Public Servant’s Spouse (C15-11/12)

A public servant sought a determination regarding the potential for conflict of interest where the public servant’s spouse works in the same organization.

The public servant was not the spouse’s supervisor, but was the head of the organization and was the ethics executive. The Commissioner determined that there was potential for conflict of interest. The Commissioner was advised that transparent measures had already been put in place to mitigate the risk. The public servant’s work-related duties relating to his/her spouse had been delegated to another official in the organization, and the public servant’s access to employment-related information about his/her spouse was limited. The public servant had not been precluded from participating in discussion or decision-making with respect to the following:

i.        Work issues and products, as required in the ordinary course of the public servant’s duties, where the public servant’s spouse may have contributed to or may have been responsible for the matter;

ii.        Information of a statistical or general nature, provided for information purposes, where it involved the public servant’s spouse but was not specific to him/her; and

iii.        Matters that could potentially affect the public servant’s spouse, but only where the matters would affect a broad class of public servants.

The Commissioner took into account that a large class of individuals would most likely be affected by such involvement, making it unlikely that any benefit or preferential treatment would flow to his/her spouse. However, the Commissioner cautioned the public servant to remain mindful of the size of the class of individuals affected by specific decisions. The Commissioner suggested that the public servant refrain from participating in discussions or decisions where the matter affected a smaller class of individuals that included his/her spouse.

O. Reg. 381/07, s. 3 & 7.