The Ontario government recently announced proposed changes to
the laws regarding public sector lobbying. These reforms would
restrict the lobbying activity of publicly funded institutions and
increase the government's oversight of certain public sector
On October 7, 2010, the Ontario government introduced Bill 119,
the Lobbyist Registration Amendment Act (Public Entities),
2010. Bill 119 amends the Lobbyists Registration Act,
1998 to prohibit consultant lobbyists from lobbying on behalf
of designated public entities. Included in the definition of
"public entities" are children's aid societies,
school boards, hospitals, universities and Crown entities. Bill 119
also changes the name of the Lobbyist Registration Act,
1998 to the Lobbyists Registrations and Restrictions Act,
The government provided a more expansive framework for these
reforms with the introduction, on October 20, 2010, of Bill 122,
the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010.
Bill 122 builds on the reforms of Bill 119 and prohibits certain
broader public sector organizations and publicly funded entities
from using public funds to pay for the services of consultant
lobbyists. These lobbying rules apply to bodies such as hydro
entities, hospitals, school boards, universities, children's
aid societies and other publicly funded organizations that receive
more than $10 million in government funding. The government
maintains the authority to make regulations designating additional
broader public sector organizations or excluding certain
organizations from the application of the legislation. In-house
lobbyists are not restricted by these proposed reforms, and the new
legislation does not prevent public sector bodies from hiring
lobbyists using funds from other, non-public sources. Transitional
provisions under Bill 122 deem any existing lobbying agreements
that would violate the new rules terminated within 30 days of an
organization being subject to the legislation.
Bill 122 also increases government oversight of hospitals and
local health integration networks (LHINs) regarding consultants and
expenses. The government will have the authority to make expense
claim directives as a way to enhance the controls on expenses.
Hospitals and LHINs will be required to post executives'
expense claim information on their websites. The government will
also have the authority to make procurement directives, such as
mandating competitive procurements and the adoption of codes of
ethics. Hospitals and LHINs will also have to submit reports on
their use of consultants, along with attestations about their
organization's compliance with the new legislation;
executives' pay may be reduced if they fail to comply.
Bill 122 would also bring hospitals under the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, with retrospective
application to January 1, 2007. Hospitals would have until January
1, 2012 to implement any processes and protocols needed to support
the administration of the new provisions. Bill 122 would not change
personal health information rules and would exempt records related
to the operations of a hospital foundation, the administrative
records of health professionals solely related to their personal
practices, and charitable donations made to a hospital.
Bill 119 has received its first reading, and Bill 122 is
currently in second reading debate. We will be watching closely to
see how these pieces of legislation develop.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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