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Expense Directive


The purpose of the Expense Directive is to:

  • Strengthen expense management processes and create compliance with the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Expenses Directive of the Government of Ontario (as applicable to designated BPS Organizations that received public funds of $10 million or more in the previous fiscal year of the Government of Ontario).
  • Set out the expense rules and procurement processes where allowable expenses can be reimbursed.


  • This Directive applies to all employees of ICES (payroll and contract) and faculty, as well as consultants and contractors engaged by the organization who are providing consulting or other services. In addition, this policy applies to any person in the organization making an ICES expense claim, including Appointees and Board Members.
  • It is incumbent upon employees, faculty, consultants and contractors to be familiar with the content of this policy where it applies to their mandates/responsibilities.


  • Expenses must be approved according to ICES Procurement, Expense and Signing Authority Policy authorization levels and delegation of authority requirements.
  • Authorized claims are to be submitted to Finance using an ICES Expense Reimbursement Report.
  • All claims must be supported by original and itemized receipts (credit card slips are not sufficient), which are to be attached to the report. Loss of receipts must be documented and approved according to authorization levels.
    • Alternate approval
    • In the absence of the claimant employee’s manager, the next appropriate approver is the manager whom the incumbent reports to.
    • If, in the absence of the approving manager a delegation of signing authority is in place for a specific period of time, the delegate may approve on behalf of the approving manager. The amount allowed, which is specified on the Delegation Authority Form, must prevail.
    • Delegates must be aware of the signing approver’s responsibility: that the expenses are appropriate and reasonable for the activity undertaken, and follow the ICES Expense Policy
  • All claims must be submitted on a timely basis (monthly is recommended). Failure to submit expenses within three (3) months of the date they are incurred may result in the disallowance of the expense claim.
  • Expenses for the CEO will be provisionally approved by the Senior Director, Research, Data and Financial Services with final approval by the Chair of the Board of Directors annually.

Employee Meals

  • Employees are expected to minimize meal expenses:
    • For business meetings where normal departmental business promoting the research, corporate or service activities of ICES is conducted over a meal period. Pre-approval is required for group meals exceeding $100.00;
    • During business travel;
    • When working approved overtime;
    • Reasonable gratuities (up to 15 percent) are allowed.
  • Meal allowance in Canada (Maximum amount. Tax and tip not included)
    • Breakfast – $10
    • Lunch – $15
    • Dinner – $25
    • A meal allowance cannot be claimed when a meal is supplied as part of a business meeting. The rates provided are not a per diem meal allowance.
    • The traveller must submit original receipts to claim the reimbursement.
    • If the traveller claims more than one meal in a given day, the combined amount becomes the new maximum.
    • For example, if you are eating breakfast and lunch the combined maximum rate for the two meals is $25 regardless of what is spent on each meal.
    • However, you must still have the original receipt for each meal.
    • The traveller would therefore need three receipts for breakfast, lunch and dinner to claim the $50 reimbursement.
  • No alcohol may be claimed (this includes any business meal including those with external representatives).
  • Meal expenses must be supported by original, itemized receipts. For meals included on the hotel bill (this includes room service and hotel restaurants), an itemized receipt must be obtained from the hotel/restaurant.
  • When an employee is authorized to pay meal expenses for guests and the group also includes other ICES employees, the most senior employee present must pay for the meals of both the guests and fellow employees and claim the cost. Other employees must not submit separate expense claims. The expense report must give a brief explanation of the circumstances and the names of all people present, and the number of people the expense is covering (to allow a “per person reasonability test” by the approver).
  • Reimbursement is for restaurant/prepared food only. Reimbursement for groceries must be pre-approved by your supervisor and confirmation must be submitted with the claim.
  • If you are working a schedule that will require you to work more than two hours overtime, you may claim a meal allowance of up to $25.00. This should be pre-approved by your supervisor where possible and an itemized receipt attached with the claim.


Employees will choose the most economical and direct form of transportation while travelling on ICES business and ensure that travel is necessary by exploring other cost-effective options (i.e., tele/video conferencing).

  • Air/Rail Travel – The following policies apply to airline and train travel:
    • Traveller is expected to make all travel arrangement at least three weeks in advance;
    • All travel should be in economy class and non-refundable (Economy fare options from Air Canada,
    • Escape for Via Rail are permitted);
    • Direct flight when travelling by Air is permitted;
    • In any booking class and within reason, the lowest fare option must be taken.
  • Accommodation
    • Single standard room reservations up to a maximum of $200.00 CDN (breakfast not included) per night. For bookings outside Canada and other exceptions that may arise (conference rates, etc.) consult with Procurement for approval;
    • Hotel reservations can be booked through the ICES corporate credit card. The corporate credit card guarantees the room will be on hold only. Payment will be required upon checkout. Should the traveller want the cost to be charged to the corporate credit card, please contact Procurement after receiving booking information;
    • Traveller should minimize transportation cost by choosing a hotel close to the visiting site;
    • Late arrival/Cancellation
      • Traveller is responsible for informing the hotel of late arrivals;
      • Traveller is responsible for cancelling hotel rooms on time and must contact the hotel concerned or Travel Coordinator who made the reservation;
      • Traveller will be held responsible and, in case of negligence, will not be reimbursed for “no-show” charges;
      • Traveller should note that cancellation deadlines are based on the local time of the property.
      • Private stays with family or friends are encouraged (maximum reimbursement of $30.00 per night for gratuitous lodging);
        Information should be included that indicates the following: name of family or friend, address, number of days and dates of stay.
  • Ground Transportation
    • ICES will reimburse transportation incurred while traveling on authorized organization business.
    • The method of transportation (i.e., rental car, taxi and other ground transportation) is dependent upon the location, duration and nature of the business trip.
    • Rental Vehicle
      • Standard rental cars: mid-size or smaller. Larger cars for employees travelling together should be pre-approved;
      • Rental cars should be returned on time and to the original location with a full tank of gas to avoid any incremental charges by the rental company (should any unforeseen circumstances prevent this, a justification will have to be provided; if the justification is not deemed reasonable, the incremental charges will not be reimbursed);
      • Travellers may participate in car rental club membership programs that are free of charge or at their own expense;
      • Travellers are encouraged to utilize their own personal insurance policy however if this is not possible, collision and liability coverage may be purchased through the car rental company.
      • Travellers are responsible for ensuring adequate coverage is obtained.
    • Public Transportation
      • Where possible, public transit is the best option for travel;
      • Where possible, receipt for the purchase of tokens or tickets should be provided with the expense report. Where it is not possible, an exception note must be completed indicating why and this must be approved by the Director of Finance.
    • Personal Vehicle
      • If convenient and necessary, employees may use their own vehicle for business travel on ICES’ behalf. Eligible kilometres are calculated as the distance from ICES to the function or meeting attended for which the use of a personal automobile is required. When travelling from home, eligible kilometres are the lesser of the distance from ICES to the event vs. the distance from home;
      • Employees are solely responsible for ensuring adequate insurance coverage for their own vehicle;
      • Reimbursement will be in accordance with the approved Kilometre Allowance of
        $0.50 per kilometre, which covers the cost of fuel, depreciation, maintenance and insurance.
    • Transport to/from airport
      • Parking fees and personal automobile mileage to and from the airport are a reimbursable expense when the total cost is less than taking a shuttle service or taxi.
      • Personal Travel combined with Business Travel
      • Business trips which also include travel for personal reasons will only be reimbursed for the business portion of the trip, including accommodations. Ticket stubs and/or receipts highlighting the route of the direct/business portion of the trip should be kept and attached to the accompanying expense reports.

Other Travel Expenses

  • Business calls and Internet access will be reimbursed. Consideration should be made as to the most economical way of making long distance calls.
  • Personal long distance calls home for each night away will be reimbursed. Discretion should be used in the frequency and length of long distance calls.
  • Reasonable gratuities (up to 15 percent) for meals, bellhop, room service and taxis will be reimbursed. Include gratuities on the receipt whenever possible.
  • Bridge, ferry, highway tolls and parking will be reimbursed subject to the provision of original receipts.
  • Foreign currency exchange will be reimbursed subject to the provision of original receipts.
  • Dependent care expenses and home maintenance will not be reimbursed.
  • If while travelling on approved ICES business an employee elects to also travel on personal business, the additional costs incurred will not be reimbursed.
  • Traffic and parking violations will not be reimbursed.


  • Hospitality is defined as the provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities paid out of public funds. Hospitality expenses are NOT permitted when:
    • Functions include people who work for designated Broader Public Sector organizations (i.e., ICES).
    • Functions include any of the Ontario government ministries, agencies and public entities covered by the Ontario Public Service Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive.
  • Functions involving only those people in the organizations listed above are not considered hospitality events and cannot be reimbursed. This means that hospitality may never be offered solely for the benefit of those individuals. Examples of such expenses would be office social events and holiday lunches.
  • Expenses incurred when engaging representatives of private sector organizations on business matters and the recruitment of new employees (on a case-by-case basis) will be reimbursed. All expenses must be itemized in detail (including the names of individuals and which company they represent) when submitting the expense report.
  • Entertainment of fellow employees, consultants or contractors hired by ICES is not permitted except in circumstances where they are required to attend the allowable hospitality event for the specific business purpose.
  • Reimbursement for alcoholic beverages for hospitality events is permitted in very limited circumstances. Pre-approved authorization is required and the cost of the alcohol must not exceed the cost of the food.
  • The use of Ontario products is encouraged when hosting external representatives.