Public Services and Procurement Canada Code of conduct

A Message from the deputy minister and associate deputy ministers

Dear Colleagues,

Every day, as PSPC employees, we are guided by our shared values of respect, integrity, excellence and leadership, and demonstrate our dedication to providing the best service to our clients. As the primary common service provider to the Government of Canada, we are accountable to other federal departments and to the Canadian public. This accountability inspires the strong foundation of personal and professional integrity with which we work, and motivates the culture of performance excellence we have established as a department.

Our success depends not only on aiming for the highest standards in service and results, but also on achieving these with integrity and respect every day.

The Code of Conduct has been developed in fulfillment of the legislative requirement under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA). While the department demonstrates an existing culture of personal and professional integrity and maintains a daily commitment to ethical behaviour in all its business practices, the Code provides a clear and consistent guide to the behaviours and ethical decision-making expected from all persons employed by the department.

With over 100 federal departments, agencies and boards as our clients, as well as the Canadian public, PSPC has a unique responsibility. Whether through purchasing, banking, real estate or any of our core activities, our commitment to the Client Service Strategy and sound stewardship is at the heart of our mandate. We must ensure the integrity of our processes and decisions, as well as set standards for major initiatives such as the greening of government operations.

The Code of Conduct incorporates our responsibilities under the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (VECPS), the PSPC Statement of Values and Guiding Principles, the PSPC Standards of Conduct and the PSPC Statement on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, which are consistent with our culture and our unique roles and duties. The Code of Conduct also supports the Department's People Management Philosophy and Our Commitments; it is to be used to help guide how we work and interact with each other.

The Code of Conduct is intended to serve as a compass and points us in the right direction as we seek to incorporate high standards, values of integrity, respect, excellence and leadership into our everyday actions and decisions. By living our values and working in accordance with our code of conduct, not only do we continue to foster a positive workplace, but we also demonstrate to our clients and Canadians that we are worthy of their confidence.

We look forward to continue to work with you, guided by the Code of Conduct as we deliver high-quality services and programs that meet the needs of federal organizations and ensure sound stewardship on behalf of all Canadians.

Chapter 1: Values and ethics code for the public sector

Please consult the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector available on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat website. The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act has been in place since 2007 and is part of the Federal Accountability Act (FAA) implementation. Section 5 of the PSDPA requires the Treasury Board to establish a general code of conduct to apply to the entire public sector, including Crown corporations and separate agencies.

The appendix of the VECPS includes the duties and obligations of public servants.

Chapter 2: PSPC Values and standards of conduct

The PSPC Code of Conduct comprises a number of important components. While it begins with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the following elements are also included:

Objective

The PSPC Code of conduct provides us all with guidance on our conduct in the context of our position as employees of PSPC. This Code complements the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and serves as a guide to decision-making and conduct in situations that arise from PSPC's Mission and vision and specific responsibilities.

It is an overview of the high standards of behaviour to which we hold ourselves accountable, and demonstrates to our colleagues, suppliers, partners, clients and the public the key principles we are committed to upholding as we discharge our responsibilities to Canadians. Our Code embodies the qualities and behaviours we value in ourselves and in our organization, as we strive to maintain a high-productive workforce and enhance a respectful, modern, safe and healthy environment in harmony with the Treasury Board’s Policy on People Management.

Application

The Code of Conduct applies to all PSPC employees, regardless of level, position or geographic location, and to those working on our behalf, as applicable. The Code does not replace or in any way change PSPC's policies (only accessible to Government of Canada employees), business practices or collective agreements but seeks to inform them.

Acceptance and adherence to this Code is a condition of employment for every persons employed at the department. Persons employed include:

  • employees on approved leave with or without pay
  • employees on secondment
  • employees coming in or going outside the department on Interchange Canada agreements
  • casual employees, and
  • students of the department.

Note: For clarity purposes, the word employee is also used in this document.

A breach of the Code of Conduct may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment. Under the authority of the Financial Administration Act, PSPC's Deputy Head has the authority to establish standards of discipline and set penalties. PSPC's Directive on Discipline provides useful information on the department's expectations as well as processes related to disciplinary measures.

It is every employee’s responsibility to contribute to an inclusive, respectful and healthy workplace. Should any person employed think or witness a breach of expected standards of conduct, they are to raise their concerns in order to address the situation. Employees should first raise the matter with their immediate manager, next level manager or the appropriate disclosure officer and read Annex B: Departmental guideline on employee retaliation protection with respect to formal recourses for more information on how employees are protected when raising issues in good faith.

The departmental Code of Conduct came into force in April 2012.

PSPC Statement of values

In providing common, central and shared government services, we, the employees of Public Services and Procurement Canada, are guided by and proudly identify with the following values:

  • Respect — We are honest, equitable, fair and respectful with our colleagues, partners and clients, all while recognizing their individual contributions and diversity
  • Integrity — We act with integrity and in the public's best interest at all times and ensure transparent, accountable and responsible management at all levels of the organization
  • Excellence — We work collaboratively to provide for excellence and professionalism in the delivery of services to our partners, clients and Canadians while achieving best value for government
  • Leadership — We demonstrate leadership through responsible action, forward-looking perspective and commitment to continual improvement

PSPC People management philosophy and our commitments

As an organization, PSPC strives to give all its employees opportunities to achieve organizational, professional and personal goals in a respectful and inclusive workplace, mobilized and supported by leadership at all levels. We value our integrity and our service-oriented culture as well as our innovative contributions to excellence in government operations by contributing to our commitments in our day-to-day activities.

Standards of conduct

As employees of PSPC, we observe and foster the highest standards of conduct, consistent with our PSPC Statement of Values and guiding principles, duties and responsibilities, and in support of our Mission and Vision.

We are committed to the following standards of conduct:

  • We act at all times in full compliance with both the letter and the spirit of all applicable laws
  • We are committed to prudent and responsible stewardship through adherence to the highest standards of sound financial management
  • We do not knowingly place ourselves in situations of real, potential or apparent conflict of interest. Accordingly, we disclose when considering or engaged in outside employment and/or ownership of our own business. We comply with guidelines related to gifts, hospitality and other benefits
  • We protect and safeguard confidential and personal information, and use it only for the purposes for which it was originally collected or created
  • We ensure the proper management of procurement activities through compliance with all applicable practices, controls and policies
  • We account for and protect government property and other valuables that we possess or manage. In addition, we use government-owned or -leased property or valuables for authorized business purposes only. We adhere to policies and guidelines regarding government computer systems and electronic networks
  • We deliver effective services to clients and strive for excellence and continuous improvement in the quality of our services and programs—to enhance client satisfaction and provide the best possible value to Canadians
  • We recognize that in our role as public servants, we owe a duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada. As such, we ensure that our public statements and our actions—including our off-duty conduct—support our ability to carry out our duties; preserve our impartiality and objectivity in the execution of our duties; and reflect positively on our organization
  • We create and maintain accurate, reliable and usable records in support of ongoing business and we protect the integrity of those records
  • We always observe health, safety and security rules and procedures at all times, and promptly report any actual or potential work-related hazard, accident or injury
  • We adopt appropriate behaviours, reasonable and respectful language and dress, that reflect the professional image of the Department and Canada's public service at all times
  • We adhere to the principles of merit, non-partisanship, fairness, transparency, access and representativeness in our staffing processes, including departmental requirements on family and personal relationships
  • We do not engage in any discriminatory practices and at all times support a workplace free from harassment and violence
  • We protect the professional reputation of PSPC employees and the integrity of PSPC operations by reporting any suspicion of work-related wrongdoing to management and/or other appropriate authorities. We do so in good faith and without fear of reprisal, as embodied in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the PSPC Guideline on Employee Retaliation Protection with Respect to Formal Recourse

Chapter 3: PSPC Statement on conflict of interest and post-employment

Context

All employees of Public Services and Procurement Canada must, as a condition of their employment, observe the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the Treasury Board Policy on Policy on people management and Directive on conflict of interest, as well as any additional measures instituted by PSPC within the ministerial Code, and make such declaration as is appropriate in their situation.

Each employee is responsible for taking to prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest. Employees are also required to observe any specific conduct requirements or conflict of interest guidelines applicable to their profession, branch, region or agency.

Purpose

The purpose of this departmental Statement on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment is to enhance and maintain public confidence in the integrity of employees of PSPC by:

  1. informing employees of the public service values and the measures required to comply with Treasury Board’s Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, Policy on People Management and Directive on Conflict of Interest and the additional PSPC measures that have been put in place
  2. minimizing the possibility of conflicts of interest arising between the private interests, such as family or personal relationships, and the public service duties of employees, and providing for their resolution in the public interest should they arise
  3. minimizing the real or perceived possibility of former employees:
    1. receiving preferential treatment or privileged access to government after leaving public office
    2. taking personal advantage of information obtained in the course of official duties before it has become available to the general public;
    3. using public office to gain an unfair advantage in obtaining employment outside the public service

Definitions

Apparent conflict of interest (Conflit d’intérêts apparent)
A situation that is perceived as a conflict of interest by a reasonable observer, whether or not it is the case.

Assets (Biens)
Assets include but are not limited to real estate and real property, publicly traded securities, , stocks and bonds, shares or interests in businesses, including family-owned businesses. Please note that not all assets require a Conflict of Interest Declaration. Please see the PSPC Conflict of Interest Declaration form for an explanation of which assets require a Conflict of Interest Declaration and which do not, at PSPC.

Conflict of duties (Tâches conflictuelles)
A conflict, whether real, apparent or potential, that arises not because of the private interests of a person employed in the core public administration, but as a result of one or more concurrent and competing official responsibilities.

Conflict of interest (Conflit d'intérêts)
This refers to a situation in which an individual has other competing financial, professional or personal obligations or interests that interfere, could interfere, or be perceived to interfere, with his or her ability to adequately perform required duties in a fair and objective manner.

Conflict of interest declaration (Déclaration de conflit d'intérêts)
This brief disclosure completed by PSPC employees relating to any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, and all cases of outside employment. The disclosure is then submitted to the designated official using the PSPC Conflict of Interest Declaration form.

Designated official (Administrateur désigné)
This is the individual delegated by the Deputy Minister, through the departmental Delegation of Authorities Instrument, with authority to respond to Conflict of Interest declarations.

Liabilities (Passif)
These are holdings for which one is financially obligated according to law. Please note that not all liabilities require a declaration form. Please see the PSPC Conflict of Interest Declaration form for an explanation of which kinds of liabilities require a Conflict of Interest Declaration, and which do not, at PSPC.

Outside activities (Activités extérieures)
These refers to structured activities outside of PSPC in which public servants may participate as a part of their personal lives. Examples of outside activities include but are not limited to community boards, and charitable organizations. PSPC employees must submit a Conflict of Interest Declaration form for all outside activities that place them, or could reasonably be perceived as placing them, in a conflict of interest situation.

Outside employment (Emploi extérieur)
This refers to any form of remunerated employment outside of PSPC, including self–owned and/or partnership-based businesses. PSPC employees are required to submit a Conflict of Interest Declaration form regarding all cases of outside employment and receive permission before engaging in outside work.

Potential conflict of interest (Conflict d’intérêts potentiel)
A conflict of interest situation that could reasonably be forseen to happen in the future.

Real conflict of interest (Conflit d’intérêts reel)
A conflict of interest situation that exists at the present time.

Standing panel (Comité permanent)
This is a committee convened to review high risk Conflict of Interest situations.

Committee members include the:

  • Branch/Agency Head (rotating position)
  • Designated Official
  • Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources Branch
  • Senior General Counsel, Legal Services
  • Assistant Deputy Minister, Departmental Oversight Branch
  • Director, Labour Relations
  • Manager, Conflict of Interest

For more definitions related to conflict of interest, please refer to Appendix D of the policy on people management and the glossary on values and ethics.

Responsibilities and accountabilities

The designated official is responsible for:

  1. reviewing employee declarations in accordance with the established departmental review process
  2. advising the employee in writing as expeditiously as possible of the decision as to whether or not a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest exists or may exist
  3. advising the employees that they can or cannot engage in remunerated employment or outside activities and providing explanations
  4. advising the employee of the necessary measures to take to ensure compliance with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, Policy on People Management, Directive on Conflict of Interest and the PSPC Code of Conduct
  5. in cases of conflict of interest, following up at the end of the time frame to ensure the employee has complied with the necessary measures, including documenting all actions, decisions, advice or information given to persons employed that relate to conflict of interest or conflict of duties
  6. sending out semi-annual reminders to all employees

Employees are responsible for:

  1. 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
  2. unless formally approved by the designated official, refraining from having private interests that would be unduly affected by government actions in which they participate, or of which they have knowledge or information
  3. reporting fully and without delay any outside activities (not remunerated), relationships, assets or liabilities that place or may place them in a conflict of interest, using the PSPC Conflict of Interest Declaration form to be submitted to the proper authorities, for review
    1. Additional guidance with regard to assets and liabilities requiring a declaration can be found in the PSPC Conflict of Interest Declaration form
  4. in cases of real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest, and in all cases of outside/remunerated employment, sending a Conflict of Interest Declaration describing the situation to the proper authorities, for review and receiving a written response before starting the remunerated outside employment
  5. reviewing their personal situation at least annually, in the Employee Performance Management Process, and as circumstances warrant, and if necessary, submitting a revised Conflict of Interest Declaration to the proper authorities, for review;
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. not assisting private entities or persons in their dealings with the government where this would result in preferential treatment of the entities or persons
  9. not interfering in the dealings of private entities or persons with the government in order to inappropriately influence the outcome
  10. 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

Political activities

  1. 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
    1. under the Public Service Employment Act, if you plan to become a candidate in an election, you must first receive permission from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to seek the nomination. In addition, federal employees can publicly announce their intention to be a candidate and undertake candidacy-related activities only after the PSC has granted permission
    2. for political activities not related to candidacy, the PSC provides an online self-assessment tool to help you assess risks and make reasonable decisions about your involvement in political activities. It will help you determine whether a given political activity would impair, or could be perceived by others as impairing your ability to perform your duties in a politically impartial manner

Post-employment

  1. minimizing, when leaving the public service, the possibility of real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest between their new employment and their former responsibilities within PSPC and doing so before engaging in new employment
  2. In addition to the above, employees in the Executive Group, EX minus 1 positions and EX minus 2 positions, as well as designated positions at risk of post-employment conflict of interest situations, are subject to a one-year limitation period after leaving office. Before leaving office and during this one-year limitation period, employees are to report to the designated official 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 PSPC employment. They are also to disclose immediately the acceptance of any such offer. Employees shall not, without receiving written authorization from the designated official:
    1. 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 with question may be either directly on the part of the public servant or through their subordinates)
    2. make representations to any government organization on behalf of, persons or entitites outside 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 be either directly on the part of the public servant or through their subordinates) or
    3. 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

The Standing panel is responsible for assisting the designated official in making decisions reflective of the Department's position on conflict of interest.

Compliance and reporting

  1. Employees who disagree with the measures prescribed by the designated official to ensure compliance with the PSPC Code of Conduct are encouraged to discuss the issue with that official
  2. In the event they are unable to resolve the issue, employees may present a grievance against the prescribed measures in accordance with the relevant collective agreements or their terms and conditions of employment
  3. An employee who fails to comply with the both the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector or the PSPC Code of Conduct may be subject to corrective action up to and including termination of employment

References

Acts and regulations

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat publications

PSPC Publications

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