Ontario introduced changes last week 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,” said the Province.