Frequently Asked Questions about the Defence Ethics Programme
Select a question from the list below to read the answer.
- What is the Defence Ethics Programme?
- Why does the DND/CAF have an ethics programme?
- When did the Defence Ethics Programme begin?
- Who is responsible for implementing the Defence Ethics Programme?
- Who does the Defence Ethics Programme apply to?
- If my organization has its own ethics programme, does the DEP still apply to me?
- How can I make my personnel aware of defence ethics?
- What is the Defence Integrity Framework?
- What is the Statement of Defence Ethics?
- What is a values-based ethics programme?
- How do I make an internal disclosure of wrongdoing in the workplace?
The Defence Ethics Programme (DEP) is a comprehensive values-based ethics programme put in place to meet the needs of the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), at both the individual and the organizational levels.
The aim and primary focus of the programme is to foster the practice of ethics in the workplace and in operations such that employees of the DND and members of the CAF will consistently perform their duties to the highest ethical standards.
Vision: To maintain ethical integrity by consistently applying the highest standards of values and ethics.
Mission: To guide DND and CAF personnel in choosing conduct that is consistently ethical.
Significant changes in society, in technology, in government and in our organizations have contributed to creating over time an environment in which making choices and reaching decisions has become more complicated and complex than in the past. These changes are both internal and external to the DND and CAF. An ethics programme was authorized not because we are any less ethical that we were in the past, but to respond to this changing context. The goal of an ethics programme is to provide personnel with the right knowledge, tools and capabilities so that they make the right choices and decisions.
Although senior DND and CAF leaders endorsed the development of an ethics programme in February 1994, the Deputy Minister (DM) and the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) formally authorized the DEP in 1997.
The Assistant Deputy Minister (Review Services) (ADM (RS)), as the authority for the DEP, provides central programme strategy, policy, guidance and support for decentralized implementation of the programme. However, Level 1 Advisors are responsible for implementing the DEP within their respective organizations.
The DEP applies to DND and its employees, and the CAF and its members.
Yes. Since it is the responsibility of each Level 1 organization to implement the DEP, the programme is sometimes adjusted to better address different organizational needs, for example, the recognizable organizational cultures of the army, navy and air force. Other ethics programmes at the Department are derived from the DEP and are tailored to address particular ethical issues and risks associated with that organization. The core ethical principles and values that serve as the basis for the DEP remain the same since they are consistent with both the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and the Military Ethos.
DND employees and CAF personnel need to be aware of, and sensitive to, defence ethics in order to have the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their ethical obligations. Information and support are available in the Ethics Training section. The Ethics Tools section contains helpful products that will improve knowledge in defence ethics.
We also recommend the online Introduction to Defence Ethics course. All DND employees and CF personnel are encouraged to take the course and to include it in their personal learning plans. The online course covers the essential content of the classroom version it replaces, while meeting the very high demand for that class—and is open to DND and CF students across Canada and around the world. It serves both as a stand-alone introduction to Defence ethics and as a prerequisite to a planned supervisor-level classroom course.
To register, those who already have a DNDLearn account can self-enrol at http://dln-rad.mil.ca/Saba/Web/Main. Learning times will vary, but the course takes an average of four to six hours to complete.
The Defence Integrity Framework identifies seven ethical processes that must be fully integrated within an ethics programme to make it comprehensive and effective: leadership, expectations, dialogue, ethical risks, training, improvement and decision-making.
For more information on the Defence Integrity Framework and its role in the DEP, refer to the Archived – Fundamentals of Canadian Defence Ethics (PDF 453kb)
The Statement of Defence Ethics is the heart of the DEP. It is a public statement of commitment to ethical principles and obligations, consistent with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and Military Ethos. Employees of DND and CAF members should use the statement in the fulfillment of their individual and organizational responsibilities.
The three hierarchical ethical principles are: Respect the dignity of all persons, Serve Canada before self, and Obey and Support lawful authority.
The five ethical values of equal weight are: Integrity, Loyalty, Courage, Stewardship and Excellence.
The DEP is an example of a values-based ethics programme whereby ethical principles and values are the defining elements of the programme. These principles and values should be considered not only as guides for personal and institutional conduct but also as criteria by which that conduct should be judged.
Two other widely used approaches for developing ethics programmes are the compliance-based approach and preventive-based approach. Very different from values-based, the compliance-based approach tends to develop elaborate codes emphasizing compliance with rules, thus acquiring a strong legalistic tendency. A preventive-based approach identifies areas of organizational behaviour that are considered to be exposed to high risks of non-compliance and focuses its efforts in these areas. A values-based approach to ethics, on the other hand, states in general terms what is desirable, rather than specifying in detail what should or should not be done. While the DEP is classified as values-based, it really adopts the necessary compliance and preventive measures needed to be an effective ethics programme.
The Director-DEP does not handle internal disclosures of wrongdoing. Please visit the Internal Disclosure Office of Wrongdoing web page for more information on how to make a disclosure.
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