Public Sector and MPP Accountablility and Transparency Act, 2014
The Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 received Royal Assent on December 11, 2014. It is a signature piece of legislation that sets a high standard for oversight across the public sector - part of Ontario's commitment to be the most open and transparent government in the country.
The Act strengthens accountability, makes the business of government more transparent and gives Officers of the Legislature more responsibility in their roles. The legislation also allows more oversight and accountability at arms-length government entities, ensuring tax dollars are spent wisely as the government delivers on its commitment to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18.
Many of the measures previously passed as part of the Act are now in force:
- Amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act will come into force on July 1, 2016. The changes give Ontario's Integrity Commissioner (who is designated as Registrar under the Act) the authority to investigate alleged violations of the Act, the ability to prohibit lobbying for up to two years, and the ability to provide guidance and direction on lobbyist conduct. New rules for lobbyists are also introduced.
- Changes to the Ombudsman Act expanded oversight of the Ombudsman to include municipal sector bodies, school boards and universities. The Ombusman's jurisdiction extended to include school boards starting September 1, 2015, and municipalities and universities as of January 1, 2016.
- Amendments to the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007 came into effect March 1, 2016 and provide the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (PACY) with investigative powers concerning services provided by Children's Aid Societies (CAS) and by residential licensees where a CAS is the placing agency.
- Amendments to the Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders' Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 came into force on January 1, 2016, and require the public posting of expenses incurred by Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, Opposition leaders and their respective staff.
- Amendments to the Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009 came into effect on November 30, 2015. They expand the Integrity Commissioner's expense review mandate by allowing the Comissioner to select, in a given time period, which public entities captured under the Act are required to submit expenses for review. Related regulatory amendments expanded the number of public entities covered under the Act from 19 to 174.
- Amendments to the Legislative Assembly Act came into force on January 1, 2016 and require the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to post online specified information about travel, hotel, meal and hospitality expense payments made to MPPs.
- Amendments to the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 came into force on January 1, 2016. They provide the government with the authority to issue directives requiring designated Broader Public Sector organizations, defined under the Act, to publicly post their business plans and other business and financial documents.
- The Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act, 2014 was proclaimed into force on March 16, 2015 and allows the government to collect compensation information and establish executive compensation frameworks in the broader public sector.
- Amendments to the Ambulance Act came into effect July 1, 2015. These changes strengthen accountability, oversight and transparency for the province's air ambulance system by providing the government more authority over governance and providing whistle-blowing protection for staff.
- Amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act went into effect on January 1, 2016. The changes require institutions to establish measures to securely retain records and makes it an offence to alter, conceal or destroy a record with intent to deny a request for access to the record or information.
In addition to these changes, amendments to the Excellent Care for All Act, 2010 are pending proclaimation and will create the position of the Patient Ombudsman and establish his/her functions to facilitate the resolution of, investigate and report on complaints made by current and former patients, residents and clients and their caregivers regarding the actions or inactions of health sector organizations (defined as public hospitals, long-term care homes and CCACs). In December 2015, following a public search process informed by the input of nearly 1,000 Ontarians, the government announced the selection of Christine Elliott as Ontario's first Patient Ombudsman.