Strengthening Accountability and Transparency in Ontario
The proposed Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 would, if passed:
Strengthen political accountability by:
- Amending the Cabinet Ministers' and Oppositions Leaders' Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 to require that all individuals covered by the Act publicly post their expense information online within 90 days of being approved by the Integrity Commissioner.
- Amending the Legislative Assembly Act to require the Speaker to publicly post online all MPP expense information on out-of-riding travel, hotels related to that travel, meals and hospitality. The proposed amendments would also require that the rules respecting those expenses be posted online.
- Implementing three of the Information and Privacy Commissioner's recommendations for legislative amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, including:
- Requiring that institutions subject to the legislation have reasonable measures in place to securely retain records
- A prohibition on the wilful destruction of records with the intent to deny a request for access to records
- An offence for the wilful destruction of records with the intent to deny a request for access to records. Offence would carry fines up to $5,000
Strengthen oversight by:
- Expanding the role of the Ontario Ombudsman to municipalities, school boards, and publicly-assisted universities. This would include a new role for the Ombudsman for closed municipal meeting investigations. If passed, this bill would give the Ombudsman the authority to investigate complaints only after local processes have been completed.
- Expanding the mandate of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth to provide the Advocate with ombudsman-like powers to initiate and conduct investigations into matters relating to children and youth who are involved with a children's aid society.
- Establishing a Patient Ombudsman to help patients resolve complaints against public hospitals, long-term care homes and community care access centres. The Patient Ombudsman would have the power to respond to complaints and initiate investigations.
- Amending the Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009 to provide the Integrity Commissioner with the ability to review executive expenses on a selective or rotating basis. The scope of the Commissioner's review would expand to all 197 classified agencies and the four hydro organizations.
- Currently, the Commissioner has authority to review the expenses of appointees and senior executives in 17 classified agencies and the four hydro organizations
- Amending the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998, including:
- New powers for the Registrar, including the power to investigate alleged violations of the Act, the ability to provide guidance and direction on lobbyist conduct, and the power to prohibit lobbying for up to two years
- Establishing new rules for lobbyists:
- A conflict-of-interest provision prohibiting lobbyists from lobbying and providing paid advice on the same subject matter at the same time;
- Establishing a single set of rules that apply to both for-profit and not-for profit entities
- A ban on "contingency fees", prohibiting lobbyists from accepting fees that depend on a particular lobbying outcome
- Increasing the maximum fine upon conviction of an offence to $25,000 for a first offence, and $100,000 for subsequent offences.
Increase transparency in broader public sector organizations by:
- Authorizing the government to establish compensation frameworks, including sector-specific hard caps for senior executives in the broader public sector. The legislation, if passed, would authorize the government to obtain all compensation-related information, including contracts. Compliance and enforcement measures would include:
- Requiring heads of organizations to submit attestations confirming compliance with the compensation frameworks
- Requiring heads of organizations repay any amount that is above the compensation frameworks as a debt to the Crown
- Providing the government with the ability to conduct audits to verify compliance with the compensation frameworks
- Amending the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 to require broader public sector organizations to publish their business plans and other relevant financial documentation.