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March 2018 – Article IX of the Code of Conduct (Printable version of the information below)

Purpose of the Bulletin

  1. This Bulletin is intended to assist members of local boards (“members”) understand and comply with a recent amendment to Article IX of the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (the “Code of Conduct”)

Article IX (Business Relations)

  1. Effective February 1, 2018, City Council approved changes to the Code of Conduct.  Amended Article IX states:

No member shall act as a paid agent before the local board or provide goods, consulting or other services to the local board directly or through a partnership, professional or closely-held corporation.

If a member becomes aware that an entity, for which the member has a material interest, is a director, employee or agent, may offer or provide goods, consulting or other services to the local board, the member will disclose these circumstances to the Chair and seek advice from the Integrity Commissioner about the application of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and whether, in consideration of the circumstances, ongoing board membership is in the best interests of the local board.  In providing this advice, the Integrity Commissioner will consider the risk of harm to the reputation of the local board.

Services for payment

  1. Article IX prohibits board members from providing goods, consulting or other services for payment to the local board—either directly, or through a partnership or professional or closely-held corporation.
  2. Services includes the rental of space.
  3. Article IX does not prohibit board members from volunteering time to support events or similar activities, in addition to the time required to fulfill their duties as board members.

Transition Period

  1. The amendment is a significant change.  There may be board members who are currently providing goods or services to the board, and who would therefore be in breach of amended Article IX by virtue of the amendment.
  2. It is the Integrity Commissioner’s view that an appropriate period of time is warranted to allow board members to become familiar with the change, and to take steps to bring their conduct into compliance with amended Article IX.
  3. To facilitate an orderly transition, the Integrity Commissioner has determined that no board member will be found to have contravened amended Article IX where an agreement to provide goods, consulting, or other services was in place prior to February 1, 2018—unless the complaint is made after January 1, 2019.
  4. Between now and the end of 2018, boards and their members should review their business relationships and seek necessary advice from City staff and the Integrity Commissioner to ensure that all board members are in compliance with Article IX on January 1, 2019.

Further Information

This interpretation bulletin is intended to provide general information.  To rely on the Integrity Commissioner’s advice respecting specific situations, members must seek written advice consistent with Article XVII of the Code of Conduct.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Office of the Integrity Commissioner
City of Toronto
375 University Avenue, Suite 202
Toronto, ON M5G 2J5
Tel:      (416) 392-3826
Fax:    (416) 696-3615
Email: integrity@toronto.ca

Issued: March 2018

May 2016 – Use of Social Media by Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (Printable version of the information below)

Purpose of the Bulletin

  1. The purpose of this Interpretation Bulletin is to clarify how the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (the “Code of Conduct”) guides a member’s use of social media. (Members of adjudicative boards should refer to the Interpretation Bulletin titled, Use of Social Media by Members of Adjudicative Boards.)
  2. Failure to follow the guidance set out in this Interpretation Bulletin could lead to a finding that a member has contravened the Code of Conduct. Members can seek confidential advice from the Integrity Commissioner with respect to specific situations that may arise.
  3. The Bulletin also includes example scenarios that are intended to assist members and the public to understand how the Code of Conduct will be interpreted in relation to members’ social media use. Members should seek individual, fact specific advice to address their questions or concerns.

Definition of Social Media

  1. Social Media refers to freely accessible, third-party hosted, interactive Internet technologies used to produce, post and interact through text, images, video, and audio to inform, share, promote, collaborate or network. A non-exhaustive list of examples of social media in use in April 2016 include: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and LinkedIn.
  2. Common features of social media are: accounts can be acquired at no cost; and, content is by default public and permanent.

Articles of the Code of Conduct

  1. Use of Social Media has the potential to engage all parts of the Code of Conduct and in particular:

a. Preamble
b. Article II (Statutory Provisions Regulating Conduct)
c. Article IV (Gifts and Benefits)
d. Article V (Confidential Information)
e. Article VI (Use of Board or City Property, Services and Other Resources)
f. Article VII (Election Campaign Work)
g. Article VIII (Improper Use of Influence)
h. Article XI (Conduct at Meetings)
i. Article XII (Conduct Respecting Staff)
j. Article XIV (Discreditable Conduct)
k. Article XV (Failure to Adhere to Council or Local Board Policies and Procedures)

Relevant Legislation and Policies

  1. Use of social media has the potential to engage provincial legislation and City policies, including:

a. Municipal Elections Act, 1996, S.O. 1996, c. 32, Sched. (as amended)
b. Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50
c. City of Toronto Policy on Use of City Resources during an Election
d. City of Toronto Corporate Identity Program (as amended)

Principles

  1. There is no requirement, or functional purpose, associated with members of local boards identifying themselves as board members in their personal social media use.
  2. Absent specific justification, members should not identify themselves as board members on any platform for which they post or interact with others.
  3. Members of local boards have little or no access to City resources for use of social media.
  4. Depending on the member’s position, board members must be cautious with respect to personal use of social media to avoid perceptions of bias.

Guidance

Use of Title, City Property, Services and Other Resources, and Influence of Office

  1. Articles VI, VII and VIII of the Code of Conduct impose limitations on how a member uses City resources, including the member’s title and influence of office.
  2. Members of local boards should not include their title as a board member in any social media profile without first seeking advice from the Integrity Commissioner.
  3. A member must not post the following content using any social media account that, at the time of posting, is identified as a member’s social media account or uses publicly-funded resources:

a. content that promotes or appears to promote any third-party interest including events, products, services, or goods; or
b. content that promotes or appears to promote any candidate or political party in any election at the municipal, federal or provincial level, including leadership campaigns.

  1. A social media account is “identified as a member’s social media account” or one that “uses publicly-funded resources” within the meaning of paragraph 14, if it:

a. uses any email address associated with the local board as a point of contact for registration purposes;
b. identifies the member as a current member of the local board in the handle name, the user name, or the profile description;
c. is publicized on the webpage of the local board;
d. is publicized on business cards, newsletters or other publications eligible to be paid for using funds of the City of Toronto or the local board;
e. uses the logo or any other proprietary mark of the local board or the City of Toronto;
f. is managed using local board resources including computers, smart phones, or tablets; or
g. is managed or maintained by City or local board staff.

Confidential Information & In Camera Meetings (Article V and Article XI)

  1. The Code of Conduct prohibits members from disclosing or releasing confidential information acquired by virtue of their office. Members must not post content on social media that discloses information or conduct during in camera or other confidential meetings. Due to the immediacy of social media and its ease of access on smart phones or computers, members should not use social media in any form during in camera or other confidential meetings.

Respecting Staff (Article XII)

  1. The Code of Conduct requires members to be respectful of the role of staff to provide professional advice. Members should not use social media to engage in criticism of City or local board staff. The public nature of social media can increase the risk of harming the professional and ethical reputation of City and local board staff.

Respecting Each Other and the Public (Article XIV)

  1. Just as Torontonians expect members of local boards to maintain decorum when conducting the business of the local board, they also expect members to act with decorum on social media. Members must never use social media as a platform to treat members of the public, one another, or staff without respect. Members should not engage in or encourage bullying, flaming, or shaming of other social media users. These types of interactions on social media misplace the focus of the interaction on attacking individuals rather than engaging in constructive discussion or debate. This manner of communication is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct and unbecoming of the office that members hold.

Further Information

This interpretation bulletin in intended to provide general information. To rely on the advice of the Integrity Commissioner with respect to specific situations, members of local boards must seek written advice consistent with the provisions of Article XVII of the Code of Conduct.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Office of the Integrity Commissioner
City of Toronto
375 University Avenue, Suite 202
Toronto, ON M5G 2J5
Tel: (416) 392-3826
Fax: (416) 696-3615
Email: integrity@toronto.ca

Issued:     May 2016

Examples for Interpretation Bulletin: Use of Social Media by Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition)

A newly-appointed member of a BIA board of management was an active user of Twitter before her appointment. She routinely tweets commentary about City events and about her daily activities. She is a small business owner and often re-tweets content that is published on her business’ Twitter feed. She would like to update her Twitter profile to indicate that she is now a member of the local BIA. How would this impact her Twitter use?

Updating her Twitter profile to state that the member is a board member of the BIA would limit her use of Twitter. She would not be able to promote third party interests such as local businesses or her own business because this would create the appearance that the board member is endorsing or promoting an interest on behalf of the board. Unlike members of Council, local board members hold these positions on volunteer bases and do not have a representative function to fulfill as board members, so there is no functional reason for the member to identify that role in her profile.

A member of an arena board is an active user of Facebook with many friends, most of whom are in the local community. The member does not have a board-funded phone or email address and he does not identify himself as a member of the board in his Facebook profile. The member is on a team to raise money in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. He uses Facebook to alert his friends to his team and to solicit donations.

Since the member has not identified himself as a board member, and is not using City resources to alert his friends to the event, there are no Code of Conduct issues with this member’s Facebook activity.

A member of a community centre board has established a Snapchat account without using any board resources. His Snapchat profile does not include any information to indicate that he is a board member. He is a frequent user of Snapchat and has developed a large number of followers to his “my story” which includes short videos and snaps of his work day. He wants to include some snaps of his attendance at a board meeting in his “my story.” He records a few seconds of the board meeting and a selfie with a caption, “hard at work for the community” and posts this content to his “my story.” The member did not inform his board colleagues that he would be posting the video.

This behaviour is discourteous and disrespectful of the board member’s colleagues. It also creates a risk of inadvertent disclosure of confidential information. The member should not post any content to any social media channel that involves board deliberations without first discussing this with his colleagues and obtaining the approval of the board.

A member of a BIA board is involved in a federal election and is volunteering his time to door knock for a particular candidate. The member has a large following on Twitter and wishes to post “postcards” developed by the campaign on his Twitter feed. The member has identified himself as a BIA board member in his Twitter profile.

This is not acceptable under the Code of Conduct. As long as the member identifies himself as a board member in his Twitter profile, he cannot use the account to promote a candidate in any election.

Examples Issued: May 2016

October 2017 – Guidance for Arena Board Members about Article VIII of the Code of Conduct and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (Printable version of the information below)

Purpose of the Bulletin

  1. The purpose of this Interpretation Bulletin is to assist arena board members to understand how Article VIII (Improper Use of Influence) of the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (the “Code of Conduct”, or “Code”) and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (the “MCIA”) apply to decisions or actions relating to vendors, organizations, teams or other organizations that use the arena and with which the member also has a role—e.g., as a user (e.g., player, parent), member, or employee.

Principles

  1. Arena board members are public office holders. The public expects the highest standards of conduct from all citizen members who are appointed to local boards to act on their behalf.
  2. Arena stakeholders, including an arena’s vendors, tenants, and teams or organizations making use of the arena expect board members to carry out their work conscientiously and diligently, and in ways that promote public confidence and advance the interests of the arena as a whole, and that members make decisions with open minds.
  3. Members are often appointed to local boards because they are active in the community. Members are expected to have points of view regarding matters affecting an arena, and may act on them through board votes or discussions.

Guidance

  1. Members may be required to make decisions about organizations in which they, or their family members, friends or associates participate to varying degrees. For example, a member may be required to consider and vote on a decision about scheduling ice time for a team on which the member’s children play.
  2. The fact that a member is connected to an organization that uses the arena’s facilities is not in and of itself a violation of the Code of Conduct or the MCIA.
  3. Members have responsibilities to familiarize themselves with the Code of Conduct, and the MCIA, and ensure that their conduct meets those standards. In particular, members are obliged under the Code to ensure they do not use their office for improper purposes – i.e., purposes unrelated to the work of the arena. Under the MCIA, when a matter comes before the board in which a member has a pecuniary or financial interest, they must disclose that pecuniary interest and not participate in the discussion or the vote on that matter.
  4. If the board is about to make a decision that impacts an organization for which the member – or their friend, family, or business associate – is an organizer, owner, founder, employee, director, shareholder, officer or agent, the member should seek advice from the Integrity Commissioner about whether the Code of Conduct and/or the MCIA applies.
  5. If the only connection to an organization is that the member is a regular fee-paying participant, there is no issue requiring additional advice so long as the member does not use the debate or vote to specifically and intentionally benefit their personal circumstances (e.g., a motion to change schedules to specifically benefit their own schedule).
  6. A member may advocate for a personal interest in a particular type of sport or activity, so long as the member can maintain an open mind and is capable of being persuaded when considering the issues.

Further Information

This interpretation bulletin and the examples provide general information only. Members of arena boards are encouraged to seek confidential advice from the Integrity Commissioner with respect to specific situations. If you have any questions, please contact:

Office of the Integrity Commissioner
City of Toronto
375 University Avenue, Suite 202
Toronto, ON M5G 2J5
Tel: (416) 392-3826
Email: integrity@toronto.ca

Interpretation Bulletin Issued: October 2017

Examples for Interpretation Bulletin: Arena Board Members, Article VIII and the MCIA

Proper Conduct

A member of an arena board is known in the community as playing women’s hockey, encouraging women and girls to play hockey, and organizing events involving women’s hockey. The board regularly discusses what kinds of activities it should focus on, and what the arena should promote and program. At each meeting, the member makes a suggestion involving women’s hockey.

The Board member’s conduct is proper. Members are expected to have points of view about arena activities. Further, members may have affinities for particular activities. These are not improper interests or conflicts of interest. Board members should engage with each other’s ideas, and discuss and vote on those matters they think are in the arena’s and the community’s best interests, subject to the limits of the Relationship Framework and City and arena policies.

An arena has non-prime ice time available for individual community members to rent. A board member regularly rents ice for his neighborhood shinny during these open times. He also votes on setting the arena’s ice rental rates and ice time schedule.

The member’s conduct is proper, and he may continue to vote on these matters. His votes do not constitute improper uses of his influence or conflicts of interest. Article VIII of the Code of Conduct specifies that a member may consider and vote on matters that affect the member as among a broad class of persons. Since non-prime ice time is available to all members of the public, and the member is paying the rates that all renters pay, he is no different from anyone else who wants to use the arena. Members are expected to be interested in the arena and its activities, and this means that they are free to use the arena as they otherwise would if they were not on the board.

An arena board member plays in a community adult hockey league that is allocated prime time ice by the City at the arena and also at another nearby arena. The member does not have any organizational or administrative role in the league, and did not help the league apply for ice time. As a board member, the member reviews the prime time ice the City has allocated to groups at the arena, and votes on a schedule allocating prime time hours for the upcoming season based on the City’s allocation.

The member’s conduct is proper. The member has respected the City’s Ice Allocation policy because the member has simply reviewed the City’s allocation of ice time, wherein groups applied to the City and were allocated time by City staff. Members are expected to have an interest in arena activities, and the member’s role as a hockey player is consistent with this expectation.

In this case, because the member does not have a role in running the hockey league and did not help the league apply for ice time, the member’s loyalties do not appear to be torn between the arena and the league, and the member is able to carry out his board duties.

Improper Conduct

An arena board member is part of a group of parents who manage a community youth figure skating club that annually applies for prime time ice at the arena and has historically practiced there. She signed the group’s ice time application and helped poll other parents regarding which days and times the group should skate. As a board member, the member reviews the prime time ice the City has allocated to groups at the arena, and votes on a schedule allocating prime time hours for the upcoming season.

The member’s conduct is improper and contravenes Article VIII of the Code of Conduct (Improper Use of Influence). The member has a role in managing the skating club, was part of its application for ice time, and took part in deciding when it should skate; In future, the member should declare an interest in the club when decisions affecting its ice time are on the board’s agenda, recuse herself from the discussion and vote on the ice time schedule, and leave the room until the vote has taken place. The member should also seek confidential advice from the Integrity Commissioner to see if there are other types of decisions the board makes affecting the club that the member should also recuse herself from. Since the member has a management role in the club, she should be aware of the possibility that so many of the board’s decisions will affect the club that she may have to consider stepping down from either the board or the club’s management.

An arena board Chair is a parent of a child in a community youth hockey league. At a board meeting where the board is voting on the upcoming season’s prime time ice schedule for all arena users, the Chair expresses a strong opinion that the league should be allocated more hours because his child needs more practice time. The Chair introduces a motion to reduce an adult hockey league’s hours to less than the time allocated by the City and transfer the hours to the youth hockey league. When the Parks, Forestry, and Recreation liaison to the board protests that the Ice Allocation Policy provides applicants with a minimum number of hours, the Chair asks that the comments be struck from the board’s minutes.

The member’s conduct is improper and contravenes Articles VIII (Improper Use of Influence), as well as other parts of the Code of Conduct. Under Article XV (Failure to Adhere to Council or Local Board Policies and Procedures), the board is required to follow the City’s Ice Allocation Policy, which is a Council policy. The Policy provides that City staff allocate ice time on a city-wide basis, and arena boards are responsible for scheduling the allocated time. Under Article XII (Conduct Respecting Staff), members are also prohibited from interfering with City and arena staff’s duties, including City staff’s duties to provide advice to the board about City policies. In other words, by striking the staff member’s comments from the minutes, the Chair is not allowing City staff to give the board advice.

Finally, because the Chair stated that his child needed more practice time—a personal interest—as the reason for introducing the motion, the Chair is improperly exercising the influence of his position. A member may generally advocate for certain types of activities (such as youth hockey) in compliance with City and board policies, but must not use their influence for their own personal benefit or the benefit of a friend or family member.

Examples issued: October 2017