How to strengthen municipal codes of conduct

The Ontario government has launched a 90-day consultation to obtain feedback on how to strengthen municipal codes of conduct. With the support of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the province is working to better ensure that municipalities, councillors and heads of council maintain a safe and respectful workplace.

Jill Dunlop, the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, is holding roundtables with a variety of municipal stakeholders on how to strengthen accountability measures for members.

“Our government has been absolutely clear that we will not tolerate workplace harassment or discrimination of any kind,” Dunlop said. “It’s critical that everyone knows there are accountability measures in place for members who violate municipal codes of conduct. Our consultation will help determine what changes, if any, are required to ensure everyone can feel safe and respected in the workplace.”

The government is also collecting feedback on AMO’s recommendations for holding municipal councillors accountable, including increased financial penalties, suspension for certain violations, removal from office in certain circumstances, and better training and standards for integrity commissioners. This feedback is critical to ensuring effective accountability measures are put in place for members of council who violate their municipal code of conduct.

“Municipal councils are looking for new tools and new measures to address modern challenges in local government,” AMO president Graydon Smith said. “Where there are serious code of conduct violations, municipal councils need the authority to take actions that are measured, appropriate and effective.”

Comments for the consultation are welcome through the online survey until July 15. Anyone can participate in the online survey to provide feedback. Municipalities are also encouraged to provide official feedback through the online survey. This is another step the Ontario government is taking to hold members who violate codes of conduct accountable for creating unsafe work environments.

“I encourage every Ontarian to participate in this process and share their thoughts and comments on how to bring effective accountability to municipal governments,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We must ensure that the right tools are available and that above all people feel safe and supported.”

Workers, supervisors and employers have rights and duties when dealing with workplace violence and harassment. Ontario has a guide that explains what every worker, supervisor, and employer needs to know about workplace violence and workplace harassment.

Under the Municipal Act, 2001, all municipalities are required to establish a code of conduct for councillors and certain local boards. They are also required to provide access to an integrity commissioner.

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