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Terms of Reference
Accord Table

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The Joint Accord Table Terms of Reference

Purpose of the Accord Project

To develop a framework document, and associated monitoring and reporting measures that will improve the way the federal government and the voluntary sector work together in areas of policy development, program design and service delivery, for the benefit of Canadians.

The Accord will be built on a shared commitment to improving the quality of life of Canadians. It will be characterized by balanced and mutually advantageous undertakings on the part of the government and the sector. Those undertakings will bring about new and different ways for the federal government and the voluntary sector to work together, and will produce real benefits for Canadian society. The changes will, among other things, allow the relationship between the government and the sector to be managed on a continuous and evolving basis.


The Accord Project is one of the components of the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI). It is understood that the planning and carrying out of the Accord Project needs to be a collaborative effort in order to produce a balanced and mutually advantageous set of undertakings. Therefore, both the federal government and the voluntary sector have committed resources and expertise to support the development and implementation of an Accord.

Expectations of the Project

That a framework agreement will be developed based upon an approved plan and a consultation document. This first stage of work will likely take approximately one year, and will begin with the preparation of a plan. The plan will make provision for broad consultation, laying the foundation for the development of a framework agreement which sets out the vision, values and principles which will guide the parties to the relationship.

That associated implementation measures will be developed based on an approved plan. This second stage of work will also take approximately one year, and will begin with the preparation of a plan. This stage of work will also require broad consultation. Its purpose will be to work out the details related to the institutional structures and processes needed for the on-going management of the relationship and will include concrete measures designed to change the relationship in specific ways.

Approvals will be sought, when and as required, from appropriate governance structures.

Mandate of the Joint Accord Table

The Joint Accord Table will serve as a focal point for the development of a framework document and associated implementation measures.

Membership of the Joint Accord Table

The Table is composed of an equal number of government officials and members of the voluntary sector, and will be jointly co-chaired. The Table's membership includes Assistant Deputy Ministers from the Government of Canada, and members from the voluntary sector who were chosen by the Independent Selection Committee. Substitutes are not allowed.

Relationship between the Joint Accord Table and the Joint Co-ordinating Committee

A Joint Co-ordinating Committee has been established to co-ordinate the work of the Joint Tables, with specific responsibilities in regard to communications and consultation. The work of the Accord Table will touch on both of these issues. The Table will seek guidance from the Joint Co-ordinating Committee in regard to its defined areas of responsibility.

Roles, Responsibilities, and Accountabilities

Voluntary sector members are accountable for their participation on the Accord Table through the normal reporting structures of their organizations. Their role on the Table, however, is not to represent the interests of their organizations, but rather to advance the interests of the sector as a whole in establishing a closer working relationship with the government. The voluntary sector members will be accountable in a broad sense for responding to the views and reflecting the values and priorities of the sector. To the extent that policy issues arise at the Table where additional guidance is needed from a sector perspective, that guidance will be sought through the Senior Sector Steering Committee and broad consultation with the sector.

Government officials are accountable for their participation on the Accord Table through the normal reporting structures of their offices in the federal government. Like voluntary sector members, their role is not to represent the interests of their organizations, but rather to advance the cross-governmental interests of this horizontal file and to establish a closer working relationship with the voluntary sector. To the extent that policy issues arise at the Table where additional guidance is needed from a government perspective, that guidance will be sought from the Reference Group of Ministers (RGM) and other governance structures established for that purpose.

Time frame and Meetings

The Table will be constituted for two years from the date of its first meeting. The Table will review its Terms of Reference at the end of the first year and may revise them for the second year as required. The Table will meet at a frequency to be determined by the co-chairs, using face-to-face meetings, conference calls and/or electronic correspondence.

Secretariat and Funding

The work of the Joint Accord Table will be supported by the federal government's Voluntary Sector Task Force and the sector's Secretariat, Voluntary Sector Initiative. As directed by the Co-chairs, these groups do the work requested by the Table. This includes:

  • providing secretariat services to the Table;
  • paying for expenditures associated with the organization of Table meetings;
  • paying eligible travel and out-of-pocket expenses (Treasury Board Guidelines) of voluntary sector members in relation to Table duties; and
  • identifying and then undertaking and/or contracting for the preparation of research and other materials as required by the Table to inform its work.

Annex A: Operating Principles

1. Quorum
Table Members have agreed that the quorum for meetings to proceed officially is at least four from each group. Table membership is non-substituted.

2. Confidentiality
Table members are expected to be open and candid in discussing items before the table. For this reason, it is important to maintain confidentiality by respecting the personal opinions or views expressed by individuals during meetings, and by agreeing not to disclose this information to others.

3. Public Communication and Media
Regular communications about the Table, its mandate and membership, together with regular reporting of its progress should be part of the regular work of all joint tables. Records of meetings, progress updates and other communications tools (questions and answers) will be regularly developed to support and transparently communicate the work of the Table to the public.

4. Reaching Agreement
Table members will seek to reach consensus wherever possible.

5. Official Languages
All members will be encouraged to participate in the Joint Table deliberations in the official language of their choice. All products of the Tables will be produced in both languages (e.g. minutes, joint reports, and media lines). Simultaneous interpretation and bilingual materials will be provided, based on the needs and what is determined to be reasonable by the Table members.

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

7. Expert Members and Invited Guests
The Table 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 existing Table or consultation mechanism. Such invitations will be agreed to in advance by the Co-Chairs.

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Last Updated: 2006-01-12