Ontario Government Pledges To “Modernize” Rules For Municipal Governance
A Brief Foreword by NAL publisher Doug Draper
Posted November 17th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – For the first time in more than four-and-a-half decades of regional government in Niagara, citizens across this region will get to elect the individual who holds its highest elected office.
That is right my fellow Niagara citizens, thanks to legislation tabled this November 16th by the Ontario government, newly elected regional councilors in Niagara will no longer be the ones who get to choose among themselves who gets to sit as Niagara regional chair.
Beginning with the next municipal elections scheduled for the fall of 2018, any individuals who want that job – a full time one commanding a six-digit salary and benefits – will have to run a region-wide and we get to pick the candidate we want to win.
That’s in marked contrast to the system, Niagara’s regional government has had so far of having regional councilors elected by we, the people, from each of Niagara’s 12 local municipalities, then letting those councilors vote for a chair among themselves. That process always comes with a good deal of backroom lobbying, for better or worse, from the candidates vying for their fellow councillors’ support.
Also in the legislation the Ontario government tabled this November 16th to reform rules for municipal elections and governance across the province, all municipal councils will have to adopt a “code of conduct” councilors must abide by during their time in office.
Niagara At Large will have much more to say about the pros and cons of this legislation and what it means for how our municipal politicians are chosen and serve their constituents in a follow-up commentary to be posted this Friday, November 18th.
For now, here is the news release circulated by the Ontario government on this legislative move –
News from the Ontario government, November 16th, 2016
Queen’s Park, Toronto – The Ontario government introduced changes this November 16th 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.
Supporting local governments is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.
- 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
“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.” — Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs
“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. “ — Daiene Vernile, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener-Centre
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