FedDev Ontario Code of Conduct
Chapter 3: Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment
Requirements for Public Servants
The following are the conflict of interest and post-employment requirements that are a condition of employment for public servants at FedDev Ontario. These requirements are grounded in and serve to uphold the values contained in the Public Sector Code 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, result in a potential for a conflict of interest, or result in an actual conflict of interest. Conflict of interest does not relate exclusively to matters concerning financial transactions and the transfer of economic benefit. Although financial activity is important, conflicts of interest in any area of activity can have a negative impact on the perceived objectivity of the 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, you should refer to the requirements found in this Code, to guide appropriate action. You can also seek guidance from your manager or from the President (which is the deputy head at FedDev Ontario) or delegate.
In addition to the requirements outlined in this Code, you are required to observe any specific conduct requirements of the statutes governing FedDev Ontario and your profession, where applicable.
General Responsibilities and Duties
A public servant's general responsibilities and duties include the following :
- Taking all possible steps to recognize, prevent, report, and resolve any real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest between your official responsibilities and any of your private affairs;
- Unless otherwise permitted in this Code, refraining from having private interests that would be unduly affected by government actions in which you participate, or of which you have knowledge or information;
- Not knowingly taking advantage of, or benefiting from, information that is obtained in the course of your 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 your 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 your ability to perform your duties in an objective or impartial manner; and
- Ensuring that any real, apparent or potential conflict that arises between your private activities and your official responsibilities as a public servant is resolved in the public interest.
What this means for you at FedDev Ontario
- Report to your manager all situations that could be a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest.
- Always be aware of situations that could give rise to any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest.
- Ensure that private activities and official responsibilities as public servants do not conflict.
- Refrain from using your position as leverage to influence or gain a personal advantage that is a benefit for yourself, a family member, a friend or a colleague.
Requirements During Employment
Requirements for preventing and dealing with situations of conflict of interest during employment
Public servants are required to report in writing to the President (or delegated authority) all outside activities, assets and interests that might give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in relation to official duties. Such a report is to be made within 60 days of initial appointment or any subsequent appointment, transfer or deployment. Reports should be made using FedDev Ontario's Conflict of Interest Disclosure Reporting Form.
On a regular basis thereafter, and every time a major change occurs in your personal affairs or official duties as a public servant, you are required to review your obligations under this Code, the Public Sector Code and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment. If a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, you must 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 Code, as well as with other related directives or policies issued by the Treasury Board.
When in doubt, you are to immediately report the situation to your manager and seek advice or direction on how to proceed.
What this means for you at FedDev Ontario
If you work in an area with responsibilities identified to have a high risk of conflict of interest, you may have to attest regularly that you understand your obligations under this Code and indicate whether or not you need to submit a new or revised report.
Assets and liabilities
As a public servant, you are required to evaluate your assets and liabilities, taking into consideration the nature of your official duties and the characteristics of your assets. If there is any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between the carrying out of your official duties and your assets or liabilities, you are to report this matter to the President (or delegated authority) in a timely manner.
Where the President (or delegated authority) determines that any of these assets or liabilities results in a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in relation to your official duties, you 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 and liabilities 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.
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.
As a public servant, you are required to provide a report to the President (or delegated authority) when your outside employment or activities might subject you to demands incompatible with your official duties, or cast doubt on your ability to perform your duties or responsibilities in a completely objective manner. The President (or delegated authority) 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 the President (or delegated authority) on such contractual or other arrangements. The President (or delegated authority) will determine whether the arrangement presents a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest and may require that the contract be modified or terminated.
What this means for you at FedDev Ontario
- Preventing situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, is the primary method by which we, as public servants, can maintain public confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the public service.
- To comply with the conflict of interest measures outlined in this Code, it is usually sufficient for you to submit a confidential report disclosing any ownership of particular assets, investments, receipt of gifts, hospitality or other benefits, or participation in any outside employment or activities.
- Additionally, if you receive a benefit or income either directly or indirectly from a contract with the Government of Canada, you are required to disclose such contractual or other arrangements.
- The FedDev Ontario Conflict of Interest Disclosure Reporting Form is available on the Human Resources intranet web page.
- Occasionally, you may need to take additional compliance measures at the direction of management. These may include the following:
- You may have to avoid or withdraw from particular activities or situations, or you may have to refuse offers of gifts that would place you in a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with your official duties.
- You may have to divest yourself of particular assets, or take other appropriate measures as determined by the delegated manager, where such assets constitute a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with your official duties.
- You may have to modify or terminate a contractual arrangement with the Government of Canada where the arrangement presents a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest.
- As a public servant, you cannot take advantage of contacts developed in the course of your official duties to market, acquire or carry on outside activities.
- If you are on Leave Without Pay (LWOP), you are expected to seek guidance and to submit a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Reporting Form if, during the period of LWOP, you are contemplating outside employment or activities.
- If you are requesting LWOP to pursue outside employment opportunities, you must submit a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Reporting Form to seek direction and clearance well in advance before accepting such employment.
- If you are an Investment Review Committee member and in a situation that could give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest, you will recuse yourself from the discussion. If you need to be recused for reason of conflict of interest, you must submit a report detailing the real, apparent or potential conflict of interest to Human Resources for response by the delegated authority.
For more information on FedDev Ontario's Conflict of Interest process, visit the Human Resources webpage.
As a public servant, if you are considering involvement in political activity you should seek the advice of your 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).
"A political activity" is defined in part 7 of the PSEA as "carrying on 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 that is not covered by part 7 of the PSEA but that could constitute a conflict of interest is required to report the proposed activity to the President (or delegated authority).
Similarly, any public servants who are subject to this Code but are not subject to part 7 of the PSEA and who wish to engage in any political activity that could constitute a conflict of interest are to report the proposed activity to the President (or delegated authority). This includes seasonal, casual and part-time workers and students appointed within student employment programs.
Gifts, hospitality and other benefits
Public servants are expected to use good 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 Public Sector Code, the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, and this Code.
You are not to accept any gifts, hospitality or other benefits that may have a real, apparent or potential influence on your objectivity in carrying out your official duties and responsibilities or that may place you 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 the employer.
Public servants are to seek written direction from the President (or delegated authority) 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.
Solicitation and fundraising
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, prior written authorization from the President (or delegated authority) is required in order to solicit donations, prizes or contributions in kind from external organizations or individuals.
Similarly, if an outside individual or entity, with whom FedDev Ontario 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 must obtain the consent in writing of the President (or delegated authority) prior to accepting any such benefit.
The President (or delegated authority) 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 Code is consistent with paragraph 121(1) (c) of the Criminal Code.
Avoidance of preferential treatment
Public servants are responsible for demonstrating objectivity and impartiality in the exercise of duties and in 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 you are prohibited from granting preferential treatment or advantages to family, friends or any other person or entity. You are not to offer extraordinary assistance to any entity or persons already dealing with the government without the knowledge and support of your supervisor. You 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.
Requirements for Before and After Leaving Office
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 most recent responsibilities within the federal public service and subsequent employment outside the public service.
Before leaving employment
Before leaving your employment with the public service, you are to disclose your intentions regarding any future outside employment or activities that may pose a risk of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with your current responsibilities and discuss potential conflicts with your manager or the President (or delegated authority).
What this means for you at FedDev Ontario
Certain positions at FedDev Ontario involve official duties that may raise post-employment concerns. At FedDev Ontario, the President has designated positions classified at the following levels as being subject to these measures:
Post-employment limitation period for public servants in designated positions
The President (or delegated authority) is 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 the President 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, do the following without the President'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 be either directly on the part of the public servant or through subordinates;
- Make representations to any government organization on behalf of persons or entities outside the public service with which they had significant official dealings during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their serviceFootnote 4—The official dealings in question may be either 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.
Waiver or reduction of limitation period
A public servant or former public servant may apply to the President (or delegated authority) for a written waiver or reduction of the limitation period. The public servant is to provide sufficient information to help the President (or delegated authority) determine whether to grant the waiver, taking into consideration the following criteria:
- The circumstances under which the termination of 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
- Any other consideration at the discretion of the President.
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 President (or delegated authority). When a public servant and the President (or delegated authority) 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 President.
A great deal of trust is placed in you in the performance of your duties by your employer, as well as by the Canadian public.
Although this Code prescribes values, expected behaviours and standards of conduct, they are not exhaustive. The absence of a specific standard of behaviour or guideline covering a particular situation does not relieve you from the responsibility to act ethically. The action or omission may still be subject to disciplinary action. Do not assume that only one interpretation of a situation exists, particularly in conflict of interest situations, such as outside activities or employment. Consult with your manager or Human Resources Branch.
For more information on conflict of interest and post-employment, visit the Human Resources webpage.
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