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Terms of Reference

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Awareness Initiative Advisory Commitee Terms of Reference

1.0 Preamble

The Voluntary Sector Awareness Initiative (VSAI) is the result of the work of the Awareness Joint Table, one of working groups established in fall of 2000 through the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI). Consisting of representatives from both the federal public service and the voluntary sector, the Table’s mandate was to find ways to promote the voluntary sector’s importance and contribution to Canada’s way of life.

1.1 Objective and Expected Results

The objective of the VSAI is to:

  • To position the sector in Canadian society so that its contribution to Canada’s way of life is valued and supported by individuals, communities, public and private sectors.
The expected results of the VSAI are:
  • Canadians recognize the voluntary sector as one of three pillars of society.
  • The voluntary sector will have a voice and will influence opinion leaders.
  • Voluntary organizations will view themselves as part of a cohesive sector.
2.0 Voluntary Sector Awareness Initiative Governance Structure

The Awareness Initiative Advisory Committee (AIAC) has been created pursuant to the mutual commitment of the Government of Canada and the voluntary sector to a collaborative approach and increased government - sector cooperation, as outlined in the Accord, through the second phase of the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI).

3.0 Roles and Responsibilities

3.1 Awareness Initiative Advisory Committee

The AIAC will provide overall leadership, coordination and oversight of the VSAI. The AIAC is responsible for:

  • Providing strategic direction on the VSAI design, implementation and results;
  • Identifying and responding to emerging trends and issues;
  • Ongoing liaison with and periodic reporting to the Joint Steering Committee (JSC), including input to a VSI annual report;
  • Identifying and advising on gaps and overlaps in the implementation of the VSAI, including authorizing changes in direction, scope and activities;
  • Liaising with and sharing information with the ADM Steering Committee and Voluntary Sector Forum.
3.2 Social Development Canada

The Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Affairs Division (VSAD) of Social Development Canada is responsible for the implementation of VSAI and will act as the secretariat for the AIAC. The secretariat is responsible for:

  • planning and convening Committee meetings;
  • preparation of records of decision of all AIAC meetings;
  • administration of pre-approved, eligible travel and out-of-pocket expenses of voluntary sector members in relation to AIAC duties;
  • arrangements and expenditures related to AIAC meetings;
  • coordinating communication activities and strategic planning relating to the VSAI;
  • management of the contract, and day-to-day liaison, with VSAI delivery agency;
  • financial monitoring to ensure compliance with Treasury Board guidelines and the Financial Administration Act, and
  • in tandem with the committee, ensuring policy coordination and integration with other VSI components.
4.0 Accountability

The role of government and voluntary sector members is not to represent the more narrow interests of their respective individual departments or organizations per se, but to advance and represent the respective interests of the federal government or the voluntary sector as a whole.

Government members are accountable for advancing the cross-governmental interest of this file and will retain accountability to their individual departments and to the Assistant Deputy Minister Steering Committee for their participation.

Voluntary sector members are accountable for advancing sector-wide interests and will seek to represent the broadest voluntary sector perspective possible, via the Voluntary Sector Forum. Voluntary sector members will retain accountability to the Voluntary Sector Forum.

Members of the AIAC Secretariat are accountable to their Minister and to Treasury Board for the management and results of the project.

5.0 Reporting

Through the VSAD, AIAC will have linkages with the advisory bodies overseeing the implementation of work initiated by the Capacity, Canada Volunteerism Initiative (CVI) and IM/IT Joint Tables and the Strategic Management Coordination Committee for the CVI. It will also develop a reporting and accountability relationship with the JSC, as defined in its terms of reference.

6.0 Membership and Composition

Following the model established in the Joint Table Process, the AIAC is composed of members of the federal government and the voluntary sector.

The AIAC will be comprised of:

  • Two co-chairs, one each from the government and the voluntary sector
  • One additional representative from the voluntary sector
  • One additional representative from the federal government
The AIAC may, from time to time, require experts, academics or other voluntary sector representatives to attend meetings as presenters, advisers or observers because of their knowledge of the subject, of the sector or as part of another VSI mechanism. Such invitation is made by consensus of the committee.

The Director of VSAD and the Executive Director of the Voluntary Sector Forum Secretariat, or their delegate, will be ex officio members of the AIAC.

7.1 Attendance

Substitutional attendance is not permitted.

7.2 Quorum

The quorum will consist of 3 members.

8.0 Timeframe and Meetings

8.1. Timeframe

The AIAC is constituted for two years, commencing in spring 2003 and ending in spring 2005.

8.2 Meetings

Frequency of meeting to be determined by the co-chairs, using face-to-face meetings or conference calls. Decisions can be made through electronic correspondence.

9.0 Operating Principles

9.1 Confidentiality

AIAC members are expected to be open and candid in discussing items before the committee. For this reason it is important to maintain confidentiality. Committee members are committed to respecting the personal privacy of committee participants and agree not to disclose any personal information or views expressed by individuals during meetings. Deliberations should remain confidential until there is general agreement and consensus to make them public. Records of Decision will be posted on the VSI website following approval by the committee.

9.2 Reaching agreement

Members will seek to reach consensus whenever possible. If consensus cannot be achieved, the co-chairs may decide to refer the issue to the Joint Steering Committee for resolution.

9.3 Accessibility

To ensure the active participation by any members who may have accessibility requirement, committee meetings will be held in facilities that are barrier-free. Where required, technical aids, special equipment, attendant and other specialized services will be provided to accommodate the needs of committee members with disabilities.

9.4 Indemnification

Voluntary Sector representatives serving as members of the AIAC are extended the same risk management principles as to public servants when it comes to matters of liability and insurance and are subject to the Treasure Board’s Volunteer Policy. The Voluntary Sector representatives on the AIAC are therefore considered as “volunteers” under this Policy.

9.5 Conflict of Interest Guidelines

Federal employees are responsible for complying with the Treasury Board Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service and any relevant departmental policy on conflict of interest, outside activities, gifts and hospitality. They are also subject to the application of paragraph 121(1)(c) of the Criminal Code with respect to receiving directly or indirectly a benefit of any kind from a person or an organization with ongoing dealings with the Government. Voluntary sector members of the AIAC:

  • will not use their position on AIAC to benefit materially from the process or the outcomes;
  • will not be eligible on an individual basis for contract research or other paid work commissioned by any other VSI advisory body or working group on which they also sit;
  • will not use their position to assist other members of the voluntary sector in their dealings with the federal government where this would result in preferential treatment to any person or organization; and
  • in the circumstance where discussions are taking place to commission AIAC's work to organizations whose current employees or Board members are sitting on AIAC, those persons must excuse themselves from the selection/decision process.
9.6 Official Languages

All members will be encouraged to participate in the AIAC deliberations in the official language of their choice. Simultaneous translation may be provided at meetings based on the needs of the Committee members and invited guests.


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Last Updated: 2006-01-11