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Terms of Reference

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Joint Steering Committee

1. Mandate

The Joint Steering Committee (JSC) is created pursuant to the mutual commitment of the Government of Canada and the voluntary sector to a collaborative approach and increased government – sector cooperation through the second phase of the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI). The mandate of the Joint Steering Committee is to:

1.1 Provide coordination and oversight for the remaining work of the VSI, and for the implementation, dissemination and delivery of VSI products and services. This will include:

1.1.1 Ensuring horizontal coordination and implementation of the work of the advisory bodies established to oversee the implementation of the work initiated during the joint table process under phase one of the VSI;

1.1.2 Providing direction to advisory bodies and other VSI working groups by calling for reports as necessary, reviewing work in progress and providing course correction as warranted;

1.1.3 Reviewing and proposing future action on remaining recommendations emerging through the VSI.

1.2 Provide a forum for sharing information between advisory bodies, working groups and the Strategic Management Committee for the Canada Volunteerism Initiative.

1.3 Ensure implementation and follow-up to the Accord and Codes of Good Practice. This will include:

1.3.1 Ensuring that the Accord and Codes are well known, accessible and their application understood and undertaken across the federal government and across the voluntary sector;

1.3.2 Setting strategic direction for developing measures to monitor and assess progress within government departments and the voluntary sector;

1.3.3 Overseeing the development of a voluntary sector lens and a mechanism for resolving disputes related to the Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector and the related Codes of Good Practices.

1.4 Serve as a forum for the identification and consideration of issues arising in this joint work or other significant issues brought forward by the sector or government. This will include:

1.4.1 Supporting annual discussions between Ministers and the Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) on issues on mutual interests.

1.4.2 Providing feedback and advice to the federal government and the voluntary sector on the VSI and the potential role of each in the current climate.

1.4.3 Making recommendations regarding future policies or work that should be undertaken by the government and/or voluntary sector after the completion of the VSI to support ongoing collaboration.

1.5 Provide a mechanism for dispute resolution for bodies and activities within the Voluntary Sector Initiative.

2. Reporting Requirements

2.1 Oversee the development of an annual report on progress related to the implementation of the Accord and on the effectiveness of the joint work for consideration at meetings of key Ministers with the Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF).

3. Committee Composition

3.1 Membership:

  • The total membership of the JSC will be 14 members including 2 co-chairs - the Assistant Deputy Minister, Income Security Programs, Social Development Canada and the Chair of the Voluntary Sector Forum. Members will be drawn equally from the government and the voluntary sector.

3.2 Governmental representation

  • The government members will be at the ADM level, drawn from the ADM Steering Committee.
  • Substitution by another Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) or Director General (DG) delegate is allowed. The replacement/alternate needs to reflect continuity and someone with an interest and commitment.

3.3 Voluntary sector members:

  • Members from the voluntary sector will be members of and/or chosen by the Voluntary Sector Forum and accountable to the Forum.
  • The majority of voluntary sector JSC members will be at the Executive Director or Board Chair level.
  • Attendance is non-substituted.

4. Accountability

4.1 Government officials are accountable for their participation on the JSC through the normal reporting structures of their department/agency in the federal government.

4.2 The voluntary sector members will be accountable to the Voluntary Sector Forum on the basis of the work plan and Terms of Reference developed by the VSF. When major disagreement or divergence arises at the Committee the members may consult with the Forum for direction or guidance.

5. Conflict of Interest Guidelines

5.1 All members of the JSC will act with honesty, integrity and openness in advancing the joint process.

5.2 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.

5.3 Voluntary sector members of the JSC will adhere to the conflict of interest guidelines of the Voluntary Sector Forum.

6. Time Frame and Meetings

6.1 The JSC is constituted commencing in January 2003, through March 31, 2005. The JSC will meet quarterly or at a frequency to be determined by the co-chairs, using face-to-face meetings, conference calls and/or electronic correspondence.

6.2 Working groups and sub-committees may be convened to address specific issues or undertake activities as required.

6.3 The JSC will review its Terms of Reference each year and may revise them for the remaining duration of the Committee.

7. Secretariat and Funding

7.1 The Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Affairs Division of Social Development Canada is responsible for:

  • secretariat service to the JSC, in collaboration with the Voluntary Sector Forum Secretariat;
  • preparation of records of decision from all JSC meetings (attendance required);
  • expenditures associated with the organization of meetings, contracts for JSC work, etc.;
  • pre-approved, eligible travel and out-of-pocket expenses (Treasury Board Guidelines) of voluntary sector members in relation to JSC duties; and reporting on expenditures on a regular basis.

8. Dispute Resolution

8.1 Should the committee be unable to resolve an issue through negotiation among the members, the committee will refer the issue to its co-chairs for dispute settlement. A neutral third-party may be involved at the discretion of the co-chairs. Joint decisions made by the co-chairs will be considered final by the committee.

Annex A


Government of Canada - Voluntary Sector Initiative

  1. Quorum

    Quorum for any votes taken at JSC will require 8 members, 4 from both the voluntary sector and federal government, which may include the Committee Co-Chairs.

  2. Confidentiality

    JSC 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 privacy of committee participants and agree not to disclose information or views expressed by individuals during meetings. Records of decision will respect the principle of non-attribution. Deliberations should remain confidential until there is general agreement and consensus to make them public (see principle 3 below).

  3. Public Communication and Media

    Regular communications about the progress of work being undertaken by the Committee is a priority and should be part of the regular work of the JSC. Records of decision, progress updates and other joint communications tools (questions and answers) will be regularly developed and approved by Committee members for posting on web sites and communicating with the media and other interested observers. Material will be made available to people outside the Committee upon approval of the Committee co-chairs.

  4. Reaching Agreement

    Committee members will seek to reach consensus wherever possible. If, for whatever reason, consensus can not be achieved, the JSC Members may choose to move to a majority vote or permit dissenting reports to be included in the record of decision.

  5. Official Languages

    All members will be encouraged to participate in the JSC deliberations in the official language of their choice. All JSC products will be produced in both languages (e.g. records of decisions, joint reports, media lines).

  6. Accessibility

    To ensure the active participation by any members and invited guests who may have accessibility requirements, JSC 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 members with disabilities.

  7. Expert Members and Invited Guests

    The JSC may, from time to time, require experts, academics or other government/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 consultation mechanism. Such invitations will be agreed to in advance by the Co-Chairs.

Annex B


Voluntary Sector representatives serving as members of the JSC are extended the same risk management principles as public servants serving on the Committee when it comes to matters of liability and insurance and are subject to the Treasury Board's Volunteer Policy.

The Voluntary Sector representatives on the JSC would therefore be considered "volunteers" under this policy.

Federal departments and agencies should support volunteers in any third party liability claim, and do everything necessary to ensure that volunteers suffer no financial losses as a result of any claim arising from serving in a volunteer capacity.


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Last Updated: 2006-01-11