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Executive Summary

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) established a Code of Conduct (the “Code”) to help create and maintain a culture of excellence and integrity, and to clearly outline the types of behaviors that are expected in the workplace.  It is the responsibility of all Board members, executives and employees of WECHU, including all managers, staff, volunteers, and students to act in a manner consistent with this Code and to hold others accountable to its terms and related policies.

This Code applies to day-to-day workplace interactions.  In some cases this may be outside normal work or working hours – for example at work functions, after-hour work activities, and when staff represent the WECHU in the community.

All individuals subject to this Code are obligated to report violations of the Code.  The WECHU has established a procedure that allows persons bound by the Code to safely report unethical and illegal actions, without fear of reprisal.  Acts of retaliation or consequence targeted to any member of the WECHU who reports Code violations will not be tolerated and will result in disciplinary action.

The standards of conduct summarized below will help to foster a positive environment for all members of the WECHU and a culture that  emphasizes excellent client experiences, excellent services, innovative approaches, and a safe environment for clients and staff.

Standards of Conduct:

  • Uphold the values of the WECHU: Leadership, Accountability, Collaboration, Empowerment, and Equity.
  • Strive toward excellence and innovation in our approaches to client service through continual improvement efforts.
  • Deliver safe, high quality care, services and supports with professional competence and high ethical standards.
  • Treat all internal staff, clients and external members of the community with respect and dignity.
  • Respect and protect the privacy and confidentiality of all individuals and information subject to relevant legislation and WECHU policies.
  • Act honestly and responsibly, avoiding actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
  • Promote a safe, secure, and healthy work environment for all.
  • Protect the WECHU’s physical, electronic, and intellectual property.
  • Uphold the policies of the WECHU Code of Conduct. 

Overview and Introduction

What is a Code of Conduct?

A Code of Conduct is a tool to help create and maintain a culture of integrity.  It is a set of rules that clearly and concisely outline the types of behaviours that are expected in the workplace.

Why is it important to have a Code of Conduct?

A Code of Conduct helps unite all of us by providing a set of expectations and behavioural standards that we can all follow.  A Code of Conduct helps to create a safe, secure, and healthy work environment in which people are respected and valued as equal team members in the delivery of excellent services and care.

To whom does the Code of Conduct apply?

The Code applies to all Board members, executives, and employees of the WECHU; this includes all staff, managers, volunteers, and students.  Without exception, this Code applies equally to everyone at all levels in the organization.  We also expect our community partners to know and honour this Code.  In order to create a positive work environment, all members of the WECHU hold one another accountable for upholding this Code, its terms and related policies, which will be posted on our intranet site and corporate website.

How will the Code of Conduct be monitored?

The Health Unit Management Action Team HUMAT) is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Code within the WECHU.

HUMAT has framed the original version of this Code (adapted, in a large part, from the Mount Sinai Hospital Code of Conduct).  Input has been gathered from both Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) leadership, as well as the WECHU’s Board of Health and legal counsel.  Maintenance, including annual reviews and revisions of the Code, will be done by a management and staff team representative of the WECHU.  Violations of the Code will be reported to Human Resources. 

Annually, all individuals subject to this Code will acknowledge their understanding of the Code and acknowledge that they are not in breach of its principles and terms

Code of Conduct Accountabilities

All individuals subject to this Code are responsible for:

  • Understanding and applying the principles and terms of the Code in daily work interactions.
  • Behaving in a way that is consistent with the WECHU’s Code of Conduct.
  • Assuming ownership and accountability for their own actions and behaviours.
  • Speaking to colleagues when their behaviour is inconsistent with the Code.
  • Being sure to address issues identified directly with the person involved, in a confidential, positive and professional manner.
  • Reporting inappropriate behaviours to their direct supervisor or other appropriate authorities. 

Management Accountabilities:

HUMAT is responsible for:

  • Leading by example by complying with the Code at all times.
  • Requiring that each individual under its direction upholds the principles and terms of the Code.
  • Creating and maintaining a work environment that encourages collaboration, co-operation, and professionalism.
  • Promoting open communication in which issues may be raised for discussion without fear of retaliation.
  • Investigating reports of violation of the Code, documenting, initiating appropriate action and seeking advice from subject matter experts when required (e.g., Human Resources, CEO, Chief Nursing Officer, Legal Counsel, Privacy Officer, etc.).
  • Make decisions about recruitment, work assignments, educational opportunities, promotions or terminations fairly and equitably.        

Failure to Comply with the Code of Conduct and Reporting Violations:

All individuals subject to this Code have an obligation and are required to report violations or suspected violations of the Code, including unethical or illegal actions.  Violation of any provisions of WECHU’s Code of Conduct may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The WECHU will investigate all reports of Code violations.

The WECHU has established a Concern Report process that allows persons bound by the Code to safely report violations, illegal and unethical actions, without fear of reprisal.  Acts of retaliation or consequence targeted to any member of the WECHU who reports violations to this Code will not be tolerated.  Such action will result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Two reporting options are available:

OPTION 1: DIRECT COMMUNICATION

When you encounter an incident where a person who is subject to the Code is not adhering to the Code, you are encouraged to speak directly, respectfully, and privately to that person.  You are to advise that person that his/her behaviour is inappropriate and unwelcome.

OPTION 2: SEEK ASSISTANCE

If you do not feel comfortable speaking with the person directly or if you are unable to resolve the issue and/ or the behaviour persists, you have the option to work together with your direct supervisor or, in the event the matter involves your supervisor, other appropriate authorities to prepare a report that documents the following information:                    

  • The date and time of the questionable action.
  • The name of any other persons involved in or who witnessed the action.
  • The circumstances that precipitated the situation.
  • A description of the questionable action.
  • The consequence, if any, of the action as it relates to clients, staff, or WECHU operations.
  • Any action taken including the date, time, location, action, and name(s) of those intervening.

Your direct supervisor will consult with designated subject matter experts, such as: Human Resources, Privacy Officer, and Counsel, as appropriate to conduct an investigation that involves all relevant parties.  All individuals subject to this Code are able to confidentially submit reports concerning incidents of suspected wrongdoing or unethical activities.

Living by Our Values

Mission

The WECHU works with the community to promote, protect, and improve health and well-being for all.

Vision

A healthy community.

Values

The WECHU’s Code of Conduct parallels our Corporate Mission, Vision, and Values and articulates a set of principles that gives direction to individual behaviour.  It is designed to promote ethical decision-making, excellence in our services, and to guide the WECHU staff and board members to ‘do the right thing’.  It is grounded in a sense of integrity that calls us to abide by both the letter and spirit of the law; to act diligently, fairly and honestly; to resolve conflicts of interest in the best interests of the WECHU; to provide excellent services to our community; and to use WECHU resources responsibly.  Our guiding values are as follows:

  • Leadership.  We lead our community to optimal health outcomes by providing the highest standard of service from professional, respectful, and component staff.
  • Accountability. We are accountable to each other and the community in all that we do.
  • Collaboration.  Through engaged partnerships, we identify both pro-active and responsive solutions to the public health challenges our community faces, serving as a role model for positive change.
  • Empowerment.  We enable all individuals and communities to increase control over, and to improve, their health.
  • Equity.  We embrace diversity and are dedicated to equitable approaches in all of our activities.

Respect, Rights and Responsibility

The WECHU is committed to fostering a healthy and positive environment that respects the personal worth, dignity, and diversity of everyone we work with and serve.

All Individuals Subject to this Code of Conduct: Rights and Responsibilities

Every person subject to this Code deserves to be treated fairly and equitably.

You have the right to:

  • Work in a respectful environment.
  • Be free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Lodge complaints without fear of reprisal.

You have the responsibility to:

  • Treat everyone we work with and serve with respect.
  • Provide excellent service/care to all of our clients.
  • Report to a Direct Supervisor or other appropriate authority any violation of the Code that you become aware of or witness.
  • Fully and truthfully cooperate with investigations under the Code, its terms and policies.

Clients and Community Partners:  Rights and Responsibilities

  • It is expected that all individuals subject to this Code respect and honour the rights and responsibilities of clients and community partners.

Clients and community partners have the right to:

  • Expect excellence in the services provided by the WECHU.
  • Be treated with dignity and respect by everyone at WECHU.
  • Be free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Receive appropriate, accessible, and equitable service/care.
  • Lodge complaints without fear of reprisal.

Clients and community partners have the responsibility to:

  • Treat everyone in our workplaces, including staff, volunteers, clients and community partners with respect.  Special consideration will be taken when a client is cognitively impaired.

Inappropriate Behaviour

Inappropriate behaviour is conducting oneself in a way that is undesirable, unsuitable, improper, or incorrect.  It is WECHU’s exclusive right and function to manage and direct the workforce so as to maintain order, discipline and efficiency within the organization.  It is the WECHU’s function to establish and enforce rules and regulations to be observed in order that its obligations to its clients and the community are carried out.

Examples of inappropriate behaviour or conduct include:

  • Comments that are insulting, hurtful, disrespectful or rude.
  • Threatening or abusive language or actions.
  • Degrading comments.
  • Profanity or similar offensive language.
  • Physical behaviour with another individual that is perceived as threatening, intimidating or unwelcome.
  • Passive-aggressive behaviour — describes behaviour that is passive in expression but is aggressive or malicious in intent and may include non-verbal behaviour or body language that is irritating or offensive.

Please use the following questions to help differentiate between those behaviours that are appropriate for the workplace and those which are not:

Does it align with WECHU’s values?  Does the behaviour uphold the values of Leadership, Accountability, Collaboration, Equity, and Empowerment?

Does it align with the values of my profession/discipline?  Is the behaviour aligned with the Code and regulations of my professional/regulatory bodies?

Is it fair?  Might I gain unfairly from this action?  Would I feel fairly treated if I was on the receiving end of this action?

Can I justify it?  Could I give reason for my behaviour that aligns with the values of the WECHU and my profession?

How will it reflect the WECHU?  Could my behaviour impact WECHU’s goodwill or reputation?

Is it legal?  Is my behaviour illegal, unethical or inconsistent with WECHU Code of Conduct?

Is it honest?  Does this action attempt to deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?

Is it how I would like to be treated or spoken to?