Policies and Guidelines
The policies and guidelines below guide Members of Council in the day-to-day operations of their office and in their role as government representatives.
The following benefits are provided to Members of Council:
Extended health care
- Deductible: Nil
- Overall maximum: Unlimited
- Cost sharing: 100 per cent employer paid
- Services: Please refer to the benefits booklet or contact Green Shield
- Travel insurance
- Annual deductible: Nil
- Fee schedule: One year lag on the current ODA for general practitioners
- Basic services: 100 per cent reimbursement (please refer to benefits booklet or contact Green Shield on frequency limitations and requirements for quotation approval prior to service)
- Maximum: Unlimited
- Cost Sharing: 100 per cent employer paid
Basic group life insurance
- Schedule: Two times base salary, rounded to next higher $1,000, if not already a multiple thereof
- Cost sharing: 100 per cent employer paid
Optional life insurance
- Schedule: An employee may elect coverage in units of $10,000
- Maximum: 50 units or $500,000 for self and 20 units or $200,000 for spouse
- Cost Sharing: 100 per cent Councillor paid
Accidental death and dismemberment
- Schedule: Two times base salary, rounded to next higher $1,000, if not already a multiple thereof
- Cost sharing: 100 per cent employer paid
Long term disability
- Schedule: 75 per cent of monthly salary taxed at source
- Qualifying period: Completion of six months of continuous disability
- Cost sharing: 100 per cent employer paid
To request changes to benefits coverage or dependent information, submit a completed Benefits Enrolment/Information Change (Full-Time) form, available on the City intranet.
Continuation of benefits
If a Member retires, resigns, dies or is not re-elected, benefits may or may not continue.
If a Member is over the age of 55 and has at least nine years of “credited pension service” and elects an immediate OMERS pension, he or she is entitled to lifetime retiree benefits. The nine years of “credited pension service” must be as a Member of Council of the City of Toronto (and/or former municipalities) as established under the City of Toronto Act, 2006.
Benefits end on date of resignation.
- If a Member is over the age of 55 and has at least nine years of “credited pension service” and elects an immediate OMERS pension, he or she is entitled to lifetime retiree benefits.
- If a Member is not-re-elected and is over age 55 and does not have nine years of “credited pensionable service” benefits at the end November 30 of that election year.
- If a Member does not qualify to retire, benefits end November 30 of that election year.
- If a Member is over the age of 55 and has at least 9 years of “credited pension service” eligible dependents qualify for lifetime benefit coverage.
- If a Member does not qualify for retiree benefits, then benefit coverage for eligible dependents will end on date of death, plus 30 days.
OMERS is a defined benefit plan that at this time, is funded by equal contributions from employees and employers and by OMERS investment earnings. Its intention is to provide guaranteed pension benefits for enrolled members. It also provides unreduced early retirement pensions for members who are at least 55 years of age and have 30 years of municipal employment or the 90 factor (age + years of service). In addition to retirement pensions, OMERS also provides survivor and disability benefits.
Members of Council must enroll in the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), the City’s pension plan, with two exceptions:
- A Member is elected and is already receiving an OMERS pension. This Member may continue to receive their pension and NOT enroll, or can elect to stop receiving their pension and re-enroll.
- If a Member is elected and they are over the age of 71.
As per amendments to the Income Tax Act and OMERS Plan changes approved by the OMERS Sponsors Corporation, membership payments cease on November 30 of the year in which a member reaches age 71. The member is then entitled to begin receiving their OMERS pension benefit despite on-going employment.
Further information on OMERS can be obtained on its website at www.omers.com
Severance is paid when Members retire, resign or are not re-elected during term of office. Severance is paid to Members who have served a minimum of 30 days, as follows:
- 1/12 of the annual remuneration, at the rate in force immediately before the Member ceases to be a Member, for each year of consecutive service, to a maximum of 12 years of service
- The 12-year maximum is a lifetime maximum
- A pro-rated portion is paid if the Member has served less than 12 months
- An allowance of up to $3,500 for outplacement, transition or retirement counselling. Funds are only paid if the services are used and they are only available within one year of severance.
Severance may be made in two payments at the request of the Member of Council. The following is an excerpt from the Municipal Code, Chapter 223:
“No severance remuneration shall be paid where the member’s seat becomes vacant by reason of, or the member resigns and the resignation is a result of or given in the anticipation of the following:
- The member being disqualified to be a member of the Council under the provisions of any Act of the Parliament of Canada or any Act of the Legislature of the Province of Ontario: or
- The seat of the member of the Council becoming vacant by reason of the operation of any Act of the Parliament of Canada or any Act of the Legislature of the Province of Ontario.
No severance remuneration shall be paid to a member where the member is convicted of any of the following offences under the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, as amended from time to time, in connection with the member’s conduct as a member of the Council:
- Section 122 (breach of trust; fraud);
- Section 123 (municipal corruption); or
- Section 426 (secret commissions).”
Running for Provincial or Federal Office
Members of Council who are successful in being elected as a Member of Parliament or Member of Provincial Parliament without resigning from Toronto City Council are not paid severance.
Following are example scenarios of when severance is and is not paid:
- A Member of Council is running for office in an upcoming federal election.
- This Member of Council resigns from Toronto City Council before the federal election day.
- This Member of Council is paid severance.
- A Member of Council is running for office in an upcoming federal election. This Member of Council does not resign from Toronto City Council before the federal election day.
- The Member of Council is successfully elected as a Member of Parliament on election day.
- This Member of Council is not paid severance.
Citizens expect members of Council to meet the highest standards of conduct when carrying out public functions. The standards are set out in the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
The Integrity Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the Code of Conduct for the City of Toronto’s members of Council and local boards by providing advice and education and conducting inquiries into alleged contraventions of the Code of Conduct.
The Human Resources Management and Ethical Framework for Members’ Staff is a consolidated framework that sets out the roles and responsibilities of Members of Council for managing the City employees under their authority, and affirms applicable City Human Resources policy requirements for Members’ staff.
The framework also sets out the ethical framework for Members’ staff and clarifies their responsibility under the existing Code of Conduct for Members of Council. As Members’ staff are not members of the public service, the policy provides clarity to the distinct roles that Members and their staff play in the effective functioning of Toronto’s government.
The Councillor Use of Civic Space Policy provides the parameters, fee structure and booking logistics whereby Councillors can book and use civic space for constituency and community events and meetings. This Policy is not for the purposes of conducting any election-related campaigns.
The rights of Toronto City Councillors to access information and their obligations to protect the confidentiality of information are set out in Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Toronto’s Code of Conduct for Members of Council.
The Guide to Access and Privacy for Councillors helps Members understand their rights and obligations and suggests ways to exercise those rights and meet those obligations.
Expenses to provide legal representation for Members are covered where the proceedings relate to activities of the Member while carrying out his or her official duties, and may include both City and ward related matters.
Coverage is provided either by the City’s insurance or the City’s Indemnification Policy. Coverage extends to civil suits and criminal and regulatory offences including:
- legal costs and damages if sued
- damages or costs where lawsuits are not covered by insurance if Council determines the proceeding resulted from acts or omissions in his or her capacity as a Member
- reimbursement of legal expenses related to criminal or regulatory offences if acquitted or charges are dismissed or withdrawn
The City Solicitor is required to review and report to Council on the reasonableness of Members’ legal expenses.
Legal expenses that are not covered include:
- personal matters that are outside the duties of a Member (for example, those arising from activities of a Member while a candidate)
- criminal or regulatory matters where the Member has been found guilty
- conflict of interest proceedings where there has been a finding of a contravention of Section 5 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
In addition, Members may incur legal expenses that are payable from the Council General Expense Budget.
Members should always consult with the City Solicitor before incurring any legal expenses (including legal research).
The following legal fees are eligible expenses paid out of the Council General Expense Budget:
- City Council has authorized the retention of an external law firm to provide independent advice and representation from time to time to Members of Council in relation to any proceedings before the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario concerning access to records held by a Member of Council. (City Council, 2011 and 2014).
- The City Clerk and the City Solicitor must confirm that the proceedings pertain to the individual interests of the Member of Council prior to counsel being retained to provide advice and representation.
- Fees related to the retained external law firm will be paid from the Council General Expense Budget.
- Legal fees related to Code of Conduct investigations:
- if the Integrity Commissioner finds that the Member has inadvertently violated the Code or violated the Code in good faith; or
- if the Integrity Commissioner has found the Member violating the Code and City Council received the Integrity Commissioner’s report for information.
- Fees related to informal complaints (part A) and formal complaints (part B) of the Code of Conduct Complaint Protocol for Members of Council. (City Council, 2012).
- Fees related to judicial reviews related to Code of Conduct investigations.
- Legal fees related to complaints or investigations handled by the Lobbyist Registrar, Ombudsman or Auditor General under Part V of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (City Council, 2014).
- Legal fees related to investigations conducted by the Toronto Police Service related to the Member’s duties and responsibilities, excluding criminal investigations. (City Council, 2014).
Legal fees that are not eligible expenses include:
- Personal conflict of interest opinions
- Legal opinion that the City Solicitor can provide
- Legal opinion that supports a community group against a City position
Legal Expenses Related to Defamation Actions Brought by a Member of Council
City insurance is not available in legal actions related to defamation initiated by Members; however, City insurance is available to defend Members on such matters.
City Council may authorize the reimbursement of legal expenses of Members on a case-by-case basis for actions brought by a Member to address matters of reputational harm where the expenses are incurred in the Member’s capacity as a Member. Members should contact the City Solicitor to discuss whether the matter can proceed.
Legal Expenses Related to Compliance Audits
Members must obtain their own legal or other expert advice for compliance audit matters because any compliance audit expenses are incurred in their capacity as candidates, not as Members. The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 considers compliance audit expenses to be campaign expenses.
See the Constituency Services and Office Budget Policy (Appendix 1 – Resources available/allocated to Councillors) for more information.
Role as Member of Council
|Legal Fees related to insurance claims, director liability, defamation or human rights tribunal cases||City Expense – City of Toronto Insurance Policy||City of Toronto Insurance & Risk Management Policy Manual (intranet)|
|Legal fees related to City Council
Members serving on External Boards without City approval
|City Expense – City of Toronto Insurance Policy||City Council, March 5, 2012|
|Legal Fees for FOI requests for
|City Expense – Council General Expense Budget||City Council, October 21, 2011|
|Legal Fees for Integrity Commissioner
formal or informal investigations
|City Expense – Council General Expense Budget||City Council, July 2012|
|Legal Fees for complaints or investigations of Lobbyist Registrar, Ombudsman or Auditor General||City Expense – Council General Expense Budget||City Council, June 2014|
|Legal Fees related to investigations conducted by the Toronto Police
Service related to the Councillor’s duties and responsibilities, excluding criminal investigations
|City Expense – Council General Expense Budget||City Council, June 2014|
|Legal Fees for criminal or civil cases when found not guilty
or not liable
|City Expense – Council General Expense Budget||City Council, July 2008|
Member of Council as a candidate
|Campaign related issues within the campaign period||Campaign expense||Compliance with all requirements of Municipal Elections Act|
|Legal expenses for compliance audit, recount and controverted election beyond campaign period||Candidates must comply with the requirements of the Municipal Elections Act. Depending on timing of events, they can extend campaign and fundraise during the extended campaign period, they can use surplus from the campaign or the courts could award costs. After the campaign period, these are individual costs and no longer candidate costs.|
Member of Council as an individual
|Conflict of Interest consultations or legal fees related to conflict of interest legal proceedings and appeals if member is found to be in contravention||Personal expense||Cannot fundraise. Personal contributions from friends or
relatives may be permitted in limited circumstances. Consult with the Integrity Commissioner.
|Legal fees related to conflict of interest legal proceedings and appeals if member is successful||City indemnification policy or personal expense||Councillor may apply for
reimbursement under the City’s Indemnification Policy if there is
finding of no contravention. See section above. Cannot fundraise. Personal contributions from friends or relatives may be permitted under limited circumstances. Consult with Integrity Commissioner.
The City Solicitor provides legal advice to City Council on matters pertaining to City business. In some circumstances, a Member may wish to retain external legal counsel to provide a second opinion on any issue or to advance a specific position in a legal proceeding. Council approval is required before external legal counsel is retained for this purpose.
The Integrity Commissioner is also available to provide confidential advice to Members, although not specifically legal advice, on a range of matters including:
- conflict of interest issues (arising from the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and Members’ Code of Conduct)
- the application of the Code of Conduct to a set of facts
- how Members can avoid formal complaints
- informal complaint resolution
- appropriate steps to correct a mistake
How do Councillors access legal advice?
Individual Councillors can access legal advice on matters pertaining to City business, including ward related matters, from the City Solicitor. The Integrity Commissioner can also provide advice, although not specifically legal advice, to Councillors on a range of Code of Conduct related matters, including conflict of interest issues, confidential information, contact with lobbyists, and gifts and benefits.
Can the City Solicitor advocate for individual Councillors in matters involving the public, the City of Toronto and its ABCCs, other orders of government and external organizations?
No, the City Solicitor cannot advocate for individual Councillors in this capacity. City Council is the City Solicitor’s client. The City Solicitor is responsible to provide legal advice to City Council as a whole and protect the interests of the corporation. This responsibility extends to advocating Council’s position, not those of individual Councillors. The City Solicitor must also comply with Law Society requirements to avoid a conflict.
If Councillors do not agree with the advice of the City Solicitor can they seek a second legal opinion?
Yes, individual Councillors may request external legal counsel to provide a second opinion on any issue or to advance a specific position in a legal proceeding. However, the Councillor Expense Policy requires Council approval where Councillors wish to receive a second opinion respecting advice that the City Solicitor has already provided.
What should Councillors do if they are served with a summons or notice of legal action against them?
If City insurance coverage is applicable, the Councillor must send the summons or notice of legal action immediately to the City’s Insurance and Risk Management unit and contact them at 416-392-6301. The Councillor may contact the City Solicitor at 416-392-0080 for matters involving legal advice or legal action.
Coverage of Legal Expenses for Proceedings Brought Against a Councillor
What legal expenses are covered for Councillors?
Councillors’ legal expenses for proceedings brought against them are covered where the proceedings relate to activities while carrying out official duties, including ward-related matters. Protection extends to criminal and regulatory offences if the Councillor has been found not guilty. Protection related to defamation actions is addressed in Question 15.
What legal expenses are not covered for Councillors?
There are very few legal matters involving Councillors that are not covered. The current exceptions to legal coverage include:
- personal matters that are outside their duties as a Councillor (for example those arising from activities of a Councillor while a candidate)
- criminal or regulatory matters where the Councillor has been found guilty
- conflict of interest proceedings where there has been a finding of a contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which prohibits the reimbursement of legal costs where there has been a finding that the Act has been contravened.
Do Councillors have to cover their own legal costs arising from civil, criminal or regulatory proceedings and then apply for reimbursement?
The Indemnification Policy allows for the reimbursement of funds to cover certain legal costs incurred during any applicable proceeding. Civil claims made against a Councillor that are covered under City insurance do not have a claim maximum.
What can Councillors do if damages or costs are not covered by the City’s insurance?
Damages or costs arising from lawsuits not covered by the City’s insurance (for example, an allegation of deliberate rather than negligent acts or omissions by a Councillor) may be paid by the City if Council determines the lawsuit resulted from acts or omissions in his or her capacity as a Councillor.
Matters Related to Code of Conduct Complaints
If a Councillor is concerned that he or she is being asked to do something that is in breach of the Code of Conduct where can Councillors turn for advice?
The Integrity Commissioner will provide confidential written or informal advice to Councillors on the Code of Conduct.
Who provides legal advice to Councillors on Code of Conduct complaints?
The Councillor Expense Policy allows Councillors to charge their office budget for the payment of legal fees up to $500 for an initial consultation with external legal counsel on a Code of Conduct complaint. This expense can be charged against a Councillor’s office budget regardless of the outcome of an Integrity Commissioner investigation.
What legal expenses are covered if a Councillor is subpoenaed to testify at a Public Inquiry or judicial review before Divisional Court?
The Code of Conduct Complaint Protocol for Members of Council provides for reimbursement of legal expenses up to a maximum of $20,000 in cases where the Integrity Commissioner exercises the powers of a commissioner or in cases involving judicial review. Council can consider higher limits for reimbursement of legal expenses on a case-by-case basis.
Matters Related to Conflict of Interest Issues
Who advises Councillors about conflict of interest issues?
Councillors must seek their own legal opinions on such issues but can seek advice, including written advice, from the Integrity Commissioner.
Will the City pay for Councillors to seek external legal advice on conflict of interest issues?
No, external legal opinions on conflict of interest issues are not paid by the City because they involve personal matters.
Can funds be advanced to a Councillor for legal representation in a conflict of interest proceeding?
No. The City’s policy on advancing funds does not apply to conflict of interest proceedings. The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act requires that there must be a finding of non-contravention before a municipality can pay these expenses.
Matters Related to Defamation
What legal expenses are covered if a Councillor launches legal action against someone for defamation?
Council may approve reimbursement of a Councillor’s legal expenses on a case-by-case basis for actions brought by a Councillor to address matters of reputational harm. A key factor in Council’s decision-making will be whether the expense can be characterized as one incurred in relation to the office of Councillor.
The City of Toronto’s insurance program automatically extends coverage for all activities, programs, events, operations, etc., that are approved by or on behalf of City Council.
The City’s property and casualty insurance policy documents are held by the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer in the office of the Manager, Insurance and Risk Management. Members have coverage under property and casualty insurance policies arranged by the City as described below.
The City’s property insurance covers physical loss or damage to City-owned buildings, contents, furniture, fixtures, equipment, etc. Information on how to submit a claim to recover the cost for the loss or damage to City-owned property can be found on the City intranet.
Commercial General Liability Insurance
Commercial General Liability insurance covers Members, City employees and volunteers, while they are conducting duties on behalf of the City, for third party (public) claims from property damage, bodily injury, libel, slander and defamation suits arising from their actions.
All liability insurance policies are intended to provide defense cost coverage and to pay any compensatory damages that are legally required.
Information on how a member of the public can make a claim against the City can be found online.
Public Officials’ Errors and Omissions Liability Insurance
This insurance covers Members, City employees (including Members’ staff) and volunteers while conducting duties on behalf of the City, for liability arising from errors or omissions in the performance of professional duties.
It may also be referred to as the municipal form of directors’ and officers’ liability insurance. It applies to elected or appointed officials, officers, members of commissions, boards, units, committees and special purpose bodies operated by and under the jurisdiction of the City of Toronto.
Conflict of interest coverage is included which specifically extends coverage to Members for costs incurred in defense of legal proceedings under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act for allegations of errors, omissions, misstatement or misleading statement or neglect or breach of duty by the Council Member. A Member must uphold the Duty of Member as noted in Section 5 of the Act in order for insurance to apply. Section 5 of the Act requires a Member to refrain from participation in the decision-making process on any matter before Council if the Member has a direct or indirect financial interest in a matter.
Coverage under the policy would be denied where the elected official is found by the court to have contravened the duties set out in the Act (as required under subsection 14(1) of the Act).
The City of Toronto provides automobile insurance for licensed vehicles owned or leased by the City. It is the responsibility of individual Members to adequately insure their private vehicles for their intended use. Members using their own vehicles for City business would claim against their own insurer for any accidents. Members should disclose to their personal insurer that they may be using their automobiles for business use.
Constituency offices in City-owned and non City-owned buildings:
Under the Parameters for Councillor Constituency Offices, all leases for constituency offices must be in the name of the City of Toronto. The City maintains commercial general liability insurance for Councillors’ constituency offices.
- As per the Constituency Services and Office Budget Policy personal property, including furniture and equipment owned or leased by Members or their staff, is not covered by the City’s property insurance policy. A Member may choose to insure their personal property by purchasing or extending an existing property insurance policy (on their house or apartment) to cover personal property located in their constituency office.
- Content of a Member’s constituency office that is provided by the City is covered by the City’s property insurance policy.
- If a Member is requested by the owner or landlord of a non City-owned building to provide evidence of insurance in the form of a Certificate of Insurance, the Member should contact Corporate Finance, Insurance & Risk Management Services.
- City insurance coverage automatically extends to a Member’s special events held on behalf of the City and in the Member’s capacity as an elected official (versus serving a private interest).
- A “City event” qualifying for coverage under City insurance is generally one that is consistent with City of Toronto divisional programming, sanctioned, authorized or organized by City Council or its divisions, agencies and corporations, employees, volunteers, or Members for the benefit of the municipality or its constituency. City insurance does not extend to private non-municipal entities or interests.
- Permits and rental applications for a Member’s special event held on behalf of the City and in the Member’s capacity as an elected official must be taken out in the name of the City of Toronto and not in the personal name of the Member.
- A Member should not take out special events permits in the name of the City if the permit is taken out on behalf of private interests, community or special interest groups.
- If a Member chooses to participate in community events derived from or originating from private, community or special interest groups not having their origin from a City municipal initiative, then evidence of private insurance coverage will have to be provided to the facility owner as part of the normal permit or application process.
- If the special event takes place on non-City or Agency or Corporation-owned property, an insurance certificate may be required. If the owner of the property requests evidence of insurance in the form of a Certificate of Insurance, the Member should contact Corporate Finance, Insurance and Risk Management Services.
A Member may, while acting in the scope of his or her duties, commit acts for which there is no insurance. For these instances, a Member may be eligible under the Indemnification Policy for Members of Council for payment of costs.
More information on insurance and risk management forms and procedures can be found on the Insurance and Risk Management intranet site.
External Board Membership Without City Council Approval
The Indemnification Policy for Council Members Serving on External Boards without City Council Approval provides an indemnification for Members of Council who sit on the boards of external bodies in their capacity as Council Member but where there has been no appointment approved by the City. There are three ways that liability claims made against Council Members can be covered. They are:
- from the directors and officers liability Insurance provided by the external board;
- from the City’s liability insurance if coverage is not available from the external board; or
- at the discretion of Council, from the City’s indemnification policy covering City Council Members where neither the external body’s nor the City’s insurance is available.
In order to ensure that coverage is effective, Council Members are required to conduct due diligence before serving on an external board, including determining whether the external body has its own directors’ liability insurance in place. In addition, coverage for any claims arising through Council Members serving in a board member capacity must first be pursued through the insurance coverage of the external body.
The 2014-2018 City Council Handbook was provided to every Member of Council at the beginning of the 2014-2018 term.
The 2014-2018 handbook is divided into three volumes (PDF files):
- Volume 1: provides information on the day-to-day operations of Council Member offices
- Volume 2: describes the decision-making process of Council and its committees
- Volume 3: outlines the accountability, integrity and transparency framework that governs the City
If you require these documents in another form or need other assistance to read them, please contact Lesley Ruscica, City Clerk’s Office, 416-392-7038 or Lesley.Ruscica@toronto.ca.