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Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017

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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 passed in the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017

  • 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. 

Some changes made as part of the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017 are already in force, while most changes will come into force at a later date. To learn more about what changes are already in force and when others will take effect, view the legislation on e-laws

Accountability and transparency 

Ontario aims to make the rules clearer, more effective and responsive to local needs. These changes will:

  • Require municipalities to establish codes of conduct for members of municipal council and certain local boards, which could include rules that guide the ethical conduct of those members. This requirement would help ensure that every municipality in Ontario has a code of conduct for council members, as well as for members of certain local boards. 
  • Give the public and municipal councillors access to an integrity commissioner, with broadened powers to investigate conflict of interest complaints and provide advice to councillors.
  • Enhance justice by providing a wider range of penalties for contraventions of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
  • Update the definition of “meeting” in the legislation to help ensure that rules would be clearer for municipal officials, local board members and the public.
  • Set out how municipalities may allow for electronic participation by council, local board and committee members at meetings that are open to the public. Participants would not be counted towards quorum and members would not be able to participate electronically in meetings that are closed to the public.

·        Set out how municipalities may allow forelectronic participation by council, local board and committee members atmeetings that are open to the public. Participants would not be counted towardsquorum and members would not be able to participate electronically in meetingsthat are closed to the public.

Municipal financial sustainability

Ontario is supporting strong and financially sustainable local governments by making it possible, if a future regulation is put in place, for eligible municipalities to have 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 updated legislation will 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 will help support local governments be more creative and responsive to their communities, which include:

  • Clarifying that municipalities may pass climate change by-laws and participate in long-term energy planning, 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 leave

Ontario is increasing fairness and reducing barriers, by ensuring that members are entitled to take time off for pregnancy or parental leave, without fear of being removed from elected office on municipal councils and school boards.

While some municipalities currently have either formal or informal policies on this matter, upon proclamation, municipalities would be required to have a policy on pregnancy and parental leave for council members. A similar policy is also required for school board trustees. 

The offices of members of council and school boards 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 that have been made as part of the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017. You can find all of the changes in the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017 (Bill 68).

Consultation on these three pieces of legislation took place between June and October 2015. 

The deadline for public submissions and input was October 31, 2015. The consultation focused on the themes outlined below and was guided by a Discussion Guide and the Discussion Questions document. 

  1. Accountability and Transparency 
  2. Municipal Financial Sustainability 
  3. Responsive and Flexible Municipal Government 

Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act includes feedback received from stakeholders and key partners on how to improve the Municipal Act, 2001, the City of Toronto Act, 2006, and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.