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The Office welcomes inquiries about the expense review process for cabinet ministers, Opposition leaders and their staff. For additional information about the rules and how they apply, please read our FAQs below.

Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders' Expense FAQs

Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders' Expense FAQs

  • What does the Cabinet Ministers’ and Opposition Leaders’ Expenses Review and Accountability Act do?

    The Cabinet Ministers’ and Opposition Leaders’ Expenses Review and Accountability Act (the “Act”), which came into effect in 2002, creates a legislative framework for reimbursement of expenses, and provides authority for the Integrity Commissioner to review and report on expense claims. The Act also provides for the Commissioner to direct repayment where deemed appropriate and to recommend other corrective action if necessary. The Commissioner may, in an annual report to the Legislature, report cases of non-compliance with orders to the Legislature.

    The Act requires that Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, the opposition leaders, and their respective staff comply with the Allowable Expense Rules on the reimbursement of expense claims for meals, hospitality, hotel accommodation and travel.

  • Who is covered by this Act?

    Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, the opposition leaders, and their staff are covered by the Act.

  • What expenses are covered by this Act?

    The expenses that are covered include meals, hospitality, travel, hotel (and similar types of accommodations) that: 
    - for Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants and their staff, are incurred in the performance of a ministerial or parliamentary assistant duty or function; or
    - for leaders of a recognized opposition party and their staff, are reasonably related to the role of an opposition leader (and not as a member of the Assembly).

  • What expenses are not covered by this Act?

    The Act does not cover general or miscellaneous office expenses (e.g. cell phones, parking permits, office supplies, training etc.) incurred in connection with responsibilities as a Member of the Assembly, including caucus-related expenses. These expenses are governed by the Board of Internal Economy.

  • How do I differentiate between “Ministerial/Parliamentary Assistant duty or function” and regular ministry business?

    “Ministerial/Parliamentary Assistant duty or function” includes any activities and responsibilities that are reasonably related to the portfolio assignment.  

    If you are uncertain as to whether an expense is “ministerial” in nature or part of regular ministry business, you should call us at 416-314-8983, or email expenses@oico.on.ca.

  • Rules Governing Ministers’ Expenses
    Where can I find guidance on what is considered to be a reasonable and appropriate expense with respect to meals, hospitality, travel and hotel accommodation?

    The Allowable Expense Rules provides guidance as to what are considered reasonable and appropriate expenses.

     In addition, the Office of the Integrity Commissioner has prepared Expense Claim Guidelines, which clarify many aspects of the Rules, and a checklist to help claimants in determining whether an expense is allowable and what documentation is needed to make a claim.

  • What if I want to claim for a meal, hospitality, hotel or travel expense that is not specifically addressed in the Rules?

    The Integrity Commissioner will determine the appropriateness of the expense in accordance with the governing principle set out in the Rules. Further advice may be sought from the Integrity Commissioner, and if so, should be sought before the expense is incurred wherever possible.

  • What if I need clarification on the application of the Rules, for example, if a particular expense is allowed?

    Advice concerning the Rules may be sought from the Integrity Commissioner. Wherever possible, ask for advice before the expense is incurred.
    The Commissioner can be approached for advice at any time and can be reached at 416-314-8983, or at expenses@oico.on.ca.

  • What kinds of expenses are prohibited by the Rules?

    Expenses of a personal nature, including personal items, traffic and parking violations and social events that are not hospitality are not allowable.

    Hotel expenses related to the mini-bar, video rental, in-room movies or other entertainment-related activities not associated with official duties and functions are not reimbursable.

  • My monthly corporate card statement includes a penalty for a late payment. Can I be reimbursed for this charge?

    No. Any penalties charged on unpaid balances are the cardholder’s responsibility and are therefore not reimbursable. Claims for expenses should be completed promptly to ensure that reimbursement is obtained in time to make payments to the credit card company.

  • Meal
    Is there a prescribed amount for breakfast, lunch and dinner expenses for meals while working over meal periods, attending business meetings or when traveling?

    Meals Rates in Canada:

    Breakfast   $10.00

    Lunch   $12.50

    Dinner   $22.50

    The rates include taxes and gratuities. Receipts are not required. The meal rate amount may be claimed regardless of the actual expense incurred.

  • Can I be reimbursed for an ‘overtime’ meal?

    Meal expenses incurred while working during or through normal meal periods are reimbursable provided the expenses are incurred for an official duty or function, reflect prudent use of public funds, and do not involve alcoholic beverages.

    In general, working meals are to be provided in-house.

  • Are expenses for alcoholic beverages reimbursable when claimed with meals?

    Alcoholic beverage expenses are not reimbursable for meal expenses incurred while working during or through normal meal periods, business meetings with other government employees, or regular meals while traveling.

  • Travel
    What is considered to be a “reasonable and appropriate” hotel expense?

    Reasonable and appropriate hotel expenses strike a balance between economy and the level of accommodation necessary to fulfill the official duty. Take into account that significant savings can be achieved by choosing a hotel that is in a less central location, even with the additional cost of taxi fare. However, it is also allowed and recommended to ensure that a hotel is in a safe environment.

    When booking hotel accommodation, use the federal online accommodation directory as a guide to appropriate government rates. The directory is available here.

    Expenses related to the mini-bar, video rental, in-room movies or other entertainment-related activities not associated with official duties and functions are not reimbursable.

    Further guidance on “reasonable and appropriate” hotel expenses should be sought from the Integrity Commissioner.

  • Can I fly business class?

    Travel in business class may be considered an appropriate option with prior approval and with a written explanation for:
    -International flights
    -Domestic and continental US flights if related to the provision of reasonable accommodation on a legitimate business purpose.

  • Can I use my own car for road travel?

    You can use your own car if there is no access to a vehicle provided by the government and the use of your personal car is more economical than renting. Expenses will be reimbursed in accordance with the applicable reimbursement rates for kilometres traveled.

     

  • What size rental vehicle is considered appropriate?

    If there is no access to a government vehicle, and renting a vehicle is the most economical and practical option, expenses will be reimbursed based on the size of the vehicle that is the most appropriate for the number of vehicle occupants. Luxury vehicles or convertibles are not appropriate; however safety during inclement weather conditions can be considered (e.g. renting a 4-wheel drive).

  • Can I claim taxi fare for meetings in Toronto?

    Taxis are considered appropriate when it is the most economical and/or practical form of transportation. The use of public transit is strongly encouraged as the primary option. Reimbursement will not be made for travel that is considered part of the regular commute to work, except under exceptional circumstances.

  • What if I would like to take my spouse/companion or family member with me on a business trip?

    Expenses of a spouse or companion may be reimbursed if the person is an officially invited guest or because protocol requires his/her attendance. Otherwise, it may be acceptable if there is no incremental cost to the government or Legislative Assembly. Prior approval should be sought from the appropriate designated senior person.

    With respect to taking other family members on a trip, please contact the Integrity Commissioner for advice. The Commissioner can be reached at 416-314-8983, or at expenses@oico.on.ca.

  • Hospitality
    What is considered a hospitality event?

    As representatives of the government or opposition, those covered by the Act can extend hospitality to external parties as part of official duties and functions. Reasonable and appropriate expenses for such functions are reimbursable.

    Hospitality refers to the provision of food and beverages, including alcohol in limited circumstances, accommodation, transportation and similar amenities. Hospitality cannot be offered to persons who are members of the government and/or opposition caucuses or employed by the Ontario government, including persons who are appointed to a provincial agency, board or commission. Please refer to Rule 51 for examples of situations where the extension of hospitality would be appropriate.

  • What is considered a “reasonable and appropriate” hospitality expense?

    Hospitality should be extended in an economical and consistent manner. Costs should be mitigated where possible, taking into account the status of the guest, the number of guests and the intended business purpose.

    When extending hospitality, alcohol may be offered in limited circumstances, where appropriate, or when customarily offered as a matter of protocol. The cost of alcohol must not exceed the cost of food. Where possible, preference should be given to wine, beer and spirits produced in Ontario.

    The number of designated persons and other attendees is to be kept to a minimum and limited to those necessary for the function, regardless of who sponsors the function.

    Cabinet ministers and other persons should use government-owned facilities and resources that are appropriate to the function, before going to private sector alternatives.

    Further guidance on "reasonable and appropriate" hospitality expenses should be sought from the Integrity Commissioner.

  • Are expenses for alcoholic beverages allowed for hospitality expenses?

    When extending hospitality, alcohol may be offered in limited circumstances, where appropriate, or when customarily offered as a matter of protocol. The cost of alcohol must not exceed the cost of food. Where possible, preference should be given to wine, beer and spirits produced in Ontario.

  • Can my spouse/companion or family member attend a hospitality event?

    Expenses for hospitality may also include the expenses of a spouse (or companion), provided the person is an officially invited guest or because protocol requires his or her attendance. In such cases, the same rules under this Act apply to the spouse/companion.

  • Submitting an Expense Claim
    Who approves the claim for payment prior to the Integrity Commissioner’s review?

    Ministers are responsible for approving expense claims for all staff (including the Parliamentary Assistant and their staff), as well as ensuring compliance with the Rules. A Minister may delegate this authority only to either his/her Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff. Ministers may not delegate this authority to Parliamentary Assistants or their staff.

    Delegation must be done in writing and be submitted to:

    Ontario Shared Services
    General Accounting Unit
    Attention: Ministerial Expenses
    77 Wellesley Street West
    Box 875
    Toronto ON  M7A 1N3

    If a new Executive Assistant is appointed, a new delegation of authority must be submitted to Ontario Shared Services.

    Opposition leaders are responsible for approving expense claims for their staff, as well as ensuring compliance with the Rules. An Opposition leader may delegate this authority to a senior person.

    Delegation must be done in writing and be submitted to

    Financial Services
    Rm 2630 Whitney Block
    99 Wellesley Street West
    Toronto ON    M7A 1A6

  • How much detail about the expense should I put on the Expenses Claim Form?

    In order for the Integrity Commissioner to assess whether an expense is reasonable and appropriate, every claim submitted should identify as accurately as possible the nature of the expenses and the circumstances under which it was incurred.

    In the “Details” column of the form, describe the nature of each expense that is being claimed.

    For hospitality-related claims, you must include a statement of the purpose of the event. The phrase ‘Government Business’ does not provide sufficient detail; instead, indicate ‘meeting with stakeholder to discuss...’ or some other descriptor to identify the purpose of the meeting, together with the number of attendees who were government and/or opposition caucus employees and the number of attendees who were non-government persons. Include the names of the government and opposition caucus employees in attendance in the Details column.

  • Can I make a claim for more than one person?

    Individual claims for expenses are encouraged. However, if you are claiming expenses incurred on behalf of another employee, ensure the expense is correctly attributed to that employee on the Expenses Claim Form.

  • What receipts should be attached to the Expenses Claim Form?

    Include all original itemized and legible receipts, e.g. hotel receipts, restaurant hospitality receipts (restaurant stubs are insufficient), confirmation of online air booking, etc. Credit card receipts alone are insufficient to support a claim.

    Receipts for meals are not required.

  • Review of Expenses by the Integrity Commissioner
    How will the Integrity Commissioner decide whether claims are reasonable and appropriate?

    The Integrity Commissioner will review all claims for these expenses to ensure that they comply with the Rules.

    The Integrity Commissioner will review all claims for these expenses to ensure that they comply with the rules. Where a claim is made that is not covered by a specific rule, the Commissioner will exercise judgment in determining the reasonableness and appropriateness of an expense claim.
  • What if the Integrity Commissioner finds that an expense claim does not comply with the Rules?

    The Integrity Commissioner can order repayment of any inappropriate expenses within a deadline that the Commissioner establishes. In addition, the Commissioner can recommend whatever remedial action is deemed necessary, again within an established deadline.

    The claimant must provide written notification to the Commissioner that the Commissioner’s direction and deadline were met. The Commissioner must receive this written notification no later than one week after the deadline set for the claimant.

     

  • I need to make a repayment — how do I do this?

    The repayment should be made by cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance.

    For Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants and their staff, the cheque, with supporting documentation, should then be sent to:

    Ontario Shared Services
    General Accounting Unit
    Attention: Ministerial Expenses
    77 Wellesley Street West
    Box 875
    Toronto ON    M7A 1N3

    For Opposition leaders and their staff, repayment cheques should be sent to:

    Financial Services of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
    Room 2630 Whitney Block
    99 Wellesley Street West
    Toronto ON    M7A 1A6

    Please forward proof of the repayment to the Integrity Commissioner within the prescribed timeline.

    You may wish to keep a photocopy of the cheque for your own files.

  • Will the Integrity Commissioner report on the results of the review?

    The Act requires that the Integrity Commissioner table an annual report to the Speaker of the Legislature with respect to the review of these expenses.

  • Will the Integrity Commissioner publish the names and details of those who do not comply with the Rules? What will be the penalties for non-compliance?

    The Act allows the Integrity Commissioner to name in the annual report to the Legislature any person who does not comply with an order to repay or a recommendation for other action. The Integrity Commissioner cannot name a third party, and cannot fault anyone for relying on her advice.

    The Integrity Commissioner may report on cases where advice regarding remedial action is not taken.

     

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