Ontario Strengthens Political Accountability, Enhances Oversight
New Legislation to Increase Transparency in Public and Broader Public Sectors
Today the province introduced the proposed Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014, which, if passed, would strengthen political accountability, enhance oversight, and increase transparency in the government and the broader public sector.
The proposed Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 would, if passed, build on the Premier's commitment to lead the most open and transparent government in the country.
Measures in the proposed bill include:
- Providing the government with the power to control compensation of senior executives in the broader public sector, including hard caps, and enforcement measures to ensure compliance.
- Legislating the online posting of expense information for cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, opposition leaders, their respective staff, and all MPPs. By making this a legislated requirement, Ontario would be a leader in expense reporting for politicians.
- Amending the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to require all institutions subject to the Acts to securely retain records, prohibit the wilful destruction of records with the intent to deny access to records, and introduce a fine of $5,000 for the wilful destruction of records.
- Expanding the Ontario Ombudsman's role to include municipalities, school boards and publicly-assisted universities.
- Amending the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007 to give the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth ombudsman-like powers to investigate matters relating to children and youth who are involved with a children's aid society.
- Appointing a Patient Ombudsman to respond to complaints from patients against public hospitals, long-term care homes, and community care access centres.
- Expanding the scope of the Integrity Commissioner's review of executive expenses to all 197 classified agencies and four hydro organizations on a rotating or selective basis,
- Amending the Lobbyists' Registration Act, 1998 to provide the Integrity Commissioner with investigative powers, including the ability to prohibit individuals from lobbying. Enforcement provisions include stiffer fines of up to $100,000.
- The Ontario Ombudsman currently has authority to investigate all government ministries, Crown corporations, agencies, boards and commissions, tribunals and colleges.
- The Ontario Integrity Commissioner currently has the authority under the Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009 to review executive expense claims from the 17 classified agencies and the four hydro organizations.
- In 2010, the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 came into force which sets out accountability measures for many BPS organizations.
- The Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive, which was revised in 2010, sets out the rules for claiming reimbursement for business-related travel, meal and hospitality expenses of senior management in the public sector.
“Since day one, the Premier has made openness and transparency a priority. We are proposing clear and decisive actions to strengthen political accountability and make the business of government more transparent.”