Government of Canada announces independent oversight of government advertising, modern communications policy

May 12, 2016 – Ottawa – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Government of Canada is taking another step to make government more open, transparent and accountable.

Today, President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison announced that the Government of Canada is making good on its commitment to modernize its Communications Policy and put an end to the partisan use of Government advertising.

Effective immediately, Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) – the national not-for-profit organization committed to ensuring the integrity of advertising – will conduct independent and public reviews of government ads against the definition of “non-partisan communications” now outlined for the first time in the communications policy of the Government of Canada. 

Furthermore, the Policy now prohibits the advertising of government programs that have yet to be approved by Parliament, and no advertising can take place in the 90 days before a fixed general election date.

The Government has asked the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an audit of this interim non-partisan review mechanism to evaluate its effectiveness.  His office will determine the scope and timing of the audit.

To make sure that government advertising cannot be used for partisan purposes in the future, the Government will work with parliamentarians, the Auditor General and stakeholders to entrench third-party oversight of government advertising in legislation.

Quick facts

  • Budget 2016 announced a reduction for advertising in 2016-2017.
  • ASC is a national not-for-profit organization that administers the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.
  • ASC has been providing advertising pre-clearance for the Canadian advertising industry for over 50 years and administers a consumer complaints process about ads currently running in Canada.
  • Except for a few modifications in 2006, the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada has not been substantially renewed since it was introduced in 2002. The Federal Identity Program has not undergone a significant review since its implementation in 1998.


“The Government is moving forward on its commitment to ban partisan government ads and communications. We now have safeguards in place so that Canadians know the information they receive from their government is non-partisan and represents a legitimate public service announcement.”

The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board

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Jean-Luc Ferland
Press Secretary
Office of the President of the Treasury Board

Media Relations
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

TTY (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired) – 613-369-9371

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