Strengthening Accountability in Ontario
Today, the government announced its intention to introduce legislation that would, if passed, strengthen political accountability, enhance oversight in the public sector and increase transparency in classified agencies and broader public sector organizations.
Strengthen Political Accountability
Amendments to the Cabinet Ministers' and Oppositions Leaders' Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 would require expense information for Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, Opposition Leaders and their respective staff to be posted online. The proposed amendments would, if passed, turn voluntary practices into a legislated requirement for everyone covered by the act.
Amendments to the Legislative Assembly Act would require that MPP expense information on out-of-riding travel, hotels, meals and hospitality be posted online along with the related rules for those expenses.
Amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act would, if passed, respond to three recommendations made by the Information and Privacy Commissioner to ensure that government organizations that are subject to this legislation are properly preserving records. The wilful destruction of records would be prohibited and a related offence created.
The government would also seek consent from both opposition parties to post online the annual expense reports published by the Legislative Assembly each fiscal year. Liberal MPPs are leading by example by voluntarily posting these expenses on their websites.
The government would post Ministers' attendance records at Question Period online. It would also seek consent from the opposition House Leaders to improve the public posting of MPP voting records.
Strengthen Public Sector Accountability and Support
Proposed amendments would, if passed:
- Extend the role of the Ontario Ombudsman to include municipalities, including Toronto, as well as school boards and publicly funded universities. The Toronto Ombudsman will remain a statutorily required position under the City of Toronto Act.
- Give the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth new powers to investigate matters relating to children and youth in the child protection system.
- Establish a Patient Ombudsman to help patients resolve complaints against public hospitals, Long-Term Care homes and Community Care Access Centres.
- Provide the Ontario Integrity Commissioner with the ability to review executive expenses in selected organizations. All 197 classified agencies and four hydro entities would be included by regulation.
- Amend the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 to further strengthen accountability and transparency. This would, if passed, include providing new powers for the Registrar (Integrity Commissioner) to investigate alleged violations of the act. The proposed amendments would also establish new rules prohibiting lobbyists from lobbying and providing paid advice on the same subject matter at the same time.
Proposed amendments would, if passed:
- Authorize the government to establish compensation frameworks, including hard caps for senior executives in the broader public sector. If passed, it would also authorize the government to obtain all compensation-related information and would include enforcement measures for non-compliance, offence provisions and repayment obligations.
- Require broader public sector organizations to publish their business plans and other relevant documentation.
The government would require all appointees and senior executives in every classified agency to post their expenses online. The government would also require all classified agencies to publish their governance documents, including business plans and annual reports, online.