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Travel & Expense Reimbursement Policy

Original Date of Issue: September 1993 
Effective Date: March 2, 2018 

1.0 Overview

Travel and other expense reimbursement claims must follow the guiding principles below.  

2.0 Purpose

This policy sets out the conditions under which expenses incurred for authorized travel and other reimbursable expenses will be reimbursed:  

  • Establishes what expenses will be reimbursed by The Hospital for Sick Children (“SickKids”); 
  • Defines the requirements for pre-approval and approval of alcohol and travel expenses; 
  • Defines who is authorized to approve expenses; and 
  • Ensures that SickKids is in compliance with the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Expenses Directive (“Directive”) and the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Perquisites Directive, issued in accordance with the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 (“Act”). As a designated Broader Public Sector organization, SickKids must comply with the Act and these Directives. 

3.0 Scope

3.1 This Policy applies to:

All persons submitting expense claims to SickKids, including staff, volunteers, students, observers, third parties engaged by the Hospital to provide consulting or other services, guest speakers, and Board Members. 

All persons responsible for approving expenses, as outlined in this Policy. 

Subject to 3.2 below, this Policy covers all reimbursable expenses incurred while undertaking business on behalf of SickKids. This Policy applies regardless of the method used to pay such expenses, including but not limited to: expenses reimbursed to the claimant, charged to a Corporate Procurement Card (P-Card) or direct to a Hospital department through an internal department transfer (i.e. catering 

3.2 This Policy does not apply to:

Expenses reimbursed by an Alternate Funding Plan (AFP) Operating Fund. AFP expenses are covered by the AFP- specific guidelines. 

4.0 Principles

This Policy supports the following four key principles: 

  • AccountabilitySickKids is accountable for public and donor funds used to reimburse travel, meal and hospitality expenses. All expenses support business objectives. 
  • TransparencySickKids is transparent to all stakeholders. The rules for incurring and reimbursing travel, meal and hospitality expenses are clear, easily understood, and available to the public. 
  • Value for Money: Taxpayers and donor dollars are used prudently and responsibly. Plans for travel, meals, accommodations and hospitality are necessary and economical with due regard for health and safety. 
  • FairnessLegitimate authorized expenses incurred during the course of the business are reimbursed. 

5.0 Definitions

"Chief" is any of the Chief of Paediatrics, Chief of Surgery, Chief, Professional Practice and Nursing, Chief of Global Child Health, Chief of Research and Chief of Education. 

"Expense" includes travel and meal expenses, hospitality expenses, any expenses incurred by an individual or group of individuals in furtherance of SickKids’ business and any other expenses for which an individual seeks to be personally reimbursed. 

"Perquisite" in accordance with the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Perquisites Directive, refers to a privilege that is provided to an individual or to a group of individuals, provides a personal benefit, and is not generally available to others. 

"myFinance" refers to the PeopleSoft Travel and Expense module used to process Travel and Expense claims. 

"SCPDF" refers to Staff Continuing Professional Development Fund (SCPDF) Guidelines. 

6.0 General


Expense claimants and approvers shall use their integrity, prudence and good judgment in the application of this Policy.


Expenses are not to be incurred unless an available budget has been identified to support the expense.


The Hospital P-Card credit card must be used for all employee expenses as per section 2.0 and section 3.1 for exceptions in the Purchasing Card Program Policy. (P-Card applications are located on the Finance web-site).


Expenses paid by SickKids cannot be used by the claimant for any claim to another organization or granting agency, except where they have been duly reporting as billable on the Employee Expense report in myFinance.


Claimants shall not seek reimbursement for expenses that benefit others, except where the expense can be attributed to more than one person (e.g. group functions or shared accommodations) in which case the expense must be claimed by the most senior person present.


Expense submissions and Travel Advance Requisitions that do not conform to this Policy will be returned to the claimant unpaid. SickKids assumes no obligation to reimburse expenses that are not in compliance with this Policy.


The coordinating manager is responsible for ensuring that a non-staff person having expenses to be reimbursed by the Hospital is aware of the requirements of this Policy, and that any required pre-approvals are obtained.


Where expenses are paid using third-party funds (for example research/other grants or donations), and the third party has its own policies/requirements regarding reimbursement of expenses, the third-party funder’s policies shall apply. If the third-party funder’s policies permit a higher reimbursement than would otherwise be permitted under this Policy, appropriate supporting documentation must be submitted with the expense claim in order to receive the higher amount.

7.0 Accountability Framework

This Policy sets out the approvals required for travel and reimbursement of expenses.

7.1 Appropriate Approval Authorities

All employee expenses must be approved by the budget owner via myFinance workflow, unless the claimant is the budget owner. If the claimant is the budget owner, the myFinance system workflow will route to the person to whom the claimant directly reports. When the direct report is not available an alternate approver from another department manager or an equivalent level can be assigned in the system. In addition, where so noted in this Policy, certain expenses require more senior approval. Examples of approver authority levels are listed below:




Authorizing Manager/Director



Front line staff


Grant Funded Staff

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Program Head


Executive Director, Vice President or Chief

Executive Director

Vice President, Chief or Executive Vice President

Vice President/Chief

(ii) Chief Financial Officer and
(ii) Executive Vice President or CEO ( twice per year)

Executive Vice President

(ii) Chief Financial Officer and
(ii) CEO (twice per year)


(ii) Chief Financial Officer and
(ii) Chair(twice per year)

Board members (ii) Chief Financial Officer or Chief Executive Officer and
(ii) Chair
Board Chair (ii) Chief Financial Officer or Chief Executive Officer and
(ii) Designated Board member

7.2 Claimant’s Responsibilities

Claimants are expected to:

  • Exercise integrity, prudence and good judgment when incurring expenses on behalf of SickKids.
  • Inform themselves of the requirements of this Policy, seeking clarification as needed.
  • Obtain all required pre-approvals and approvals for travel and expenses.
  • Ensure compliance with this Policy and all other related policies and guidelines such as the International Travel Policy, Purchasing Card Policy, Staff Continuing Professional Development Fund (SCPDF) Guidelines and Catering Service Guideline.
  • Ensure expenses supported by research grants or contracts are in compliance with the terms of the relevant granting agency; expenses supported by donations are in compliance with the donation terms.
  • Ensure that amounts claimed for expenses are accurate, complete, reasonable and in accordance with this Policy and charged to the correct account(s) and Department ID(s).
  • If not evident from the attached receipts, include documentation of the business purpose and reasonableness of the amounts claimed.
  • Ensure that expenses that will be reimbursed directly to the claimant by another party are not submitted to SickKids for reimbursement.
  • Repay any overpayments within 30 days of return from the travel.
  • Submit expense claims using myFinance within the timeframes established by this Policy.
  • Scan original legible copies of receipts and compare the scanned image to the original receipt immediately after scanning to ensure that the image is a complete, clear, and accurate representation of the original receipt. The claimant must ensure that the scanned image is successfully attached to the expense claim when submitted for reimbursement.

7.3 Approver’s Responsibilities

Approvers are expected to ensure that expenses they approve are:

  • Accurate, legitimate, appropriate and reasonable for SickKids purpose.
  • Incurred in the performance of SickKids’ business and supported by appropriate documentation.
  • Incurred in a manner that is consistent with the principles of this Policy.
  • In compliance with this Policy and other related policies.
  • Within the scope of the approver’s approval authority.
  • Not self-approved.
  • Charged to the correct Account(s), Department ID(s) and Project ID(s).
  • Review each receipt attached to a claim to ensure that it is clear, complete and consistent with the expenses claimed. In the event that receipt images are not clear or complete, the reviewer must deny the claim and direct the claimant to resubmit clear and complete images of the receipts.

7.4 Accounts Payable Reviewer’s Responsibilities

Accounts Payable Reviewers are responsible for:

  • Processing duly prepared and approved claims in a timely manner.
  • Randomly audit claims by requesting original receipts from claimants and comparing to scanned images to ensure accuracy and completeness. In the event that an audit reveals that images were not clear or complete, the Accounts Payable staff will educate the claimant regarding the proper way to scan and submit images of receipts.

7.5 Management responsibilities for certification of compliance

As required by the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010, the CEO is required to prepare attestations that are approved by the Hospital’s Board attesting to the Hospital’s compliance with the Directive and any further expense claim directives that may be issued by the Management Board of Cabinet.

As a due diligence measure in support of the CEO’s attestation, members of management and other persons with responsibilities under this Policy may be required to provide written confirmation to the CEO that they have complied with the Policy.

7.6 Alternate Approval Authority

Delegation of approval is permitted during temporary absences of an approver. The alternate must be of an equivalent or higher administrative rank to the approver they are replacing.

8.0 Expense Eligibility Reimbursement Requirements

8.1 Alcoholic Beverages

The cost of alcoholic beverages generally cannot be charged to the Hospital, unless in exceptional circumstances, there are external parties present and a bona fide business reason for the event. Where alcohol is approved, alcohol costs must be moderate and alcohol must be provided in a responsible manner. Refer to the Serving of Alcoholic Beverages Policy for requirements when serving alcohol on Hospital premises.

8.2 Hospitality

Hospitality is the provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities paid out of public funds to people who are not engaged to work for SickKids, other hospitals, universities or other designated BPS organizations, and Ontario Government Ministries and Agencies (Ontario Public Services [“OPS”]). Hospitality is permitted for events attended by external non-BPS/OPS guests to advance SickKids' business, including, for example, receptions for dignitaries, donors or volunteers.

8.3 Staff Social Events

SickKids does not fund staff social events (e.g., holiday parties, picnics, birthdays, and shower celebrations). These staff social events may be held without charge in SickKids’ rooms subject to availability and staff may contribute food and beverages at their own expense. Staff recognition and engagement events are not considered social events (see Section 8.6).

8.4 Catering

All catering must be ordered through the SickKids’ internal catering. Please refer to the Catering Service Policy. In exceptional circumstances when internal catering is not available, external catering must be approved by the Director of Nutrition and Food Services.

8.5 Business Meetings

Reimbursement of meals (moderate food and non-alcoholic beverages) for meetings with internal staff or other BPS/OPS guests is permissible where the business meeting occurs over the timing for breakfast, lunch or dinner and the budget is available.

8.6 Staff Recognition and Engagement Events

Staff recognition (e.g. retirement tea or project celebrations) and engagement events (e.g. trainee welcoming event or team building) are reimbursable expenses, provided that they are appropriately modest, fit the circumstances and have budget approval.

8.7 Gifts of Appreciation

Token gifts of appreciation, valued at up to $100, may be extended to staff and volunteers. The token gifts to staff must be in recognition of a business related activity such as a retirement, or extraordinary contributions like annual student awards or poster prizes. It is recommended that such gifts be purchased at a SickKids' retail establishment or through the SickKids Foundation SMILE program or on-line gift program. An honorarium is not subject to this Policy.

8.8 Expenses for Consultants and Other Contractors

In accordance with the BPS Act and Directive, in no circumstances will consultants and other contractors be reimbursed for any incidental, hospitality, or food expenses, including meals, snacks, beverages, gratuities, laundry or dry cleaning, valet services, dependent care, home management, or personal phone calls. Reimbursements for allowable expenses (e.g. travel and accommodations) can be reimbursed only when the contract specifically provides for it, and the expenses claimed do not fall into any of the prohibited categories set out above.

8.9 Incidental Travel Expenses considered for reimbursement

Expenses that may be considered for reimbursement with approval by the appropriate signing authority include:

  • Transportation to and from the airport at the destination.
  • Transportation to and from the airport at home or in its place km rate for use of personal car.
  • Parking at the airport.
  • Reasonable gratuities for meals, bellhop, hotel room services and taxis. Examples of reasonable amounts for gratuities include:
  • 10 to 15% on a restaurant meal.
  • 10% on a taxi fare.
  • Additional expenses, not otherwise covered, such as business calls, air/rail phones, computer access charges, photocopying, Internet connections for business use, rental and transportation of necessary office equipment, provided the charges are incurred while conducting SickKids business and are consistent with the principles of this Policy.
  • Reasonable calls to home on a daily basis.
  • Expenses incurred by staff who use their personal smart phone or cell phone for business purposes when traveling.
  • Reasonable laundry and dry cleaning once in a six-day period (for trips over five days).

9.0 Perquisites

Perquisites shall be reimbursed in accordance with this policy but only as permitted by the Hospital’s Perquisites Policy.

10. Travel – Staff

10.1 Approval for Travel

All travel requires prior approval. For all travel within North America, the approval may be written or verbal, depending on the circumstances or requirements of third-party funders. All travel outside of North America requires approval by the Executive Director of Research, Chief, VP, EVP or CEO.

Approval for international travel for staff supporting Sick Kids International (SKI) business should be approved by the staff member’s Director or Executive Director in addition to and prior to SKI management. For further information on international travel, refer to the International Travel policy.

10.2 Approval for Recurring Travel

Staff who, as an integral part of their job, have assignments that require recurring travel (for example, members of organizations or committees or research/patient care collaboratives) require pre-authorization for such travel. If the Travel Authorization is approved, the claimant does not require additional approval for each trip.

10.3 Meals for Self - Within Canada, United States and Mexico

The Hospital requires that all expenses being submitted for reimbursement for meals for self while travelling be reasonable and exclude alcoholic beverages. The maximum allowable reimbursement is $60 CAD per day in Canada and $60 USD per day in the United States and Mexico, with a maximum allowance of $40 CAD/US for any one meal. These maximum allowances are inclusive of taxes and gratuities. A gratuity for meals of up to approximately 15% on a restaurant meal is allowed.

Where a third-party funder provides for per diem meal allowances, such a per diem will be reimbursed in lieu of actual meal costs.

10.4 Meals for Self – Incurred outside of Canada, United States and Mexico

For travel outside Canada, the United States and Mexico, the claimant will be entitled to the daily rates per location as specified in the ‘National Joint Council Travel Directive, Appendix–D - Allowance–s - Module 4’. If no daily rate is specified on the National Joint Council, the maximum reimbursements outlined in 10.4 apply. The maximum allowance for any one meal is equivalent to two-thirds of the daily rate. Where a third-party funder provides for per diem meal allowances, such a per diem will be reimbursed in lieu of actual meal costs.

10.5 Travel Agencies

Travel arrangements must be booked by the Agency/Agencies authorized by the Hospital. Reimbursement will not be made before the travel has incurred.

10.6 Air Travel

Subject to the specific exceptions set out below, the general rule is that all travel will be in economy class and individuals shall adhere to the principles of this Policy when making their travel arrangements. Where travel expenses are being paid for by a third party funder whose expense rules permit travel by business class, business class travel is permitted.

A claimant who wishes to upgrade from economy class may do so at their personal expense. In such situations, the claimant must provide a quote with the amount of the economy class transportation, and that amount will be reimbursed. If there is a personal stop-over during the trip, the claimant must provide a quote with the costs without the stop-over. If the cost without the stop-over is less than with the stop-over, the claimant must reimburse SickKids the difference. If the cost with the stop-over is less than or equal to without the stop-over, it will be a fully allowable expense.

10.7 Airport Shuttle or Taxi Service

Taxi fares related to Hospital business are an allowable expense. Airport shuttle services, rather than taxi, should be used whenever possible and convenient to and from airports. Sharing taxis or airport limousines may be feasible when multiple business travelers are going to, or coming from, the same location. Please refer to the SCPDF Guidelines if you are submitting a taxi expense funded by SCPDF for restrictions.

10.8 Parking

Parking expenses related to off-site business are allowable with a detailed receipt (not required for metered parking). Parking on SickKids premises will only be paid in accordance with the Parking Voucher Policy.

10.9 Rail Travel

Coach class is the standard. Business class (i.e. VIA1) is acceptable when there is an appropriate reason (e.g. access to the Internet, to reduce costs on accommodation, for health and safety reasons).

10.10 Personal Vehicle

A staff member who uses a personal vehicle for official hospital business trips will be reimbursed at the established rate of $0.45/km. All vehicle expenses are included in this mileage rate. When a private vehicle is used strictly for personal convenience and such expenses exceed the costs of equivalent public transportation / economy airfare, only the cost of such equivalent transportation will be reimbursed. All staff must be compliant with the Hospital’s Policy on Personal Vehicle Use by Staff for SickKids Business prior to using a personal vehicle for business use.

10.11 Car Rental

In some circumstances, the rental of a pre-approved car may be considered necessary. Such rental must be based on the most economical size of vehicle for the required task and number of occupants. Collision Damage Waiver and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance and Third Party Automobile Insurance, Property Damage Insurance and Personal Injury Liability Insurance coverage must be purchased. Claimants must purchase fuel for vehicle rental (to be re-fueled prior to vehicle return). Fuel receipts are acceptable expenses for rental cars only.

10.12 Insurance

Travel cancellation insurance is an allowable expense when accompanied by a detailed receipt. No other form of travel insurance will be reimbursed, including medical insurance. Where a bundled insurance package is purchased, only the amount that would pertain to cancellation insurance may be claimed.

10.13 Accommodation and Receipt Requirements

SickKids will pay for accommodation in a standard room. No reimbursement will be made for suites, executive floors and concierge level or luxury accommodation. Preferred hotel accommodations for conferences should be at the host hotel or at a comparable rate from another hotel.

Private stays with family or friends have a maximum reimbursement of $50 CAD per night for gratuitous lodging expense, as per the posted rate from the National Joint Council Travel Directive website.

Cancellation charges resulting from failure to cancel guaranteed hotel bookings prior to the hotel’s deadline for cancellation without penalty are the claimant’s responsibility and will be reimbursed only in exceptional circumstances. Additional accommodation expenses incurred due to exceptional or emergency situations may be reimbursed with the approval from the appropriate Executive Director, Chief, VP, EVP or CEO.

10.14 Advances

The required method of payment for employees is the use of the corporate purchasing card (P-Card) which should minimize the request for Advances. Due to the administrative burden they cause, travel advances should only be used when absolutely necessary. Advances paid to individuals will not be issued more than 10 working days before departure. Exceptions may be requested to support SCPDF travel.

If an amount is to be returned to the Hospital, a personal cheque made payable to The Hospital for Sick Children must be attached to the expense report.

No additional advances or reimbursements of any kind will be made if settlement of a prior advance is overdue.

11.0 Travel – Third Party Including Contractors and Consultants

Third-party submissions for reimbursement of overnight travel and related expenses shall follow the terms and conditions as outlined within their contract and shall submit original detailed receipts to support the expense reimbursement claim. Third-parties shall adhere to the same travel limits and conditions set out within sections 10.5, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.12, and 10.14, of this Policy.

12.0 Expense Administration

The Accounts Payable Department oversees all reimbursements and related inquiries. Expense submissions are subject to random audits to ensure compliance with this Policy.

12.1 Submission Deadlines

Expenses must be submitted for reimbursement prior to month-end, or in situations where it is not feasible (if the expense is incurred at the end of the month), within 45 days of when the expense was incurred.

12.2 Personal Expenses

Personal expenses include costs which are not a necessary consequence of travel or other business on behalf of the Hospital and will not be reimbursed. These include service charges related to late payment of credit card charges, parking/traffic fines, entertainment-related activities not associated with hospital duties (in room movies, etc.).

When arranging personal travel in conjunction with business travel, staff members are required to use their personal credit cards. Whenever possible, costs of personal travel should be billed separately. In cases where separate bills are not possible, they must be clearly shown as reductions on the expense report.

12.3 Managerial Discretion

For the purposes of this Policy, managerial discretion is the administrative authority to make decisions and choices with some degree of flexibility, while maintaining compliance with the intent of the Policy. There is no discretion to depart from the principles of this Policy.

When a situation arises and discretion needs to be exercised, approvers should consider whether the request is:

  • Able to stand up to scrutiny by the auditors and members of the public;
  • Properly explained and documented;
  • Fair and equitable;
  • Reasonable;
  • Appropriate; and
  • Consistent with the Act and the Directive.

12.4 Maintenance of Supporting Documents

Claimants must maintain original receipts for a period of 6 months. The Hospital receives thousands of receipts every year in processing travel and expense claims. In an effort to reduce paper and improve the management of records, the Hospital has decided to store electronic images of receipts, instead of original paper receipts. The process of scanning and maintaining electronic images of receipts must comply with the requirements described in sections 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4, and must be consistently integrated into the Hospital’s day-to-day business to ensure that images will be admissible in court and acceptable in an audit. Accountability for this scanning process will rest with the Chief Financial Officer.

Scanned documents will be maintained for a period of 7 years, except for external grants whereby scanned documents will be maintained for a period of 10 years. It is the responsibility of both the approver and the claimant to work out appropriate arrangements which would meet these requirements.

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