• Bill 27: Expansion of the Conflicts of Interest Act to Public Agencies
  • November 28, 2017 | Author: Leah McDaniel
  • Law Firm: Field Law - Edmonton Office
  • Bill 27 passed first reading in the Alberta Legislature on November 8, 2017. If passed, the legislation will amend the Conflicts of Interest Act (the "Act"), and expand its coverage to include public agencies, boards and commissions in Alberta.

    As it currently stands, the Act applies to Members of the Legislative Assembly, certain political staff, and senior public servants in the Alberta government. The Act imposes obligations on these individuals to avoid conflicts of interest, restricts the activities that can be undertaken post-employment, restricts certain types of financial holdings, and creates reporting requirements for certain individuals to disclose personal financial information to the Alberta Ethics Commissioner.

    If passed, Bill 27 would expand the application of the Act to “senior officials, members and employees of public agencies”. The “public agencies” captured by the change are not yet entirely certain, with certain designations expected to be made in early 2018. However, at this point, the amendments would apply to the following bodies (and their subsidiaries):

    • The 136 public agencies that currently fall under the Alberta Public Agencies Governance Act;

    • Covenant Health;

    • Regional health authorities and subsidiary health corporations; and

    • Any other body which may be identified and designated as such early next year.

    These public agencies will be obliged to establish a Code of Conduct for all employees, members, and senior officials, requiring them to conduct themselves impartially and disclose any possible conflicts of interest. Further, the Code of Conduct must place restrictions on participation in decisions which could further a self-interest, accepting gifts, and acting in concurrent employment or official roles.

    Senior officials of the public agencies (including the Chair of a Board of Directors, the Chief Executive Officer, and others who may be designated as such by Order-in-Council) will be subject to further obligations, including:

    • Restrictions on other employment or appointments that could constitute a conflict of interest;

    • A requirement to disclose certain financial information to the Ethics Commissioner;

    • Restrictions on holding certain financial instruments, including stocks and securities; and

    • Restrictions post-employment for a period of 12-months.

    Any allegations of breaches of these requirements by a senior official are to be investigated and reported on by the Ethics Commissioner.

    According to a Press Release from the Alberta Government, the changes will “create a consistent set of rules for the province’s agencies, boards and commissions to ensure positions are not being used to further private interests”, and to hold public agencies to the same high ethical standards as for current MLAs and senior public servants.