THE Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 passed third reading in the Ontario legislature on Tuesday. Part of Ontario’s Open Government initiative, this act strengthens political accountability, makes the business of government more transparent, and gives Officers of the Legislature more responsibility in their roles.
The legislation will provide more oversight over and accountability at arms-length government entities, ensuring tax dollars are spent wisely as the government delivers on its commitment to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. In addition, this act will give the government the ability to control the compensation of executives in broader public sector service organizations such as Ornge, eHealth, Metrolinx, OLG and the LCBO.
In addition, the legislation will:
- Expand the Ontario Ombudsman’s role to include municipalities, school boards and publicly-funded universities.
- Require cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, opposition leaders and their respective staff to post their expenses online, making Ontario a leader in expense reporting.
- Require the Speaker to post online MPP expense information for out-of-riding travel, hotel accommodation related to that travel, meals and hospitality.
- Allow the government to appoint a Patient Ombudsman to respond to complaints about public hospitals, long-term care homes, and community care access centres.
- Expand the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth’s mandate, providing oversight and new powers to investigate children’s aid societies.
- Give the government greater oversight of air ambulance service providers, including the ability to appoint members to the board of directors as well as supervisors and special investigators and measures to protect whistleblowers.
- Modernize lobbyist registration by requiring businesses and organizations to register when their staff spend at least 50 hours per year lobbying government and provide the Ontario Integrity Commissioner as Lobbyist Registrar with investigative powers and the ability to impose penalties, including prohibiting individuals from lobbying for up to two years.
Strengthening accountability and managing public sector compensation costs are part of Ontario’s Open Government initiative and economic plan. The four-part economic plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment on a foundation of fiscal responsibility and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.
- The Ontario Integrity Commissioner currently has the authority to review executive expense claims from 17 classified agencies and the four hydro organizations.
- As Ontario’s President of Treasury Board, Minister Deb Matthews is leading the government’s efforts on accountability, openness and modernization.
- The Ontario Ombudsman currently has authority to investigate all government ministries, Crown corporations, agencies, boards and commissions, tribunals and colleges.