Reimbursement to Individuals for University Business Expenses


Date: 1967-02-23

  • Date: 2019-05-14, effective 2019-07-01
    Instance of approval: Executive Committee of the Board of Governors
Originating/Responsible Department: Office of the Vice-President, Resources


1.1    The purpose of this Policy is to govern the reimbursement of authorized, legitimate, and reasonable expenses incurred while conducting University Business and to be paid from any of the University- administered funds. The Policy ensures the University of Ottawa is in accordance with all applicable federal and provincial legislation and regulations in connection with, but not limited to, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Accountability Act, 2010, and all other related directives.


2.1    This Policy applies to Individuals seeking reimbursement of expenditures for costs incurred while carrying out University Business or in connection with funds administered by the University, subject to the terms and conditions of the University’s collective agreements.

2.2    In the event of a conflict between this Policy and regulations of a funding source relevant to reimbursement, the more stringent provision shall prevail.

2.3    The following University Policies and associated Procedures must be read in conjunction with this Policy.

2.4    This Policy assumes unless stated otherwise that all monetary values indicated are in Canadian dollars (CDN) and exclusive of applicable taxes.

2.5    No exception can be made to this Policy, unless otherwise provided in Policy 21 and Related Procedures.


3.1    The University reimburses necessary and reasonable Eligible Expenses incurred while carrying out University Business.

3.2    In assessing the reimbursement of an expense, Individuals, Authorized Approvers and the Heads of Units must consider whether a reasonable third party would agree that the expense is justified, and therefore would be an Eligible Expense under this Policy.


4.1    The University will reimburse Eligible Expenses only. To be deemed eligible, an Expense must:

  • a)    be in accordance with this Policy;
  • b)    be legitimate and incurred only for University Business;
  • c)    contribute towards the direct cost of the research or University Business activity;
  • d)    be supported by appropriate documentation;
  • e)    be verifiable; and
  • f)    not result in any personal gain.

4.2    The University will not reimburse payments made for goods or services that are or will be:

  • a)    normally provided or made available by the University;
  • b)    normally covered as part of the process to procure goods and services;
  • c)    claimed from another funding source;
  • d)    eligible for reimbursement from an external funding source;
  • e)    claimed by an employee as a tax deduction; and
  • f)    unreasonable in the context of University Business.

4.3    Where a University Business expense(s) involves a group of Employees, reimbursement must be claimed by and will be made only to the individual with the highest level of authority that is part of the group of Employees.

4.4    The Individual is responsible for the repayment of any reimbursement over-payments regardless of their employment position at the University, or whether the Individual’s relationship or status with the University will be ending or has ended.


5.1    The Head of Unit is the ultimate authority within that Unit. The Head of Unit will be held accountable for all University Business expenses and ensuring its adherence to Policy 21 and Related Procedures. The Head of Unit may not impose less control than required by this Policy.

5.2    The Head of Unit may identify a senior employee with sufficient knowledge and expertise (Unit’s Authorized Approver) to pre-approve anticipated expenses and to approve reimbursements. The Head of Unit remains accountable for the action of the Unit.

5.3    The Head of Unit will direct the Unit to report identified instances of non-compliance with Policy 21 and Related Procedures, and report such instances to the responsible Vice-President and the Associate Vice-President, Financial Resources, who will assess whether the matter should be dealt with under this Policy 21 and Related Procedures or another applicable policy.

5.4    In all cases, the Individual is responsible for ensuring that intended expenses conform to the University’s policies before the cost is incurred.

5.5    The Individual seeking approval to travel is responsible for justifying the purpose of the travel as well as providing appropriate documentation to the Authorized Approver.

5.6    The Individual seeking approval to travel is responsible for obtaining approval from their Authorized Approver sufficiently in advance to allow proper planning and to benefit from lower overall travel costs when possible. The Head of Unit may refuse the approval of expenses for which no pre-approval was sought.

5.7    The Authorized Approver is responsible for familiarizing himself or herself with the purpose of the travel prior to pre-approving the travel request; information such as copies of the conference program or advertising leaflet should be made available to the Authorized Approver upon request.

5.8    Authorized Approvers are not permitted to approve their own claims.

5.9    Authorized Approvers must be a senior employee, one or more position level above the Individual, authorized to review and approve purpose, and reasonability of costs for University Business expenses reimbursements to Individuals.
5.10    The Vice-President Resources, in consultation with the Vice-President responsible for the Unit, has the authority to make arrangements that may differ from Policy 21 and Related Procedures for approved activities falling outside the normal scope of University Business and whose success may be compromised by elements of Policy 21 and Related Procedures. However, these arrangements must comply with regulations and legislation.


6.1    The Individual and Authorized Approver’s approval certifies that the University Business expense(s) reimbursement complies with Policy 21 and Related Procedures. The approval authorities are included in Procedure 16-15 - Approval Authorities.

6.2    In the case of research funds, reimbursement claims must include the approval of the Principal Investigator or the approved delegate.


7.1    University Business expense(s) submitted for reimbursement in foreign currency are to be reported in Canadian dollars, using the actual rate paid or the default rate, which is based on Chartered Canadian Banks daily rates and posted in the University’s electronic reimbursement system.


8.1    The University considers the documentation included in its electronic reimbursement system, including electronic images of original paper and electronic invoices and receipts, to be the originals for business retention and audit purposes.

8.2    The Head of Unit is accountable for maintaining the records associated with University Business expense(s) and reimbursement when the claim is not processed through the University’s electronic reimbursement system.


9.1    All reimbursements for University Business expense(s) may be subject to subsequent audit.

9.2    All reimbursements for ineligible expense(s) identified through a subsequent audit process shall be considered as cash advance subject to section 3 and section 14 of Procedure 16-11 - Reimbursement of Travel Expenses or shall be returned in full to the University by the Individual upon request.

9.3    All University Business expense(s) reimbursements may be subject to subsequent adjustment made by any of the following internal and external parties:

  • (i)    Financial Resources;
  • (ii)    Internal Audit Office; and
  • (iii)    external funding sources and external auditors.


10.1    The Associate Vice-President, Financial Resources retains authority for final interpretation of this Policy.

11.1    The Associate Vice-President, Financial Resources is responsible for periodic review of this Policy and for recommending to the Vice-President, Resources any changes to it or to any procedure adopted pursuant to it. This Policy will be reviewed as necessary to ensure compliance with applicable legislation and regulation and with good business practices.

11.2    Amendments to this Policy other than those set out in paragraph 11.3 below shall require the approval of the President.

11.3    The Vice-President, Resources may amend this Policy in order to update the following information contained herein:

  • (i)    the designation, title or identity of officials, offices, or departments and contact information within the University;
  • (ii)    the designation or title of government ministries or agencies; and
  • (iii)    the title or citation of legislation, regulations, policies or procedures.

11.4    The Vice-President, Resources may establish, amend, abrogate or make exceptions to procedures for purposes of the effective implementation of this Policy, provided that such procedures or exceptions are consistent with the provisions of this Policy.


12.1    In this Policy and related Procedures, the following definitions shall apply:

  • Authorized Approver” refers to a person in a position of authority over the Individual seeking reimbursement and has authority to approve the commitment of University resources.
  • Eligible Expense” refers to a claim that meets the guidelines of this policy and may be eligible for reimbursement by the University. Eligible expenses are deemed not to attract a taxable benefit as defined by federal and provincial legislations.
  • Employee” means any person who directly or indirectly receives wages from the University in return for supply of services. For certainty, this definition includes all unionized and non-unionized academic and support staff as well as those whose salary is paid through sources other than the University’s operating funds, such as, but not limited to, grants, research grants and external contracts.
  • Forms of Hospitality” refers to the provision of Hospitality normally consisting of breakfast or lunch or dinner or a reception or refreshments, or serving beverages (with or without food), and any combination of these.
  • Function” refers to total cost of all forms of hospitality sponsored by the University, associated with an event. An event may cover a single meal or, such as in the case of a conference, may include various forms of hospitality over a number of days.
  • Head of Unit” means the person with control of the financial capacity of a Unit and includes such persons as Deans, Vice-Provosts, Deputy Provosts, or Associate Vice Presidents.
  • Hospitality” refers to the provision of a reception offering refreshments and meals to guests of the University. Refreshments refer to beverages and light snacks.
  • Host” refers to a University Employee, student, or Non-Employee who incurs business-related Hospitality expenses on behalf of the University.
  • Incidental Expenses” refers to reasonable gratuities (excluding gratuities on meals), internet connection, laundry, dry cleaning, local and long-distance telephone calls that may be eligible for reimbursement by the University.
  • Individual” refers to any person including but not limited to: a member of the Board of Governors or its committees, an Employee, a volunteer or a student, who incurs business-related expenses on behalf of the University and seeks reimbursement.
  • Non-Employee” refers to a person who has been deemed by an Authorized Approver to be eligible for reimbursement of Travel or Hospitality related business expenses.
  • Official Hospitality” refers to the provision of Hospitality normally consisting of tickets to cultural activities or sporting events, tours of the National Capital Region area or other places of interest, local transportation to and from the function, room rental, incidentals such as flowers, or any combination of the above.
  • Other Business-Related Expenses” refers to expenses incurred by an Individual that may be eligible for reimbursement and would not be covered under any other reimbursement category (Travel or Hospitality)
  • Related Procedures” refers to procedures developed to support this Policy 21 and specifically include:
  • Travel” refers to travel outside the city limits of Ottawa and Gatineau and as may be more particularly defined in Procedure for Reimbursement of Travel Expense(s).
  • Unit” means a faculty or service undertaking activities directly or indirectly related to the University of Ottawa’s educational, research and administrative activities, services and functions. The Unit is seen to include all respective Employees and students.
  • University’’ refers to the University of Ottawa.
  • University Business” means activities conducted in conjunction with the University’s educational, research, trust, and administrative activities, services and functions, regardless of the source of funds.

(Office of the Associate Vice-President, Financial Resources)