The Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario today filed its 2014-2015 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 the expenses review processes.
Integrity Commissioner Lynn Morrison comments in the report on forthcoming changes to the Office as it prepares to comply with the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014. She welcomes the changes, but does not believe the amendments went far enough with regard to the registration requirements for in-house lobbyists. The Act reduces the registration threshold to 50 hours of lobbying a year.
“I advocated for a lower threshold of five hours a year, arguing that if anyone spent that much time lobbying a public office holder, then that activity would be sufficiently important for them to be required to register,” Commissioner Morrison said in the report.
In her message, Commissioner Morrison also speaks to the lack of decorum at Queen’s Park. “I am dismayed when I see how elected officials behave during Question Period,” she said. “It does not meet the standards expected of the Ontario public and is a public embarrassment.”
Commissioner Morrison has worked at the Office of the Integrity Commissioner and its predecessor office since 1988. She has served as Commissioner for the past five years, and the previous three years as Acting Commissioner. She plans to retire in the coming months.
“I have been honoured to serve the Legislative Assembly and the people of Ontario,” she said. “The Office is a valuable resource on conflict of interest and ethical matters, and I believe has made a tremendous contribution to the public trust. We can’t legislate ethics or integrity, but we can all make it a part of who we are.”
Among the annual report highlights:
-the Office received 351 inquiries from MPPs regarding members’ integrity issues;
-it handled 134 inquiries from Ministers’ staff regarding ethical conduct, political activity and post-employment obligations;
-the Office concluded work on two disclosure of wrongdoing cases;
-staff reviewed more than 5,200 expense claims; and
-the Lobbyists Registry had 1,774 active registrations as of March 31, 2015.
About the OIC
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner has five key responsibilities: members’ integrity, disclosure of wrongdoing (whistle-blowing), expenses review for Cabinet Ministers, opposition leaders, and 21 of Ontario’s largest agencies, ministers’ staff ethical conduct, and lobbyists registration.
An Officer of the Legislative Assembly, the Integrity Commissioner is independent of government.
The annual report and more information on the Office and its work can be found at www.oico.on.ca.
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Cathryn Motherwell, Director