Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner

What We Do

Role of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner

The Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (PSOA) provides for the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to have a leadership role in contributing to public servants' understanding of the rules and how to apply them.

The commissioner also has certain responsibilities under the PSOA related to employees of ministries and employees and appointees of agencies, boards, and commissions that are defined as "public bodies" in the PSOA.

The commissioner's role encompasses three broad areas:

  • Offer advice and make determinations on specific matters involving Ontario public servants
  • Provide advice and direction to public bodies
  • Serve as a resource for developing and sharing information about dealing with conflict of interest and political activity matters

Advice and Determinations on Specific Matters

Assist Ontario Government Officials
Ethics executives, generally deputy ministers and the chairs of public bodies, are the individuals who are responsible for promoting ethical conduct within their organizations. Ethics executives may seek the commissioner's advice and guidance on conflict of interest and political activity matters, as may other officials of Ontario government offices. In some cases, ethics executives may seek to refer a matter to the commissioner for a determination.    [more...]

Act as Ethics Executive
The commissioner is the ethics executive for specified current and former public servants. Those individuals may seek the commissioner's advice or direction on specific conflict of interest or political activity matters that could have an impact on their duty as active public servants or on their post-service obligations.     [more...]

Advise on Financial Declarations
Identified public servants who routinely work on matters that involve the private sector are required to make a financial declaration to the commissioner, disclosing their own and their spouses' and children's financial interests.     [more...]

Authorize Political Activity
The PSOA sets out rights and restrictions related to political activity for all public servants. Some public servants must seek the commissioner's permission to participate in activities that are otherwise prohibited under the PSOA. Other public servants may seek permission from their ethics executives to participate in political activities that are otherwise not permitted under the PSOA. These requests are most common during an election period.     [more...]

Advice and Direction to Public Bodies

Approve Conflict of Interest Rules
The conflict of interest rules are set out in Ontario Regulation 381/07. The rules apply to all public servants who work in a government ministry or who are appointed to or employed by a public body. The rules specify the activities that are not permitted and that could put a public servant at risk of a conflict of interest.

The rules are intended to be broad enough to cover most situations, but public bodies may develop their own rules if they wish. Such rules must be at least as rigorous as the rules in the regulation and, if approved by the commissioner, they are posted on the commissioner's website.     [more...]

Identify Policies and Practices
The commissioner may become aware of an organizational policy or practice that, if adopted, would minimize the risk that conflict situations will arise. The commissioner offers advice to public bodies on introducing or modifying policies or practices to reduce the risk of conflict of interest and more effectively align with the PSOA.

Information Resources

Share Knowledge and Experience
Each year, the commissioner's annual report includes a selection of summaries of the conflict of interest and political activity matters dealt with during the year. These summaries are intended to assist Ontario public service decision-makers with interpreting and applying conflict of interest and political activity rules to similar situations.

Identify Education Opportunities
The commissioner assists public servants in increasing their understanding of the rules and their roles and responsibilities under the PSOA. This is especially important for public servants in public bodies who, with the introduction of the PSOA, are now subject to the same rules as are ministry employees.

Serve as a Best-Practices Resource
In addition to developing a body of knowledge and experience in Ontario, the commissioner makes it a priority to learn about methods and approaches used in other offices with comparable responsibilities within and outside Ontario. This assists the commissioner in providing information and advice on a range of best practices that support the intent of the PSOA.