About the Integrity Commissioner
The Integrity Commissioner is a neutral, independent officer who oversees the conduct of elected and most appointed officials at the City of Toronto. Learn how the Integrity Commissioner helps keep the City accountable in the sections below.
The Integrity Commissioner is a neutral, independent officer appointed by City Council for a fixed, non-renewable five-year term to encourage and oversee compliance with the high standards of conduct expected of elected and appointed City officials.
The standards have been written down in legislation and other binding documents, the most important of which are the Codes of Conduct. Members of Council and Local Boards (Restricted Definition) are required to serve the public interest by upholding the letter and spirit of these standards. Specifically, these standards of conduct require the City’s elected and appointed officials to:
- serve constituents and the public in a conscientious and diligent manner
- act with integrity
- avoid conflicts of interest and improper use of influence
- arrange their private affairs in a way that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny
However, the work of the City of Toronto is complex, and officials frequently must address multiple competing legal, ethical and political interests. When public officials need help ensuring they maintain high standards of conduct, they can turn to the Integrity Commissioner to provide confidential advice.
The public can also approach the Integrity Commissioner to resolve or adjudicate disputes about allegations that the standards have been breached.
The Integrity Commissioner is also responsible for providing policy advice and educational programs to Council and Local Boards (Restricted Definition) on issues of ethics and integrity.
The Integrity Commissioner is one component of the City of Toronto’s accountability framework, entrenched through Chapter 3 of the Toronto Municipal Code. The Office works alongside and in cooperation with the other accountability officers.
The Integrity Commissioner carries out the following core functions:
The Integrity Commissioner provides confidential written and oral advice to the Mayor, City Councillors and Local Board (Restricted Definition) appointees about their own situations respecting the applicable Code of Conduct and other by-laws and policies governing ethical behavior, including general advice about the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
The Integrity Commissioner also provides opinions and reports to City Council and Local Boards (Restricted Definition), each as a collective whole, on issues of ethics and integrity.
Complaints about breaches of the Codes of Conduct are made to the Integrity Commissioner pursuant to the Council-approved Complaint Protocols. Complaints can be dealt with through a formal or informal process. When carrying out a formal complaint investigation, the Commissioner can summon evidence and examine witnesses under oath.
Should the Integrity Commissioner find a contravention, she can recommend various penalties for imposition by Council. The available penalties range from suspension of remuneration to a reprimand or apology.
The Integrity Commissioner is responsible for providing educational programs to members of Council and their staff. This is carried out in group settings, one-on-one meetings, annual reporting and through the web pages of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner.
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner discloses expenses for travel and hospitality, and purchases with the City PCard.
The official Twitter account for the Office of the Integrity Commissioner is @TO_Integrity. The purpose of the account is to provide information to any person with interest in the work of the Office.
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner will use best efforts to deliver tweets that are relevant to those interested in the work of the Office in a direct and engaging voice. This may include news about ethics and integrity in Toronto and in other jurisdictions.
The account may follow others that may be of relevance to the work of the Office. Following another Twitter user does not imply endorsement of any kind.
The Office will take steps to remove or block a follower who tweets offensive material.
The Integrity Commissioner will not use this twitter account to tweet about specific cases or respond to requests for advice via Twitter. Complaints cannot be made using Twitter.
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner will use best efforts to update and monitor the official account from Monday to Friday. Meeting this standard may not always be possible due to limited resources and time.
Media are asked to please follow traditional contact channels to make a media request or seek additional information from our Office.
If you have questions about the Office’s Twitter use, please contact Integrity Commissioner Valerie Jepson at email@example.com.
Valerie Jepson, Integrity Commissioner
On September 6, 2014 Toronto City Council appointed Valerie Jepson Integrity Commissioner for the 2014 – 2019 term. She succeeded the previous Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper.
Ms. Jepson previously held the position as Counsel to the Office of Integrity Commissioner for the Province of Ontario since 2007. In this position, Ms. Jepson advised the Integrity Commissioner on all aspects of her mandate including the conduct of MPPs, lobbyist registration and disclosure of wrongdoing.
Prior to her position with the Ontario Integrity Commissioner’s office, Ms. Jepson practiced as a litigator in the private sector for law firms in Calgary and Toronto in a variety of areas of litigation, including labour relations, employment standards, bankruptcy and oil and gas litigation, insurance and commercial tenancies.
Valerie has an LLB from the University of Victoria (2001) and received her BA (Major-Political Science; Minor-Communication Studies) from the University of Calgary. She was called to the bar in Alberta in 2002.
Valerie is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Law Society of Alberta and is currently an instructor for the Canadian Administrative Law course at the University of Toronto Internationally Trained Lawyers Program. From 2012 to 2014, Valerie was appointed as an adjunct professor for the Global Professional LLM at the University of Toronto. She remains active in the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Public Lawyers Section and has held various positions on the executive. She has published articles in the OBA Public Lawyers Sections newsletter and has chaired several continuing legal education sessions.
Ms. Jepson believes that institutions like integrity commissioners have a key role to play in improving the public’s confidence in elected officials and government. She was drawn to her role in the public sector because of her deeply held belief that public service ought to be valued.
The City of Toronto appointed its first Integrity Commissioner in 2004 through a council resolution. Toronto was the first municipality in Canada to create the position of Integrity Commissioner.
Shortly after the Office was created, the Honourable Justice Denise E. Bellamy released her report into the Toronto Computer Leasing, and Toronto External Contract, Inquiries. This report, which has come to be known as the Bellamy Report, made more than 200 recommendations in relation to several aspects of City decision making and administration.
The decision of City Council to create an Integrity Commissioner was commended by Justice Bellamy but she made several recommendations to enhance the role, including that the Commissioner be full-time, that the Commissioner receive financial disclosures from municipal politicians and that the Commissioner have sufficient staff to ensure timely advice giving and investigations.
In 2006, the Province of Ontario enacted the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (COTA) enshrining a number of accountability and transparency requirements in legislation. COTA requires the City of Toronto to have an Integrity Commissioner, an Ombudsman, a Lobbyist Registry and an Auditor General (known collectively as the Accountability Officers).
Inaugural Integrity Commissioner David Mullan referred to 2006 as a watershed year in the life span of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner because of the support and momentum created by the Bellamy Inquiry and the passage of COTA. An account of how these events impacted on the trajectory of the Office can be found by reading Commissioner Mullan’s annual reports in 2006.
The next organizational milestone for the Office of the Integrity Commissioner came in 2009 when City Council enacted Toronto Municipal Code: Chapter 3. Chapter 3 establishes a comprehensive governance framework for all of the Accountability Officers. It entrenches that the role is independent and puts in place safeguards to protect the independence of the role, including procedures for appointment, remuneration and responsibilities. The work leading to Chapter 3 of the Municipal Code was assisted by insight and advice of Commissioner Mullan and then Interim Integrity Commissioner Lorne Sossin.
The Integrity Commissioner works closely with the Lobbyist Registrar and both offices work hard to ensure minimal duplication and efficient use of resources. In 2014, the Offices of the Integrity Commissioner and the Lobbyist Registrar entered in to an important memorandum of understanding about their relationship.
Acting on the recommendation of Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper, City Council decided to convert the position of the Integrity Commissioner from part time to full time, which was implemented upon the appointment of Integrity Commissioner Valerie Jepson in September 2014.