We often hear about conflict-of-interest rules that public servants are expected to follow. As we know, these rules help to ensure that our public service is professional, ethical and competent. It is also important to know that certain rules continue to apply after an individual leaves public service. These are called “post-service” rules, and they are applicable to former public servants. They are equally important. Just as public servants must not allow their personal interests to conflict with their public service duties, so also must former public servants not derive undue advantage, or disadvantage the Crown, by virtue of their former public duties. Having both sets of rules ensures a […]
The next federal election will take place on October 19th, the first instance of a fixed election date in Canadian federal politics. It used to be the case that public servants, at both the provincial and federal levels, were subject to broad political activity prohibitions. This was seen as necessary to uphold the neutrality and professionalism of the public service in a democratic system. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms changed things. Evolving attitudes probably also played a role. Today we have a more nuanced and workable system that balances the rights of citizens to participate in the democratic process with the need for a neutral and professional public service. […]
Political activity rules governing public servants, in Ontario and elsewhere, seek to balance the need for a professional, non-partisan public service with the need to respect public servants’ political and constitutional rights. While specific rules vary across jurisdictions, determining what is or is not a political activity, and when engaging in political activity might affect the ability of a particular public servant to carry out his or her duties to the Crown, is one of the more challenging aspects of public sector ethics oversight. Below are some links to an interesting real-time case that demonstrate the challenge of finding the right balance. Federal lawyer defies PSC over political bid Lawyer’s […]
In previous blogs I explained that conflicts of interest may sometimes occur as a fact of life in a complicated society and that people should develop their own ethical compass and know when to seek advice. I discussed how leaders are responsible for their own and their organization’s ethical integrity and they should foster an ethical culture. In this blog I am writing about something that supports most of what I havepreviously written, namely, that after decades of public service in a variety of roles, I am convinced that most people in government want to do the right thing simply because it is right. I believe there is a heightened […]
Under the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expense Directive (November 2014), all regulatory agencies are required to post details of travel, meal and hospitality expenses of senior executives and government appointees for the agency on a quarterly basis throughout the calendar year. Fiscal Year 2015-16 Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year 2016-17 First Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter) Second Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter) Third Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter) Fourth Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter)
Under the Agencies and Appointments Directive (February 2015), all regulatory agencies are required to post their current business plan.
Under the new Agencies & Appointments Directive (February 2015), all regulatory agencies are required to post their current memorandum of understanding with the ministries to which they report. Affirmation (March 2018).
Ontario’s system for dealing with conflicts of interest is inclusive and, at the same time, decentralized. In my view, this is one of the strengths of our system. Public sector leaders are expected to manage ethical issues and build an ethical culture within their own organizations. Ethics oversight is not an ‘overlay’ on existing organizations but part of their inherent functioning. Every public servant has an ethics executive, who is usually the deputy minister in a ministry or the chair or CEO of a public body. Our office is a resource for ethics executives generally, and provides ethics training to public body chairs and CEOs. Public servants in Ontario are […]
The MPP and Public Sector Accountability and Transparency Act, also known as Bill 8, has been in the news a lot. While the bill does not affect the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, it introduces several changes to the accountability framework for the Government of Ontario. The Act received Royal Assent on December 11. Different parts of the Act will be brought into force over time by proclamation. Among other things, the new Act gives the government the authority to establish compensation frameworks for agency executives, requires certain agencies to publish business plans and other documents, requires Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, opposition leaders and their staff to publish expenses, establishes a […]
Have you ever wondered if your volunteer activities might conflict with your day job as a public servant? Our educational videos explore ethical scenarios that public servants may face in their day-to-day work. They depict real-life situations and provide tips on how statutory ethical rules apply in each case. The video linked below is adapted from the original produced jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Enjoy! View Video