Amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998, came into force on July 1, 2016, bringing significant changes to Ontario’s lobbyist registry system.
“The changes to the Act are welcome, as the Office has been advocating for amendments for many years,” said Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake. “These steps will enhance the transparency of lobbying activities in Ontario. My focus continues to be on compliance, and it is my hope that I will be required to use my investigative powers sparingly.”
The Office has updated the online registration system, and published compliance resources on its website.
Changes to the registration process include:
-An online user agreement certification process for new registrants.
-New questions on the registration forms, including identifying whether a lobbyist held certain positions in the Ontario government, and providing additional information about the lobbying target, specifically identifying individual MPPs by riding and ministers’ offices, as well as ministries and agencies.
-A new, lower threshold for in-house lobbyists, which covers all paid employees and paid directors for a for-profit company and all paid employees for a not-for-profit organization. The entities are required to register when the total of their time spent lobbying reaches 50 hours per year.
-In-house lobbyists with for-profit entities are required to create a single registration under the name of the senior officer.
-In-house lobbyists with non-profit entities are no longer required to provide information on their lobbying activity for the upcoming six-month period.
-Consultant lobbyists are prohibited from accepting contingency fees for successful lobbying outcomes and cannot provide advice to a public office holder while also lobbying any other public office holder on the same subject matter.
The Commissioner, as Registrar, has investigative powers under the Act. The Commissioner can investigate allegations of non-compliance — those received from the public and also at the initiative of the Commissioner. The Office has hired an investigator and has developed relevant policies and procedures.
The Act gives the Commissioner the authority to issue administrative penalties, which can be a prohibition from lobbying in the province for up to two years. It also provides powers to publish on the registry the name of the lobbyist, a description of the non-compliance and any other information that the Commissioner considers necessary.
About the OIC
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner has five key responsibilities:
- Members’ Integrity
- Public service disclosure of wrongdoing (whistle-blowing)
- Expenses review for Cabinet Ministers, Opposition Leaders, and 21 of Ontario’s largest agencies
- Ministers’ staff ethical conduct
- Lobbyists registration
An Officer of the Legislative Assembly, the Integrity Commissioner is independent of government.
More information on the OIC and its work is available at www.oico.on.ca.
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Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario