All Ontario public servants who leave the government’s employ are required to comply with post-service obligations and restrictions. This includes ministers’ staff.
Contacting the Integrity Commissioner
If you work in a minister’s office and are considering leaving your position, it is recommended that you contact the Office of the Integrity Commissioner early in this process. This will ensure that you are aware of the Conflict of Interest Rules in the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 that apply to your specific situation. The Integrity Commissioner is your Ethics Executive.
What to expect
You should contact the Office once you have narrowed your job search, begin meeting with potential employers or begin a job application process. You will meet with members of staff to discuss your potential job opportunities, as well as your role and work as an employee of a minister’s office. Once the information has been collected, the Integrity Commissioner will provide you with a letter of direction that addresses the opportunity you are considering and how the Rules apply.
You are required to follow the Commissioner’s direction. This direction will be based on the following obligations, as set out in the Rules. These include:
After leaving government, you must not seek preferential treatment or privileged access to public servants who work in ministers’ offices, ministries or public bodies. Use caution when making contact with government officials, particularly when you are contacting colleagues from your former ministry.
Former ministers’ staff are subject to a lobbying restriction.
Lobbying is defined as being paid to communicate with government in an effort to influence decisions.
For 12 months after you leave government, you cannot lobby:
- the minister (or ministers) of the ministry where you worked in the preceding 12 months;
- ministers’ staff who work in that ministry or ministries; or
- public servants who work in that ministry or ministries.
This restriction applies to former staff who go to work for government relations firms, and to those who take positions with for-profit or not-for-profit organizations that lobby the government.
The Commissioner may prevent you from taking a particular job in certain circumstances.
The Rules impose a two-part test that restricts former staff from leaving government and taking a job with a public body, entity or person:
- with whom the ministers’ staff member had substantial involvement while employed in government; and,
- where the former staff member had access to confidential information that if disclosed to the public body, entity or person, could result in harm to the Crown or could give the public body, entity or person an unfair advantage.
This restriction applies for 12 months after leaving government.
Disclosing Confidential Information
You cannot disclose confidential information acquired through your job. If your new employment is with a stakeholder of your former ministry, special care needs to be taken to ensure that you do not use confidential information for your benefit or the benefit of your new employer.
If you previously advised the Crown in connection with a proceeding, negotiation, or transaction, you cannot advise or assist any entity or person on that same matter.
Refer to Part II of Ontario Regulation 382/07 for further details regarding the application of the Rules to former public servants employed in a minister’s office.
Anonymized inquiries about the application of the post-employment rules are available on our Sample Inquiries page.
If you are leaving your position in a minister’s office, contact the Office at email@example.com or 416-314-8983 to set up a meeting.