Proposed Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009
Legislation introduced today, would if passed, give the Integrity Commissioner the legal authority to review expense claims at Ontario's 22 largest agencies.
Under the proposed Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009:
- Employees in government agencies would be required to abide by the same level of accountability and oversight that cabinet ministers and political staff must follow under the Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders' Expenses Review and Accountability Act.
- The government would have the power to require any government agency, board or commission to abide by these rules through regulation.
- The Integrity Commissioner would be required to prepare and make public an annual report on the review of expense claims.
- An expenses officer for each agency would also be named in the regulations under the Act and be responsible for submitting the expense claims of designated employees and appointees of the public entity to the Integrity Commissioner for review.
Ontario's 22 largest agencies are: Ontario Lottery and Gaming; Ontario Power Generation; Hydro One, Independent Electricity System Operator; Ontario Power Authority; WSIB; LCBO; eHealth; Cancer Care Ontario; Ontario Infrastructure Powers Corporation (Infrastructure Ontario); Ontario Energy Board; Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario; Ontario Financing Authority; Ontario Realty Corporation; Ontario Public Service Pension Board; Metrolinx; Ontario Human Rights Commission; Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre Corporation; Ontario Educational Communications Authority (TVO); L'Office des telecommunications educatives de langue francaise de l'Ontario (TFO); Ontario Racing Commission; Ontario Clean Water Agency.
The proposed legislation applies to expenses incurred on, or after September 1, 2009.
Following the discovery of inappropriate spending practices at two of Ontario's agencies, the province has taken several steps to further enhance accountability and ensure that all public servants understand and follow the rules regarding expenses. Today's announcement builds on changes announced by the Premier and Minister of Finance. These include:
- Directing government agencies, boards and commissions to adhere to the rules in the Ontario Public Service's Travel Meals and Hospitality Expenses Directive.
- Posting the expenses for cabinet ministers, political staff, OPS senior management and senior executives at Ontario's 22 largest agencies online beginning no later than April 1, 2010.
- More random audits of expenses to ensure rules are being followed. During annual audits of Ontario's agencies, boards and commissions, external auditors will be required to look at expense practices to ensure rules are followed and controls are in place.
- A new two-page summary of guidelines for travel, meals and hospitality expenses for all OPS employees, political staff and employees at Ontario's agencies, boards and commissions.
- The development of mandatory online training on expense claims for all OPS employees and employees at Ontario's agencies, boards and commissions.