Our Principles and Values

Our Institute is committed to practice and promote the highest standards of service for ourselves, our members and our government partners. Our principles and values help to ensure high levels of accountability, neutrality, confidentiality and protection from conflicts of interest, discrimination and harassment. They help to guide all actions of the Institute including those of our staff, Board of Directors and regional groups across the country. We also encourage their use by others in Canada’s public sector.

The Principles

Public employees are accountable for the quality of their advice, for carrying out their assigned duties and for achieving policy and program objectives within the framework of law, prevailing constraints, direction from their superiors, and the limits of the authority and resources at their disposal. Public employees are accountable on a day-to-day basis to their superiors for their own actions and the actions of their subordinates. They owe their primary duty, however, to their political superiors. They are indirectly accountable to the legislature or council and to the public through their political superiors. Public servants also have a responsibility to report any violation of the law to the appropriate authorities.

Public employees should provide service to the public in a manner which is courteous, equitable, efficient and effective. Public employees should be sensitive and responsive to the changing needs, wishes and rights of the public while respecting the legal and constitutional framework within which service to the public is provided. To promote excellence in public service, public employees have a responsibility to maintain and improve their own competence and to assist in enhancing the competence of their colleagues.

Public employees should resolve any conflict between their personal or private interests and their official duties in favour of the public interest. Public employees should seek to serve the public interest by upholding both the letter and the spirit of the laws established by the legislature or council and of the regulations and directions made pursuant to these laws.

Public employees have a duty to carry out government decisions loyally, irrespective of the party or persons in power and irrespective of their personal opinions. It is the responsibility of public employees to provide forthright and objective advice to, and carry out the directions of, their political superiors.

Public employees should enjoy the fullest possible measure of political rights that is compatible with laws, regulations and conventions designed to preserve the political neutrality of the public service. Public employees have a responsibility to avoid participation in partisan politics that is likely to impair the political neutrality of the public service or the perception of that neutrality. In return, employees should not be compelled to engage in partisan political activities or be subjected to threats or discrimination for refusing to engage in such activities. Public employees should not express their personal views on matters of political controversy or on government policy or administration when such comment is likely to impair public confidence in the objective and efficient performance of their duties. It is the responsibility of public employees to seek approval from the appropriate governmental authority whenever they are uncertain as to the legality or propriety of expressing their personal views.

Public employees should not engage in any business or transaction or have any financial or other personal interest that is, or may appear to be, incompatible with the performance of their official duties. Public employees should not, in the performance of their official duties, seek personal or private gain by granting preferential treatment to any persons. Public employees should not solicit nor, unless duly authorized, accept transfers of economic value from persons with whom they have contact in their official capacity. Public employees should not use, or permit the use of, government property of any kind for activities not associated with the performance of their official duties, unless they are authorized to do so. Public employees should not seek or obtain personal or private gain from the use of information acquired during the course of their official duties which is not generally available to the public.

Public employees should not disclose to any member of the public, either orally or in writing, any secret or confidential information acquired by virtue of their official position. Within the bounds of law and propriety, public employees should be sensitive and responsive to the needs of the public, the news media and legislators for information on and explanation of the content and administration of government policies and programs.

All public employees have a duty to treat members of the public and one another fairly and to ensure that their work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.

Want To Learn More?


Delve deeper into the guiding principles of public service by reading The Responsible Public Servant.
Find answers to difficult questions faced by public servants trying to sort out what it means to be a responsible public servant in the 21st century, focusing on the nature of responsible behaviour at all levels of government.
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