Code of Professional Conduct for Board Members
The Code sets out standards of conduct that Members are expected to comply with in support of the Board’s commitments to provide fair, transparent and impartial review and appeal hearings that are efficient and effective.
The Code is intended to supplement and should be read in conjunction with any applicable conduct requirements established in the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Act (the “Act”), as well as any compliance requirements with regard to conflicts of interest and ethics that are established for Governor in Council (“GIC”) appointees as set out in Federal legislation, guidelines, codes or other instruments, especially the Conflict of Interest Act, the Ethical Guidelines and Statutory Standards of Conduct, as well as the Guidelines for the Political Activities of Public Office Holders.
Application and Basis of Code
The Code applies to all Board Members, including the Chair and Deputy Chair.
Each Member will adhere to this Code and commit to supporting standards set out in applicable legislation, regulations, and guidelines, especially those listed under General Provisions, paragraph 2.
The Code is effective as of June 1, 2019, and replaces all previous versions of a Code of Conduct for Board Members.
The Board is dedicated to the values of fairness, independence, impartiality, respect, excellence, integrity and accountability. The requirements of the Code support these values.
The Chairperson is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Board and Members are accountable to the Chairperson for their compliance with the Code.
Members shall bring to the attention of the Chairperson/Deputy Chairperson any situation or conduct that is not in compliance with the Code, if such conduct could threaten the Board’s integrity or reputation.
Members will foster a positive and collegial working environment that promotes equity and freedom from discrimination and harassment. They will conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner with Members, Veterans, representatives, and public service staff. This expectation also applies to comments Members make during hearings and in their written reasons and other communications.
Members' Responsibilities to Those Appearing Before the Board
Conduct of Hearings
Members will be well prepared before conducting hearings and attend the hearing with an objective and open mind.
Members will conduct proceedings in a manner that ensures that those appearing before them understand the procedures and practices of the Board, and have a reasonable opportunity for informed and effective participation in the proceeding.
Members will only communicate directly with those appearing before the Board, their witnesses or representatives, during a pre-hearing conference or a hearing. All other contact before and after the hearing is handled by Board staff.
Members will act in a manner that is sensitive to the diversity of persons appearing before the Board, and be responsive to social and cultural differences.
When attempting to ensure that self-represented Veterans are not procedurally disadvantaged, Members will do so in a manner that is not inconsistent with their role as impartial arbiters.
Members will take all reasonable steps to ensure that proceedings are concluded in a timely manner, avoiding unnecessary delays and postponements, without rushing proceedings unnecessarily.
Communication During the Course of a Proceeding
Members will avoid having any contact, which may create a reasonable apprehension of bias, with a Veteran, representative, witness or other non-Board participant.
Fairness and Impartiality
Members will ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that is transparent, fair and seen to be fair.
Members shall avoid words, phrases and actions that could be understood to manifest bias or prejudice based on factors such as disability, race, age, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic status, and shall never draw inferences on a person’s credibility on the basis of such factors.
Members will recuse (disqualify) themselves from the adjudication of any proceeding where they know or reasonably ought to know that:
- they would be in a conflict of interest in making the decision; or
- that their participation may create a reasonable apprehension of bias.
Members will, as soon as possible, inform the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson if either of these situations occur and shall provide the reason for their self-disqualification.
Members will render decisions on the merits of the case, based on thorough preparation and the application of the relevant legislation, guidelines and policies to the evidence presented during the hearing.
Members will not be influenced by outside or improper considerations in their decision-making. Members will make their decisions free from the improper influence of other persons, institutions, interest groups or the political process.
Members will render their reasons in a timely manner.
Members' Responsibilites to the Public
Members will conduct themselves with integrity and avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety.
Conflict of Interest
Members will arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent them from being in a conflict of interest, as set out in the applicable legislation, guideline, code, policy or other instrument established for GIC appointees, especially those listed under General Provisions, paragraph 2.
Gifts or Other Advantages
Members will not accept gifts or other advantages, including hospitality or other benefits, as set out in the applicable legislation, guideline, code, policy or other instrument established for GIC appointees, especially those listed under General Provisions, paragraph 2.
Members may, subject to any approvals required by legislation, guideline, code or other instrument established for GIC appointees, take part in outside activities that are not inconsistent or incompatible with their official duties and responsibilities, or that do not cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties objectively. Such activities may include participation at conferences and training seminars, volunteer activities, public speeches and other similar activities.
Members shall obtain any required prior written approval for such outside activities, as set out in the applicable legislation, guideline, code or other instrument established for GIC appointees, especially those listed under General Provisions, paragraph 2.
Unless authorized by the Chairperson, Members must not communicate with any news media or comment publicly about matters relating to the work of the Board or any other matter that may affect the Board.
Members will not identify themselves as Members of the Board on social media sites, with the exception of professional sites such as LinkedIn.
Members will be mindful that they are public office holders and that their personal comments, including on social media, could reflect negatively on the Board.
Protection of Personal and Confidential Information
Members will protect the confidentiality of information contained in documents in their possession and shall respect the Privacy Act, the Policy on Government Security, and any policy or directive relating to the protection of personal and confidential information.
Members will immediately report any breach or potential breach of privacy to the Board’s ATIP Officer, as well as to the Vice-Chairperson so that it is treated in a timely manner according to the internal processes in place.
Members are required to conduct their work in an office within their home or other designated area that meets departmental health, safety, security and privacy requirements. Members will ensure that the equipment in their home office is maintained to meet Government of Canada health, safety and security requirements or standards.
Members will safeguard documents, assets and equipment as directed and in particular in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Government Security.
Members will return all documents, work-related information and equipment as, and when, requested and in particular at the end of their term.
Members will immediately report any security-related concern or incident as well as any breach or potential breach of security to the Vice-Chairperson and the Board’s ATIP Officer for appropriate follow-up. These could include security concerns related to a case, criminal activities, unauthorized disclosure, disruption, modification, destruction, removal of government information and assets assigned to a member’s home office.
Board Property, Equipment, Information Technology, Etc.
Members must ensure acceptable and efficient use Government of Canada electronic network and devices as set out in the Policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use.