Strengthening Accountability and Increasing Transparency
Ontario Moving Forward With Substantive Accountability Measures
By A Correspondent
The Ontario government will introduce a comprehensive piece of legislation that, if passed, would strengthen political accountability, enhance oversight, and increase transparency across government and the Broader Public Sector (BPS).
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, said, “"We want to ensure that the people of Ontario have the open, accountable and accessible government that they deserve. These new measures, if passed, would put us on track to become one of the most transparent governments in the country."
John Milloy, Minister of Government Services , said, "Our government continues to build on the actions the Premier has taken to make openness and transparency a priority. This legislation would, if passed, strengthen political accountability, open up the business of government, and give our watchdogs more power."
The proposed legislation would build on the province's Open Government initiative. The legislation would, if passed, strengthen government accountability by:
• Extending the role of the Ontario Ombudsman to include municipalities, school boards and publicly funded universities
• Establishing a Patient Ombudsman to assist patients in resolving complaints against public hospitals, Long-Term Care Homes and Community Care Access Centres
• Giving the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth new powers, like those of the Ontario Ombudsman, to investigate matters relating to children and youth involved in the child protection system
• Amending the Lobbyists Registration Act to improve reporting requirements for lobbyists, address conflicts of interest and increase fines for offences.
The proposed legislation would also enhance government accountability by:
• Requiring expense information for MPPs to be posted online for out-of-riding travel, hotels, meals and hospitality
• Requiring expense information for Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, Opposition Leaders, and their respective staff to be posted online
• Amending the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to require all organizations under the act to securely preserve their records.
Finally, it would increase transparency in classified agencies and the BPS by:
• Authorizing the government to set compensation frameworks for senior executives in the BPS, including hard caps
• Providing the Ontario Integrity Commissioner with the ability to review executive expenses in selected organizations to all 197 classified agencies and four hydro entities
• Requiring BPS organizations to publish their business plans and other documents online.
In addition, the province would also implement the following non-legislative measures:
• Post Cabinet Ministers' attendance records at Question Period
• Seek consent from opposition House Leaders to improve how MPP voting records are posted online
• Require all appointees and senior executives in classified agencies to post their expense information online.
Setting a high standard for accountability and transparency is part of the government's plan to make it more open and accountable to the people of Ontario.
• If passed, this legislation would make Ontario a leader in expense reporting by making it a legislated requirement.
• The Ontario Ombudsman currently has authority to investigate all government ministries, Crown corporations, agencies, boards and commissions, tribunals and colleges.
• The Ontario Integrity Commissioner currently has the authority under the Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009 to review executive expense claims from 17 classified agencies and the four hydro organizations.
• The Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive, which was revised in 2010, sets out the rules for claiming reimbursement for business-related travel, meal and hospitality expenses of senior management in the public sector.