Frequently asked questions about the Defence Ethics Programme

From: National Defence

Read frequently asked questions about the Defence Ethics Programme (DEP).

1. What is the Defence Ethics Programme?

See the Defence Ethics Programme page for the vision and mission of the DEP.

2. Why does the DND/CAF have an ethics programme?

Due to changes in society, technology, government and in our organizations, decision making is more complex today than it was in the past. These changes are both internal and external to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces.

The DEP was created not because we are any less ethical than we were in the past, but to respond to this changing context. The goal is to provide personnel with the right knowledge, tools and capabilities so that they make the right choices and decisions.

3. When did the Defence Ethics Programme begin? 

Senior National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces leaders endorsed the development of an ethics programme in February 1994. The DEP was then formally authorized by the Deputy Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff in 1997.

4. Who is responsible for implementing the DEP?

The Assistant Deputy Minister (Review Services) (ADM (RS)) is the authority for the DEP. ADM (RS) provides the program’s strategy, policy, guidance and supports Level 1 organizations with the implementation of the DEP. Each Level 1 Advisor is responsible for implementing the DEP within their own organizations.

5. Who does the DEP apply to? 

The DEP applies to all Department of National Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces members.

6. If my organization has its own ethics programme, does the DEP still apply to me? 

Yes. Even though each Level 1 organization is responsible for implementing the Defence Ethics Programme (DEP), it also can be adapted to address different organizational needs. For example, the Army, Navy and Air Force have difference organizational cultures which may require some adjustments in the DEP. As long as other ethics programs at the Department are based on the DEP, they can be adjusted to address specific ethical issues and risks within that organization.

The core ethical principles and values that serve as the basis for the DEP remain the same since they are consistent with both the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and the Military Ethos.

7. How can I make my personnel aware of defence ethics? 

Information and support are available in the education and training section of the Defence Team intranet (accessible only a Government of Canada network). The following resources are available to improve your knowledge in defence ethics:

  • Ethics tools and products
  • Introduction to Defence Ethics course

All DND employees and CAF personnel are encouraged to take the Introduction to Defence Ethics course and to include it in their personal learning plans. The online course replaces the classroom version and is open to National Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces members across Canada and around the world. It can be taken as a stand-alone introduction to defence ethics and/or a prerequisite to supervisor-level classroom course.

You can register for the course through the Defence Learning Network. Learning times will vary, but the course takes an average of 4 to 6 hours to complete.

8. What is the Statement of Defence Ethics?

The Statement of Defence Ethics is the heart of the DEP. It’s a public statement of commitment to ethical principles and obligations, consistent with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and Military Ethos. DND employees and CAF members should use the statement in the fulfillment of their individual and organizational responsibilities.

9. What is a values-based ethics programme? 

The DEP is an example of a values-based ethics programme where the defining elements are ethical principles and values. These principles and values are not only a guide for personal and institutional conduct, but are also criteria by which that conduct should be judged. A values-based approach to ethics states what is desirable, rather than specifying what should or should not be done.

The preventive and compliance approaches are two other important perspectives in the development of ethics programmes. Even though the DEP is classified as a values-based programme, it also includes aspects from both of the following:

  • The compliance-based approach tends to develop elaborate codes emphasizing compliance with rules, which tends to lean towards a legalistic approach.
  • The preventive-based approach identifies areas of organizational behaviour and culture that are considered to be exposed to high risks of non-compliance and focusses on those aspects.
10. What is Conflict of Interest and where do I find the appropriate forms? 

See the Conflict of Interest page for more information.

11. How do I make an internal disclosure of wrongdoing in the workplace?

The Defence Ethics Programme does not handle internal disclosures of wrongdoing. Please contact the Internal Disclosure Office to submit a Disclosure of Wrongdoing.

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