At our May 16 Burlington City Council meeting, we unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Province to introduce legislation that hold elected officials to the same human resources (HR) standards that exist in every other working environment.
Click/tap here for the resolution or see further down this post: ADM-06-23 Legislative Amendments to Improve Municipal Codes of Conduct and Enforcement_LK and MMW
Also see the accompanying letter sent to Ontario Premier Doug Ford here: Letter to Premier Ford_Legislative Amendments to Improve Municipal Codes of Conduct and Enforcement
The genesis of this motion came about from egregious behaviours and breaches of conduct from elected officials towards colleagues and staff, that have been reported on publicly — and Bill 5 that was introduced at Provincial Legislature by MPP Stephen Blais. There are very limited tools to uphold proper conduct amongst elected officials and elected officials should not be above the Human Resources (HR) standards that exist in every other working environment. The Provincial government engaged in consultations with municipalities for feedback on holding municipal officials to the highest level of conduct and respect in the workplace. This was also discussed at the most recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) board meeting, of which I am a board member, and the Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) caucus, of which I sit on as vice-chair. The OBCM caucus approved the resolution that we approved at our Council meeting on May 16. The time is now elected officials are held to the same standards as everyone else.
Whereas all Ontarians deserve and expect a safe and respectful workplace; and
Whereas municipal governments, as the democratic institutions most directly engaged with Ontarians need respectful discourse; and
Whereas several incidents in recent years of disrespectful behaviour and workplace harassment have occurred amongst members of municipal councils; and
Whereas these incidents seriously and negatively affect the people involved and lower public perceptions of local governments; and
Whereas municipal Codes of Conduct are helpful tools to set expectations of council member behaviour; and
Whereas municipal governments do not have the necessary tools to adequately enforce compliance with municipal Codes of Conduct; and
Whereas Burlington City Council support the efforts of MPP Stephen Blais who has introduced the Private Members Bill 5, Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, 2022 which has been endorsed by a number of municipal councils across Ontario, as well as Ontario’s Big City Mayors caucus (OBCM), comprised of the 29 largest municipalities across Ontario representing nearly 70% of Ontario’s population; and
Whereas a fundamental, underlying principle of broadening diversity, equity, and inclusion in politics rests on the assumption that the workplace is safe; and
Whereas we believe that municipal elected officials should be held to account in this way, we also believe that federal and provincial elected officials should take similar actions to hold themselves to account.
Therefore, be it resolved that:
Burlington City Council supports the call of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and OBCM for the Government of Ontario to introduce legislation to strengthen municipal Codes of Conduct and compliance with them in consultation with municipal governments or in the alternative, Burlington City Council supports the province ordering Bill 5 for second reading to expedite this matter; and
That, the legislation encompasses the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s recommendations for:
- Updating municipal Codes of Conduct to account for workplace safety and harassment,
- Creating a flexible administrative penalty regime, adapted to the local economic and financial circumstances of municipalities across Ontario,
- Increasing training of municipal Integrity Commissioners to enhance consistency of investigations and recommendations across the province,
- Allowing municipalities to apply to a member of the judiciary to remove a sitting member if recommended through the report of a municipal Integrity Commissioner, and
- Prohibit a member so removed from sitting for election in the term of removal and the subsequent term of office, and
- The Province of Ontario considers creating a single Code of Conduct applicable to all Municipalities, that can be amplified with additional content; and
That, Burlington City Council requests that municipalities and their respective Integrity Commissioners be consulted on the development of any regulations related to the proposed legislation; and
That, this motion be circulated to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable David Lamettithe, Minister of Justice, the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Kate Manson-Smith, Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Scott Pierce, Federation of Canadian Municipalities Acting President, Colin Best, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Honourable Parm Gill Minister of Red Tape Reduction; Natalie Pierre, MPP Burlington, and Effie Triantafilopoulos, MPP Oakville North-Burlington, Halton Region and the Ontario’s Big City Mayors.