Real Estate on the Side (M08-16/17)

A public servant who worked in a ministry division responsible for policy related to the Crown’s realty holdings was undertaking the articling segment of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) Salesperson Education Program and sought a conflict of interest determination. The public servant was a licenced sales person with the Real Estate Council of Ontario and an independent contractor with a real estate broker. The public servant’s position (as Senior Policy Advisor) involved policy and program development, ministry consultation and advice and stakeholder relations and committee work related to the government’s realty portfolio under the administration and control of the minister.

There could be overlap between the public servant’s duties to the Crown and the outside activity, where as part of the outside activity the public servant could be engaged in transactions that involve government realty. This could be in a situation where a client of the real estate broker wants to acquire government property. The applicable rules under O. Reg. 381/07 were those regarding confidential information, preferential treatment and engaging in business.

It was determined that the situation has the potential to create a conflict of interest. The public servant was provided with direction with respect to: not disclosing or using confidential information obtained in the course of employment; conducting the outside activity so it does not interfere with performance as a public servant; not using government premises, equipment or supplies in connection with outside employment; ensuring that no person derives an advantage from the public servant’s employment as a public servant; and in the course of outside activity, not identifying  as an Ontario public servant or acting in such a way as to give the impression that the public servant is representing the Crown. In the event that the public servant becomes aware of a potential or actual conflict, there was direction to abstain from any discussions on the issue or recuse oneself from the situation.

O. Reg. 381/07, s. 5, 6 & 8.