during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their service. Reference8 The official dealings in question may either be directly on the part of the public servant or through 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 Coordinator/Head of Agency for a written waiver or reduction of the limitation period. The public servant is to provide sufficient information to assist the Coordinator/Head of Agency 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 services 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 Coordinator/Head of Agency.
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 Coordinator/Head of Agency or delegate. When a public servant and the Coordinator/Head of Agency or delegate disagree on how to resolve a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, the disagreement will be subject to the resolution procedures established by the Coordinator/Head of Agency.
A public servant who does not comply with the requirements set out in this chapter may be subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.
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