Public Sector Ethics
Public servants in Ontario ministries and public bodies have an obligation to ensure that their private interests are not in conflict with their public service responsibilities. They are also bound by political activity rules that strive to balance the neutrality of the public service with an individual’s ability to participate in political activity.
These rules are found in the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 and Ontario Regulation 381/07.
The Integrity Commissioner has a leadership role in raising awareness about the conflict of interest and political activity rules that affect public servants. Previously, this responsibility rested with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. All public servants in Ontario have an Ethics Executive who is responsible for providing advice and making determinations about how the conflict of interest and political activity rules apply to public servants. The Commissioner is the Ethics Executive for some public servants, including the Secretary of the Cabinet, and for appointees to Ontario’s public bodies.
Conflict of Interest
If a current or former public servant believes they have an actual or potential conflict of interest, they are required to contact their Ethics Executive. The Ethics Executive will determine whether a conflict of interest exists, or refer the matter to the Commissioner. If it is determined that there is a conflict of interest, the public servant will receive direction from the Ethics Executive or the Commissioner. This direction must be followed. More information about the Conflict of Interest Rules can be found here.
Current public servants must comply with political activity restrictions. The specific political activity restrictions vary depending on the role of the public servant. Some restrictions apply to all public servants, some apply to most public servants and others apply only to specially-restricted public servants. Public servants may require authorization from their Ethics Executives or the Commissioner before participating in some forms of political activity. More information about political activity can be found here.
Who is my Ethics Executive?
All public servants in Ontario have an Ethics Executive who is responsible for providing advice and making determinations about how the conflict of interest and political activity rules apply to public servants. Information about identifying your ethics executive can be found here.
Have a Question?
Questions about our role or the Conflict of Interest Rules may be directed to:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-314-8983 (toll free 1-866-956-1191).