Ethical Purchasing

Approved Board of Governors 2008.7



1. The University of Ottawa (“University”) is committed to conducting its business affairs in a socially responsible and ethical manner consistent with its educational, research and service mission, as well as its own employment policies. This Policy on Ethical Purchasing (the “Policy”) defines the principles and responsibilities pertaining to the conduct of business affairs at the University.



2. The University of Ottawa Suppliers, Retailers and Subcontractors that fall within the scope of this Policy are expected to comply with the standards of the Policy.

3. The University of Ottawa also complies with the Purchasing Management Association of Canada’s Code of Ethics (see Section T of the University of Ottawa’s Purchasing Manual).


4. In this Policy, the following definitions shall apply:

“Apparel”:                   refers to clothing, uniforms and footwear.

“Certified Mark”:       means a source product that has been certified as Fair Trade by TransFair Canada, as listed in Appendix A.

“Fair Trade”                is an international system of doing business based on dialogue, transparency and respect. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions for producers and workers in developing countries. (Source, May 8, 2008)

“Policy”:                      refers to this document in its entirety.

“Contract”:                 means a written, binding agreement between the University and a Supplier, Licensee or Retailer.

“Licensee”:                includes any person, corporation or other such entity to whom the University has licensed or granted permission to use its name, logo, image or trademark.

“Monitoring agency”:refers to independent agencies that have been recognized by the University and who may assist in the enforcement of the Policy (for example, the Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC) or Fair Labor Association (FLA), which monitor apparel manufacturers and some other industries).

“Retailer”:                   means any person or business who operates on the campus of the University and offers goods for sale to consumers.

“Production Services”:    shall include, but not be limited to, creation, assembly, packaging, shipping and receiving.

“Subcontractor”:      includes all suppliers, vendors, contractors, subcontractors and manufacturers that have not entered into a relationship with the University but furnish Production Services or produce products or components of products for Suppliers or Retailers that fall within the scope of this Policy.

“Supplier”:                  includes Licensees and all persons or entities, including suppliers, vendors, contractors, contributors and manufacturers, that have entered into an agreement with the University to provide products or services to be used, sold or distributed by or on behalf of the University within the scope of this Policy.

“University”:              refers to the University of Ottawa, its affiliated institutions and ancillary units, as well as retail outlets operated by constituent groups such as, but not limited to, elected student governments and any future affiliated retail outlets.


5. This Policy applies to the University’s Suppliers and Retailers involved in the production, distribution and/or sale of Apparel and non-Apparel products bearing the name, logo, image or trademark of the University. Additionally, this Policy applies to all of the Subcontractors of these Suppliers and Retailers.

6. For food products, where a Retailer offers a product which is available bearing a Certified Mark, the Retailer shall offer an option of the product bearing the Certified Mark.

7. Suppliers and Retailers accept responsibility for ensuring that all Subcontractors in the supply chain are in compliance with the Policy. Although all Suppliers and Retailers are required to adhere to this Policy, they may not, however, represent themselves as having been certified by the University as being in compliance with this Policy.

8. Exemptions or derogations will be dealt with according to Policy 36 of the University, where a product or service is essential to University activities or operations and cannot be obtained from a Supplier in compliance with the Policy (for example, only one Supplier exists).


9. University Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors must adhere to the following minimum standards and practices.

  1. Legal Compliance: University Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors must comply, at a minimum, with all applicable legal requirements of the country in which products are manufactured. Where this Policy and the applicable laws of the country of manufacture conflict or differ, the higher standard shall prevail.
  1. Ethical Principles: University Suppliers and Retailers shall commit to conduct their business according to a set of ethical standards which include, but are not limited to, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and respect for the unique intrinsic value of each human being.
  1. Employment Standards: Suppliers and Retailers shall ensure that their workers are present to work voluntarily, are not at undue risk of physical harm, are fairly compensated, and are not exploited in any way. In addition, the following specific guidelines must be followed:

i. Wages and Benefits: Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors must provide wages and benefits which comply with all applicable laws and regulations and which match or exceed the local prevailing wages and benefits in the relevant industry or which constitute a living wage, whichever provides greater wages and benefits.

ii. Working Hours: Except in extraordinary circumstances, Suppliers’ and Retailers’ employees shall not be required to work more than the lesser of (a) 48 hours per week and 12 hours overtime per week, or (b) the limits on regular and overtime hours allowed by the law of the country of manufacture.

iii. Overtime Compensation: In addition to their compensation for regular hours of work, Suppliers’ and Retailers’ employees shall be compensated for overtime hours at such a premium rate as is legally required in that country, but not less than at a rate equal to their regular hourly compensation rate.

iv. Child Labour: No person shall be employed at an age younger than 15 (or 14 where, consistent with International Labor Organization practices for developing countries if the law of the country of manufacture allows such exception). Where the age for completing compulsory education is higher than the standard for the minimum age of employment stated above, the higher age for completing compulsory education shall apply to this section. Suppliers agree to work with governmental, human rights, and non-governmental organizations, as determined by the University and Suppliers together, to minimize the negative impact on any child released from employment as a result of the enforcement of this Policy.

v. Forced Labour: There shall not be any use of forced labour, whether in the form of prison labour, indentured labour, bonded labour or otherwise.

vi. Health and Safety: Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors must provide workers with a safe and healthy work environment and must, at a minimum, comply with local and national health and safety laws. If residential facilities are provided to workers, they must be safe and healthy.

vii. Non-discrimination: Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors shall employ individuals solely on the basis of their ability to perform the job. Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors may not engage in any discriminatory practices against their employees. The pregnancy of an employee shall not be used as a basis for disciplinary treatment or termination of employment. Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors shall use their best efforts to reinstate workers who have taken maternity leave to the same or similar position and at the same rate of pay and benefits. No employee or prospective employee shall be subjected to involuntary use of contraceptives or pregnancy testing.

viii. Harassment or Abuse: Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors shall treat their employees with dignity and respect. No employee shall be subject to any physical, sexual or verbal harassment or abuse. Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors will not use or tolerate any form of corporal punishment.

ix. Freedom of Association: Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors shall recognize and respect the right of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining with bargaining representatives of their own choice. No employee shall be subject to harassment, intimidation or retaliation as a result of his or her efforts to freely associate or bargain collectively.



10. Compliance

Compliance with this Policy and the following disclosure requirements are mandatory for all Suppliers, Retailers and Subcontractors falling under the scope of this Policy.


11. Disclosure

Prior to signing or renewing a contract with the University that falls under the scope of this Policy, the Supplier or Retailer shall complete the Confirmation of Compliance Form in Appendix B (PDF).

The Supplier or Retailer shall report to the University, as soon as it becomes aware of any changes in its business operations which materially affect its compliance with this Policy.


12. It is the responsibility of Suppliers and Retailers, for themselves and on behalf of their Subcontractors, to ensure their compliance with the Policy.

13. While University Suppliers and Retailers are expected to verify and monitor their compliance with this Policy, the University has the right to validate the results. Therefore, the University, or its duly designated agents, reserves the right to independently examine and verify the practices, activities and work sites of Suppliers, Retailers and their Subcontractors.

14. The University is committed to joining a Monitoring Agency in order to facilitate the verification of compliance with the Policy or the remediation process.


15. As part of its verification efforts, the University, through Materials Management Services, may establish procedures for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Policy.


16. If the University determines that a Supplier or Retailer has failed to comply with this Policy, then upon consultation with the Supplier or Retailer, the University may require that the Supplier or Retailer implement a corrective action plan on terms acceptable to the University.


17. Notwithstanding section 16, the University reserves the right to terminate its relationship with any Supplier or Retailer that continues to conduct its business in violation of this Policy.


18. No exception to this Policy can be made without the written approval of the Administrative Committee.

Published May 26, 2008

(Procurement Services)


List of Fair Trade products available under approved Certified Marks

  • Coffee, bearing the “TransFair Canada” logo.