What is the purpose of the financial declaration?
The purpose of the declaration is to identify possible conflicts of interest arising from the financial interests of a public servant or of specified family members of public servants and to take steps to address them where they exist.
Who is required to make a financial declaration to the commissioner?
Under the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (the Act) and Ontario Regulation 381/07, public servants are required to make a financial declaration to the commissioner if all of the following three circumstances apply to them:
- They work in a ministry or public body
- They routinely work on one or more matters that might involve the private sector
- They have access to confidential information about the matter
How is the process initiated?
The Public Service Commission notifies public servants who work in ministries of the duty to make a financial declaration to the commissioner. Public servants who believe they have a duty to make a financial declaration, but have not been so notified, should contact the commissioner’s office for advice on how to proceed.
A standard financial declaration form is available from the commissioner’s website. This form should be used by all public servants who are required to make a declaration. Financial, banking or investment statements should not be provided at this stage.
The declaration is submitted, now what?
Provided the form is complete, the commissioner’s office conducts an initial review to determine whether the disclosed financial interests carry a risk of a conflict of interest. If no risk is identified, the public servant is notified accordingly. If there is a potential risk of a conflict of interest, a further review is conducted, in which case a meeting with the commissioner may be arranged. Additional information may be sought as part of this further review.
What happens after the review?
Once the commissioner has all necessary information (including any additional information that may be sought), the commissioner provides the public servant with written advice on which conflict of interest rules may be relevant and possible steps to ensure that the public servant is in compliance with those rules. The commissioner may send a copy of this advice to the public servant’s ethics executive. In addition, the commissioner may provide the public servant’s ethics executive with written advice about possible measures to ensure compliance with the conflict of interest rules.
Will the commissioner contact any other individuals?
A public servant’s ethics executive is responsible for ensuring compliance with the conflict of interest rules and may make determinations and/or give directions on conflict of interest matters. Accordingly, the commissioner may deem it necessary to inform the ethics executive of relevant information arising from the financial declaration.
At any time during the process, the commissioner may contact other individuals to confirm or supplement the information provided.
What if a public servant’s financial interests change?
If a public servant’s financial interests change in a way that affects information that is required to be disclosed, the public servant must make a revised declaration to the commissioner.
Is financial information treated confidentially?
The commissioner treats the financial information of public servants as personal and confidential. The information is held in a secure manner, and it is not disclosed to anyone without the public servant’s consent unless it is necessary to do so to carry out the purposes of the Act or unless it is required by law.