Conflict of Interest Rules
The Conflict of Interest Rules in Ontario Regulation 381/07 apply to current ministry employees and to public servants employed in and appointed to public bodies. These rules are intended to be broad enough to cover most situations, but the Act also allows public bodies to develop their own rules. These rules are reviewed and approved by the Integrity Commissioner and can be found here. The conflict of interest rules in Ontario Regulation 382/07 apply to ministers’ office staff.
Question about the Rules?
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 a conflict of interest exists, the public servant will receive direction from the Ethics Executive or the Commissioner. This direction must be followed. Under the Act a public servant who does not report a conflict of interest, or who does not follow directions from an Ethics Executive, can be subject to disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal.
Summary of the Rules
This summary of the Rules is provided for information only. For the authoritative text, refer to the Act and regulations.
- Don’t benefit self, spouse or children - Public servants should not use their positions to directly or indirectly benefit themselves, their spouse or children.
- Don’t disclose confidential information - Public servants should not disclose or use any confidential information without authorization.
- Don’t accept gifts - Public servants should not accept gifts from anyone who (1) receives services from (2) does business with or (3) wants to do business with the Ontario government. Public servants may be able to accept gifts of nominal values that are given as an expression of courtesy or hospitality.
- Be cautious before engaging in outside activity - Public servants should not engage in activities (including business, employment or volunteer) outside their public servant roles if doing so would influence or conflict with their duties as public servants.
- Don’t give preferential treatment - Public servants should not give preferential treatment and take steps to avoid creating the appearance that such treatment is being given.
- Don’t hire or supervise family members - Public servants should not hire, supervise, or enter into contracts with their spouses, children, parents, brothers or sisters.
- Be cautious before participating in decisions - Public servants should disclose if they could benefit from a decision and may not be permitted to participate in the decision-making process, including providing advice or voting.
- Declare financial interests - Some public servants may have to disclose their financial interests to the Commissioner and may be prohibited from acquiring financial interests related to their duties as public servants.
- Don’t seek preferential treatment - Former public servants must not seek preferential treatment from existing public servants.
- Don’t disclose confidential information - Former public servants are not allowed to disclose confidential information without authorization or use confidential information for personal benefit.
- Don’t switch sides - Former public servants who advised a ministry or public body on a proceeding, negotiation, or other transaction cannot provide advice or otherwise assist others on that matter after they cease to be public servants.
- Some public servants may have additional restrictions - Former public servants who held designated senior positions may also be restricted from accepting employment with certain entities or lobbying the Ontario government for twelve-months after they cease to be public servants.
For more information on the conflict of interest rules when you leave the public service, download our Post-Service Conflict of Interest resource.