Conflict of Interest

Policy

Category: Human Resources
Subject: Conflict of Interest
Division: Human Resources and Corporate Services
Policy Number: CA.52.01.101
Effective Date: October 1, 2015

POLICY STATEMENT

All individuals identified in this policy have a duty in conducting business to place the interests of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit (WDGPH) ahead of their personal interests.  This policy is intended to facilitate an individual’s ability to maintain the highest ethical standards and integrity in the course of their WDGPH responsibilities.

This policy defines and addresses potential, perceived and actual conflicts of interest. It provides guidance so that conflicts of interest are recognized and either avoided or resolved quickly through appropriate disclosure. Individuals must not permit relationships with external person(s) or groups to conflict, or appear to conflict, with the interests of WDGPH.

SCOPE

This policy applies to management, employees, students, volunteers and individuals who are engaged as agents, consultants or on a contract basis with WDGPH.

Individuals covered by this policy have an obligation to refrain from any potential, perceived or actual conflicts of interest.  Individuals must fully disclose any conflicts of interest immediately including:

  • the nature of the conflict;
  • the potential risk to WDGPH, if any;
  • when the conflict of interest first arose; and
  • who may be involved in the conflict of interest, e.g. a supplier or another employee or relative.

The existence of a conflict of interest does not necessarily preclude involvement in the issue which has given rise to the conflict. The individual must refrain from taking part in any discussion or decision-making in relation to the conflict, and withdraw from any meeting or process when the conflict is being discussed until a decision has been reached regarding the manner in which the conflict of interest will be addressed.

A conflict of interest may also be reported to a Supervisor by any other person. A report to a Supervisor/Manager about the existence of a potential, perceived or actual conflict of interest shall be made in writing.

Relatives of current employees may be employed only where they will not be working directly for or supervising a relative; they will not be working directly above the relative’s immediate Supervisor; or they will not be working directly for the relative’s immediate subordinate. 

Employees shall not be transferred into a reporting relationship that would result in any of the above working situations.  If a potential, perceived or actual conflict of interest arises even if there is not supervisory relationship involved the relatives may be separated by reassignment.

An employee who is related to a candidate for employment shall not be involved in any aspect of the recruiting process so as to avoid any conflict of interest or allegations of preferential treatment.

SPECIFIC CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The following circumstances may give rise to Conflicts of Interest:

a) Participating in or influencing the outcome of the appointment, hiring, promotion, supervision or evaluation of a person with whom the individual has or has had a relationship.
b) Directing an individual to carry out tasks of a personal nature.
c) Directing an individual to carry out work for an external person or organization in which the individual or a member of their immediate family has a financial interest.
d) Using information that is not available to the general public, acquired as a result of the individual’s activities, for personal gain or other unauthorized purpose.
e) Acceptance of a gift and/or donation from any person or group if a reasonable person might conclude that the gift and/or donation could influence the individual when performing their duties to WDGPH with:

  • a person or group that has dealings with WDGPH;
  • a person or group to whom the individual provides services in the course of their duties to WDGPH; and
  • a person or group that seeks to do business with WDGPH.

However, the provisions of  e) above shall not operate to prevent an individual of WDGPH from accepting a gift and/or donation of nominal value (less than $50.00) given as an expression of courtesy or hospitality if doing so is reasonable in the circumstances.

An individual who is offered a gift and/or donation in the circumstances described in e) above shall, in writing, notify their Supervisor.
Any individual who is unclear about accepting or giving any gift and/or donation shall contract their immediate Supervisor or Human Resources.

f) Providing services to other external persons or groups of managerial, consultant or any other substantial services to any concern where not specifically authorized by WDGPH; and in particular, where said services are provided on a fee for service or contractual basis.

g) Engaging in outside business or employment incompatible with WDGPH’s right to full-time and efficient service from its full-time employees. Situations with respect to part-time employees will be dealt with according to their specific circumstances and within the spirit and intent of this policy.

h) Use of one’s position with WDGPH to influence any other concern in its dealings with other parties for the personal profit or advantage of any person.

Disclosure

Where an individual is concerned that they may be placing themselves in a perceived, potential or actual conflict of interest situation, they should immediately discuss the situation with their immediate Supervisor.

Where such a conflict or potential conflict is confirmed then the following process shall be applied:

  • A conflict or potential conflict of interest must be disclosed in writing to an immediate Supervisor along with a recommended process to address the conflict or potential conflict of interest.
  • Approval of the appropriate process by the immediate Supervisor shall also be provided in writing. 

Refer to form CA.30.01.106 Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest.

Compliance

Failure to comply with the terms of this policy or disclose an obvious conflict of interest in full may result in the individual being subject to the appropriate disciplinary action as determined by WDGPH.  Conflict of interests that involve dishonesty may result in possible termination for cause.

Reprisals

It is a breach of this policy to take reprisal against an individual because that individual has participated in a process to enforce this policy.

Confidentiality

WDGPH respects the right of individuals to privacy in their personal activities and financial affairs.  Personal information gathered about an individual under this policy shall be held in accordance with the principles outlined in the Agency’s privacy policies.  

DEFINITIONS

Conflict of interest means a potential, perceived or actual conflict where an individual’s financial or other personal interest whether direct or indirect, or while acting for another, could reasonably be seen as influencing the employee’s duty to act in the best interests of WDGPH.

Management includes the Medical Officer of Health, Directors, Managers and other managerial employees who are part of the management team employed by WDGPH.

Employee applies to full-time, regular part-time, casual, and contract employees who are employed by WDGPH.

Students, volunteers, agents, and consultants are not considered employees of WDGPH.

The term “individual(s)” applies to management, employees, students, volunteers, agents, and consultants.

External person(s) or group means any person, association or organization outside WDGPH.

Relatives or relationship means any relationship to persons including immediate family whether related by blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law relationship, and any relationship of an intimate and/or financial nature during the preceding five years, any supervisor relationship, or any other past or present relationship that may give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias.

Supervisor means the person to whom the individual reports or another person who is part of the management team at WDGPH.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Procedure: CA.52.02.101 Conflict of Interest
CA.30.01.106 Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest
Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006

CONTACT FOR INQUIRIES

Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services

APPROVED BY

Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services


Procedure

Category: Human Resources
Subject: Conflict of Interest
Division: Human Resources and Corporate Services
Procedure Number: CA.52.02.101
Effective Date: October 1, 2015

PROCEDURE

All individuals as identified in policy CA.52.01.101 Conflict of Interest have an obligation to disclose to their immediate Supervisor any potential, perceived or actual conflict of interest.

Reporting Conflicts of Interest
  1. The individual must consult with their immediate Supervisor/Manager as soon as possible regarding any potential, perceived or actual conflict of interest.
  2. The individual must disclose in writing the details of the conflict of interest by completing a CA.30.01.106 Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest form.
  3. The individual must provide all information regarding the conflict of interest and a proposed action plan to deal with the conflict.
  4. The immediate Supervisor/Manager will review the completed CA.30.01.106 Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest form and meet with the individual to further discuss the conflict and action plan.
  5. The immediate Supervisor/Manager may change or add to the action plan if necessary to ensure the plan safeguards the interests of WDGPH.
  6. Once the action plan has been approved by the immediate Supervisor, they will forward the form to the Division Director. 
  7. The Division Director will review and if required change or add to the action plan to ensure the plan safeguards the interests of WDGPH.
  8. The Division Director will advise the Medical Officer of Health of any conflicts of interest that may have significant impact on WDGPH.
  9. Where a conflict of interest arises at the Division Director level, the Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest form will be forwarded to the Medical Officer of Health for their review and approval of the action plan.
  10. The Medical Officer of Health will meet with the Division Director to discuss the conflict of interest, change and/or add to the action plan if required any safeguards in the interest of WDGPH.
  11. When a conflict of interest arises with the Medical Officer of Health, the information will be submitted to the Personnel Committee of the Board of Health for their review and approval of the action taken.

If the Supervisor to whom the disclosure is made also has a conflict of interest, the disclosure should be made, in writing, to the person at the next highest level of authority.

Where appropriate, the Supervisor or individual may consult with higher level management and/or Human Resources. Legal advice will be sought by Human Resources if required.

A determination can be made that there is a conflict but the individual can participate where the individual may be knowledgeable and have information central to the discussion but not be part of the final decision; or
A determination can be made that there is a conflict and the individual cannot participate.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Management:
  • Management has a responsibility to establish internal safeguards to protect WDGPH from any conflicts of interest.
  • Management has a fiduciary responsibility, meaning a legal requirement, to put the interests of WDGPH before their personal interests.  All management must report any conflict of interest as defined in this policy to their immediate Supervisor.
  • The Medical Officer of Health and Directors, as senior management of WDGPH are responsible for establishing a conflict of interest policy and reporting process; ensuring communication and compliance.
  • All other management is responsible to ensure they understand and follow policy guidelines; to make certain personnel reporting directly to them also understand and follow policy guidelines. 
  • Management must report all conflict of interests as detailed in procedure CA.52.01.101 Conflict of Interest.
Employees:
  • All employees, students, volunteers, and individuals who are engaged as agents, consultants or on a contract basis with WDGPH must understand and follow the policy guidelines.
  • When a conflict of interest has been identified, follow the proper reporting procedure as detailed in procedure CA.52.01.101 Conflict of Interest.
Human Resources:
  • Human Resources will act as a resource regarding conflict of interest questions and concerns. 
  • Human Resources will ensure conflicts of interest are reported as required, monitor and follow-up any identified conflict of interests.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Policy: CA.52.01.101 Conflict of Interest
CA.30.01.106 Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest
Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006

CONTACT FOR INQUIRIES

Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services

APPROVED BY

Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services