Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario's Municipal Legislation Act (MOMLA), 2017 amends the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and the Municipal Act, 2001. The changes made through MOMLA were staged to come into force in phases, described below:
March 1, 2019
- Codes of Conduct - municipalities are now required to have a code of conduct for its members of Council and Local Boards.
- Integrity Commissioner - municipalities are now required to have an Integrity Commissioner (IC) to conduct inquiries upon complaint. The IC must also respond to requests by members of Council or Local Boards for advice respecting their obligations under the code and the act, and to provide educational information to the members, the municipality and the public about the code and the act.
- Policy on Staff-Council relations - a policy must be adopted involving the relationship between members of Council and the officers and employees of the municipality.
The Integrity Commissioner (IC) is an independent and impartial position reporting directly to Council. The IC is responsible for oversight of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council, Committees and Local Boards and includes providing advice, issuing interpretations and reports, investigating complaints and where necessary, recommending sanctions. The IC is also responsible for providing educational programs to members of Council and staff.
Municipal government can be complex, and Council, Committee and Local Board members can turn to the Integrity Commissioner to provide confidential advice on ensuring they maintain the high standards expressed in the Code of Conduct.
The IC investigates complaints about breaches to the Code of Conduct by members of Council, Committees and/or Local Boards. The IC can summon evidence and witnesses under oath to complete an investigation.
The IC also provides opinions and reports to Council, Committees and Local Boards on issues of ethics and integrity.
The IC is also responsible to review requests for investigations regarding whether a meeting of Council, Local Board or Committee was properly closed to the public.
Code of Conduct - Complaint Procedure
Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a Member (Council, Committee or Local Board member) has breached this code may proceed with a complaint and request an investigation. Complaints must be submitted within ninety (90) days after the alleged violation occurred or the alleged violation came to the attention of the complainant. No complaint may be filed under any circumstances where the alleged violation occurred more than six (6) months prior to the complaint being filed. Appendix II of the Town of Renfrew Code of Conduct Policy (located at the bottom of this page) outlines the informal and formal complaint procedure that shall be followed.
1. Informal Complaints can be addressed by any person who believes that the activity of a Member has breached the Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, but the person does not want to initiate a formal complaint. Any person may:
a) Advise the Member that his or her behaviour or activity appears to constitute a contravention;
b) Encourage the Member to acknowledge and agree to stop the prohibited behaviour or activity and avoid future occurrences of the prohibited behaviour or activity;
c) Where the Member agrees to cease the behaviour, confirm in writing that the agreement is satisfactory;
d) Where the Member's response is not satisfactory, advise the Member of your dissatisfaction with the response; and
e) Consider the need to pursue the matter in accordance with the formal complaint procedure, outlined below.
2. Individuals are encouraged to pursue the informal complaint procedure as the first means of remedying behaviour or an activity that they believe violates the Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
Formal Complaint Procedure
1. Any individual who identifies or witnesses behaviour or an activity by a Member that they believe is in contravention of this Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, may file a formal complaint.
2. Any person may file a complaint with the Municipality by submitting in writing the prescribed Complaint Form to the Clerk. The form must contain an attestation from the complainant that they believe that the facts as set out in the complaint are true to the best of their knowledge and belief and that they make those statements as if they were under oath.
3. Every complaint must be accompanied by the prescribed fee in the amount of $150.00.
4. In the event the Integrity Commissioner determines that a complaint is frivolous, vexatious or does not disclose a breach of this Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, at any point after the submission of the complaint, the complainant shall forfeit the fee. If the result of the complaint is a negotiated resolution or a finding that the Member breached this Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, the fee shall be refunded in part, up to 50%, based on the recommendation of the Integrity Commissioner.
5. Every complaint shall include the following:
a) The complaint must set out reasonable and probable grounds for the allegation that the Member has contravened this Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
b) Any witnesses in support of the allegation must be identified in the complaint.
c) The Integrity Commissioner may request additional information from the complainant prior to making an assessment.
6. The complaint shall be filed with the Clerk, who shall forward the matter to the Integrity Commissioner. The Clerk shall also provide notice to Council by way of confidential internal communication that a complaint has been filed, but no details of the complaint shall be provided other than the fact of a complaint and whether it is a complaint under this Code of Conduct, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, or other policy has been received.
7. If the complaint is not, on its face, a complaint with respect to non-compliance with this Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act or the complaint is covered by other legislation or complaint procedure under another policy, the Integrity Commissioner shall refer the complaint to the appropriate entity for investigation, advise the complainant in writing, suspend the investigation until the matter has been finally disposed of, and report the suspension of the investigation to Council.
8. If the Integrity Commissioner is of the opinion that the referral of a matter to him or her is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith, or that there are no grounds or insufficient grounds for an investigation, the Integrity Commissioner shall not conduct an investigation and, where this becomes apparent in the course of an investigation, shall terminate the investigation. The Integrity Commissioner shall communicate this position in writing to the complainant and the Member identified in the complaint.
Submitting a Complaint
Please find foms at the bottom of this page, Council Code of Conduct - Request for Investigation Form and Conflict of Interest for Inquiry Form - Request for Investigation, or by emailing the Clerk's Department at email@example.com or stopping by Town Hall to request a copy. All complaints must be signed. Anonymous complaints will not be received by the Clerk's Department or the Integrity Commissioner.
Integrity Commissioner for the Town of Renfrew
Tony Fleming is a partner in the Land Use Planning, Development and Environmental Group and the Municipal Group at Cunningham Swan. He is recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Certified Specialist in Municipal Law (Local Government/Land Use Planning and Development). As a Certified Specialist, he has demonstrated expertise in the fields of municipal law and land use planning and development law.
Mr. Fleming provides consults with municipal clients on all aspects of municipal governance and complex land use planning matters. He appears frequently before the Ontario Municipal Board to defend decisions of municipal councils and Committees of Adjustment. He also appears regularly before the Assessment Review Board and the Environmental Review Tribunal. In addition, he appears in all levels of Ontario Courts on administrative law matters, including defending challenges to municipal by-laws.
For information on Municipal Complaints, click here.