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Interpretation of "Comparable rank" for designated public offices

Purpose of bulletin

This interpretation bulletin is issued by the Commissioner under the authority of subsection 10(1) of the Lobbying Act (hereafter "the Act"). Its purpose is to provide the Commissioner's interpretation of the term "comparable rank" as used in subparagraph 2(1)(b)(ii) of the Act.

Background and legislative context

The Federal Accountability Act (S.C. 2006, c.9) made a number of amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act, including renaming it the Lobbying Act and introducing the term "designated public office holder" (DPOH). The Act and the Designated Public Office Holder Regulations designate a number of senior public officials as DPOHs. Across the public service, senior public office holder positions are known by varying titles. Subsection 2(1) of the Act, which lists those positions that will be included in the definition of "designated public office holder", captures this reality by including positions of "comparable rank" to associate deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers.

Comparable rank interpretation approach

In interpreting the phrase "comparable rank", the Commissioner has taken an approach which provides very specific criteria that will allow for easy identification of nearly all "comparable" DPOHs, while allowing the possibility of further, specific interpretations of those positions where doubt may remain about DPOH status. In setting the criteria, the Commissioner interpreted that Parliament's intent was to designate those who:

  • hold positions which, by any title, have comparable decision-making or advisory responsibilities to Associate Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers;
  • are remunerated at least as much as the minimum salary of an Assistant Deputy Minister; and,
  • report to a DPOH, as do Associate Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers.

Comparable rank DPOH designation criteria

For a position to be considered of comparable rank to an associate or assistant deputy minister, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The position must be classified at the EX-04 level or higher;


  2. The position's salary must be at the EX-04 minimum or higher, exclusive of performance pay ($152,000 as of April 1, 2013*). This excludes EX-03s whose salaries have crossed into the EX-04 salary band through duration in the position;


  3. The position must report directly to a DPOH.

If criteria A or B and C are present, then it should be concluded that the position is of comparable rank to either an Associate or Assistant Deputy Minister and is therefore a DPOH position. In practice this would include positions which meet some but not all criteria, such as:

  • Associate Secretary, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Vice-President, Public Service Commission
  • Assistant Commissioner, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Executive Vice President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Vice-President, Canada Border Services Agency

In the case where a Deputy Head feels a position meeting these criteria should not be a designated public office, they should write to the Commissioner of Lobbying. Reasons for a position being excluded might include:

  • No decision-making or advisory duties
  • Person on leave of absence

For further information, please contact:

Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada
Tel.: (613) 957-2760
Fax: (613) 957-3078

Commissioner of Lobbying
May 2010

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