Rescinded [2010-03-24] - Recognition Policy

Treasury Board Policy on Recognition
Date modified: 2004-01-05

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This document is no longer in effect. It has been archived online and is kept purely for historical purposes. For further information refer to the People Management Policy Review Project.

1. Effective date

This policy is effective May 28, 1998.

2. Definitions

Pride (fierté) - refers to self-respect, to satisfaction derived from achievements, to qualities or skills that do one credit. Pride can be derived from various sources and is experienced at different levels:

  • individual pride in the workplace (personal/team/work-unit);
  • organizational pride (department or agency);
  • institutional pride (public service and in serving Canada).

Pride is enhanced when appreciation is conveyed through recognition.

Recognition (reconnaissance) - refers to validation through demonstrated appreciation, to acknowledgement and, in some cases, to awards. Recognition covers a range of formal and informal practices in the workplace that collectively express and reinforce values and the way that people work together.

Formal recognition (reconnaissance formelle) - refers to structured, scheduled activities (for example, the Awards of Excellence, National Public Service Week) and departmental-level recognition events. The credibility and integrity of formal recognition programs within organizations and institutions is crucial.

Informal recognition (reconnaissance informelle) - refers to everyday issues of trust, self-worth and working relationships with others. Informal recognition is extremely important in fostering pride, but is often overlooked. This type of recognition supports an employee's identification with the organization and its mission, and provides a foundation for formal recognition.

Both informal and formal recognition should be consistent with respect to the messages conveyed, and:

  • reflect and promote corporate culture and Public Service values;
  • tie into government priorities and business lines;
  • reinforce the ways people work together in organizations;
  • encourage teamwork and partnerships; and
  • promote a client-centred, results-oriented focus.

For the purposes of this policy, the Public Service values referred to are those cited in the Clerk of the Privy Council's Fourth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada. These are:

  • loyalty to the public interest and to serving the public good, as represented and interpreted by the duly elected government of the land;
  • service to Canada and Canadians - excellence, professional competence, quality and efficiency;
  • ethical values (e.g., honesty, integrity and the obligation to speak truth to those in power); and
  • people values like fairness and equity.

3. Policy objectives

To ensure that the contributions made by employees are acknowledged in ways that reflect the underlying values of the Public Service, and that recognition is sustained through formal and informal means. To provide a foundation for recognition practices that departments and agencies can build on.

4. Policy statement

It is Treasury Board policy to recognize the significant contribution that Public Service employees make to Canadian society through the excellence of the work they perform, the exemplary behaviour they demonstrate and the positive results they achieve.

5. Application

Pursuant to the authority of the Treasury Board under section 7 of the Financial Administration Act, this policy applies to all institutions and other portions of the Public Service listed in Schedule 1, Parts I and II, of the Public Service Staff Relations Act, to the Canadian Forces and to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

6. Policy requirements

  1. This policy governs Public Service of Canada awards that are granted to the organizations to which this policy applies. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) will be responsible for administering these awards programs which include the Outstanding Achievement Award (Appendix A), the Award of Excellence (Appendix B) and The Head of the Public Service Award (Appendix C).
  2. In support of the National Public Service Week (NPSW) Act introduced in 1992, TBS plays the role of national coordinator for NPSW. In this capacity, TBS is responsible for developing , on a yearly basis, a national communications strategy including a theme, a slogan, corporate messages and promotional material for use by departments.
  3. Each department is responsible for appointing a departmental NPSW coordinator and organizing its departmental activities.
  4. The policy also provides a framework that participating organizations may use as a basis for developing relevant recognition programs (see Appendices D and E). Participating organizations will be responsible for the costs of their recognition programs.

7. Responsibilities

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Chief Human Resources Officer will be responsible for overseeing any changes to the annexed recognition programs and guidelines. Deputy heads will be responsible for administering their departmental programs in accordance with these guidelines.

8. Monitoring

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for the Public Service of Canada awards and National Public Service Week. Awards and Recognition activities will be reviewed periodically in order to assess their effectiveness. Departments and agencies will be responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of their own recognition programs.

9. References

9.1 Authority

This policy is issued pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, subsection 7(1) and 11(2).

9.2 Legislation

10. Enquiries

Questions relating to the administration of this policy should be referred to departmental recognition advisors. They may, in turn, direct questions regarding policy interpretation to:

Awards, Recognition and Special Events Team
The Leadership Network
Public Service Human Resources Management Canada
Phone: (613) 943-5493 FAX: (613) 943-5486


Appendix A - Outstanding Achievement Award Program

1. Purpose

The purpose of the Outstanding Achievement Award Program (OAA) is to formally recognize sustained and outstanding performance in the Public Service.

2. Eligibility

Career public servants occupying a full-time position in the Executive group or at the deputy minister level (or equivalent) in organizations to which this policy applies, may be considered for the Outstanding Achievement Award. The candidates should be active in the applicable organizations at the time of their nomination. No one may receive the Outstanding Achievement Award more than once.

3. Award

The Outstanding Achievement Award represents the highest expression of recognition under the Government of Canada's Recognition Policy. This award consists of a citation signed by the Prime Minister and the Governor General, a gold pin and a Canadian work of art with a maximum value of $10,000 (income tax included).

4. Criteria

  1. Nominees will have performed in an outstanding manner for at least three years in such Public Service endeavours as science and research, economy and finance, culture, social policy, representation abroad and technical and professional activities. Each nominee's line of endeavour will have culminated in an accomplishment the magnitude, significance and impact of which warrant recognition beyond the organization served.
  2. The achievement will be at or near a stage of completion, so that its impact and degree of success can be fully appreciated.
  3. Each nominee's performance in relation to the achievement cited should demonstrate the following attributes and abilities:
    • Leadership can be demonstrated by the way in which the nominee has achieved a sustained commitment to modernizing service delivery, building the Public Service as a vibrant national institution adapted to future needs, or enhancing Canadian interests in the global market.
    • Innovation can be found in innovative scientific and technological achievements or management approaches resulting in improved service to Canadians, or in an organization where employees are consulted, empowered, recognized, rewarded and motivated to improve service to Canadians.

5. Procedures

  1. Notice will be given annually that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will accept nominations (generally one per department) for sustained commitment to excellence in the Public Service.
  2. A committee, called the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Outstanding Achievement Award, will be appointed; it will include no less than five members from outside the Public Service.
  3. The PM's Advisory Committee on the Outstanding Achievement Award shall:
    • review all eligible nominations received by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat;
    • apply the selection criteria;
    • select up to five nominees; and
    • recommend nominations to the Prime Minister for approval.

6. Financial considerations

The payment of awards, presentation expenses, travelling and living expenses incurred by members of the PM's Advisory Committee shall be payable from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat funds. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for making arrangements respecting the manner in which the Outstanding Achievement Award is to be presented. Travel expenses incurred by award recipients to attend the ceremony will be the responsibility of each recipient's department.

Appendix B - Award of Excellence Program

1. Purpose

The Award of Excellence recognizes exceptional performance by Public Service employees.

2. Eligibility

Candidates must be recipients of team or individual departmental formal recognition awards1, granted during the previous calendar year, and, at the time of their nomination, be employed organizations to which this policy applies. Partners from other governments or sectors, who are members of eligible teams, may be granted an Award of Excellence.

3. Award

The award consists of an inscribed plaque signed by the President of the Treasury Board. It represents one of the highest expressions of official tribute beyond departmental formal recognition awards. Normally, 12 awards are granted, two of which are allocated specifically to small departments and agencies.

4. Criteria

The exemplary contribution must reflect at least one of the following:

  • work performance at an unusually high level over an extended period of time (normally a minimum of two years);
  • the performance of duties under extraordinary circumstances in a manner that constitutes a contribution of unusual merit to the Public Service;
  • the successful completion of an assignment by an individual or team, the results of which are of an exceptionally high order of achievement;
  • significant accomplishment in the management of financial, material or human resources;
  • unique achievement in science, technology, health, environment or resource management;
  • innovative and trend-setting initiatives that result in important improvements to operations and/or savings to the government; or
  • exceptional contributions in team-building management practices and client relations/service.

5. Procedures

  1. The Leadership Network will initiate the annual call for nominations.
  2. The Leadership Network is responsible for establishing an Awards and Recognition Board (ARB), composed of a chairperson, at least five senior Public Service managers and a union representative. The ARB will review all nominations and make recommendations to the President of the Treasury Board for approval.
  3. In keeping with their high stature, the Awards of Excellence are presented by the President of the Treasury Board at a ceremony normally held during National Public Service Week. Recipients are selected by the ARB from the nominees put forward by organizations participating in formal departmental recognition award programs.

6. Financial considerations

The Leadership Network will fund and organize the presentation ceremony. Travel expenses incurred by award recipients to attend the ceremony will be the responsibility of each recipient's department.

7. Number of nominations

The following scale is a guide which departments/agencies may use in determining the number of nominations they may submit.

Employee population Nominations per department/agency
10,000 and more 8
5,000 to 10,000 6
500 to 5,000 4
Less than 500 2

(1) Departmental formal recognition awards are those granted at the highest level within a department, (e.g., Deputy Minister's Achievement Award, Minister's Award of Excellence, Deputy Minister's Commendation Award, Appreciation Award, Diversity Leadership Award, etc.)

Appendix C - The Head of the Public Service Award Program

1. Purpose

The Head of the Public Service Award recognizes employees who best exemplify the work of public servants in meeting the challenges outlined in the Clerk of the Privy Council's Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada.

2. Eligibility

The award is open to individuals or teams employed at the time of their nomination by the institutions and portions of the Public Service listed in Schedule 1, Parts I and II, of the Public Service Staff Relations Act. Partners from other governments or sectors, who are members of eligible teams, may be granted an Award.

3. Award

There will be a maximum of 20 awards per year. The award consists of a trophy and a certificate signed by the Clerk of the Privy Council.

4. Criteria

The criteria reflect the current priorities of the Head of the Public Service. These priorities are identified in the Clerk of Privy Council's Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada.

5. Procedures

  1. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) will initiate the annual call for nominations. An advisory committee, appointed by the Clerk of the Privy Council, consisting of no less than five members, will review all eligible nominations presented by individuals and make recommendations to the Clerk of the Privy Council.
  2. The Chief Human Resources Officer has the authority to put in place appropriate mechanisms to facilitate and support the work of the advisory committee.
  3. Organizing the presentation of The Head of the Public Service Award is the responsibility of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

6. Financial considerations

The payment of awards and presentation expenses will be paid by TBS. Travel expenses for award recipients to attend the ceremony will be the responsibility of each recipient's department.

Appendix D - Departmental Recognition Guidelines

1. Purpose

To provide the applicable federal government institutions with the authority and flexibility to implement recognition practices and activities in support of their objectives, culture and Public Service values.

2. Definition

  1. Spontaneous recognition is generally done on a day-to-day basis, and involves words of praise or gratitude. It is simple and frequent and lays the foundation for effective recognition practices.
  2. Structured recognition generally involves the presentation of a letter or certificate of appreciation, often accompanied by a monetary or non-monetary award, to celebrate particular efforts or achievements. Subject to the preferences of the recipient, and dependent on the nature of the recognition, the award ceremony may be somewhat informal (a staff meeting), or formal (an event attended by senior officials of the organization and the recipient's family members).
  3. Departments may implement recognition practices and activities tailored to their specific needs, within the following parameters:
    • Departmental formal recognition awards (e.g., meritorious performance, cost-saving initiatives) should not exceed $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for groups (amounts include income tax).
    • All employees of participating organizations are eligible to receive recognition awards. Employees participating in performance pay plans are not eligible for cash awards but may receive non-monetary recognition.
    • Departmental informal recognition awards, e.g., special or instant awards, are non-monetary and should not exceed $500 in value for individuals and $1,000 for groups (amounts include income tax).
    • Partners from other governments or sectors, who are members of eligible teams, may be granted a departmental formal award that is non-monetary.

3. Principles

  1. Recognition is a good human resources practice strategically linked with the organization's direction and priorities, and used to shape the organization's culture and values through positive reinforcement of desired practices, actions and results.
  2. Employees at all levels should be encouraged to participate in designing recognition practices and activities.
  3. Recognition should be meaningful and should respect the preferences of the recipients.
  4. Recognition should be given for a job well done and for additional responsibilities assumed and not solely for exceptional results.
  5. Recognition activities should involve clients and partners.
  6. Recognition should be fair, transparent and timely.

4. Delegation

Deputy heads or their delegates may grant departmental recognition awards pursuant to these guidelines.

Appendix E - Long Service Award Program Guidelines

1. Purpose

The Long Service Award Program enables management to extend formal recognition to employees for long service.

2. Eligibility

Recipients of long service awards must be employed by the participating institutions. Awards are granted to employees, including locally engaged employees abroad, part-time or seasonal employees who have attained the required number of years of service, regardless of any breaks in service.

3. Award

  1. An employee is eligible for a long service award following:
    • 15 years of federal public service,
    • 25 years of federal public service;
    • 35 years of federal public service.
  2. An employee with a minimum of 10 years of federal service may receive a retirement certificate.
  3. Other memorabilia may be granted at the department's discretion to recognize additional career milestones.

4. Procedures

Participating organizations are responsible for the purchase and presentation of awards.

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