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ARCHIVED - Guidelines for Ministers' Offices (October 2006) - Archived

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The Excluded Groups and Administrative Policies of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (the Secretariat) publishes and co-ordinates the preparation of this document based entirely on input provided by policy centres at the Secretariat, National Defence, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and the Privy Council Office. By its very nature, the document cannot be all-inclusive and, as such, source documents are cited where appropriate. Responsibility for interpreting the guidelines as they relate to various policies rests with the Secretariat's policy centres or the departments identified above.

The Treasury Board provides ministers with a budget for exempt staff (personnel exempt from the normal appointing procedures under section 128 of the Public Service Employment Act), a budget for operating their offices, and a budget for departmental staff.

Ministers must be able to differentiate between expenses for activities related to the conduct of the portfolio and other official government business and expenses incurred as members of Parliament and members of a political party.

This document consolidates the various financial, personnel, and administrative rules and regulations that govern expenses incurred by ministers and their exempt staff when they perform duties directly related to their responsibilities, which are therefore justifiably chargeable against the appropriation of a particular department. Unless specifically exempted, ministers are subject to Treasury Board policies and regulations (refer to Part 4.1 of these Guidelines). The first source of help, information, or guidance on these matters is the deputy minister.

The Treasury Board may authorize exceptions to the Guidelines in special circumstances. All such requests must first be discussed between the minister and the president of the Treasury Board.

This document and Treasury Board policies are available electronically on the Secretariat's Web site at and respectively.

Part 1 Conflict of Interest

1.1 Conflict of interest

The highest standards of probity and integrity are expected of staff of ministers. All persons on the political staff of a minister, whether they be exempt, constituency, or House of Commons, full-time or part-time, on salary or on contract, are subject to the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders.

The ethics commissioner administers the Code and applies compliance measures, including the policy on designation of ministers' exempt staff. The Office of the Ethics Commissioner will communicate with each individual as soon as notification of his or her appointment has been received from the office of a minister.

The requirements of the Code generally cover the following:

  • general principles and specific prohibitions;
  • mandatory reporting requirements, involving both confidential and publicly available information; and
  • post-employment conditions.

The Office of the Ethics Commissioner can be reached for advice and guidance at (613) 995-0721 or by e-mail at The Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders can be found at the Office of the Ethics Commissioner's Web site at

1.1.1 Ministers' exempt staff

The minister may designate exempt staff members as being subject to Part III-Post-Employment Measures of the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders. (See Those who are so designated are bound by it. Chiefs of staff for ministers, other senior positions, and any other position working with sensitive policy files must be subject to the post-employment compliance measures. The minister may also designate other exempt staff members, in consideration of their specific responsibilities.

The minister, or a designate, is responsible for communicating in a timely and expeditious manner to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner the names and titles (designations) of all newly hired exempt staff members or exempt staff transfers in or out, as well as an indication of whether Part III of the Code (Post-Employment) applies to them. Persons to whom the Code applies must comply with its requirements within 120 days. The policy on designation of ministers' exempt staff can be obtained from the Office of the Ethics Commissioner.

1.1.2 Departmental employees

Departmental staff assigned to the office of a minister must comply with the requirements of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (see On assignment to such an office, the employee must review his or her circumstances in light of the newly assigned duties and, if necessary, complete a confidential report and submit it to the deputy minister or his or her representative.