Organizational code


Introduction

The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector (VECPS) came into effect in April 2012 as an overarching guide for employees, to help clarify the role and expected behaviours of public servants, and outlines the fundamental values of the public sector of Canada. The VECPS was developed in consultation with public servants, public sector organizations and bargaining agents. The Code applies to the entire public sector, including departments, crown corporations and separate agencies.

Based on the VECPS and in accordance with Section 6 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), Shared Services Canada (SSC) has developed its own Organizational Code (The Code) to provide guidance on ethical behaviour and decision-making in the context of day to day operations at SSC. The SSC Organizational Code was developed in consultation with management, employees and union members from across the Department. The SSC Code outlines the values and department specific information on expected behaviours that guide SSC employees in all activities related to their professional duties. In particular, the Code recognizes the unique role our Department plays in activities related to procurement, hospitality and gifts, and information security. Guidelines on more specific activities and mandated services will be developed on an ongoing basis to accompany the Code.

Adherence to both the VECPS and to the SSC Code is a condition of employment. The Codes will help us integrate these values to our decision making process and our actions, so that we can provide Canadians with the best possible programs, policies and services.

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 professionals whose work is essential to Canada's well being and 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, responsibilities and values of the federal public service.Footnote 1 Constitutional conventions of ministerial responsibility prescribe the appropriate relationships among ministers, parliamentarians, public servantsFootnote 2 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 public sector organizations and for upholding the tradition and practice of a professional non-partisan federal public sector. Furthermore, ministers play a critical role in supporting public servants' responsibility to provide professional and frank adviceFootnote 3

Shared Services Canada Vision

To be the public sector's most innovative organization in providing cost-effective shared services that improve service delivery to Canadians.

Shared Services Canada MandateFootnote 4

The Government of Canada wishes to standardize and consolidate, within a single shared services entity, certain administrative services that support government institutions in order to enable those services to be provided more effectively and support the efficient use of public money. SSC's current mandate is to simultaneously operate and transform the government's IT infrastructure.

Within this mandate, the protection and safeguarding of confidential material and personal information is paramount. This information is to be used only for the purposes for which it was originally collected or created. Proper management of procurement activities will be ensured through compliance with all applicable practices, controls and policies.

Organizational Values and Expected Behaviours

These values serve as a compass to guide SSC employees in everything they do. They cannot be considered in isolation, as they will often overlap. This Code is an important source of guidance for employees. SSC employees are expected to take steps to integrate these values to their decisions, behaviours, actions, policies and processes. In addition, all Federal public servants are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the values of the public sector. SSC employees can expect to be treated in accordance with these values by the organization.

The values and expected behaviours are intended to promote ethical decision making and behaviour, and guide employees in carrying out their day to day duties. It is recognized that the manner in which we reach our goals is as important as the results we achieve. It is by carefully considering each of the values that employees will determine the right course of action in any given situation.

The following sections outline the values and behaviours that are expected of all SSC employees and are to be demonstrated along with the five Public Sector values which are: Respect for Democracy, Respect for People, Integrity, Stewardship and Excellence (see Appendix A).

Service

"Service is why we exist."

Taking responsibility to meet or exceed the service standards set across the enterprise, by working collaboratively to provide fair, timely, efficient, effective, courteous and professional service in both official languages.

SSC employees demonstrate Service by:

  • Meeting and, where possible, exceeding requirements by understanding the real, underlying needs, providing insight, maintaining clear communication on mutual expectations, recommending actions and being accountable;
  • Working collaboratively to provide excellence and professionalism in the delivery of our services;
  • Establishing, monitoring, reviewing and communicating service standards to provide products and services that meet and, where possible, exceed requirements as well as organizational priorities; and,
  • Fostering an environment where stakeholders' needs are taken into account in all decision making processes.

Innovation

"Innovate to make a difference."

Innovation increases the value of what is offered across the enterprise by providing new solutions that accurately reflect requirements.

SSC employees demonstrate Innovation by:

  • Demonstrating openness to experience, encouraging managed experimentation and calculated risk taking by exploring alternatives, and responding to challenges with creative solutions or services that are based on analysis, experience and fresh perspectives;
  • Exploring improved and more effective ways to increase efficiency and to promote and recognize creativity;
  • Interacting collaboratively to foster an environment that is conducive to teamwork, team diversity and differing perspectives; and,
  • Engaging in and supporting projects that require new and different approaches while also considering existing knowledge and experience.

Value

"Leverage partnerships to increase efficiencies and reduce costs."

Value (for money) is a key driver in the decision making process. Public Servants are entrusted to use and steward public resources responsibly toward achieving optimal outcomes.

SSC employees demonstrate the integration of Value by:

  • Acting with integrity, honesty and in the best interest of the public and the federal public service by demonstrating transparency, accountability and responsible management;
  • Ensuring effective and efficient stewardship of public assets and resources at all times;
  • Achieving streamlined operational efficiency and activities in support of government deliverables;
  • Identifying and implementing best practices; and,
  • Fostering critical thinking and lateral interactions while leveraging existing resources and processes.

Application

Acceptance of these values and adherence to the expected behaviours is a condition of employment for every SSC employee, regardless of their level or position. A breach of these values or behaviours may result in administrative and/or disciplinary measures being taken, up to and including termination of employment.

The SSC Organizational Code is effective June 2013.

Avenues for Resolution

The expected behaviours are not intended to respond to every possible ethical issue that might arise in the course of an employee's daily work. When ethical issues arise, SSC employees are encouraged to discuss and resolve these matters with their immediate supervisor. They can also seek advice and support from other appropriate sources within SSC including the values and ethics advisors and the labour relations advisors.

SSC employees at all levels are expected to resolve issues in a fair and respectful manner and consider informal processes, such as dialogue or mediation.

As provided by Sections 12 and 13 of the PSDPA, if an employee has information that could indicate a serious breach of this Code, they can bring the matter, in confidence and without fear of reprisal, to the attention of their immediate supervisor, the senior officer for internal disclosure or the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

The Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure is responsible for supporting the President in meeting the requirements of the PSDPA. At SSC, the Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure is the Chief Audit and Evaluation Executive (CAEE). The CAEE helps promote a positive environment for disclosing wrongdoingFootnote 5 and deals with disclosures of wrongdoing made by SSC employees.

Members of the public who have reason to believe that an employee at SSC has not acted in accordance with this Code can bring the matter to an organizational point of contact designated for the handling of such concerns or to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

Reporting Inappropriate Conduct at Shared Services Canada

When SSC employees believe that there may be a serious breach of this Code or wrongdoing in the workplace, they should discuss and report the matter, in confidence and without fear of reprisal, to at least one of the following persons:

  • Their immediate supervisor/manager;
  • The Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure; or,
  • The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

SSC employees may make a disclosure in good faith to any of the above individuals and be protected from reprisal.

The PSDPA provides a few examples of what can constitute wrongdoing in the workplace, including:

  • A contravention of any Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province;
  • A misuse of public funds or public assets; and,
  • A gross mismanagement in the public sector.

When SSC employees are faced with an ethical issue, they should discuss and report the matter, in confidence and without fear of reprisal, to at least one of the following persons:

  • Their immediate supervisor/manager;
  • The Senior Officer for Values and Ethics and Conflict of Interest; or,
  • Their human resources or labour relations advisor.

SSC employees are expected to resolve issues in a fair and respectful manner and to consider the use of informal conflict resolution mechanisms.

Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment

SSC is subject to the 1Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment (COI/PE Policy) issued by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) which took effect April 1, 2012. The COI/PE Policy is meant to help public servants identify and address conflict of interest situations. It provides direction and measures to assist organizations and public servants effectively deal with real, potential and apparent conflict of interest situations, which may arise during and after employment in the public service.

Appendix B of the COI/PE Policy sets out the conflict of interest and post employment requirements that are a condition of employment for public servants in all organizations subject to the COI/PE Policy. It sets out the requirements for public servants for preventing and dealing with conflict of interest situations. These requirements are grounded in and serve to uphold the values contained in the Codes. By upholding these ethical standards, public servants maintain and increase public confidence in the honesty, fairness and integrity of the public service. Public servants who do not comply with the requirements set out in Appendix B of the COI/PE Policy may be subject to administrative and/or disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.

Roles and Responsibilities

Supervisors and Managers

Supervisors and managers are responsible for promoting a culture of values and ethics at SSC by:

  • Promoting a favourable environment for disclosing wrongdoing, breaches and/or real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest;
  • Informing and reminding employees of this Code as well as other related policies, procedures and guidelines;
  • Ensuring that employees have access to learning opportunities related to values and ethics;
  • Advising and guiding employees who are thinking about reporting a wrongdoing, a breach and/or a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest;
  • Ensuring that disclosures can be made confidentially;
  • Protecting employees from reprisals that are or may be taken against them by other employees or managers; and,
  • Upon receipt of a disclosure of wrongdoing, breach and/or conflict of interest situation, consulting with the appropriate person at SSC to determine the appropriate course of action to deal with the disclosure.

Values and Ethics Advisors

Values and Ethics Advisors are responsible for supporting SSC by delivering services to employees and managers in the areas of values and ethics, including:

  • Advising employees on ethical matters that could give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in the performance of their duties, or after employment as a public servant ceases and, ethical matters or concerns of inappropriate conduct; and
  • Informing senior management of matters that come to their attention related to real, apparent or potential conflict of interest and inappropriate conduct.

Labour Relations Advisors

Labour Relations Advisors are responsible for supporting SSC by delivering services to employees and managers in the area of human resources management, including:

  • Providing advice and guidance on employer obligations and employee rights; and,
  • Providing advice to managers with respect to workplace matters, including grievances and discipline related matters.

Senior Officer for Values and Ethics

The Senior Officer for Values and Ethics, also known as the Director General, Human Resources and Workplace, is responsible for supporting the President in the delivery of the SSC Values and Ethics Program. The Senior Officer for Values and Ethics is responsible for the delivery of the Informal Conflict Management System (ICMS,) the Employee Assistance Program at SSC, and is also charged with assisting the President in ensuring employees take the appropriate actions to avoid, reduce or manage real, apparent or potential conflict of interest situations in an ethical manner and in accordance with this Code and the TBS Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post Employment. The Senior Officer for Values and Ethics is supported by the Director, Workplace Relations.

The Senior Officer for Values and Ethics must:

  • Provide an informal setting where employees can discuss concerns or perceptions of inappropriate conduct or ethical matters;
  • Ensure that training in values and ethics is available to employees;
  • Ensure that employees have access to informal conflict resolution mechanisms;
  • Ensure that employees have access to employee assistance services;
  • Ensure that disclosures of real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest can be made confidentially;
  • Recommend to the President and employees measures for avoiding, reducing or managing real, apparent or potential conflict of interest situations; and,
  • Provide advice to senior management with respect to workplace matters, including grievances and discipline related matters.

Informal Conflict Management System

The use of informal conflict resolution mechanisms complements but does not replace formal resolution mechanisms such as grievances and disclosures of serious breaches and/or wrongdoing in the workplace.

For further information regarding the Informal Conflict Management System, please consult the SSC Extranet.

Co-Champions for Values and Ethics

The co-champions for Values and Ethics support the Values and Ethics Program by providing regular and consistent guidance and leadership for activities and communications pertaining to values and ethics and the creation of a positive work environment. Their role of reaching out to employees and demonstrating the embodiment of values and ethics principles at SSC will be of the utmost importance in the coming years as we establish the unique culture of our Department.

Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure

The Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure is responsible for supporting the President in meeting the requirements of the PSDPA and in ensuring that disclosures of wrongdoing and/or a serious breach of this Code can be made without fear of reprisal.

The Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure:

  • Promotes a positive environment for disclosing wrongdoing and/or serious breaches;
  • Advises and guides employees who are thinking about reporting a wrongdoing and/or a serious breach;
  • Responds to disclosures made by employees;
  • Ensures that disclosures can be made confidentially and without fear of reprisal; and,
  • Recommends measures to the President for correcting and/or preventing wrongdoing and/or serious breaches to the SSC Organizational Code of Conduct.

For more information on the role and the authority of the Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure and SSC internal disclosure mechanisms, please visit the SSC Extranet.

Monitoring and Reporting

The SSC Organizational Code of Conduct will be monitored through the reporting mechanisms outlined below and reported to the President.

  • As the Senior Officer for Values and Ethics, the Director General of Human Resources and Workplace makes recommendations to improve the overall well-being and quality of the workplace for all SSC employees.
  • As the Senior Officer for Conflict of Interest, the Director General of Human Resources and Workplace will maintain a record of information related to ethical matters that could give rise to real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest, in accordance with this Code and the Treasury Board 2Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.
  • As the Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure, the CAEE will maintain a record of information related to disclosures and actions taken in response to disclosures, in accordance with sections 11 and 38 of the PSDPA.

Appendix A: Statement of Values from the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector

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:

  • Respecting the rule of law and carrying out their duties in accordance with legislation, policies and directives in a non-partisan and impartial manner;
  • Loyally carrying out the lawful decisions of their leaders and supporting ministers in their accountability to Parliament and Canadians; and,
  • Providing decision makers with all the information, analysis and advice they need, always striving to be open, candid and impartial.

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 our 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:

  • 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; and,
  • Working together in a spirit of openness, honesty and transparency that encourages engagement, collaboration and respectful communication.

Integrity

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 service.

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 their employer's trust.

Stewardship

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:

  • Effectively and efficiently using the public money, property and resources managed by them;
  • Considering the present and long-term effects that their actions have on people and the environment; and,
  • Acquiring, preserving and sharing knowledge and information, as appropriate.

Excellence

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:

  • Providing fair, timely, efficient and effective services that respect Canada's official languages.
  • Continually improving the quality of policies, programs and services they provide.
  • Fostering a work environment that promotes teamwork, learning and innovation.

Appendix B: Reference Documents

The following is a list of reading resources that relate to this Code. It is by no means exhaustive however it includes the most relevant material.

Acts and Regulations

  • Access to Information Act
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Canadian Human Rights Act
  • Conflict of Interest Act
  • Criminal Code of Canada
  • Financial Administration Act
  • Privacy Act
  • Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
  • Public Service Employment Act
  • Public Service Labour Relations Act
  • Canadian Labour Code
  • Lobbying Act

Treasury Board Policies and Documents

  • Communications Policy of the Government of Canada
  • Directive on Executive Compensation
  • Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment for Certain Excluded/Unrepresented Employees
  • Flexible Working Arrangements – Policies and Publications
  • Guidelines for Discipline
  • Harassment in the Workplace – Policies and Publications
  • Occupational Health and Safety – Policies and Publications
  • Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post Employment
  • Policy on Terms and Conditions of Employment
  • Policy on the Use of Electronic Networks
  • Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector

Other Relevant Information

  • Collective agreements
  • Duty of Loyalty

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