Public servants are in a position of trust and are accountable for fulfilling their duties with integrity. Conflict of interest rules assist public servants and former public servants to act honestly and honourably in all situations.
Conflict of interest is defined as any situation in which a public servant’s private interests may be in conflict with his or her public service responsibilities.
The Foundation’s Conflict of Interest Policy is based entirely on provisions in the Public Service of Ontario Act (PSOA) and Conflict of Interest Rules prescribed by Ontario Regulation 381/07 (the Rules). The PSOA and the Rules prevail over the provisions of this policy. The PSOA and the Rules are available online at www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/06p35 and www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/070381, respectively.
OTF is a “public body” under the PSOA. Each OTF employee and appointee is a public servant under the PSOA. The PSOA and the Rules impose legal obligations on public servants and former public servants to avoid conflicts of interest. This policy highlights those rules and obligations.
3.1 Conflict of Interest Rules
OTF employees and appointees are prohibited from:
- Using or attempting to use their position to directly or indirectly benefit themselves, their spouse, or their children
- Allowing the prospect of future employment by a person or entity to detrimentally affect the performance of his or her duties to the Foundation
- Accepting gifts from a person, group or entity that has dealings with OTF
- Disclosing confidential information obtained during the course of employment or appointment with OTF, unless authorized by law or OTF and the Crown. Confidential information is information that is not available to the public which, if disclosed, could result in harm to OTF or the Crown, or give the person to whom it is disclosed an advantage;
- Using confidential information in a business or undertaking outside their work for the Foundation
- Giving preferential treatment or creating the appearance of giving any preferential treatment to any person or entity, including a person or entity in which the public servant or a member of his or her family or a friend has an interest
- Offering assistance to any individual or entity in dealing with OTF, other than assistance given in the ordinary course of the OTF employee’s or appointee’s responsibilities to OTF
- Hiring, contracting with, or supervising their spouse, children, parents, or siblings
- Engaging in outside activities that conflict with their public service duties including employment or other engagement in a business or undertaking if the private interests of the OTF employee or appointee in connection with the employment or undertaking:
- could conflict with his or her duties to OTF
- would interfere with his or her ability to perform his or her duties to OTF
- if the activity is in a professional capacity, is likely to influence or detrimentally affect his or her ability to perform his or her duties to OTF;
- would result in any person deriving an advantage from the OTF employee’s or appointee’s relationship with OTF
- would involve OTF resources, including OTF premises, equipment or supplies being used in the outside activity.
- Participating in decision-making in a matter that they are able to influence in the course of their duties, if the OTF employee or appointee could benefit from the decision.
Former employees and appointees of OTF:
- Must not seek preferential treatment or privileged access to any public servant, including public servants who work in a minister’s office or a ministry, or an employee or appointee of OTF, by virtue of their former position with Ontario Trillium Foundation. Former employees and appointees are only to use the same channels available to any other Ontarian. This obligation is not time limited.
Must not disclose or use any confidential information acquired through their employment or appointment with OTF, unless authorized by law or OTF and the Crown. This restriction is not time limited.
- Must not advise or otherwise assist anyone in connection with any particular transaction, negotiation or matter about which they advised OTF. This includes representation of potential applicants or grantees, or advising or assisting potential applicants or grantees regarding any such transaction, negotiation or matter. This restriction lasts as long as OTF’s or the Crown’s interest in the transaction, negotiation or matter continues.
OTF may choose not to do business with a person or entity that employs or uses the services of a former public servant in a manner that contravenes the post-service conflict of interest rules.
3.2 Role of the Ethics Executive
Current and former public body employees or appointees such as OTF staff and volunteers are responsible for notifying their Ethics Executive if they have a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest.
OTF’s Ethics Executives are the Chair, for Board and GRT members, and the CEO, for employees. They are responsible for:
• Promoting ethical conduct
• Answering questions about the application of conflict of interest rules
• Determining whether a conflict of interest exists
• Providing direction where there is a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest
• Referring any significant matter to Ontario’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner.
Ontario’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner is the Ethics Executive for the Board Chair and CEO.
This information summarizes the key points related to Conflict of Interest in the PSOA. For the authoritative text of the law, please refer to the Act itself available online at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca or contact OTF’s HR department for a copy.