Election Policy Highlights for City Employees
1. Permitted political and campaign-related activities for the Toronto election
2. Requirement to disclose political activity to supervisor or manager, or Ethics Executive
If you feel the political activity may appear to impact your duties or political neutrality, you are required to disclose it to your supervisor, manager or Ethics Executive. They will advise on how to balance your rights with your public service duties.
Disclosing your involvement or intention to be involved in a political activity protects you and preserves public trust and confidence in the public service.
Disclosing your political activity, appropriately and in a timely manner, will not impact your job or employment. However, depending on the political activity, your role, duties or responsibilities may be changed temporarily to maintain the political neutrality of the public service.
3. Supervisor and manager responsibilities
Your supervisor/manager is responsible for providing you with advice regarding the permissibility of the political activity you may be contemplating. Your manager may, provide you advice on whether your job assignment can change temporarily to accommodate the political activity you would like to participate in.
Your supervisor/manager may refer you to your Ethics Executive if they are unable to answer your question. You may also contact your Ethics Executive if you require additional advice.
4. Ethics Executives and their responsibilities
For most City employees your Ethics Executive is your Division Head.
The Toronto Public Service By-Law establishes the role of Ethics Executives to promote and support an ethical workplace culture. Members of the public service are encouraged to seek advice from their direct supervisor and/or manager on ethical matters related to political activities. You can go directly to your Ethics Executive for advice.
Your Ethics Executive will provide you advice and guidance to help you make your decision. They will not make the decision on your behalf.
A guide to Ethics Executive has been created for staff.
5. Accommodating request from Candidates for meetings or tours
If a tour or meeting were provided to one candidate, it would have to be provided to all candidates to ensure equal access to information. For that reason, the City cannot accommodate requests by candidates for individual meetings and requests for tours of City facilities.
The Protocol for responding to requests for information from candidates for the October 22, 2018 election applies to any requests to provide public information. This protocol states that any requests for public information about the City from a candidate must be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The City will respond to the candidate in writing and post the information on toronto.ca to ensure equal access to information.
6. Request for information from a Member of Council during the election period
When requesting information from City staff, members should be clear if they are requesting the information as a councillor or as a candidate. Inquiries as a candidate should not be made using City resources. If you are unclear as to whether the member is requesting the information in their role as councillor or their role as a candidate, you should ask for clarification.
If the request is in their capacity as a candidate, the protocol for responding to requests for information from candidates for the October 22, 2018 election applies. This protocol states that any requests for public information about the City from a candidate must be directed to email@example.com.
The Code of Conduct for Members of Council states that members cannot compel City or agency staff to engage in partisan political activities. This means that members cannot, for example ask City staff to produce information or appear in campaign literature or activities or ask City staff to assist with, or participate in, any activities that support impermissible activities during the election period.
If in doubt, speak with your supervisor or manager who may refer you to your Ethics Executive if they are unable to answer your question. You may also contact your Ethics Executive if you require additional advice.
7. Restrictions to City communications or activities during the election period
After August 1, 2018, communications distributed by the City will cease referencing the names or images of the Mayor or Members of Council. City staff will use the generic term “Councillor Ward [number] or “Mayor of Toronto” without naming the specific Member of Council.
After August 1, the Mayor will be subject to the same restrictions as members, but he will continue to be named in media releases and City materials related to intergovernmental activities in his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer of the City.
8. Invitation to present at a public meeting or event during the election period
Before accepting an invitation to a meeting, you should make it made clear to event organizers that as a City employee you must remain neutral on campaign related issues. City employees will provide professional, unbiased information about the City’s services and programs, and will not comment on candidates, current Councillors, or any positions they may take.
If the focus of the public meeting is to advocate for or promote a candidate or election issue, staff should consult with their supervisor or Ethics Executive to assess any implications of accepting or declining the invitation.