THUNDER BAY – “Municipal governments provide essential services to the people of our province. The changes we are proposing will help strengthen local governments and enhance their ability to serve the residents of their communities,” says Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs. Ontario introduced changes today to three key pieces of municipal legislation that would, if passed, help local governments be more open, flexible and accountable to the people they serve.
The Municipal Act, the City of Toronto Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act set out the roles, responsibilities and conflict of interest rules for Ontario’s municipalities. If passed, these changes would benefit local governments and residents by:
- Increasing fairness and reducing barriers for women and parents elected to municipal governments by allowing time off for pregnancy or parental leave
- Empowering municipalities to address climate change in their communities through by-laws related to green construction in certain circumstances
- Broadening municipal investment powers, which may help better finance repairs and replacements of local infrastructure
- Improving access to justice for the public and for municipal councillors by allowing integrity commissioners to investigate complaints
- Requiring municipalities to have a code of conduct for members of municipal councils and local boards
These changes come as a result of public consultations as well as feedback from municipalities and stakeholders.
Ontario is also strengthening democratic representation at the local level by proposing that the heads of most regional councils be elected to help ensure they are accountable to the voters they represent. This proposed change is part of Ontario’s Building Ontario Up For Everyone Act, 2016.
“I’m pleased to be working to help more parents, and especially women, get involved in politics. Accommodating parents at the local level sends a strong message that municipal politics can be family-friendly,” comments Daiene Vernile, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener-Centre
- There are 444 municipalities in Ontario.
- The government is required by legislation to review the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act every five years.
- Ontario reviewed the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act at the same time, along with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, to address and incorporate broader themes of accountability and transparency into the review.
- The province consulted on the potential changes between June and October 2015.