Conflict of interest appointment advice

What is the basis for the commissioner to give advice regarding an appointment?
Under the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (the Act) and Ontario Regulation 384/07, the commissioner may provide advice on the interpretation and application of the conflict of interest provisions of the Act in relation to the proposed appointment of a person to a public body or to employment by the Crown.

Who may request advice from the commissioner regarding an appointment?
The Public Service Commission or its delegate, a minister, or the Director of the Public Appointments Secretariat may request that the commissioner give conflict of interest advice regarding an appointment.

How is the process of obtaining advice initiated?
An above-mentioned person or body may contact the commissioner’s office, preferably in writing, to request conflict of interest advice regarding an appointment for which that person or body is responsible. The request should include the following information:

  • Description of the role and responsibility of the potential appointee
  • Description of the entity to which the potential appointee may be appointed
  • Description of conflict of interest rules or frameworks in place in the organization, if any
  • Explanation of the possible conflict of interest issue
  • Description of advice obtained, if any, from ministry or other officials regarding the potential conflict of interest

The commissioner may request additional information.

What is the commissioner’s role in giving advice?
The commissioner’s role in giving advice is to provide the necessary tools to assist the person or body responsible for the appointment in interpreting and applying the Act. It is the responsibility of the person or body seeking advice to make the final decision on an appointment.

What might the commissioner’s advice include?
In giving advice, the commissioner may include the following:

  • Relevant provisions of the Act and regulations
  • Relevant factual or legal issues to be considered
  • Information about relevant previous decisions of the commissioner, other agencies, or the courts
  • Possible interpretations of the Act that may be useful in analyzing the issue
  • Suggestions for a course of action that may reduce the risk of a breach of the Act

What will the commissioner’s advice not include?
In general, the commissioner’s advice will not include the following:

  • The commissioner’s own findings of fact
  • Definitive, conclusive or binding statements on the matter
  • Endorsement or rejection of a specific analysis or of an appointment

Will the commissioner always provide advice if asked?
Generally, the commissioner will provide advice on an appointment if requested to do so. However, in some cases the commissioner may decide that another process under the Act or an alternative source of advice is more appropriate in the circumstances.

What form will the advice take?
Usually, the commissioner will provide advice in writing. Depending on the circumstances, however, the commissioner may choose to provide advice in another form.

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