The Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario today filed its 2015-2016 annual report with the Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
The report summarizes activity in all of the Office’s mandates, including samples of opinions provided to Members of Provincial Parliament, summaries of disclosure of wrongdoing case files and updates on changes to the lobbyists registry.
Amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998, come into force on July 1. The report summarizes the changes to the registry, including new questions on registration forms, a lower registration threshold for in-house lobbyists and new investigative and enforcement powers.
The Integrity Commissioner, as Lobbyists Registrar, will have the authority to investigate complaints either received from members of the public or on the Commissioner’s own initiative, and can issue penalties including prohibition from lobbying for up to two years.
“I trust that I will only have to use this power sparingly. My focus is on promoting compliance with the Act without having to rely on investigations and penalties,” Commissioner J. David Wake said in the report.
In his message, Commissioner Wake also speaks to significant amendments to legislation with respect to the review of travel, meal and hospitality expenses incurred by public entities.
The amendments to the Public Sector Expenses Review Act, 2009, which were proclaimed on November 1, 2015, increased the pool of entities eligible for review from 19 to approximately 180. It is intended that as an entity demonstrates consistent compliance it will be replaced, subject to recall, by another agency.
Among the annual report highlights:
- the Office received 309 inquiries from MPPs regarding members’ integrity issues;
- it handled 139 inquiries from ministers’ staff regarding ethical conduct, political activity and post-employment obligations;
- the Office concluded work on five disclosure of wrongdoing cases;
- staff reviewed 5,345 expense claims; and
- the Lobbyists Registry had 1,816 active registrations as of March 31, 2016.
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 selected 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