Toronto Public Service By-Law
In June 2014, City Council adopted The Toronto Public Service By-law (TPS By-law) to set important foundational legislation which strengthens the separation between the administrative and political components of Toronto’s government; and advances Toronto’s public service as professional, impartial and ethical. The TPS By-law is Chapter 192 of Toronto’s Municipal Code and came into effect as of December 31st, 2015.
The TPS By-law provides guidance to members of the public service (City and applicable Agency employees) on:
- Their rights and responsibilities for ethical matters related to conflict of interest and confidentiality, and political activity;
- Their rights and responsibilities to disclose wrongdoing and the protection they have from reprisal for making such disclosures in good faith.
Public Service Values
The By-law codifies the following public service values and Toronto’s motto
- Serve the public well
- Serve Council well and/ or their Board well
- Act with integrity
- Maintain political neutrality
- Uphold Toronto’s motto – Diversity Our Strength
- Use City property, services, and resources responsibly
- Apply judgement and discretion
- Serve the Public Service well
- Set the standard for a professional and ethical public service.
- Inform members of the public service about what they can expect from each other.
- Inform the public about the standard of professionalism they can expect from the public service.
- Inform Council and/or Boards that the public service is politically impartial, ethical and professional in its duties.
Serve Council and/or their Board well
- Conduct ourselves in a way that demonstrates respect for Council and/ or the Board and encourage Council’s and/ or the Board’s respect for Staff.
- Familiarize ourselves with Council’s and/ or the Board goals and policies.
- Ensure that Council and/ or the Board receive frank, professional, timely and comprehensive advice on how its objectives can be achieved in ways which are legal, consistent with policies and in the public’s interest.
Serve the public well
- Acknowledge the uniqueness of a public servant’s responsibility for the well-being of the City as a whole and carry out duties with the needs of local communities and broader city objectives in mind.
- Communicate with the public in a respectful, fair, open, efficient and constructive manner.
- Respect the diversity of public opinion.
- Display behaviour that generates public trust.
Serve the public service well
- Commit to being a leader in the organization and to promote and exemplify behaviour consistent with the Public Service Values.
- Treat all others with respect, recognizing each others’ rights, diversity and aspirations.
- Respect the role of unions and associations that represent staff.
- Foster an environment of mutual respect and trust across the organization by responding to internal communication and information sharing requests in a timely manner and soliciting feedback where possible.
- Constructively and respectfully resolve differences with each other.
- Are open to the ideas and concerns of others and recognize them as a source of innovation and improvement.
- Collaborate, respect and listen to staff from other programs and services to create innovative and effective ways to serve a great city.
Use City property, services, and resources responsibly
- Are committed to looking for ways to improve City services by finding effective ways to use materials, resources and time.
- Treat the City’s resources responsibly and with care.
- Do not use or permit use of city land, facilities, equipment, supplies, services or other resources for non-City business.
- Do not obtain financial gain from the use or sale of City developed intellectual property, computer programs, technical innovations or other items capable of being patented.
Apply judgement and discretion
- Remain accountable for all our work. We can delegate responsibilities and authorities but not accountability.
- Ensure our decisions are transparent and based on available evidence.
- Make sure our decisions are inclusive by seeking the perspectives of people affected by our decisions.
- Exercise discretion in the course of making decisions while ensuring that judgement never results in discrimination or intentional negative consequences.
- Understand that the public may view any comment made as an official comment and therefore only comment if we have authority and follow the appropriate protocols and policies when commenting publicly.
Maintain political neutrality
- Ensure our actions during and outside of work hours do not lead the public to question our professional neutrality.
- Recognize that it is Council’s responsibility to decide how best to respond to the City’s needs.
- Support Council’s decisions.
- Ensure that our work with individual Councillors is consistent with approved Council policies.
- Do not lobby individual Councillors to make decisions for personal benefit.
- Ensure that business-related information is provided equally to all Members of Council. This does not preclude us from assisting individual Councillors in problem-solving or responding to requests for information.
Act with integrity
- Perform our duties with honesty, always without expectation of favour or threat of reprisal.
- Perform our duties impartially, always placing public good before individual or self-interest.
- Honour and maintain the confidentiality of matters, documents and discussions classified or implied as being confidential.
Uphold Toronto’s motto – Diversity Our Strength
- Promote diversity as a key driver for City policies, programs and service delivery.
- Seek ways to incorporate Toronto’s diverse populations in decision-making processes.
- Ensure that we meet the needs of Toronto’s diverse population when designing and delivering policies, programs or services.
- Promote diversity as an integral part of Toronto’s civic identity.
Conflict of Interest & Confidentiality
Article IV of Chapter 192 of the Toronto Municipal Code sets out the provisions with respect to Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality.These provide guidance to members of the public service in balancing their professional and personal interests. This helps preserve the public’s trust in Toronto’s government and promotes transparency and accountability. The TPS By-law Conflict of Interest provisions replace the City’s existing Conflict of Interest Policy, with some minor changes. All members of the public service, including City and applicable agency employees should understand their roles and responsibilities under the Toronto Public Service By-law’s Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality provisions.
The Toronto Public Service By-Law is in force as of December 31, 2015.
Download a copy of Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Provisions
Common Questions about Conflict of Interest & Confidentiality:
What is a conflict of Interest?
- Conflict of Interest refers to situations in which public servant has private interests that could compete with or that may be perceived to compete with their duties and responsibilities as an employee.
- Conflict of Interest can also be situations where an employee can use their position for private gain or expectation or private gain, non-monetary or otherwise. A conflict may also occur when the private interest benefits an employee’s family, friends, or organizations in which the employee or their family or friends have an financial interest.
Why are Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality provisions important?
- They help guide members of the public service to avoid situations where their private interests may be in conflict with, or be perceived to be in conflict with the interests of the City or Agency.
- They recognize that members of the public service have personal and private interests outside of work. The provisions provide employees with guidance to balance their personal interests with their duties as professionals.
- They give the public confidence that they can expect members of the public service to be responsible, accountable and good financial stewards of public resources.
How do the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality provisions differ from the previous Policy?
- Many of the provisions are similar to the previous Policy.
- The new provisions make clear that members of the public service cannot represent a private citizen or 3rd party before a City Committee or Agency Board. They are able to represent themselves or a family member, but not in their capacity as a member of the public service.
- The provisions now make it clear that confidential information cannot be disclosed after leaving the City or Agency.
This information is designed to assist employees with understanding and applying the Toronto Public Service By-Law Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality provisions. All members of the public service, including City and applicable agency employees should understand their roles and responsibilities under the Toronto Public Service By-law’s provisions.
Article V of Chapter 192 of the Toronto Municipal Code sets out provisions that recognize the rights of members of the public service to participate in political activity. The provisions provide guidance on how members of the public service should balance their decision to engage in political activity with their duty to maintain political neutrality and impartiality.The TPS By-law Political Activity provisions replace the City’s existing policies guiding participation in municipal campaigns and running for public office. Members of the public service should understand their roles and responsibilities under the Toronto Public Service By-law’s Political Activity provisions.
The Toronto Public Service By-law is in force as of December 31, 2015.
Download a copy of Political Activity Provisions
Common Questions about Political Activity:
What is Political Activity?
Political Activity refers to:
- Actions that could be seen as supporting or opposing a political party and/or candidate before or during a municipal, provincial or federal election. Examples of such actions include: publicly displaying political materials, advertising for a candidate or party, being a candidate’s official agent, signing the nomination paper of a candidate, and other similar activities;
- Seeking appointment to a municipal council or school board;
- Seeking nomination or being a candidate in an election; or
- Canvassing or campaigning on a Toronto municipal referendum question.
Why are Political Activity provisions important?
- The Political Activity provisions address how members of the public service, ensure political neutrality and impartiality as one of our core public service values.
- The provisions recognize and affirm employees’ rights to engage in political activity, balanced with the need to maintain the political neutrality and impartiality of the public service.
What do the Political Activity provisions do?
- They identify what employees must do if they choose to seek political office and/or participate in campaigns at all levels of government.
- They balance employee participation in political campaigns with their roles and responsibilities as members of the public service. The provisions ensure employee activities during political campaigns do not create or are not perceived to create a conflict with their roles and responsibilities as members of the public service.
What is different about the By-law’s Political Activity provisions and the previous policy?
- The City’s current policy, Employee Participation in Municipal Election Campaigns (which also applies to most Agencies), only applies to municipal elections.
- The TPS By-law political activity provisions update the definition of political activity to apply to elections for all orders of government (municipal, provincial, and federal) and
- Toronto municipal referendum questions.
It also updates the specific restrictions for senior public service positions.
City & Agency Employee Guide – Overview Political Activity Provisions
This information is designed to assist employees with understanding and applying the Toronto Public Service By-Law Political Activity provisions. All members of the public service, including City and applicable agency employees should understand their roles and responsibilities under the TPS By-law.
City and Agency Employee Guide – Running For Political Office
The TPS By-law political activity provisions affirm that all members of the public service are eligible to be a candidate for and elected to political office. If you are interested in seeking political office you should understand your rights and responsibilities under the TPS By-law political activity provisions.
City and Agency Employee Guide – Political Campaigning
The TPS By-law political activity provisions affirm that all members of the public service have the right to participate in political campaigns. However, in order to balance political neutrality, this is subject to restrictions based on one’s level of responsibility and visibility to the public. If you are interested in supporting or opposing a political campaign or a candidate, you should understand your role and responsibilities under the TPS By-law political activity provisions and seek advice from your supervisor, manager or Ethics Executive.
Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection
Articles VI, VII and VIII of Chapter 192 of the Toronto Municipal Code set out provisions that support public servants to carry out their duty to report suspected wrongdoing and protect the public good. They also provide clarity of the reprisal protections available to those who come forward in good faith to disclose suspected wrongdoing.
The Toronto Public Service By-Law includes Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection provisions for all City employees, and requires agencies to develop a Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection policy which meets the following minimum requirements:
- Define wrongdoing;
- Establish mechanisms for employees to disclose wrongdoing;
- Establish a clear process to investigate allegations of wrongdoing;
- Establish reprisal protection for employees who make an allegation of wrongdoing in good faith; and
- Report annually to their Board on allegations of wrongdoing and their resolution.
The Toronto Public Service By-law is in force as of December 31, 2015.
Download a copy of the City’s Disclosure of Wrongdoing & Reprisal Protection Provisions
Common Questions about Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection:
What is Wrongdoing?
Wrongdoing refers to serious actions that are contrary to the public interest including but not limited to:
- Theft of City assets;
- Waste: mismanagement of City resources or assets in a wilful, intentional or negligent manner that contravenes a City policy or direction by Council;
- Violations of the Conflict of Interest provisions;
- Breach of public trust.
What is a Reprisal?
- Reprisal is any measure taken or threatened against an employee as a direct result of that employee disclosing or being suspected of disclosing suspected wrongdoing; initiating or co-operating in an investigation into a suspected wrongdoing.
- Reprisal includes but is not limited to:
- Disciplinary measures;
- Demotion of the employee;
- Suspension of the employee;
- Termination of the employee;
- Intimidation or harassment of the employee;
- Any punitive measure that adversely affects the employment or working conditions of the employee; and
- Directing or counselling someone to commit a reprisal.
What do the Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection provisions do?
- Requires that employees report wrongdoing if they suspect it.
- Sets out channels for employees to report wrongdoing.
- Sets out protections for employees when reporting suspected wrongdoing.
- Assigns roles and sets out a process to investigate suspected wrongdoing.
Why are the Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection provisions important?
- The provisions recognize that members of the public service have a duty and role to play in protecting the public good and ensure they will not be punished or face reprisals for coming forward in good faith to report suspected wrongdoing.
Why are Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection provisions applied differently to agencies?
- The Toronto Public Service By-Law recognizes that the Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection provisions need to consider agency size, operational context and resources.
- The By-Law requires that agencies have a Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection policy, and establishes minimum requirements they must meet to ensure they include key elements of effective wrongdoing policy.
City Employee Guide – Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection
This information is designed to assist City employees with understanding and applying the City’s Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection provisions.
Agency Employee Guide – Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection
Agency Disclosure of Wrongdoing and Reprisal Protection policies are currently being developed. Agency policies, as well as resources to assist agency employees to understand and apply them will be available when complete.
The Toronto Public Service By-law establishes Division Heads, Agency Heads, Deputy City Managers and the City Manager as Ethics Executives. An Ethics Executive is responsible for promoting and upholding the organization’s ethical culture and providing advice and guidance to staff on ethical matters such as conflict of interest and political activity.
Common Questions about Ethics Executive:
What are the responsibilities of an Ethics Executive?
An Ethics Executive is responsible to:
- Promote ethical conduct and decision-making
- Ensure staff are familiar with the ethical provisions of the Toronto Public Service By-law and provide guidance on their application; and
- Provide advice and guidance to staff on situations involving conflict of interest and political activity.
Why is establishing the role of an Ethics Executive important?
Establishing Ethics Executives strengthens the role that senior staff play in promoting an ethical workplace. It also provides members of the public service with an additional way to seek advice and guidance on ethical matters (in addition to their supervisor or manager).
Employee Guide – Ethics Executives
The Toronto Public Service By-Law establishes the role of Ethics Executives to promote and support an ethical workplace culture. This information will assist employees to identify their Ethics Executive, and to understand when to seek advice about ethical matters.