Archived [2008-10-01] - Policy on Transfer Payments

Date modified: 2000-06-01

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1. Effective Date

This revised policy is effective June 1, 2000. It replaces the Policy on Transfer Payments dated October 15, 1996 and the Policy on Repayable Contributions. It also incorporates policy related to transfer payments previously contained in separate policy documents and in specific Treasury Board decisions. The approved terms and conditions for existing transfer payment programs continue to apply until the earlier of their expiry date or March 31, 2005, at which point Departments must obtain Treasury Board approval to replace or renew such terms and conditions.

2. Preface

2.1 Transfer payments are transfers of money, goods, services or assets made from an appropriation to individuals, organizations or other levels of government, without the federal government directly receiving goods or services in return. Payments that are made in exchange for goods or services are contracts and are subject to the Government Contract Regulations, Trade Agreements and the Contracting Policy.

2.2 The major types of transfer payments are grants, contributions and "other transfer payments" as defined in Appendix A.

2.3 The type of transfer payment that a department uses to meet its program objectives is determined by the departmental mandate, business lines, clients and an assessment of risks. All transfer payments are subject to public scrutiny and must be managed in a manner that is open and transparent to the public, and with due regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Basic principles of parliamentary control, authority and accountability establish the boundaries within which decisions are made on the use and management of transfer payments.

3. Definitions

3.1 See Appendix A for definitions related to this policy.

3.2 In this policy, references are made to "grants" or "contributions" when provisions apply to a specific type of transfer payment, and to "transfer payments" when the provisions apply to all types of transfer payments.

4. Policy Objective

To ensure sound management of, control over and accountability for transfer payments.

5. Policy Statement

It is government policy:

  • to make transfer payments to further approved federal government policy and program objectives;
  • to manage transfer payments in a manner sensitive to risks, complexity, accountability for results and economical use of resources; and
  • to require repayment of contributions made to a business which are intended to allow it to generate profits or increase the value of the business, unless otherwise approved by Treasury Board.

6. Application

This policy applies to all "departments" as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA). In the event of a conflict between the provisions of this policy and the legislation authorizing a transfer payment, the legislation will prevail.

7. Policy Requirements

7.1 Departmental Responsibility and Accountability

7.1.1 Departments must establish policies and procedures to ensure that:

  • effective financial and program controls are designed and implemented within departmental transfer payment programs;
  • due diligence is exercised in the selection and approval of recipients of transfer payments and in the management and administration of the programs;
  • the senior financial officer in conjunction with senior program managers develops efficient and effective accounting and other procedures to ensure that payment requests meet the requirements of the policy on account verification relating to sections 33 and 34 of the FAA and the requirements of the Payment Requisitioning Regulations;
  • proper program and accounting records and other relevant documents are maintained to provide documentary evidence of decisions made and results achieved and to enable disclosure of the amounts paid to recipients of such payments;
  • a results-based management and accountability framework is prepared which provides for appropriate measuring and reporting of results, as related to the purpose of providing resources through transfers;
  • departmental capacity exists to effectively deliver and administer the transfer payment programs including monitoring, learning and training.

7.1.2 Where a department is required to report to the Treasury Board within this policy, it may do so as part of its Annual Reference Level Update (ARLU) submission, unless otherwise noted herein.

7.2 Eligibility

7.2.1 Departments must establish policies and procedures to ensure that transfer payments are not made to federal departments. Any other organization may receive a grant or a contribution, provided it meets the eligibility and entitlement criteria and conforms with any applicable contribution agreement.

7.2.2 Where a department is considering a grant or a contribution to a Crown corporation listed in Section 85 and Part I of Schedule III to the Financial Administration Act, it must consult with the Treasury Board Secretariat to determine whether specific Treasury Board approval is required. Care must be taken to ensure that a grant or contribution is not, and does not become, a substitute for financing a Crown corporation's ongoing operating or capital requirements.

7.2.3 Recipients must respect and comply with the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders and the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service. Where an applicant employs or has a major shareholder who is either a current or former (in the last twelve months) public office holder or public servant in the federal government, compliance with the Code(s) must be demonstrated.

7.3 Approval of Terms and Conditions

7.3.1 Departments must obtain Treasury Board approval of the terms and conditions for a class of grant recipients, and the terms and conditions of all contribution programs either to a specific recipient or a class of recipients. Exceptions are legislation that specifically authorizes a Minister to establish such terms and conditions and specifies the amount and the recipient as well as those instances where the Treasury Board has specifically delegated authority to do so to the responsible Minister.

7.3.2 The responsible Minister may approve technical changes and exceptions to the terms and conditions governing grants and contributions previously approved by the Treasury Board, as follows:

  • amendments and exceptions must be consistent with government and Treasury Board policies and Cabinet policy decisions;
  • any fiscal consequences remain the responsibility of the department (i.e., no adjustments are made to departmental reference levels);
  • the applicability of the terms and conditions may be extended by up to one year;
  • on an individual case by case basis, an exception may be made to the maximum amount payable to any contribution recipient of up to 25 percent in excess of the maximum amount approved by the Treasury Board;
  • departments must consult the Secretariat about whether Treasury Board approval is needed before implementing changes and inform the Secretariat in writing of any amendments or exceptions approved under these provisions within one month after the appropriate Minister has approved them.

7.3.3 The responsible Minister must not make amendments to terms and conditions approved by Treasury Board related to:

  • the program objectives of the grant(s) or contribution(s);
  • the identification of the recipient or definition of the class of eligible recipients;
  • basic financial parameters (e.g., the total amount payable under a class of contributions if applicable or the total amount payable annually if applicable);
  • the maximum amount payable to a recipient defined in the program terms and conditions;
  • any conditions under which a contribution is repayable; and
  • any conditions that the Treasury Board specifies may not be changed without its approval.

7.3.4 Within the purpose, dollar limits and restrictions prescribed by Parliament in the applicable vote, the Treasury Board may authorize new contributions and changes in the amounts to be paid, without further Parliamentary approval.

7.3.5 When legislation requires that terms and conditions be approved by the Governor in Council, Treasury Board Submissions must include an appropriate draft Order in Council.

7.3.6 Terms and conditions, program literature and agreements must include provisions for cancellation or reduction of transfer payments in the event that departmental funding levels are changed by Parliament.

7.3.7 Terms and conditions of transfer payment programs will be approved by the Treasury Board for no more than five years, or such other term as the Treasury Board may determine for specific programs. Departments must assess, through a formal program evaluation or similar review, and report back on the effectiveness of the transfer payments when requesting renewal of terms and conditions.

7.4 Parliamentary Approval and Accountability

7.4.1 A separate vote is required in Estimates when proposed expenditures on transfer payments within a fiscal year equal or exceed five million dollars for any program, or as otherwise defined by Parliamentary convention.

7.4.2 Payments of grants, other than statutory grants made pursuant to specific program legislation, are authorized by Parliament through an Appropriation Act by the words "the grants listed in the Estimates" in the vote wording of the program concerned. This wording extends the legislative authority of the Appropriation Act to the grants listed in the transfer payment tables of the Estimates where potential recipients and the maximum amount that may be paid are identified. Grants can not be increased or redirected to other recipients without the authority of Parliament.

7.4.3 In the Estimates, classes of grant recipients may be listed when it is not possible to list the intended recipients or the specific amount to be paid to each. Such grouping of grants into a class shall normally be restricted to small payments made to groups of individuals or organizations who meet the eligibility criteria. Where classes are used, the description must clearly identify the intended group of recipients and the nature of the program or purpose of the grant.

7.4.4 The Appropriation Act does not create an entitlement to a payment. Except where legislation specifies "there shall be paid..." there is no obligation to pay a grant, even where a recipient has been named in the Estimates.

7.4.5 Parliament is informed about planned transfer payment programs through the transfer payment tables included in Part II of the Main Estimates or in Supplementary Estimates. For each transfer payment program with transfers in excess of five million dollars, the Departmental Report on Plans and Priorities must include supplementary descriptive material, such as stated objectives, expected results and outcomes, and milestones for achievement.

7.4.6 The cost of audit, evaluation and monitoring activities undertaken by the department related to transfer payments must be charged to the department's operating vote, unless specific vote wording allows these costs to be charged to a transfer payment vote.

7.4.7 Departments must account for transfer payments in the Public Accounts as required by the annual Receiver General Directives on the Public Accounts. Departments must include in the Departmental Performance Report evidence of results achieved, related to results commitments and specific planned results in Reports on Plans and Priorities for each transfer payment program with transfers in excess of five million dollars.

7.5 Approval, Payment and Accounting

7.5.1 Departments must establish policies and procedures to ensure that:

  1. Contribution agreements are based on Treasury Board approved terms and conditions for the program and reflect the principle that transfer payment assistance is provided for projects only at the minimum level to further the attainment of the stated transfer payment program objectives and expected results.
  2. Predetermined assessment criteria for applications under classes of grants and for contributions are made public and applied in a consistent manner.
  3. Verification of the continuing eligibility, entitlement and qualification of a recipient of a grant is performed, normally prior to making any payment, including an installment payment; however, the fact that a grant is not subject to audit does not preclude such verification being undertaken after payment has been made. Where warranted, access to or provision of information necessary for such verification should be requested from the recipient as a condition of the grant.
  4. There is a reasonable expectation that the recipient of a class grant will use the funds for specified purposes or to meet specified objectives.
  5. Contributions are paid on the basis of the achievement of performance objectives set out in a contribution agreement or as a reimbursement of eligible costs incurred or expenditures made by a recipient. However, where it is essential to the achievement of program objectives and specifically provided for in the agreement, advance payments of the government's share of the allowable expenditures may be made.
  6. A recipient has complied with the terms of an agreement for a contribution and is entitled to the payment, prior to the department making a payment under the agreement.
  7. Any person lobbying on behalf of an applicant is registered pursuant to the Lobbyist Registration Act.

7.5.2 Departments must account for grants and contributions as outlined within the relevant Treasury Board Accounting Standards.

7.6 Cash Management Policy: Installments of Grants and Advance Payments of Contributions

7.6.1 Transfer payments should not be paid to recipients in advance of need; payments should be timed to correspond as closely as practicable to recipients' cash flow requirements.

7.6.2 Since most grants are intended to provide financial support over time or require the recipient to continue to meet eligibility requirements, grants should be paid in installments, based on the cash flow requirements of the recipient.

7.6.3 Departments must base any provision for advance payment of a contribution on prudent cash management principles, i.e. the amount of each advance should be limited to the immediate cash requirements based on a monthly cash flow forecast from the recipient taking into account any outstanding advances. In order to reduce the risk of overpayments, a portion of a contribution should only be paid following the final accounting for the contribution by the recipient.

7.6.4 Where installment payments and advance payments are necessary to meet program objectives, departments must be guided by the provisions of Appendix B.

7.6.5 Advance payments of contributions must not be made to a recipient in one fiscal year when the related expenditures of the recipient are not likely to be incurred until the following fiscal year. Advances required for the new year should be issued as of April 1 and charged to an appropriation in the new year. In exceptional circumstances where a department deems it necessary to meet program objectives and is permitted under the agreement, an advance may be made prior to the end of the year, but must not exceed the expenditures expected to be incurred by the recipient during April.

7.6.6 Where a contribution agreement extends beyond one fiscal year and an advance has been provided to a recipient in one fiscal year to meet the projected expenditures of the recipient in that fiscal year, and some portion of the advance has not yet been used by the recipient at the end of the fiscal year, the department may allow the unused portion to be carried forward as an advance for the new year in cases where the amount of the unused advance is not significant (i.e. not in excess of the expected expenditures of the recipient in the month of April).

7.6.7 Advance payments of contributions are not accountable advances in the context of section 38 (3) of the Financial Administration Act and the Accountable Advance Regulations.

7.6.8 Departments must seek Treasury Board approval for any exception to this cash management policy. Exceptions will be considered where the department can demonstrate that the added administrative costs of more frequent payments are greater than the additional interest costs of the government in paying faster or that government policy or program objectives would be compromised.

7.6.9 Where exception to this cash management policy has been approved by Treasury Board, departments must, in arriving at the amount of the transfer payment, deduct the amount of interest cost reasonably expected to be incurred by the government for such an exception, unless otherwise approved by the Treasury Board.

7.7 Assistance for Capital Expenditures

7.7.1 All assistance to a recipient's capital projects must be in the form of a contribution, and not a grant, unless otherwise approved by the Treasury Board.

7.7.2 Departments must establish policies and procedures to ensure the government does not become liable for a loan, lease or other contractual obligation entered into by a recipient of a contribution to acquire an asset.

7.8 Repayable Contributions

7.8.1 Departments must establish policies and procedures to ensure that where a contribution is made to a business and is intended to allow the business to generate profits or to increase the value of the business, the business is required to repay the contribution or to share the resulting financial benefits with the government commensurate with its sharing of the risks.

7.8.2 Repayment of a contribution is not required where:

  • The primary aim of payments is income support and income stabilization for individuals.
  • Payments are made to a Canadian business under the terms of the Defence Production Sharing Agreement and the Defence Development Sharing agreements where governments are the sole financing bodies.
  • Payments are made with the primary aim of furthering basic research and development, including payments made through granting councils and other government entities whose mandate is to promote research and development.
  • An enterprise is controlled by an aboriginal or aboriginals and its articles of incorporation do not permit dividends to be paid or distributed to shareholders or there is no intent to distribute dividends (e.g. where retained earnings are to be utilized as re-investment in its own enterprises or in other economic development activities or facilities or programming benefiting the community as a whole).
  • Payments are made to Crown corporations listed in section 85 and Parts I and II of Schedule III to the Financial Administration Act.
  • Payments are made pursuant to an Act other than an Appropriation Act.

7.8.3 The responsible Minister for the Treasury Board approved program, or delegate, may exempt recipients from the requirement to repay a contribution, where:

  • The contribution is less than $100,000.
  • The contribution is to a not-for-profit organization which will not generate sufficient revenues to repay the contribution. However, a not-for-profit organization which enters into an arrangement with another business to commercialize a product or process would be subject to repayment.
  • No quantifiable benefit will accrue to the recipient as a direct result of the contribution (e.g. as a result of sectoral support projects, worker skills upgrading, management practices improvement, basic research and development support with no planned commercial product or process, etc).
  • The benefits from the contribution accrue to an industrial sector generally or to an unrelated third party (e.g. a contribution to an industry association or an institute to develop or upgrade standards or common production methods utilized by all members).
  • A project is funded under an international agreement which is otherwise restrictive for recoveries.
  • In the responsible Minister's view, a specific contribution warrants an exception from repayment, and the department includes the use of this exception authority in an annual report to the Treasury Board.

7.8.4 Where required, contributions are to be repaid, in whole or in part commensurate with the level of risk shared with the recipient, and based on specific criteria defined within contribution agreements. In particular:

  • capital costs: Contributions towards the capital costs of establishments, expansions and modernization are to be repaid on a pre-determined time schedule. Repayment will normally commence no later than 3 years after the final contribution payment, with full repayment no later than 10 years after the final contribution payment.
  • operating costs or working capital: Contributions towards operating costs or working capital are to be repaid based on time, profitability of the project or the company, retained earnings, or other acceptable quantifiable criteria which allow the government to equitably recover its investment. Repayment will normally commence no later than 3 years after the final contribution payment, with full repayment no later than 10 years after the final contribution payment.
  • costs related to innovation: Contributions towards the cost of innovation or ventures in areas such as new product development, marketing, technology development, etc, are to be repaid either on a time basis or royalty basis dependent on company, division or product performance. In the latter case, the royalty should be structured so that the recipient and government can equitably recoup their investments; the royalty should commence no later than 4 years after the final contribution payment and need not be time limited so that there is an opportunity to recover more than the amount contributed. While repayment must never involve ownership of equity by government, there may be unique circumstances where sharing in company profits or growth may be appropriate.

7.8.5 Departments and agencies may negotiate specific terms of repayment to suit the particular capacities and concerns of the prospective recipient within the context of this policy. Departments are accountable for ensuring that reasonable recoveries are made and that the government's interests are visible in contribution agreements.

7.8.6 Departments must establish policies and procedures to ensure that the recipients of repayable contributions are tracked to determine when conditions for repayment come into effect.

7.8.7 Once any conditions for repayment have come into effect, departments must record the amount repayable in the departmental accounting system as an amount due to the Crown and initiate collection action. These accounts must be managed in accordance with the Policy on Receivables Management. In the event that an account becomes uncollectable, the department may write-off the account in accordance with the Debt Write-off Regulations.

7.9 Conditional Grants

7.9.1 All aspects of this policy that refer to grants also apply to conditional grants, including endowment funding. Specific policy related to conditional grants will be added at a future date.

7.10 Intellectual Property

7.10.1 Normally, intellectual property created by a recipient of a transfer payment remains with the recipient. Departments may consider the need for determining whether shared rights to intellectual property created by a recipient should be negotiated as part of a transfer payment. Where appropriate, the potential for sharing in intellectual property rights should be defined in program terms and conditions.

7.11 Accountability of the Recipient

7.11.1 A written agreement between the department and a recipient of a grant is required. However, for grants involving lower risks and materiality, the use of application forms for class grants and exchange of correspondence with recipients is acceptable. A potential recipient of a class grant must meet any requirements for eligibility and entitlement set out for the grant program. The recipient of a grant is not required to account for the types of expenditures for which the grant is used.

7.11.2 Where a grant is paid in installments, the recipient is not required to meet any conditions other than continuing eligibility for and entitlement to the grant.

7.11.3 Since a grant is unconditional, there is no unexpended balance to return unless the grant is of a type that requires continuing eligibility (e.g. a scholarship) and the recipient ceases to be eligible. Amounts paid after the expiry of eligibility or paid on the basis of fraudulent or inaccurate application or in error are subject to recovery action.

7.11.4 Departmental officials may be represented on an advisory committee or board established by a recipient in relation to a grant or contribution provided by the department. Such involvement must not be seen to be exercising control on the committee or board or on the use of the funds. Departmental officials must respect and comply with the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders and the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service.

7.11.5 There must be a written agreement between the department and the recipient of a contribution which identifies the conditions of the contribution, the expected results to be achieved, the obligations of the parties involved and the conditions for payment.

7.11.6 Since the payment of a contribution is conditional on performance and achievement, the recipient of a contribution must meet and continue to meet the specific terms and conditions of the agreement prior to a payment being made. The recipient must also account for the use of the funds to meet eligible expenditures and report on the results actually achieved. Finally, the recipient must account for all funds received from all sources for a given project.

7.11.7 Contributions are subject to audit to ensure that all conditions, both financial and non-financial, have been met. The right of the department to undertake an audit must be clearly established in the contribution agreement, whether or not it is exercised.

7.12 Refunds and Recoveries

7.12.1 The amount of money remaining from an advance payment at the end of a contribution agreement and the amount of any disallowed disbursements are debts due the Crown and must be recorded as receivables and recovered. Where a recipient has failed to provide an accounting or has not used the contribution for authorized purposes, a demand for an accounting or repayment may be issued pursuant to sections 76(1)(b) and (c) respectively of the Financial Administration Act.

7.12.2 Refunds of overpayments must be credited to the vote to which the payment was originally charged when the refund is received in the same fiscal year as the original charge or during the extended accounting period at the end of that fiscal year. When received in a subsequent fiscal year, the refund must be recorded as non-tax revenue and not credited to the vote.

7.12.3 Repayments of contributions as required by section 7.8 of this policy must not be credited to a vote unless the vote wording or some other Parliamentary authority authorizes such repayments to be credited against the transfer payments expenditures in the vote.

7.12.4 Interest must be charged on overdue repayments, and appropriate conditions to define the department's rights to do so must be included in the terms of the agreements, in accordance with the Interest and Administrative Charges Regulations. Where the agreement is silent on this matter, the Interest and Administrative Charges Regulations apply. The due date for repayable contributions is to be determined by the agreement. Where a refund of overpayments is required, the due date is to be no later than the date that the recipient is required to report back to the department on the results achieved or expenditures incurred.

7.13 Stacking of Assistance

7.13.1 Departments must obtain a statement from a potential recipient about other sources of proposed funding for a project, either through information on application forms or other suitable means, prior to approving a contribution in excess of $100,000 or providing a grant in excess of $100,000.

7.13.2 For grants and contributions in excess of $100,000, the department should ensure that the amount of the grant or contribution it makes is appropriate where a project is anticipated to receive a grant and/or a contribution from more than one program in a department, from more than one department or more than one level of government. The department must take into account the other sources of funds (which includes private sector contributions), including the expectation that the recipient must contribute its own funds towards the eligible cost of the project. Provision for repayment is to be included in the agreements covering the grant or contribution in case more funding of this nature is provided from federal, provincial and municipal sources than was anticipated.

7.13.3 Specific limits to the Total Government Assistance, (e.g. 50% of eligible project costs), must be considered by departments in developing and proposing Terms and Conditions for grant and contribution programs.

7.14 Multilateral Agreements

7.14.1 Departments must respect the obligations made by Canada as a signatory to international multilateral agreements to prevent inappropriate trade barriers when proposing terms and conditions for transfer payment programs and when negotiating agreements with recipients.

7.15 Non-monetary Contributions

7.15.1 Transfers of non-monetary assets or benefits (e.g. provision of a vehicle to a recipient, the use of departmental office space, the transfer of land to a recipient, etc) with an aggregate value of $100,000 or more must be recorded and accounted for as a transfer payment within the context of the Treasury Board Policy on Accounting for Non-Monetary Transactions and within the context of the Treasury Board Accounting Standards.

7.16 Year End Requirements

7.16.1 Refer to the policy on Payables at Year-End for information on year end accounting treatment.

7.16.2 Section 7.6 above addresses the limitations for advances covering two fiscal years.

8. Procedural Requirements

Departments are expected to adhere to procedural requirements. However, if they use other procedures instead, they must be justified and documented.

8.1 Treasury Board Submissions for approval of terms and conditions

8.1.1 Treasury Board submissions for program approval of terms and conditions for grants to a class of recipients or for contributions should include the following:

  1. a clear statement of the objectives of the transfer payment program;
  2. a clear statement of how the transfer payments further approved program objectives, including identification of expected results and outcomes;
  3. a clear identification of the recipient or definition of the class of eligible recipients. If the intention is to include Crown corporations as qualified recipients, specific reference to their eligibility should be included;
  4. the proposed stacking limits, i.e., specific limits to the Total Government Assistance, (e.g. 50% of eligible project costs) and the method for determining repayments by the recipient for cases where such assistance exceeds the anticipated funding level;
  5. a description of the supporting material required in an application from a prospective recipient, which should include a requirement to disclose the involvement of former public servants who are under the Conflict of Interest and Post-employment Guidelines;
  6. identification of the type and nature of expenditures which would be considered eligible costs under the contribution program;
  7. the maximum amount payable to each recipient;
  8. assurance that departmental systems, procedures and resources for ensuring due diligence in approving transfer payments and verifying eligibility and entitlement and for the management and administration of the programs are in place;
  9. the organizational positions, if any, that the Minister will delegate authority to approve, sign or amend contribution agreements and the parameters within which this authority may be exercised;
  10. where not otherwise specified in the delegation of financial signing authorities, the organizational positions to which the Minister will delegate authority to approve payment;
  11. the basis and timing of payment (including such details as a schedule of advance and progress payments and applicable holdback provisions);
  12. where advance payments deviate from the requirements of this policy, the justification and the associated cost to the government in terms of imputed interest (imputed interest is to be calculated by taking into account the number and amount of advances paid earlier than in the guidelines, the length of time in advance and an interest rate equal to the 90 day Treasury Bill rate);
  13. in the case of a repayable contribution, the conditions or events under which all or part of the contribution is repayable, a description of the process to be used to monitor potential repayment and to collect amounts due and the application of interest charges on overdue repayments;
  14. the number of years over which it is expected that the terms and conditions will apply and payments will be made, as well as the nature of any program review to be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the transfer payment program prior to any proposed program renewal;
  15. a results-based accountability framework including: performance indicators, expected results and outcomes, methods for the reporting on performance, and evaluation criteria to be used in the assessment of the effectiveness of the transfer payments;
  16. a risk-based framework for audit of recipients of contributions, an internal audit plan and a program evaluation plan of the transfer payment program, including expected funds to be budgeted for costs related to these requirements;
  17. when legislation provides that terms and conditions be approved by the Governor in Council, a draft of the appropriate Order in Council;
  18. an explanation of any proposed deviation, if any, from the requirements of this policy;
  19. the additional cost of managing and administering the program as well as the source of such funds; and
  20. any other factors considered appropriate under the circumstances.

8.1.2 In order to deal with possible foreign exchange fluctuations, a department should consult with Treasury Board Secretariat where it is proposing a payment based on an assessment made by an international organization for Canada's contribution to the organization or its projects.

8.2 Contribution Agreements

8.2.1 Contribution agreements are to be agreed to by the department and the recipient, taking into account the provisions of Appendix C.

8.2.2 In some instances, items such as allowable expenditures and financial limitations are already included in brochures and other material describing the particular program. When this is the case, the provisions included in such descriptive material need not be duplicated in a formal contribution agreement. Instead, acknowledgement of acceptance of the terms and conditions contained therein may be referred to in the contribution agreement.

8.2.3 Advice from departmental legal services should be sought for appropriate wording in contribution agreements.

8.3 Frequency of Accounting and Reporting by a Recipient

8.3.1 Departments must develop policies and procedures for adequate monitoring of results achieved under contribution agreements and for obtaining suitable information from recipients and from third parties delivering programs to ensure departmental accountability.

8.3.2 Where a contribution is paid on the basis of achievement of performance objectives or the reimbursement of expenditures made, the recipient will provide an accounting statement and statement of progress against the achievement of performance objectives at the time of claiming for a payment. Contribution agreements should call for at least an interim and a final accounting of the use of funds and the results achieved, except for small contributions of short duration where the minimum requirement would be a final accounting (including provision for reporting against performance objectives).

8.3.3 To properly control advance payments, timely accounting must be obtained from recipients. Where practicable, an advance should be accounted before any further advances are issued. Where advances are issued monthly and accounting for them monthly is neither practical nor cost-effective, they may be accounted for bi-monthly or quarterly, provided that there is reasonable assurance that the funds are being spent for authorized purposes.

8.3.4 Departments should determine the required frequency of accounting by recipients that minimizes the administrative costs of itself and the recipient, taking into account appropriate risk factors, the likelihood of failure or diversion of funds by the recipient to other purposes, and the department's previous experience with the recipient.

8.4 Third Party Delivery of Transfer Payment Programs

8.4.1 Departments may contract with a contractor, through a service contract subject to policies related to contracting (Contracting Policy, Interim Policy on Indemnification in Contracting and Policy on Title to Intellectual Property Arising Under Crown Procurement Contracts) to administer, manage or deliver a grant or contribution program whereby the contractor carries out activities such as the review of applications for grants or contributions or the pre-audit of claims for payment. The contribution agreements with the recipients are signed by the department and payments are made by the department.

8.4.2 The arrangements for contractor delivery should reflect the following control framework:

  • the responsible Minister remains accountable to Parliament for the use of public funds and the propriety of payments;
  • the department is responsible for defining the information required to measure achievement of objectives related to the transfer payments and the contractor is responsible for gathering and reporting of this information to the department;
  • the department is responsible for obtaining effective assurance of the capability of the contractor to deliver the program and fulfill all related requirements, prior to entering into an agreement with the contractor;
  • a written agreement is needed between the department and the contractor which clearly outlines the objectives of the transfer payment program and the expected results, the obligations and responsibilities of the contractor, and the means for measuring and reporting achievement of objectives. The agreement should also provide for a dispute resolution mechanism and a termination clause in case of non-performance;
  • the department is responsible for implementing cost-effective means of monitoring and validating the activities of the contractor, taking into account departmental experience, the nature of the agreement, risk factors and materiality.

8.4.3 Departments may provide a contribution to a recipient that in turn further distributes payments to ultimate beneficiaries. This is the case when initial recipients have considerable independence on their choice of final recipients with minimal guidance from departments (e.g. a university association which distributes funds to researchers based on a peer review process). Contribution agreements between the department and the initial recipient in such circumstances should take into account the provisions of items 1 and 2 of Appendix C. Any overpayments in the hands of such an initial recipient at year-end or program-end must be accounted for and refunded if necessary under provisions of this policy.

8.5 Requirements for Audit of Recipients

8.5.1 Departments are responsible for determining whether recipients have complied with the terms and conditions applicable to the contributions. This responsibility includes the audit of recipients when deemed necessary.

8.5.2 Departments must develop a risk-based audit framework for the audit of contributions including:

  • determining which recipients are to be audited;
  • selecting appropriate auditors or indicating the acceptability of auditors when retained by the recipient;
  • determining whether the scope, frequency and scheduling of audits meet program requirements;
  • coordinating audits with others involved in the audit of the same recipients; and
  • determining follow-up action required on audit findings.

8.5.3 An audit of a recipient of a contribution may be undertaken by a departmental audit group or by an auditor under contract to the department.

8.5.4 The department may choose to rely on an opinion from a recipient's external auditor regarding compliance to any or all terms and conditions of the contribution. Such an opinion should be supported by audited financial statements and/or a statement of disposition of federal contribution funds. The department should obtain agreement from audit agents that contribution audits will be conducted according to generally accepted auditing standards and in conformity with the provisions of this policy.

8.5.5 Departments should adopt a single audit approach wherever appropriate. Departments and agencies should coordinate their activities in developing and carrying out their contribution audit plans by entering into cross-servicing agreements for audit coverage where feasible.

8.5.6 Departments should determine the scope of federal contribution audits where recipients are provincial departments or agencies after giving due consideration to prior audits undertaken by the province.

8.5.7 Departments should annually forward its plans for the audit of contribution recipients who are jointly funded by both the federal and provincial governments to the appropriate provincial officials.

8.5.8 Audits of recipients should be based on the suggested procedures for the audit of contributions contained within the Treasury Board publication Guide on the Audit of Federal Contributions.

8.6 Official Languages

8.6.1 Where a contribution or a grant is provided to non-governmental organizations serving the members of both official language communities, federal institutions must apply the official languages policy entitled "Grants and Contributions".

9. Monitoring

9.1 Departmental internal audit plans must include provision for the review of internal management policies, practices and controls of transfer payment programs. Terms of reference for audits should include determination of whether transfer payments are managed in accordance with this policy and an assessment of the adequacy of the departmental processes to track whether recipients have complied with the requirements of applicable contribution agreements.

9.2 Treasury Board Secretariat will monitor the effectiveness of this policy by reviewing departmental internal audit and program evaluation reports, conducting reviews where warranted, and assessing proposed terms and conditions for transfer payment programs.

9.3 This policy will be reviewed at least once within each 5 year period.

10. References

10.1 Authority

This policy is issued under the authority of section 7 of the Financial Administration Act .

10.2 Relevant Legislation and Regulations

Financial Administration Act

Part IV of the Official Languages Act

Debt Write-off Regulations

Interest and Administrative Charges Regulations

10.3 Treasury Board Policies

Policy on Delegation of Authority

Policy on Interdepartmental Charging and Transfers Between Appropriations

Policy on Payables at Year End

Policy on Account Verification

Policy on Receivables Management

Policy on Accounting for Non-Monetary Transactions

Official Languages Policy for Grants and Contributions

Treasury Board Accounting Standard on Transfer Payments (to be issued)

Policies are found on the internet:

10.4 Other Publications

Treasury Board Guide on the Audit of Federal Contributions

Treasury Board Submissions Manual

Treasury Board Information Bulletin on the Delegation of Financial Authorities dated October 23, 1996

Guide on Financial Arrangements and Funding Options

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Publication B-067 Goods and Services Tax Treatment of Grants and Subsidies

TB Circular 1995-3: Reduction of administrative overhead and paper burden related to Treasury Board submissions

11. Enquiries

Enquiries about this policy should be directed to your departmental headquarters. For interpretation of this policy, departmental headquarters should contact:

Financial Management and Accounting Policy Division
Comptrollership Branch
Treasury Board Secretariat
L'Esplanade Laurier
300 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario

Telephone: (613) 957-7233
Facsimile: (613) 952-9613

Appendix A - Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the following definitions apply:

Advance payments (paiements anticipés) - are payments, under the terms of a contribution agreement, that are made before the performance of that part of the contribution agreement for which the payment is being made.

Audits (vérifications) - are examinations of a recipient's accounts, records, or other evidence deemed necessary in the circumstances.

Business (entreprise) - is a commercial enterprise, industrial establishment, the activities of buying and selling, trade and merchandising by individuals, companies and other legal entities. Business can include colleges, universities, institutes and associations, hospitals and laboratories, non-governmental organizations and councils, enterprises operated by native band councils, and individuals and partnerships whose primary aim in seeking federal government financing is to earn profits or to increase the value of assets in the pursuit of profits.

Contribution (contribution) - is a conditional transfer payment to an individual or organization for a specified purpose pursuant to a contribution agreement that is subject to being accounted for and audited. Contributions would also include Alternate Funding Arrangements and Flexible Transfer Payments which represent types of contributions that were developed for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to meet their unique program objectives.

Contribution agreements (accords concernant une contribution) - are undertakings between a donor department and a prospective recipient of a contribution which describe the obligations of each.

Due diligence (diligence raisonnable) - reasonable care or attention to a matter, which is good enough to ensure that provided funding would contribute to the intended objectives of the transfer payment and stand the test of public scrutiny. This includes: (a) being guided by an understanding of the purpose and objective to be achieved; (b) supported by competence and capability of information, resources and skills; (c) a shared commitment to what needs to be done and an understanding of respective authorities, responsibilities and accountabilities; and (d) ongoing monitoring and learning to ensure reassessment and effectiveness.

Grant (subvention) - is a transfer payment made to an individual or organization which is not subject to being accounted for or audited but for which eligibility and entitlement may be verified or for which the recipient may need to meet pre-conditions.

Installment payments (versements) - are a series of partial payments of a grant made over a period of time.

Other transfer payments (autres transferts) - are transfer payments based on legislation or an arrangement which normally includes a formula or schedule as one element used to determine the expenditure amount; however, once payments are made, the recipient may redistribute the funds among the several approved categories of expenditure in the arrangement. Examples of other transfer payments are transfers to other levels of government such as Equalization payments as well as Canada Health and Social Transfer payments.

Programs (programmes) - are groups of related activities designed to achieve specific departmental objectives as approved by Parliament and as described in the Estimates.

Progress payments (paiements réguliers) - are payments, under the terms of a contribution agreement, that are made after the performance of that part of the contribution agreement for which the payments are made but before satisfaction of the entire contribution agreement.

Project (projet) - refers to a set of activities or functions that a recipient proposes to undertake with the contribution funds provided by a department.

Repayable contributions (contributions remboursables) - are contributions, all or part of which are repayable or conditionally repayable according to the terms of the contribution agreement.

Total government assistance (total de l'aide gouvernementale) - in relation to calculating the stacking of assistance from governments, is calculated on the basis of the following types of federal, provincial and municipal assistance towards the same eligible costs:

  • all grants and assistance being considered;
  • any other grant or contribution for which the applicant may be eligible;
  • all new investment in the applicant business in the form of capital stock or equity from a Crown corporation or government department, in proportion to the total investment being made;
  • implicit subsidies, including low interest or interest free loans, based on the difference between the total interest payable and the total interest that would be payable at normal commercial interest rates;
  • forgivable loans;
  • provisions for potential losses on loan guarantees and loans, where such guarantees or loans are issued by governments, ministers, or agencies created for the purpose of administering programs, except where the assistance is provided by a Crown corporation whose principal function is of a banking nature. This provision will be set at 5% of the amount guaranteed or such other amount as is based on program experience;
  • investment tax credits to which the applicant would be entitled.

Transfer payments (transferts) - are payments which are made on the basis of an appropriation for which no goods or services are directly received (but which may require the recipient to provide a report or other information subsequent to receiving payment). Three types of transfer payments are grants, contributions, and "other transfer payments".

Terms and conditions (conditions) - are the general and specific requirements which must be approved by Treasury Board prior to creating a transfer payment program.

Appendix B - Installment Payments of Grants and Advance Payments of Contributions

i. Installment payments of grants

Grants are normally paid in installments to correspond to the cash flow requirements of the recipient. The minimum number of installment payments is determined according to the total value of the grant as follows:

Total Value of annual grant Number of Installments
up to $100,000 one
$100,001 - $500,000 two
$500,001 - $1,000,000 four
Over $1,000,000 monthly

Departments should use the payment scheduling capacity of their financial systems to minimize the amount of time and administrative effort required for making installment payments.

ii. Advance payment of contributions

Contributions are normally paid on the basis of achievement of performance objectives or as reimbursement of expenditures incurred. Where advance payments are necessary, they should be limited to the immediate cash requirements of the recipient and not exceed the following payment frequency:

Total Value of annual amount Duration of Agreement
Less than 4 months 4 months or longer
Initial Advance Subsequent Advances
Up to $24,999 90% 90% N/A
$25,000 - $100,000 90% Up to 75% Quarterly
$100,001 - $250,000 50% first quarter Quarterly
$250,001 - $500,000 50% first quarter Monthly, beginning in 4th month
Over $500,000 Monthly First month Monthly

For agreements of less than 4 months, the schedule represents the maximum percentage that may be paid out initially, with the balance payable monthly or at the end of the agreement.

The amount of each advance payment would correspond to its frequency, e.g. a quarterly advance would be for the approximate amount of expenditures expected to be incurred by the recipient in the following three months.

Appendix C - Requirements for Contribution Agreements

1. Basic provisions to be included within contribution agreements:

  1. an identification of the recipient;
  2. the purpose of the contribution and the expected results to be achieved from the contribution;
  3. the effective date, the date of signing, and the duration of the agreement;
  4. the reporting requirements expected of the recipient;
  5. the financial and/or non-financial conditions attached to the contribution and the consequences of failing to adhere to these conditions;
  6. for contributions in excess of $100,000, a requirement for the recipient to declare any and all sources of proposed funding for the project before and/or shortly after the commencement of the agreement, as well as upon completion of the project. A provision for repayment should Total Government Assistance exceed the amounts anticipated;
  7. the allowable costs or the types or classes of expenditures eligible for reimbursement (profit to the recipient is not a "cost" nor an "expense" and therefore may not be included);
  8. the conditions to be met before payment is made and the schedule or basis of payment;
  9. the maximum amount payable and appropriate provisions for the department to terminate the agreement and withdraw from the project if the original objectives are not being met;
  10. a clause to limit the liability of the government in the case where the recipient is entering into a loan, a capital lease or other long term obligation in relation to the project for which the contribution is provided;
  11. the Minister's right to conduct an audit of a contribution agreement, even though an audit may not always be undertaken;
  12. provisions for cancellation or reduction of transfer payments in the event that departmental funding levels are changed by Parliament;
  13. procedures to be followed to recover payments should the recipient be in default of the provisions of the contribution agreement;
  14. an indemnification clause for the benefit of the Crown;
  15. a clause that requires the recipient not to represent itself, including in any agreement with a third party, as a partner or agent of the Crown;
  16. disposition of any assets acquired through the contribution;
  17. a requirement for the recipient to declare any amounts owing to the federal government under legislation or contribution agreements and recognition that amounts due to the recipient may be set-off against amounts owing to the government;
  18. a requirement for the recipient to repay overpayments, unexpended balances and disallowed expenses and a declaration that such amounts constitute debts due the Crown;
  19. a requirement that no member of the House of Commons shall be admitted to any share or part of this Funding Agreement or to any benefit arising therefrom;
  20. a requirement that it is a term of this Funding Agreement that no current or former public office holder or public servant who is not in compliance with the Conflict of Interest and Post-employment Code for Public Office Holders or the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service shall derive a direct benefit from this Agreement;
  21. a requirement that any Payment by Canada under the Agreement is subject to there being an appropriation by Parliament for the fiscal year in which the payment is to be made;
  22. a requirement that any person lobbying on behalf of the applicant is registered pursuant to the Lobbyist Registration Act.

2. Additional provisions to be included in contribution or contractual agreements with third parties or recipients who further distribute the contribution amounts:

  1. a description of the initial recipient accountability and management framework;
  2. assurance that the public purpose of the program and the need to provide transparent, fair and equitable service are not lost in the desire for efficiency;
  3. clear and agreed expectations between the parties;
  4. clear roles and responsibilities, including financial roles and responsibilities;
  5. clear, transparent and open decision making process;
  6. assurance that departmental requirements for selecting and managing projects are met;
  7. provision for ongoing assessment by the department to ensure performance is in line with expectations and that the initial recipient exercises due diligence in selecting and managing projects;
  8. provision related to the requirements for the initial recipient's operating plans including annual performance expectations and a description of the process to select and approve projects;
  9. departmental right of access to relevant initial recipient's, and where warranted, ultimate recipients' documents and premises;
  10. clear provision for audits of program performance and recipient;
  11. provision for the department to receive periodic (e.g. quarterly and/or annually) financial and performance reports from the initial recipient, certified by an officer of the company, including if appropriate annual audited financial statements with the external auditor's report and opinion, and any completed evaluations funded in whole or in part by the transfer payment program;
  12. provision that the department obtains from the initial recipient, or has ready access to, a copy of all signed agreements with recipients;
  13. description of the redress provisions for ultimate recipients affected by decisions of the initial recipient;
  14. provision for appropriate reviews, program evaluations and audits; and specification of admissible administrative costs that can be applied to the contribution by the initial recipient based on an accounting of expenses.
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