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Travel Meal and Hospitality Expenses Policy

Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Policy Information

Date Approved: May 15, 2023
Effective Date: May 15, 2023
Date Reviewed: April 2023
Replaces: 2014


The purpose of this Directive is:

  • to set out rules and principles for the reimbursement of expenses to ensure fair and reasonable practices;
  • to provide a framework of accountability to guide the effective oversight of public resources in the reimbursement of expenses; and
  • to set the parameters for the public disclosure of information about expenses.


Approver: A person with the authority to make approvals under this Policy.

Chair: The Chair of the Board of Governors, accountable to the minister, regardless of whether the title “Chair” is used.

Claimant: Anyone making a claim under the terms of this Policy.

Consultants and Contractors: Individuals or entities under contract to the College providing consulting or other services.

Delegation of Authority: A written assignment by which a person who has a power, duty, function or responsibility under this Policy authorizes another person (identified by name or by position title) to exercise the power, duty, function or responsibility.

Employee: individual employed by the College whether full or part time or temporary contract.

Hospitality: The provision of food, beverage, lodging, transportation and other amenities at public expense to people who are not engaged in work for the College or other BPS organizations.

Itemized receipt: Original document identifying the vendor with the date and amount of each itemized expense item paid by the claimant.

Lodging: Facilities such as hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, residences-for-rental or short-term apartments.

Office area: The area surrounding the regular workplace, with a perimeter of 24km measured by the most direct, safe and practical route by road.

President: The President of the College, including those in an acting or interim role as the executive head.

Signature: For the purposes of this policy, signatures include original manual signatures as well as electronic and digital signatures.

Taxi: Also known as a taxicab or simply a cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers.

Application / Scope

This applies to all College staff, board members, other members of Broader Public Sector organizations including volunteers, consultants and contractors doing business related travel on behalf of the College. This Directive does not prevail over legislation or a collective agreement.


  • College dollars are used prudently and responsibly with a focus on accountability and transparency. Since expense accounts can become matters of public record through audit or other means, expenses should be incurred and claimed in a manner that is publicly defensible and will not harm the College’s reputation as a good manager of College resources.
  • Expenses for travel, meal and hospitality support College objectives.
  • Plans for travel, meal, lodging and hospitality are necessary, work related, modest and appropriate, striking a balance between economy, health and safety and efficiency of operations.
  • Legitimate authorized expenses incurred during the course of College business are reimbursed.
  • Best practices are in place, including:
    • Prior approval to incur expenses is obtained.
    • Other options for meetings are always considered before travel is approved, including audio or video conferencing.
    • Corporate travel cards are used for authorized business travel and business-related expenses.
    • The College’s vendors of record for travel-related services are used whenever possible

Accountability Framework

This Policy sets out the approval authority for travel, meal and hospitality expenses. The level of approval is identified in the Approval Authority Schedule. The President or Senior Team has the authority to establish additional rules regarding expenses. Any additional rules must be consistent with those laid out in this Policy and be necessary to meet specific operational needs. Additional rules must include the date of approval and must be accessible to everyone covered by the rules.

In addition, the President may modify the level of approval upward to a more senior level when authority is assigned to a manager/supervisor or contract manager.

Managerial Discretion

For the purpose of this Policy, managerial discretion is the administrative authority to make decisions and choices with some degree of flexibility, while maintaining compliance with this Policy. There is no discretion to depart from the principles and the mandatory requirements of this Policy. When exercising discretion, the rationale must be documented and filed with the claim.

Public Disclosure

This Policy must be made available to the public in accessible formats, for viewing on the College’s Website:


Under no circumstances can alcohol be claimed as part of a travel or meal expense claim. Section ‘Meals’ outlines the limited allowable alcohol expenses within the hospitality function.


Hospitality is the provision of food, beverage, lodging, transportation and other amenities at public expense to people who are not engaged in work for the Broader Public Sector (BPS).

Hospitality may not be extended to other organizations designated a BPS agency under the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act 2010, Provincial agency or agency covered under the Ontario Public Service Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expense Directive.


Financial Services requires all travel approvals and itemized receipts before a claim can be reimbursed and will keep on record for seven (7) years.

Consultants and Other Contractors

Consultants and other contractors under no circumstances can be reimbursed for any hospitality, incidental or food expenses, including:

  • Meals, snacks and beverages
  • Gratuities
  • Laundry or dry cleaning
  • Valet services
  • Dependent care
  • Home management
  • Personal telephone calls
  • Reimbursement for allowable expenses under this

Policy can be claimed only when the contract with the College specifically allows for it.


Individuals Making Claims (Claimants)

Claimants must:

  • obtain all appropriate approvals before incurring expenses; if no prior approval was obtained, then a written explanation must be submitted with the claim;
  • submit original, itemized receipts with all claims (credit/interact card slips are not sufficient). If there is not an itemized receipt, a missing receipt form must be submitted to explain why the receipt is unavailable and a description itemizing and confirming the expenses must be provided;
  • submit claims by the end of the month in which the expense was incurred; a written explanation is required if not submitted within this timeframe;
  • where there is an overpayment to a claimant, it is considered a debt owing to the College and must be repaid;
  • submit claims for expenses before leaving positions with the College.

Electronic approval is considered written approval for the purposes of this policy as long as the approver has sufficient information to make an informed decision.

Individuals Approving Claims (Approvers)

Approvers must:

  • provide approval only for expenses that were necessarily incurred in the performance of College business;
  • provide approval only for claims that include all appropriate documentation;
  • not approve their own expenses;

Use the following principle

s to guide exceptions to the rules:

Trust – use discretion and latitude for persons and supervisors to act in a fair and responsible manner.

Flexibility – management decisions respect the duty to accommodate, respond to persons’ needs and interests and consider unforeseen circumstances.

Stewardship – ensure consistent, fair and equitable application of the policy giving consideration to all circumstances, while maintaining the shared responsibility for wise and prudent use of public resources.

Expenses for a group can only be claimed by the most senior person present – expenses cannot be claimed by an individual that are incurred by his/her approver (e.g., a Director cannot submit his/her VP’s claim for lunch even if they were at the same event).

Where an approver exercises discretion in making an exception, in order to ensure a proper record for audit purposes, the waiver must be approved in accordance with the Approval Authority Schedule, as appropriate, and accompany the claim.

Meal Allowances

Reimbursements for meal expenses incurred are subject to the maximum rates set out under section Meal Rates. Original, itemized receipts are required and reimbursement must not exceed the actual amount spent. Taxes and gratuities are included in the meal rates.

Under no circumstances can mandatory requirements of this Policy required by the BPS Expense Directive be waived by anyone.


This Policy applies whenever travel is required.

  • For the purpose of this Policy, travel does not refer to a person’s regular commute to work – expenses related to a person’s regular commute are not reimbursable.
  • The College reserves the right to refuse, in whole or in part, reimbursement of travel expenses.
  • Refer to Travel, Meal and Hospitality Procedures for allowable, limited, and non-reimbursable expenses.
  • Reimbursement of expenses related to attendance at political fundraising events is not allowed under this policy.

When Travel Occurs Regularly

There are some jobs where frequent travel is a requirement – part of the regular job duties. On hiring, managers should ensure staff are aware of the Policy and how it will affect their job. In these situations, approvers should meet with the employee to determine appropriate strategies (e.g. pre-approval for frequent or regular travel, when meals can be reimbursed, use of vehicles, etc.).

When Travel Occurs Irregularly

In the majority of positions in the College, travel usually occurs irregularly on an as-needed basis; for example, to attend training, meetings, conferences or consultations; representing the College at an event; etc. In some cases, employees will be asked by their managers to travel, and in others, the request may come from the employee.

Approvals for Travel

The following chart identifies the level for approvals for travel for everyone covered by this Policy. In limited cases, the authority for approval may be delegated.

Position TypeWithin OntarioCanada & Continental USInternational
PresidentN/ABoard ChairBoard Chair

Note that these are the levels for approving travel, not for approving any expenses related to travel.

Travel Request
Requests for travel must include:

  • prior written approval;
  • acknowledgement that all appropriate approvals are in place;
  • written rationale demonstrating critical value of travel for College priorities and interests, and details how the travel will produce a benefit for the College;
  • documentation showing detailed itemization of anticipated expenses (note that the lowest cost and most reasonable method of travel must be used whenever possible);

If travelling internationally (outside Canada and the continental USA), in addition to the obligations set out elsewhere in this Policy, the following rules apply.

  • confirmation of any travel warnings by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade related to proposed travel.
  • On an international flight, business class seating may be permitted with prior approval of the President. When planning any travel, consider business continuity (e.g., deciding whether senior management or people with specialized knowledge or expertise should travel together).


Medical and Health Insurance

Eligible employees are covered under the employer’s health insurance plans in the event of illness or injury. The cost of additional private medical/health insurance will not be reimbursed for travel within Canada.

Traveling outside of Canada

You are responsible for arranging appropriate out-of-country medical insurance.

For College employees, this cost is reimbursable and can be charged on the corporate travel card unless it is automatically provided by bookings using the corporate card.

When purchasing out-of-country medical insurance, it is advised that you also purchase the option that allows for immediate payment of costs at the time of the incident (i.e., up-front payment option).

Travel Accident Insurance

Eligible employees have basic insurance for accidental injury or accidental death. Extra insurance maybe arranged at the traveler’s expense – it will not be reimbursed.

Vehicle Insurance

Rental Vehicle

For College Employees that have a corporate card. Corporate Card benefits include insurance that covers the cost of repairing the damage to approved vehicle types rented using the Corporate Card you must use it to rent a vehicle and you should decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental agency.

For College Employees that do not have a corporate card, or you rent a vehicle that is not eligible for coverage under the card, you must purchase the collision damage waiver coverage offer by the rental company.

Personal Vehicle

If you use your personal vehicle while on college business, the following apply;

  • The vehicle must be insured at the vehicle owner’s expense for personal motor vehicle liability.
  • It is the driver/owner’s responsibility to ensure that the motor vehicle insurance includes coverage for business use of the vehicle.
  • The college will not reimburse the costs of insurance coverage for business use, physical damage or liability.
  • The college is not responsible for reimbursing deductible amounts related to insurance coverage.
  • In the event of an accident, you will not be permitted to make a claim to the college for any resulting damages.


College employees are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Employees may use a travel agency at their own discretion (i.e. when booking a complex trip outside of Canada). Agency fees are a reimbursable expense.

College employees should choose the most economical and/or practical way to travel when possible.


Air travel is permitted if it is the most practical and/or economical way to travel.

Economy (coach) class is the standard option for ticket purchase. Seat selection requirements are permitted. Travel in business class must have prior approval by the President, and may be considered in the following circumstances;

  • on international flights; or
  • on flights within Canada and the continental United States of America if related to the provision of reasonable lodging (e.g., health reasons).

Any upgrade charge other than the above is at the personal cost of the claimant.


Travel by train is permitted when it is the most practical and/or economic way to travel. A coach class economy fare is the standard. Business class may be acceptable with prior approval in limited circumstances such as:

  • the need to work with a team;
  • choosing a travel time that allows you to reduce expenditures on meals or
  • lodging (e.g., compare an economy (coach) class ticket plus a meal, with the cost of a ticket for VIA 1, where the meal is included);
  • lodging requirements; and
  • health and safety considerations.

International train travel should be at the Canadian equivalent to coach class.


Choosing the Appropriate Vehicle

When road transportation is the most practical and/or economical way to travel, the order of preference is:

  • college vehicle
  • rental vehicle
  • personal vehicle, if it is more economical than a rental vehicle

If you travel frequently as part of your job, these arrangements should be made when you are hired.

Use of a personal vehicle shall be discussed in advance with your approver. The college will assume no financial responsibility for the use of your own vehicle other than paying the kilometric rate.

Carpooling is recommended for multiple people attending the same meeting/function.

College Vehicle

College vehicles may be:

  • used only for college business; and
  • operated only by someone with a valid Ontario driver’s license for the appropriate class of motor vehicle.
  • an Ontario Driver’s record must be provided to be eligible to operate a College Vehicle.

You can have a passenger in a college vehicle only if the passenger’s travel is related to college business.

Rental Vehicle

When renting a vehicle, a compact or intermediate model or its equivalent is to be the norm. Any exceptions must be:

  • documented and approved prior to the rental if possible; and
  • guided by the principle that the rental vehicle is the most economical and practical size, taking into account the business purpose, number of occupants and safety (including weather) considerations.

Luxury and sports vehicles are prohibited.

Before accepting a rental vehicle do an external and internal check to ensure you are not charged for prior damage.

To avoid higher gasoline charges, refuel your rental car before returning it.

Personal Vehicle

The college assumes no financial responsibility for personal vehicles. The college will, however, pay the kilometric rate if you are, with prior approval, using your own vehicle for college business.

If you will be driving more than 200 kilometers in a day, you should consider using either a college or a rental vehicle.

If you are going to drive your personal vehicle for more than five days within a single calendar month – even if you are not exceeding 200 kilometers in a single day – you should consider lower cost options, such as vehicle rental or audio or video conferencing.

The approver must make a decision on the type of vehicle used for travel (personal or rental) based on the frequency of travel as well as the distance per trip. If a decision is made, with your approver, for you to continue using a personal vehicle, both your research and the rationale must be documented.

If using a personal vehicle, keep daily logs to track the business use.

Accident Reporting

All accidents must be reported immediately to local law enforcement authorities and your immediate supervisor. In addition:

  • If you are using a college vehicle, advise the appropriate college staff
  • If you are using a rental vehicle, advise the rental car agency and contact the travel card insurance provider to initiate a claim and advise the appropriate college staff.
  • If you are using a personal vehicle, advise your own insurer.

Reimbursement and Rates

  • Rates are based on kilometers accumulated from April 1 of each year (fiscal year).
  • Rates may be established in a collective agreement, and, if they are not, the rates in this Policy apply.
  • Expense claims must be submitted with distances calculated in kilometers.
  • Accumulated kilometers must be transferred with a claimant when moving within the College to another job.
Total KM Driven per fiscal yearReimbursement per kilometer
0 – 5,000$ 0.61
5,001 – 24.000+$ 0.55

Parking and Tolls

Reimbursement is provided for necessary and reasonable expenditures on parking, as well as tolls for bridges, ferries and highways, when driving on College business.
Parking costs incurred in the office area as part of a regular commute to work will not be reimbursed. There is no reimbursement for traffic or parking violations.

Travel by means other than taxi is considered the norm, however, taxis may be justified in cases where:

  • group travel by cab is more economical than the total cost of having individuals travel separately by public transit or shuttle;
  • taking a cab allows you to meet an unusually tight schedule for meetings;
  • other means of transportation is not available in a timely/predictable manner or would be unsuitable.

Taxis may not be used to commute to work or home except under exceptional circumstances; for instance:

  • weather, health or safety conditions indicate it is the best, appropriate option; or
  • transport of work-related baggage or parcels is required.

Public Transit

Local public transportation including hotel/airport shuttles should be used wherever possible.


In the normal conduct of business, reimbursement for overnight lodging within your office area will be neither authorized nor approved. However, in emergency or highly unusual situations exceptions will be considered. For example:

  • You are required to remain close to your office for periods long in excess of (your) standard working hours.
  • Your services are deemed necessary (and approved accordingly) for the purposes of emergency or crisis management.

There will be no reimbursement for hotel executive floors or concierge levels when traveling unless it is required for hosting outside guests and represents a more effective and economical alternative than paying for other hotel facilities or services.

In selecting lodging, claimants should take into account the additional costs of transportation and/or parking charges that could result in a higher total cost.

Claimants will not be reimbursed for movie or game rentals, bar service, and other hotel services such as health clubs, personal grooming and spa services, etc. If you wish to use these services it is recommended you request a separate invoice for these services so it does not appear on the receipts you are submitting.

For extended stays at a single location, lodging must be arranged with prior approval. This will take advantage of lower weekly or monthly rates.

Penalties incurred for non-cancellation of guaranteed hotel reservations are the claimant’s responsibility and may be reimbursed only in an exceptional circumstance.

Private stays with friends or family are acceptable, and a cash payment or gift may be provided to the friends or family.

  • A maximum of $30 per night is allowed for lodging including any meals with friends or family, in lieu of commercial lodging. Instead of a receipt, you must submit a written explanation describing the purpose of the trip, identifying the host and the number of days you stayed.
  • Meal inclusion eliminates the eligibility for a meal allowance for the date(s) of private stays.
  • The $30 value may be given in the form of a small gift (which must be accompanied by a receipt) or by cash or cheque.

Other Travel Expenses

Cash Advances

A corporate card should be used for all travel expenses, cash advances may be approved in situations of extenuating circumstances.

Passports, Visas and Immunization

You may be reimbursed for:

  • the cost of a passport if you are traveling to the United States;
  • the cost of a passport and/or visa, plus the cost of immunizations and medications if necessary, for international travel.

Personal Care

If traveling on business for five consecutive days or more, reimbursement is allowed within reasonable limits for expenses such as:

  • laundry
  • dry cleaning
  • hotel valet services (e.g., shirt pressing, suit steaming, shoe polishing, etc.)

Itemized receipts are required.

You will not be reimbursed for personal or recreational items.


You may be reimbursed for gratuities paid to a maximum of 15% of the services provided for porter, hotel room services, and taxis. A record of gratuities paid must be provided with the claim.


The most economical method of communicating should be used while travelling. Speak with your approver to determine what is covered in your cell plan and how the College wishes to handle long distance or roaming charges.

Wherever possible, you are expected to use the least expensive means of communication, such as:

  • calling cards; and
  • internet access

Use audio or video conferencing whenever possible, as an alternative to travel.

If you are away on college business, reimbursement will be made for:

  • reasonable, necessary personal calls home for each night away; and
  • additional business expenses, such as:
    • business calls
    • emergency calls from air or rail phones
    • internet connections and computer access charges facsimile transmissions
    • word processing and photocopying services
    • rental and transportation of necessary office equipment



Alcohol cannot be claimed and will not be reimbursed as part of a travel or meal expense. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Reasonable and appropriate meal expenses may be reimbursed. You may incur a meal expense when you are on College business and you:

  • are away from the office area (i.e., at least 24 km) over a normal meal period; or
  • a business meeting/presentation/information or training session within the office area that must occur over breakfast/lunch/dinner or for a period of three hours or more;
  • are working continuously for more than three hours beyond your normal hours.

Prior written approval is required.

Original, itemized receipts are required and reimbursement must not exceed the actual amount spent. Taxes and gratuities are included in the meal rates.

Reimbursement is for restaurant/prepared food only. Reimbursement for groceries must have prior approval and a written rationale must be submitted with the claim.

Reimbursement will not be provided for meals consumed at home or included in the cost of transportation, lodging, seminars or conferences.

If you travel as a regular part of your job, your meals will not normally be reimbursed unless you have obtained prior approval.

There may be situations where an individual pays the meal expenses for a group of individuals. In such cases, the individual may be reimbursed for the total of all meals purchased at the reimbursement rate for that meal. Group meal expenses can be claimed only:

  • by the most senior person present
  • for individuals covered by this policy

Meal Rates

Reimbursements for meal expenses incurred are subject to the maximum rates set out in the chart below. The below meal allowance rates will be issued in the respective currencies for Canada and the USA and include taxes and gratuities.

MealWithin Canada & USAInternationally
Breakfast$ 15.00$ 15.00
Lunch$ 25.00$ 25.00
Dinner$ 40.00$ 40.00
Daily Maximum$ 80.00$ 80.00

Up to the daily maximum can be claimed as long as receipts are provided regardless of the number of meals eaten.

Expenditures made by credit card will be converted on the credit card statement, which is to be attached to expense form.


What is “hospitality” for the purpose of this Policy?

Hospitality is the provision of food, beverage, lodging, transportation and other amenities at public expense to people who are not engaged in work for the BPS.


Functions involving only people who work for the BPS are not considered hospitality functions and cannot be reimbursed. This means that hospitality may never be offered solely for the benefit of anyone covered by this Policy.

Expenses that do not fit the definition of College hospitality will not be reimbursed. Examples of such expenses would be: office social events, retirement parties and holiday lunches.

Prior written approval is required for hospitality events where alcohol will be served.

When Hospitality is Appropriate

Hospitality may be extended on behalf of the College in an economical and consistent matter when:

  • engaging in discussion of official public matters with, or sponsoring formal conferences for:
    • facilitating College Business;
    • desirable as a matter of courtesy or protocol;
    • business and industry;
    • public interest groups; or
    • labour groups;
  • providing people from national, international, or charitable organizations with an understanding or appreciation of the workings of the College;
  • conducting prestigious ceremonies for distinguished guests from the private sector;
  • events related to the functioning of the hospitality program at the College, and
  • other hospitality functions as approved by the President, providing they conform to the rules listed in this section of the Policy.

Hospitality may not be extended to other organizations covered by the BPS Expense Directive, which include:

  • every hospital,
  • every school board,
  • every university in Ontario and every college of applied arts and technology and post- secondary institution in Ontario whether or not affiliated with a university, the enrolments of which are counted for purposes of calculating annual operating grants and entitlements,
  • every approved agency designated as a children’s aid society under subsection 15 (2) of Part I of the Child and Family Services Act,
  • every community care access corporation,
  • every corporation controlled by one or more designated broader public sector organizations that exists solely or primarily for the purpose of purchasing goods or services for the designated broader public sector organization or organizations,
  • every publicly funded organization that received public funds of 10 million dollars or more in the previous fiscal year of the Government of Ontario, and
  • every organization that is prescribed for the purposes of this definition.

Serving Alcohol

Responsibilities regarding alcoholic beverages

Prior written approval is required as follows:

  • From the President; with no delegation of the authority for hospitality events;
  • If the hospitality event is hosted by the President, the President must seek prior approval from the Chair of the Board.
  • If the hospitality event is planned at the request of the Chair, the Chair must provide prior, written authorization to the President to permit the service of alcohol.
  • Reimbursement of alcohol expenses is allowed only when the appropriate approvals are in place.
  • Hospitality may include the consumption of alcohol at a meal or a reception with invitees as defined above, but only when there is a business case.
  • Alcohol should be provided in a responsible manner, e.g., food must always be served when alcohol is available.
  • Preference should be given to wine, beer and spirits produced in Ontario.


Appropriate token of appreciation, valued up to $30, may be offered in exchange for donation of service or expertise to people who are not engaged in work for the College. Gifts valued over $30 must have prior approval.

Responsibilities and Accountability

Employees, Volunteers, and Appointees are responsible for:

  • considering alternatives such as teleconferencing and video conferencing;
  • following the principles and rules set out in this Policy;
  • being aware of the conflict-of-interest rules that govern the College; and
  • being aware of any other applicable policies and guidelines.

Supervisors and Managers are responsible for:

  • carrying out any delegated authorities and assigned tasks in accordance with this Policy;
  • exercising managerial discretion judiciously;
  • ensuring there is an appropriate records retention system and that documents, including claims and approvals, are maintained and stored;
  • ensuring staff are aware of the requirements of this Policy;
  • seeking timely direction when there are questions of application; and
  • taking appropriate action in the case of non-compliance.

Presidents and Vice Presidents are responsible for:

  • ensuring the Policy’s principles and rules are implemented and monitored, including putting in place processes that support the Policy;
  • delegating approval authority to appropriate levels within the College except as restricted in this
  • Policy;
  • carrying out any delegated authorities and assigned tasks in accordance with this Policy;
  • ensuring consistent application of the Policy (e.g. for all jobs requiring regular travel);
  • ensuring that claims are fully documented by running regular spot checks;
  • ensuring that all persons covered by this Policy are aware of their responsibilities under this Policy and of the appropriate conflict of interest rules; and
  • approving the service of alcohol at hospitality events in agencies/organizations that do not have special status for that purpose.

Board Chairs are responsible for:

  • ensuring all employees and appointees are made aware of their responsibilities under this Policy;
  • ensuring the Policy is applied and monitored appropriately;
  • ensuring that staff with delegated authority are able to effectively apply this Policy; and
  • approving the President’s expenses.

The Board of Governors is responsible for considering requests for special status and designating an approver for the chair’s expenses.

Related Policies / Directives / Regulations