Amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998, will come into force on July 1, 2016, the Office of the Integrity Commissioner announced today.
“The changes to the Act are welcome, as the Office has been advocating for amendments for many years,” said Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake. “These steps will enhance the transparency of lobbying activities in Ontario. My focus continues to be on compliance, and it is my hope that I will be required to use my investigative powers sparingly.”
The Office has a comprehensive plan to communicate the changes to lobbyists, and is finalizing the updates to the registry website.
There will be significant changes to the registration process as a result of amendments to the Act. These include:
- An online user agreement certification process for new registrants.
- New questions on the registration forms, including identifying whether a lobbyist held certain positions in the Ontario government, and providing additional information about the lobbying target, specifically identifying individual MPPs by riding and ministers’ offices, as well as ministries and agencies.
- A new, lower threshold for in-house lobbyists, which covers all paid employees and paid directors for a for-profit company and all paid employees for a not-for-profit organization. The entities will be required to register when the total of their time spent lobbying reaches 50 hours per year.
- In-house lobbyists with for-profit entities will be required to create a single registration under the name of the senior officer. (At present, each lobbyist in this group must submit an individual registration.)
- In-house lobbyists with non-profit entities will no longer be required to provide information on their lobbying activity for the upcoming six-month period.
- Consultant lobbyists will be prohibited from accepting contingency fees for successful lobbying outcomes and cannot provide advice to a public office holder while also lobbying any other public office holder on the same subject matter.
The Commissioner, as Registrar, will have investigative powers under the Act. The Commissioner will be able to investigate allegations of non-compliance — those received from the public and also at the initiative of the Commissioner. The Office has hired an investigator and has been working on relevant policies and procedures.
The Act gives the Commissioner the authority to issue administrative penalties, which can be a prohibition from lobbying in the province for up to two years. It also provides powers to publish on the registry the name of the lobbyist, a description of the non-compliance and any other information that the Commissioner considers necessary.
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