Conflict of interest advisor

Where does the authority for the commissioner to act as the conflict of interest advisor come from?

The Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (the Act) and Ontario Regulation 384/07, authorizes the commissioner to act as conflict of interest advisor for a consultant, an independent contractor, or a person seconded to a ministry or Commission public body from a position outside the public service of Ontario.

Who may request that the commissioner act as conflict of interest advisor?

The following may request that the commissioner act as conflict of interest advisor:

  • The Public Service Commission
  • An ethics executive

How is the process initiated?

Any of the above-mentioned persons may contact the commissioner’s office via email at coicommissioner@ontario.ca to request that the commissioner act as conflict of interest advisor. The request should include the following information:

  • Description of the role and responsibility of the consultant, independent contractor, or person seconded to a ministry or Commission public body
  • Description of conflict of interest rules or frameworks in place at the organization, if any
  • Explanation of the potential conflict of interest
  • Description of advice obtained, if any, from ministry or entity officials regarding the potential conflict of interest, and
  • Persons who should be informed of any advice given.

The commissioner may request additional information. 

Will the commissioner always act as conflict of interest advisor if asked?

Generally, the commissioner will act as conflict of interest advisor and provide advice 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 might the commissioner’s advice include?

Ordinarily, in acting as conflict of interest advisor, the commissioner will provide advice designed to identify potential conflict of interest concerns and strategies to mitigate these concerns where they exist. More broadly, the commissioner’s advice is intended to enhance the quality and consistency of conflict of interest decision-making across the public service.

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, agencies, or the courts
  • Possible interpretations of the Act that may be useful in analyzing the issue, and
  • Suggestions for a course of action that may reduce the risk of a potential conflict of interest.

What will the commissioner’s advice not include?

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

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

Who will receive the commissioner’s advice?

The commissioner will provide advice to the individual involved. If appropriate, the commissioner may also make the advice known to the Public Service Commission or to the ethics executive in the same form as provided to the individual.

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