Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act – what’s being proposed:
Ontario is committed to helping local governments be more open, flexible and accountable to the people they serve.
Legislative amendments to three key pieces of municipal legislation have been proposed in the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act [insert link to Act].
- The Municipal Act, 2001 sets out many of the roles, responsibilities and powers for Ontario's municipalities.
- The City of Toronto Act, 2006 sets a similar framework specifically for the City of Toronto, while reflecting Toronto's status as Ontario's largest municipality.
- The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act sets out conflict of interest rules for municipal council members and members of local boards.
Consultation on these three pieces of legislation took place between June and October 2015.
Accountability and transparency
Ontario aims to make the rules clearer, more effective and responsive to local needs. If passed, these changes would:
- Require municipalities to establish codes of conduct for members of municipal council and local boards, which could include rules that guide the ethical conduct of those members. This proposal would help ensure that every municipality in Ontario has a code of conduct for council members, and also for members of certain local boards.
- Provide the public and municipal councillors with access to an integrity commissioner with broadened powers to investigate complaints, provide advice to councillors and initiate investigations related to conflicts of interest and the municipality’s code of conduct.
- Enhance justice by providing a broader range of penalties for contraventions to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
- Update the definition of “meeting” in certain cases within the legislation to help ensure that rules would be clearer for municipal officials, local board members and the public.
- Provide more options to use modern technology to participate in meetings.
Municipal financial sustainability
Ontario is supporting strong and financially sustainable local governments by giving eligible municipalities the option to invest according to the prudent investor standard. This may enable them to earn better investment returns by building a more diverse portfolio of investments.
The proposed legislation would also shorten the length of time a municipality has to wait to initiate a tax sale of a property to two years.
Responsive and flexible service delivery
New measures that would, if passed, support local governments by providing the powers and the flexibility they need to be creative and responsive to their communities, include:
- Clarifying that municipalities may pass climate change by-laws, and participate in long-term planning for energy use, which could help to lessen and address the impacts of climate change in their communities.
- Requiring reviews of regional council composition after every second municipal election, beginning in 2018, to strengthen democratic representation at the local level.
Pregnancy or Parental LeaveOntario is increasing fairness and reducing barriers, by ensuring that women and parents are entitled to take time off for pregnancy or parental leave, without fear of being removed from elected office. While some municipalities have either formal or informal policies on this matter, the proposed legislation would require all municipalities to have a policy on pregnancy and parental leave for council members.
The offices of members of council would be protected during an absence related to pregnancy, birth or the adoption of a member’s child for up to 20 consecutive weeks.
There are a number of other changes being proposed as part of the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act. You can find all of the proposed changes under the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act.