About Government Advertising
The Government of Canada’s approach to advertising is guided by the principles of value-for-money, transparency and accountability, and includes rigorous planning and reporting mechanisms.
Policy requirements for government advertising are described in the Directive on the Management of Communications. Departments are required to submit advertising campaigns with budgets over $500,000 to Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), an independent, third-party reviewer, to ensure government advertising is non-partisan. Departments may also choose to voluntarily submit campaigns with smaller budgets for review.
Reports on advertising activities
- The Annual Report on Government of Canada Advertising Activities is prepared by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). The annual report provides a summary of major campaigns, expenditures and general information on the advertising management process. The annual report also lists all expenditures by federal institutions, as well as expenditures by media type.
- Treasury Board-approved allocations made from the Central Advertising Fund, an annual amount set aside for advertising initiatives, are reported on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s website under Allocations from the Central Advertising Fund.
- All contracts related to advertising are posted on PWGSC’s buyandsell.gc.ca. In addition, departments and agencies post all contracts over $10,000 on their own websites under proactive disclosure.
- All advertising research contracted out by the Government of Canada is available through Library and Archives Canada’s Public Opinion Research Reports and reflected in PWGSC’s Public Opinion Research in the Government of Canada Annual Report.
Annual advertising planning cycle
- Departments and agencies prepare advertising proposals reflecting government priorities, for consideration by the Privy Council Office, which is responsible for coordinating all Government of Canada advertising.
- Proposals are then brought forward to Cabinet, which decides which proposals will proceed, determines a maximum funding amount for each, and confirms the source of funds.
- Advertising funds can be sourced from existing departmental resources or the Central Advertising Fund.
- Departments and agencies prepare Treasury Board submissions to obtain approval to include new advertising funds in the Estimates for parliamentary consideration. Following Treasury Board and parliamentary approval, funds are supplied to departments for their advertising initiatives.
- PWGSC administers contracting and procurement for approved initiatives, administers the Advertising Management Information System (AdMIS), and publishes an annual report.
Advertising Expenditures versus Central Advertising Fund Allocations
The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) website reports on Treasury Board-approved allocations for the Central Advertising Fund. However, there are other sources of funds for government advertising, such as existing departmental resources. As a result, total Central Advertising Fund allocations reported on the TBS website may be less than total government expenditures on advertising as reported in the Annual Report on Government of Canada Advertising Activities.
For information on requirements for Government of Canada advertising, please consult the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity and the Directive on the Management of Communications which includes Mandatory Procedures for Advertising.
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