Frequently asked questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers. These are updated on a regular basis.

What is a Governor in Council (GIC) appointment?

A GIC appointment is one made by the Governor General, on the advice of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada (i.e., the Cabinet). The appointments are made through an Order in Council (OIC) and range from heads of agencies and chief executive officers of Crown corporations to members of quasi-judicial tribunals.

What are the principles that guide the GIC appointment process?

Selection processes are guided by the following principles:

  • Open: Selection processes are open to all Canadians, to provide them with an opportunity—should they be interested and have the required qualifications—to participate in government organizations and make a contribution to Canada’s democratic institutions by serving as GIC appointees.
  • Transparent: Clear information about the requirements and steps involved in the selection process are readily available to the public, in order to reach as many Canadians as possible and attract a strong and diverse field of highly qualified candidates. Decisions on appointments are publicly available.
  • Merit: The selection process is designed to identify highly qualified candidates who meet the needs of the organization and are able to perform the duties of the position to which they would be appointed. It seeks individuals who have the qualifications (education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities) and personal suitability to fill the position, and who are able to meet any statutory and/or other conditions that may be required.
  • Diversity: A recruitment strategy seeks to attract qualified candidates who will help to achieve gender parity and reflect Canada’s diversity in terms of linguistic, regional, and employment equity groups (i.e., women, Indigenous Canadians, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities) as well as members of ethnic and cultural groups. With few exceptions, the government seeks to appoint bilingual Canadians to GIC positions.

How are Ministers involved in the process?

Ministers are responsible for a portfolio of organizations. Ministers, supported by their department, manage all GIC appointments within their portfolio. The Privy Council Office provides regular vacancy reports to support Ministers and departments in vacancy management. Ministers are responsible for recommending appointments to the GIC, with few exceptions.

What types of positions are included in GIC appointments?

Selection processes are being used to fill the majority of both full-time and part-time GIC positions across the country. The approach includes:

  • Heads and members of agencies, boards and commissions;
  • Chairs and members of administrative and adjudicative tribunals;
  • Agents and Officers of Parliament;
  • Ombudspersons; and
  • Chairpersons, directors, and chief executive officers of Crown corporations.

In exceptional circumstances, such as the need to ensure business continuity, interim appointments or reappointments of up to one year may be made (subject to any legislative provisions) to allow time for the completion of a selection process.

Which positions are filled through an alternative process?

The Governor General, Lieutenant Governors, Ministers, Senators, parliamentary secretaries, ministerial advisors, territorial commissioners, deputy ministers, Heads of Mission, and judges are appointed through different mechanisms or processes.

Is the appointment of advisors to ministers subject to open, transparent, and merit-based selection processes?

In general, open, transparent, and merit-based selection processes do not apply to the appointment of advisors to ministers. In most cases, an advisory committee or panel is struck for a specific purpose and advisors are chosen with a view to ensuring the Minister has a group of individuals who, alone or together, comprise the appropriate mix of experience, skills and knowledge and perspectives to support the Minister’s decision-making.

Are there circumstances where interim appointments/reappointments will be made without an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process?

Yes. In some cases, interim or short-term appointments or reappointments are made while a selection process is undertaken. Such appointments are made to positions essential to government business or to those that deliver important services to Canadians.

How long does the application process take? Will I receive a reply?

The length of time will vary according to the nature and responsibility of the position advertised and the particular selection process being used. For example, the recruitment of a new head of agency requires a more comprehensive process than that for a part-time member of a Crown corporation Board of Directors, given the various factors to consider (e.g., the number of applicants, screening, scheduling of interviews, reference checks, and due diligence assessments, including security reviews). While a process is ongoing, applicants whose candidacy has been retained will be advised of next steps, including timing of written assessments (if applicable) and interviews. Applicants who have been deemed unsuccessful in a selection process will be notified only once the process is complete. Applicants who have withdrawn their candidacy will not receive further communication regarding the process.

Will my privacy be protected?

Confidentiality is a high priority in the GIC application and selection process. Personal information will be safeguarded at every stage of the process. Any personal information provided by applicants will be held in confidence and used in the appointment process in accordance with the law, including the Privacy Act.

What ethical and conflict of interest guidelines are applicable to GIC appointees?

Specific statutes and guidelines govern the conduct and actions of GIC appointees while in office. Each of the following links to a more detailed description:

The Conflict of Interest Act establishes conflict of interest and post-employment compliance measures for public office holders. The Act is administered by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Open and Accountable Government defines the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders, including:

Specific positions may be subject to other guidelines or restrictions.

How does the reporting process work?

Candidates are encouraged to self-identify when they apply for a GIC position.

While completing their online profile, candidates provide information on their first official language and their second official language proficiency, and voluntarily self-identify as a member of an employment equity group (i.e., women, Indigenous Canadians, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities) and/or as a member of an ethnic or cultural group. Candidates also provide their place of residence.

This allows Ministers, in making their GIC appointment recommendations, to take into consideration the Government’s commitment to achieve gender parity and reflect Canada’s diversity, in terms of linguistic, regional and employment equity representation.

Information on GIC appointments, including diversity information, will be included in the Privy Council Office’s annual Departmental Results Report. This will contribute to the Government of Canada’s commitment to increased openness and transparency.

What is being done to bring diversity to GIC appointments?

The approach to GIC appointments supports an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process which takes into consideration the goal of GIC appointments reflecting Canada’s diversity, in terms of linguistic, regional and employment equity representation, as well as ethnic and cultural diversity.

To help the Government achieve these goals, specific recruitment strategies and outreach aligned with these objectives may be used.

In addition, candidates for GIC positions complete an online profile, where they provide information on their second official language proficiency, and may voluntarily self-identify as a member of an employment equity group (i.e., women, Indigenous Canadians, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities). Candidates may also self-identify as members of ethnic or cultural groups.

Why isn’t there a closing date for applications on some Notices of Appointment Opportunities?

When a Notice of Appointment Opportunity for a position indicates that the review of applications will begin on a specified date, this means that the application period will remain open until a qualified candidate has been identified and an appointment has been made.

In these instances, candidates are strongly encouraged to submit their applications by the date indicated on the Notice of Appointment Opportunity. Applications received after this date will be retained and may be considered up until an appointment to the position is made.

The Government has initiated this approach for certain positions that are appointed by the Governor in Council, including Officers and Officials of Parliament positions (e.g., the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Information Commissioner, and the Official Languages Commissioner), in order to attract as many potential qualified applicants as possible for these specialized and high-profile roles.