Voluntary Codes Guide - Message from the Minister of Industry and the President of the Treasury Board

Voluntary Codes: A Guide for Their Development and Use

Message from the Minister of Industry and the President of the Treasury Board

Voluntary codes represent an innovative approach to addressing the concerns and needs of consumers, workers and citizens while at the same time helping Canadian companies to be more competitive. In essence, they are codes of practice that set benchmarks for behaviour in the marketplace. They encourage companies and organizations to conduct themselves in ways that benefit both themselves and the broader community. They can also serve as a sign to consumers that the organization's product, service or activity meets certain standards.

More and more firms and organizations are exploring the possibilities of voluntary codes. A supplement and, in some circumstances, an alternative to traditional regulatory approaches, voluntary codes can be inexpensive, effective, and flexible market instruments.

Partnership is a key theme underlying the Guide. Experience has shown that in many instances, the private sector can partner very effectively with consumer and other public interest groups and government to devise market-based tools for use in the knowledge-based economy. A joint initiative of Industry Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Guide is designed to help all parties better understand what voluntary codes are and how they can be developed. It was prepared by a multi-stakeholder working group, with valuable input and advice from many others.

The Guide is intended as a primer, a stimulus to action. It cannot possibly answer all of the questions that could arise in various circumstances. Nevertheless, we hope it will encourage members of the private sector, government and NGOs to take the initiative and develop voluntary codes where they are appropriate. Canadians stand to benefit a great deal.

John Manley
Minister of Industry
Marcel Massé
President of the Treasury Board

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