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Part 6 Travel

6.1 Introduction

Ministers intending to travel in Canada outside the National Capital Region should inform the Office of the Prime Minister of their destination and the nature of the event they will be attending.

Ministers are excluded from the requirements to follow the terms of the Treasury Board Travel Directive (see, as explained in the Treasury Board Special Travel Authorities, which can be accessed at

Ministers should use the Public Works and Government Services Canada Government Travel Modernization Office / Shared Travel Services Initiative (GTMO/STSI) (previously the Government Travel Service, GTS) when booking travel related to departmental business, paid from departmental budgets, or when pre-paid tickets are needed (thereby benefiting from the government-negotiated discounted airfares and flight insurance).

Ministers travelling for their constituency should use the House of Commons Members' Travel Service. Alternatively, ministers may book directly with carriers, or a travel agency/agent, and claim reimbursement following each trip, as long as the department is not billed directly by the travel suppliers.

Ministers can use their Designated Travel Card (DTC) or their personal credit card and be reimbursed for funds expended or they may request an advance from their department for travel costs. Expenditures claimed, however, should reflect probity and prudence in conducting the affairs of the department or agency.

Information regarding advances, DTCs, and other financial matters is available from the senior financial officer in each department. DTCs are to be used for official government business only.

6.1.1 Travel expenses

Although ministers are excluded from the requirement to follow the Treasury Board Travel Directive, it is recommended that ministers refer to that document, since it provides good examples of expenditures that are considered appropriate for program-related business travel.

Ministers are required to post on their respective departmental Web sites all travel expenses incurred on program-related business. All travel expenses must be posted on a quarterly basis within 30 days following the last day of the quarter and must include the following information:

  • the period covered by the trip and the places visited;
  • transportation expenses; and
  • other expenses (such as accommodation and meals).

All parliamentary secretaries and exempt staff of ministers are also required to post all travel expenses on their respective departmental Web sites (see section 6.1.3).

Travel expenses for ministers on program-related business include the following costs that are charged against the operating budget of the minister.


  • GTMO/STSI service costs (e.g. airline tickets);
  • fees paid to commercial carriers;
  • fees for the use of privately owned, government-owned, or rental vehicles;
  • fees for the rental of trains, aircraft, or marine transportation; and
  • other expenses for related services.

Other expenses

  • accommodation;
  • meals and incidental expenses;
  • luggage insurance when not provided by the carrier;
  • passport, visa, and required photo expenses;
  • telephone calls, facsimiles, Internet connections, and messenger services;
  • office services; and
  • other travel-related services.

6.1.2 Reimbursement for travel expenses

Reimbursement procedures for the travel of ministers on departmental business is governed by a letter from the Minister of Finance dated December 5, 1963, that refers to Cabinet direction (included as Appendix D). Based on the document, ministers are asked to submit as their travel claims a signed statement that includes:

  • the period covered by the trip and the places visited;
  • transportation expenses; and
  • other expenses (such as accommodation and meals).

This statement of expenses may be submitted on a monthly (rather than a per-trip) basis and must include the following certification, pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act:

"I certify that the foregoing expenditures have been incurred by me on official government business in [month] [year]." [minister's signature]

Along with their signed attestation, ministers are required to submit original receipts and supporting documentation for hospitality and travel reimbursements to appropriate departmental officials. Receipts under the control of government institutions are subject to Access to Information (ATI) legislation and thus obtainable through ATI requests.

The aforementioned 1963 letter also specifies that, where requested advances are greater than the actual costs incurred, the difference should be remitted to the department in the form of cash or a personal cheque made payable to the Receiver General for Canada.

6.1.3  Travel expenses-ministerial staff

When a minister requires a parliamentary secretary, staff member, or exempt staff member to travel on departmental business, reservations should be made via the GTMO/STSI and expenses shall be in accordance with the Treasury Board Special Travel Authorities and the Treasury Board Travel Directive, Rates and Allowances. Travel expenditures are chargeable to the minister's operating budget. They should be authorized by the minister or chief of staff (other than for his or her own travel) and reviewed by a senior financial officer.

Parliamentary secretaries and all ministers' departmental and exempt staff that are required to travel on department-related business must post on the departmental Web site all travel expenses incurred. All travel expenses must be posted on a quarterly basis within 30 days following the last day of the quarter and must include the following information:

  • the period covered by the trip and the places visited;
  • transportation expenses; and
  • other expenses (such as accommodation and meals).

When exempt staff accompany the minister, the appropriate signature is necessary to upgrade travel to business class, in the event that the minister does not personally sign the travel authority.

Expenditures incurred by the chief of staff should be authorized by the minister or the minister's senior delegate for financial matters. Parliamentary secretaries, chiefs of staff, ministers' senior policy advisors, directors of communications, and directors of parliamentary affairs have the same travel entitlements as the Executive Group at the EX-02 level and above (refer to the Special Travel Authorities), except when accompanying the minister, in which case the air travel entitlement may be upgraded if so determined by the minister.

Separate claims should be submitted when a member of a minister's staff claims reimbursement for disbursements made on behalf of the minister and his or her own travel expenses. The former should be accounted for separately, included in any reports or ministerial travel expenses.

6.2 Executive vehicles for use by a minister

Unless a minister personally directs otherwise, the department provides a motor vehicle for the minister's official use on government, portfolio, or ministerial business and for personal use.

6.2.1 Official use

Official use encompasses any use of the vehicle for the effective conduct of official business, including constituency business, for which travel would normally be reimbursed by the House of Commons. Official use includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • travel to and from a departmental office, the House of Commons, or any other place where business is transacted;
  • travel to and from airports when proceeding on business travel or when meeting visiting dignitaries;
  • travel to and from diplomatic or other social functions attended in the capacity of a minister;
  • travel under any circumstances when, for personal protection, the presence of a security officer is required;
  • transportation of classified material to, from, and between various work locations, including a minister's residence; and
  • any other use that helps in the discharge of responsibilities as a minister of the Crown.

6.2.2 Personal use

Ministers are authorized to make personal use of the vehicles provided by their departments. However, they are required to pay for the privilege of personal use. The rate of payment is one per cent of the capital cost of the vehicle, per month (or 5/7 of one per cent if weekend use is excluded). For purposes of computing the taxable benefit, this payment is made to the employer for the use of the vehicle and is deducted at source.

The executive vehicle is also available to the minister's family and household for personal use whenever it is not required for official business. For Income Tax Act purposes, any use of an executive vehicle for anything other than official business generally constitutes a taxable benefit.

6.2.3 Selecting an executive vehicle

The maximum price limit for the purchase of an executive vehicle is adjusted annually by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat using the Consumer Price Index produced by Statistics Canada. The current maximum of $32,100 is based on the actual price paid, i.e. the invoiced price as opposed to the advertised or manufacturer's suggested retail price. This price limit includes all options and accessories, as well as GST, provincial sales taxes and levies, and fees for delivery and preparation. Excluded are premiums associated with the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles that are in excess of the price for the same vehicle operating on gasoline.

The executive vehicle standard requires that it be of a type and configuration that will provide for reliable, safe, and effective transportation for the conduct of official business, such as a four-door sedan, passenger minivan, or station wagon. In taking leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), executive vehicles will be of the following kinds:

  • hybrid-electric;
  • factory-equipped for natural gas, propane, or E85 ethanol; or
  • among the most efficient in their class.

The Treasury Board has approved administrative arrangements requiring the minister of Public Works and Government Services to refuse to acquire an executive vehicle exceeding the standard.

Executive vehicles are to be acquired through procurement arrangements established by the headquarters of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) as detailed in the Executive Vehicle Policy, which can be found at, and the Motor Vehicle Policy, which can be found at A list of executive vehicles that can be purchased through PWGSC can be accessed at Ministers' exempt staff should consult with PWGSC headquarters before making any decision on the type of executive vehicle requested.

6.2.4 Maintaining executive vehicles

Ministers and their successors, who acquire vehicles, are expected to continue using a vehicle over its useful life. The standard requires that executive vehicles not be replaced until they are three years old or have travelled at least 150,000 kilometres. The price limit indicated in section 6.2.3 above will be reduced by 15 per cent if an executive vehicle is replaced before it reaches the three-year or 150,000-kilometre standard. This will also apply in cases where the replacement vehicle selected costs more than the lowest quoted price received by PWGSC for the requested vehicle equipment and model. If a minister's vehicle becomes surplus to requirements before its useful life is over, arrangements can be made for the vehicle to be redeployed through PWGSC. A vehicle should not be disposed of outside the federal government when there are other eligible executives in need of it.

All the costs of operating and maintaining the motor vehicle are borne by the department. However, no public funds shall be used to pay fines for traffic violations, including parking violations. To ensure that the taxable benefit portion of operating executive vehicles is uniformly calculated, the Treasury Board requires the department to record all information about usage and operating costs in a systematic manner.

Like all other government vehicles, those used by ministers are expected to be registered with a private-sector fleet management company for fuel, maintenance, and repair. This is generally the same company that is used for the departmental fleet. A credit card is provided and should be used to pay for all required fuel, repairs, and maintenance for the vehicle. The use of the card allows automatic capture of vehicle data in the departmental fleet database.

Notwithstanding the normal government practice to self-underwrite government vehicles, all executive vehicles shall be fully insured commercially. PWGSC is responsible for the purchase and administration of the proper insurance coverage. It pays up front for the coverage and invoices the appropriate departments accordingly on an annual basis.

Further information on insurance can be found in section 6.5 of the Executive Vehicle Policy, and in section 5 of the Policy's guidelines.

6.3 Air travel

Ministers may travel on scheduled National Defence (ND) flights without charge and, under certain circumstances, may use administrative fleet aircraft provided by ND. Executive aircraft should be used only in cases where commercial air service is not available or suitable. These aircraft are to be used only when the purpose of the trip is to carry out ministerial or departmental business.

Ministers, officials, and other authorized personnel will not be charged for flights on ND Administrative Flight Services Challenger aircraft that are used for departmental or government business. Appendix C (National Defence Guidelines for the Use of Government Administrative Aircraft) gives full details on executive flights and how to arrange for them.

When people who travel commercially on government business qualify for financial benefits arising from travel, such as free tickets or compensation for rescheduled flights offered by airlines, these benefits are the property of the Crown. With respect to loyalty points such as Air Miles, the Treasury Board's Travel Directive has been extended to ministers and their exempt staff. Under the Directive, loyalty points collected during official government travel can be used for business or personal travel. When used for personal travel, they are a taxable benefit. For further information, see A question-and-answer document can be obtained at

Ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and their family members may be restricted from travel on non-commercial chartered or private aircraft. Please refer to the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders for details at

First-class air travel for ministers has been restricted as a result of the February 1992 budget, as one of the initiatives to reduce government spending. Economy or business class should be selected within the continental United States and Canada.

For overseas flights, first-class travel may be selected in limited circumstances, such as when ministers are obliged to conduct business shortly after deplaning, when there is no business class service on a given flight, for air travel in excess of nine hours, or for specific medical reasons.

6.4 Rail travel

Ministers may use the free railway travel afforded all members of Parliament and their families.

6.5 International travel (government business)

When considering travel arrangements abroad, ministers must seek the approval of the Prime Minister's Office. They must also consult with the minister of Foreign Affairs on the foreign policy aspects and with the leader of the government in the House of Commons and the deputy leader of the government in the House of Commons and chief government whip about the demands of the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister's Office, acting on behalf of the prime minister, will authorize the travel, as appropriate, bearing in mind government priorities and other ministerial absences from Ottawa. No trip should be planned or in any way confirmed until it has been cleared through the Prime Minister's Office.

Once the trip is approved, procedural and substantive arrangements for the visit, including contact with host governments and program development, must be made through the minister of Foreign Affairs and the department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

6.6 International travel (private)

When considering foreign private travel, ministers should, well before departure, inform the minister of Foreign Affairs in writing so that the department can advise them about any issues that could complicate their visit. This practice applies especially for countries that are designated by Canada as requiring special consideration or security precautions.

6.7 Ministers' spouses

Ministers, at their discretion, may be accompanied by their spouses on government-owned or -operated aircraft. There is no charge for the spouse's flight. All other travel expenses incurred by spouses will be reimbursed and charged against the minister's operating budget when pre-authorized by the Prime Minister's Office and only if the attendance of the spouse at an official function is essential for reasons of protocol. During such events, the spouse is to act as host or hostess, or the spouse is to assist the minister in the conduct of his or her responsibilities.

When spouses are authorized to travel, their expenses are reimbursed by the department concerned, in accordance with the provisions of the Treasury Board Travel Directive. As indicated in Canada Revenue Agency's Interpretation Bulletin IT 470R (Consolidated), these reimbursements may be taxable, depending on the circumstances.

6.8 Travel by members of Parliament with or on behalf of a minister

Where a member of Parliament is travelling either with or on behalf of a minister on departmental business, subject to approval by the minister, these costs may be charged to the department. In accordance with the Special Travel Authorities, available at, when members of Parliament travel on such departmental business, their travel expenses are governed by the Travel Directive, specifically the provisions for "travellers," but such travel is subject to trip approval by the Privy Council Office. In addition, all such travel must be disclosed in accordance with proactive disclosure requirements.

6.9 Transportation allowance for staff overtime

When a staff member is required to return to work or to remain at work after normal and reasonable public transportation has ceased operating, the minister has the discretion to authorize a taxi or the kilometric allowance between the person's residence and the workplace, based on the province in which the vehicle is plated (as per the Treasury Board Travel Directive, Appendix B). Only the portion between work and home is reimbursed for contiguous after-hours work, and this is done only when reasonable public transportation is unavailable.