Ottawa, June 17, 2020
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion's 2019-2020 annual reports on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Act and the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons were tabled today in Parliament.
Just as these two regimes ensure transparency through disclosure and public declaration requirements, Commissioner Dion's annual reports also reflect a commitment to transparency and accountability.
The reports outline the Office's activities and performance in 2019-2020 in support of its vision and mission, which reflect the Commissioner's mandate.
The 2019-2020 annual reports are available on our website.
In 2019-2020, the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner:
- provided regulatees with 2,417 instances of advice, many about material changes, general obligations and gifts, and surpassed its service standard by responding to requests for advice within three business days in 94% of cases;
- updated 12 information notices detailing various aspects of the Act's application and issued two advisory opinions under the Code to help regulatees understand and meet their obligations;
- gave 46 presentations about the regimes to a total of 1,386 Canadian and international participants;
- enforced the Act by establishing nine compliance measures, requiring 50 divestments of controlled assets, and issuing nine administrative monetary penalties and 12 compliance orders;
- dealt with an unprecedented compliance situation when legislation was passed that expanded the meaning of conflict of interest beyond what exists in the Conflict of Interest Act for public office holders employed by the new Canadian Energy Regulator;
- reviewed 50 concerns about potential contraventions of the Act and issued two examination reports (Smolik Report, Trudeau II Report), as well as a report on a referral from the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (Wernick Report);
- reviewed 12 concerns about potential contraventions of the Code and issued two inquiry reports (Vandenbeld Report, Peschisolido Report).
Quotes from Commissioner Dion
“By administering Canada's federal conflict of interest regimes, our Office contributes to public trust in elected and appointed officials and their institutions. Canadians can play a role, too. By placing emphasis on a range of education and outreach activities, including by using teleconference technology to make these initiatives more accessible to regulatees, we can help ensure they have the tools and understanding necessary to safeguard the public trust. We are also improving our oversight."
“There was a significant increase in the Office's workload around the October 2019 election, as general elections tend to cause high turnover among Members of the House of Commons and public office holders, including ministers, parliamentary secretaries and ministerial staff. We helped new regulatees achieve compliance with the applicable conflict of interest regimes and assisted departing public office holders with their post-employment obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act."
“Going forward, we will build on the activities and initiatives highlighted in our 2019-2020 annual reports to continue to implement Canada's federal conflict of interest regimes efficiently and effectively and achieve our mission. We will implement a range of actions in support of the key priorities identified in the Office's three-year strategic plan in the areas of compliance, enforcement, education and outreach, and public communications."
- The Commissioner is required to present two separate annual reports to Parliament on the Office's activities by June 30 of each year. One is on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Act and the other is on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.
- The Act applies to over 2,600 appointed federal officials.
- The Code applies to all 338 elected Members of Parliament
- Reflecting the transparency of Canada's federal conflict of interest regimes, the Office maintains a searchable public registry of publicly declarable information such as assets, liabilities, gifts and sponsored travel from public office holders and Members. In 2019-2020, it posted over 1,000 public declarations in the registry, which was visited over 23,000 times.
- Barring exceptional circumstances, the Office's target is to conduct investigations within a 12-month timeframe. Since Commissioner Dion's appointment in 2018, the average time taken to complete an investigation under the Act or the Code is about seven months.
- The Office releases quarterly statistical reports in support of Commissioner Dion's commitment to making the Office and its work transparent and accountable. They contain data on various activity areas, including the provision of direction and advice to regulatees, education and outreach, and enforcement. The aggregated data for each fiscal year is published in its annual reports.
- To make how it spends its $8 million budget on behalf of Canadians more transparent, the Office publishes various accountability reports. These include annual and quarterly financial statements, and proactive disclosure of the Commissioner's expenses related to travel and hospitality and of the Office's contracts over $10,000.
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