As we near the end of 2016 and look back on the year that was, I think it’s fair to say that public sector ethics issues have been front-and-centre. From scrutiny over senate expenses and the moving expenses of political staff, to the ongoing spotlight on so-called cash-for-access political fundraisers – ethical issues are attracting a lot of public attention these days, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
This makes it even more important for those of us who work in this field to discuss the collective challenges and issues that we face. Our inaugural Public Sector Ethics Conference: Building Trust in Government held in Toronto on September 29 and 30 provided a forum and an opportunity to do just that.
Participants included ethics executives and senior public servants from all three levels of government, public body chairs and senior executives, lawyers, academics and integrity officials. Our goal in bringing this diverse group of people together was to penetrate the silos we too often work in, strengthen our relationships, expand our networks and identify potential solutions to the common challenges we face. The overwhelmingly positive feedback we received through our post-conference survey suggests that we achieved our objectives. In the next month, IPAC, our conference partner, will publish a special edition of its Public Sector Management Magazine that will capture the insights shared by our distinguished speakers and panelists. We hope that this experience is just the beginning of what will become an active and ongoing national discussion about how we can continue to work together to help strengthen and protect public service ethics in Canada.
As part of our effort to keep that conversation going, we partnered with Ontario’s Treasury Board Secretariat to produce two educational videos. The first video, “Deputy Minister turned Vice President”, addresses the question of what kind of work you can do when you leave the public service – something no doubt top-of-mind for many public servants approaching retirement. The second video, “Hockey Mom” tackles the issue of preferential treatment. Both videos depict actual scenarios you may encounter as a public servant and provide tips on how ethics executives can apply Ontario’s conflict of interest rules in these two areas. These videos add to our already existing video archive. I hope you enjoy them and I encourage you to share them with colleagues and staff.
I wish you all a restful and rejuvenating holiday season and all the best in 2017.
–Commissioner Sidney Linden