Information about the Code of Conduct for Members of Council
The Code of Conduct includes provisions related to a broad range of conduct. In addition to the Code of Conduct, a couple of related policies, including the Council Expense Policy, the Election-Related Resources Policy, and the Community, Fundraising and Special Events Policy, set out additional guidelines for Members of Council. An Employee Code of Conduct forms a key piece in the foundation of the organization by outlining core values employees use to inform decisions and interactions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Council have a Code of Conduct?
As part of the 2010-2014 Governance Review, City Council endorsed an Accountability Framework that included a Code of Conduct for Members of Council. The Code of Conduct and its related policies are the final pieces of the Accountability Framework. The Code of Conduct is a document outlining the behaviour expected of Members of Ottawa City Council.
What does the Code of Conduct cover?
The Code of Conduct for Members of Council includes provisions relating to: issues of general integrity, misuse or improper release of confidential information, inappropriate conduct at Council/Committee meetings, matters related to discrimination or harassment, improper use of influence, inappropriate use of municipal property or resources (including for campaign purposes), inappropriate treatment of City staff, interpretation of the Council Expense Policy, inappropriate conduct respecting lobbying or lobbyists and improper receipt of gifts, benefits or hospitality.
Who does the Code of Conduct apply to?
In addition to Members of Council, the Code of Conduct also applies to citizen members of the Transit Commission when acting in their official capacity as Commissioners.
Separate codes of conduct have been established for citizen members of the Built Heritage Sub-Committee and members of the City’s local boards.
When did the Code of Conduct come into effect?
The Code of Conduct came into effect on July 1, 2013. No complaints were received before July 1, 2013 and complaints relating to incidents before July 1, 2013, will not be accepted.
An updated Code of Conduct for Members of Council (now a by-law) came into effect on March 1, 2019.
Who can file a complaint?
Members of the public, staff, Members of Council and Council as a whole can file complaint if they believe a contravention of the Code of Conduct has occurred.
Can an anonymous complaint be filed?
The Integrity Commissioner’s Complaint Protocol specifically requires that all complaints must be made in writing and signed by an identifiable individual. However, the identity of the complainant will be protected.
The only exception will be where the Integrity Commissioner finds that a complaint made by a Member of Council (or a Commissioner) was not made in good faith.
How do I make a complaint?
Complaints may be submitted by following the Complaint Protocol and using the Code of Conduct Complaint Submission Form. A formal complaint will require a signed affidavit setting out the evidence in support of the allegations.
Is there a fee to file a complaint?
No. There is no cost to submitting a complaint.
Is a formal complaint the only way to resolve an issue?
No. The Integrity Commissioner has developed an informal complaint process and individuals are encouraged to use this process as the first means of resolving an issue. With the consent of the complainant and the Member, the Integrity Commissioner may participate in an informal resolution as mediator/conciliator of issues relating to the complaint.
Steps in the informal process include:
- Advising the Member that the behaviour or activity appears to contravene the Code of Conduct;
- Encouraging the Member to acknowledge and agree to stop the behaviour or activity in question and to avoid future occurrences of the behaviour or activity;
- Documenting the incidents including dates, times, locations, other persons present, and any other relevant information;
- Requesting the Integrity Commissioner to assist in informal discussion of the alleged complaint with the Member in an attempt to resolve the issue;
- If applicable, confirming to the Member your satisfaction with the response of the Member; or, if applicable, advising the Member of your dissatisfaction with the response; and
- Considering the need to submit a formal complaint or pursue any other applicable judicial or quasi-judicial process or complaint procedure.
Do I have to go through the informal process before I can submit a formal complaint?
No. The informal process is not a prerequisite to submitting a formal complaint.
Why are complaints submitted through the City Clerk's Office?
Ottawa City Council has established an Accountability Framework that is intended to be as cost-effective as possible. In order to ensure that the Integrity Commissioner is not unnecessarily burdened by administrative matters, complaints will be submitted through the Clerk’s Office. The City has existing procedures to manage confidential complaints and provides the Integrity Commissioner with administrative support within current resources.
Receiving complaints will be a strictly administrative function. The City Clerk is not involved in such complaints until the Integrity Commissioner is ready to report.
Will the Integrity Commissioner launch a full investigation for every complaint received?
Not necessarily. The Integrity Commissioner has the discretion to deal with a matter without a formal investigation if he/she sees an opportunity for a successful resolution and with the agreement of both the complainant and the Member.
Is there any reason the Integrity Commissioner might not investigate a complaint?
When a formal complaint is received, the Integrity Commissioner conducts an initial screening and may determine that a complaint is frivolous, vexatious, not made in good faith, outside of his/her jurisdiction, or that there are no grounds or insufficient grounds for an investigation.
The Integrity Commissioner may also decide, during an investigation, that a matter may more appropriately be dealt with through other channels. With the consent of the complainant, the Integrity Commissioner may refer complaints as follows:
- Formal complaints related to the interaction of municipal staff and Members of Council may be handled by the City Manager and the City Clerk, in consultation with the Mayor’s Office.
- Formal complaints pertaining to matters involving current and former Councillors’ Assistants may be handled by the City Clerk.
- Formal complaints concerning matters between one or more Members of Council may be handled by the Finance and Economic Development Committee.
Are there any restrictions on when complaints can be submitted?
No complaints were received before July 1, 2013 and complaints relating to incidents before July 1, 2013, will not be accepted.
In a municipal election year, the Integrity Commissioner cannot accept applications between Nomination Day (the third Friday in August in a municipal election year) and Voting Day (the fourth Monday in October in a municipal election year).
How will a complaint be investigated?
The Integrity Commissioner’s Complaint Protocol establishes a process for investigating complaints as follows:
- Provide the complaint and supporting material to the Member whose conduct is in question with a request that a written response to the allegation be provided within ten business days.
- Provide a copy of the response provided to the complainant with a request for written reply within ten business days.
- If necessary, after reviewing the submitted materials, the Integrity Commissioner may speak to anyone, access and examine any other documents or electronic materials and may enter any City work location relevant to the complaint for the purpose of investigation and potential resolution.
The Integrity Commissioner may make interim reports to Council where necessary and as required to address any instances of interference, obstruction, delay or retaliation encountered during the investigation.
Does the Integrity Commissioner investigate complaints about City employees? What about City Council staff?
No. The Integrity Commissioner does not have the authority to investigate complaints about City employees. Staff who work in the offices of Members of Council are considered City employees and cannot be investigated by the Integrity Commissioner.
Concerns regarding the conduct of City employees should be directed to the appropriate manager, the City Solicitor and/or the City Manager.
What is the extent of the Integrity Commissioner’s authority?
The Integrity Commissioner will report to Council where a complaint is found to have merit. The report will outline the findings, the terms of any settlement and/or any recommended corrective action. The Integrity Commissioner does not have the authority to apply a sanction.
If the Integrity Commissioner submits a report to Council, is Council obligated to do anything?
Council is required to consider and respond to an Integrity Commissioner’s report at the next meeting of Council after it is submitted. Council also has the option to apply a sanction based on the recommendation of the Integrity Commissioner.
What penalties or disciplinary actions might be imposed if a contravention of the Code of Conduct is found?
There are a few different sanctions that can be applied if a contravention of the Code of Conduct is found. The Municipal Act, 2001, the provincial legislation that gives Council the authority to have a Code of Conduct, provides two possible sanctions:
- A reprimand; and
- Suspension of the remuneration paid to the member in respect of his or her services as a member of Council or a local board, as the case may be, for a period of up to 90 days.
The Integrity Commissioner may also recommend that Council impose one of the following sanctions:
- Written or verbal public apology;
- Return of property or reimbursement of its value or of monies spent;
- Removal from membership of a committee; and
- Removal as chair of a committee.
How is the public informed of the Integrity Commissioner’s activity?
All reports from the Integrity Commissioner to Council will be made available to the public on ottawa.ca. The Integrity Commissioner will also provide redacted summaries of his/her advice on a regular basis for publication to ottawa.ca to increase public and Council understanding of the Code and its application within the day-to-day workings of the City.
If I have a question about the Code of Conduct or the Complaint Protocol, how do I get in touch with the Integrity Commissioner?
The Integrity Commissioner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interpretation Bulletin on the Use of Social Media
This Interpretation Bulletin provides guidance for Members of Council and Members of local boards on the application of the Code of Conduct regarding their social media activity.
“Social media” refers to Internet-based applications that allow users to post, share and engage with information. By default, information shared by users is public and permanent. Users manage their own social media experiences—and affect the experiences of other users—by participating in social networks of other users and controlling access to their own social networks.
Examples of popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Comments posted on interactive websites and blogs are also a form of social media communication.
For Members, social media applications act as platforms for interacting with the public to provide updates on new work, inform users on specific issues, or to advocate on behalf of constituents. This content can be interacted with by users both within and without Members’ jurisdictions, giving public officials greater reach while allowing the public more access.
Social media platforms exist as largely informal spaces, and the way the applications are structured place Members and the public on more equal footing than would be in a physical or formal setting. While this flattening of hierarchy may blur the line between private and public, Members using accounts representing the City will always be perceived to be acting in their public capacity. The use of titles, “verified” accounts and City branding reinforce Members’ positions the same way a letterhead might.
Administrators of these accounts can manipulate who has access to a Member’s platform, and, consequently, the ability for users to access information and express themselves. Social media applications allow for varying degrees of control over user interactivity, including muting and blocking users or deleting their comments.
As these formal relationships carry weight in this informal setting, the entirety of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards apply to Members’ social media activity.
The following areas of both Codes of Conduct have been highlighted to provide specific guidance on unique interactions with social media activity. This list is non-exhaustive and may be updated over time.
Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards prohibit Members from disclosing confidential information obtained over the course of their official duties. Under this provision, Members are barred from posting confidential information on social media platforms, either through the creation of a public post or through a private message.
Section 7 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards impose a duty on Members to treat members of the public, one another and staff with respect and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that their work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.
These provisions set standards for the behaviour of Members, both offline and online. Members should be aware that their positions as public officials cannot simply be turned off and should treat their social media presence as extensions of their public personas. Members are expected not to use offensive language when interacting with members of the public or each other online. While heated language and debate are part and parcel of informal expression on social media, civility and respect should remain the overriding concern for Members.
Members of Council work with a diverse group of colleagues, constituents and citizens at large who benefit from workplaces free from discrimination and harassment. As administrators of their accounts, Members of Council should treat public-facing pages as extensions of their offices. Members of Council should be mindful of the safety of their constituents regarding content they create, and the content created by other users on their platforms.
Members of Council should actively monitor their public pages for language that constitutes harassment and discrimination towards groups falling under the categories defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code (e.g. sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia). When such language is found, Members of Council should report offending statements to the social media provider.
To protect themselves and other users on their platforms, Members of Council may need to modify a user’s access to their content. Social media applications allow users to do so in several ways, from disabling notifications when a user posts, to hiding a user’s posts from view, to blocking a user’s access entirely. In cases where such actions are required, Members of Council should opt to be minimally invasive, preserving as much access to information and expression as possible. Before blocking an individual, Members of Council should approach the Integrity Commissioner for advice.
Section 8 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards forbid Members from using the status of their position to influence the decision of another individual to the private advantage of the Member, their parents, children or spouse, staff members, friends, or associates, business or otherwise.
Members can reach wide audiences through their social media networks. While the ability to disseminate information quickly and informally is one of the many useful features of social media platforms, Members should always be aware of the risk for the perception of undue influence.
Members of local boards should refrain from including their title as a board member without first seeking advice from the Integrity Commissioner. When publicly identified as a Member of a local board, or when using an account as a Member of Council, Members should not post content that promotes or advances a private, personal or financial interest.
Members of Council and Members of local boards may sometimes use social media to advocate for causes that support a general community benefit. When unsure as to the risk of the perception of undue influence, Members should contact the Integrity Commissioner for advice before posting.
Section 12 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council require Members of Council to notify individuals who lobby them of their requirement to register under the Lobbyist Registry By-law.
The Lobbyist Registry By-law defines lobbying as:
"any communication with a public office holder by an individual who is paid or who represents a business or financial interest with the goal of trying to influence any legislative action including development, introduction, passage, defeat, amendment or repeal of a by-law, motion, resolution or the outcome of a decision on any matter before Council, a Committee of Council, or a Ward Councillor or staff member acting under delegated authority."
Essentially, the Lobbyist Registry was designed to capture instances of unsolicited communication to influence a matter before public office holders, initiated by individuals seeking to substantively advance a business and/or financial interest outside of the City’s normal business processes. Individuals who engage in lobbying are required to register their activity within 15 business days of the date the communication occurred.
The Lobbyist Registry By-law does not exclude interactions over social media from being captured under definition of lobbying. Social media platforms can, however, make it more difficult to determine when lobbying is taking place. Members of Council have a duty to monitor their accounts for lobbying activity, and to inform lobbyists to register when appropriate.
Contraventions of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council or the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards witnessed on social media can be addressed through the Complaint Protocol attached to both Codes.
Questions regarding this Interpretation Bulletin from Members of Council, Members of Local Boards and members of the public can directed to email@example.com.
Community, Fundraising and Special Events Policy
Approved By: City Council
Category: Office of the Integrity Commissioner and Office of the City Clerk
Approval Date: May 8, 2013
Effective Date: July 1, 2013
Revision Date: February 1, 2021 (Housekeeping revisions); December 14, 2022
The City of Ottawa is committed to conducting City business in an open and transparent manner. The Community, Fundraising and Special Events Policy balances the role of Members of Council as civic leaders with the need to both provide transparency regarding their involvement in community and benevolent activities and carry out their community service in a manner that promotes public confidence.
This policy provides guidance to Members of Council on soliciting and accepting donations and sponsorships for Member-organized community events and supporting benevolent events.
This policy applies to all Members of Council.
This policy supplements the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and the Council Expense Policy and is not intended to affect the entitlement of a Member of Council to:
- Use their Constituency Services Budget to run or support community events subject to the terms of the Council Expense Policy;
- Urge constituents, businesses and other groups to support community events staged by others in the Member’s ward or elsewhere in the city;
- Play an advisory or membership role in any organization staging community events in the Member’s ward; and
- Participate with the City and its agencies in staging of community events.
Council Member-organized community events
There are cases where Members seek and receive donations or sponsorships to organize events that benefit their ward, the city or a local charity. For the purposes of this and related policies, these are termed ‘benevolent activities’. Where Members undertake a benevolent activity, Members shall:
- Open a City account with the Program Manager, Council Support Services;
- Account for all funds, goods and services donated, including a list of all individuals and organizations who donated;
- Account for all expenses and distributions undertaken for that activity;
- Not solicit or accept donations from lobbyists or their clients or their employees with active registrations in the City's Lobbyist Registry without pre-approval from the Integrity Commissioner;
- Not use any funds, goods or services received for the benevolent activity for any other purpose;
- Report on these activities as part of Public Disclosure, in a manner and for prescribed by the City Clerk, on an annual basis in recognition of the fact that preparation for a benevolent activity can take several months; and
- In an election year, a Member of Council must not seek donations and sponsorships for any community event that has not been staged in the previous two years nor accept donations or stage any new community event supported by donations and sponsorships after they have filed nomination papers for election to any office in the City of Ottawa. Exemptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis with the approval of the Integrity Commissioner.
A community event is considered to have been staged in the previous two years if it meets the following criteria:
- has a very similar, if not the same, event name/title
- takes place at approximately the same time
- has the same general purpose;
- In the case of repeat annual events, a reasonable operational amount may carry over to a subsequent year; and
- At end of a Member’s term, any funds remaining in such accounts shall revert to the appropriate charity or organization or to the Council Administration Budget in the same manner as a surplus of a Member’s Constituency Budget as the case may be.
Support for benevolent activities and events
Members of Council are called upon to assist and support various charities, service clubs, and other non-profit and community-based associations. For example, Members support their communities in a variety of ways including, but not limited to:
- accepting honourary roles in organizations;
- lending their names to organization and events to assist in fundraising; and
- encouraging community and corporate donations to registered charitable, not-for-profit, or other community-based groups.
As civic leaders and public office holders, Members of Council supporting community endeavours and projects must also exhibit transparency with their involvement and carry out their community service in a manner that promotes public confidence. Members of Council shall not use the influence their office for any other purpose than the lawful exercise of their official duties and for municipal purposes.
When considering whether to support a third party by organizing a fundraiser or benevolent event Members of Council shall disclose all material facts to the Integrity Commissioner and obtain a written opinion from the Integrity Commissioner approving the activity, which concludes that the Member does not have a conflict between their private interest and public duty.
In circumstances where the Integrity Commissioner has provided a written opinion approving the activity, the Member shall:
- Ensure that they or their staffs do not directly solicit any funds, nor that they receive any funds that are solicited by the organization;
- Ensure that all donations shall be payable directly to the organization and all in kind donations will go directly to the organization;
- Ensure that their commitment and support does not require significant staff time and/or City resources;
- Not participate directly in decisions on the disbursement of funds or in the determination of the beneficiaries of the funds and remain at arm’s length from the financial aspects of these external events without pre-approval from the Integrity Commissioner; and
- Ensure that if more than $25,000 in funds net of expenses is raised, the organization is encouraged to publicly disclose audited statements, which should include a list of receipts, expenses, donors and disbursements to beneficiaries.
Members of Council are required to adhere to this policy and its governing provisions.
The Integrity Commissioner will provide guidance when requested, as set out in the policy.
The Integrity Commissioner shall be responsible for receiving complaints and/or concerns related to this policy. Upon receipt of a complaint and/or concern, the Integrity Commissioner shall respond to the complaint and/or concern accordingly.
Where there is a discrepancy between the Community, Fundraising and Special Events Policy and the Code of Conduct for Members of Council, the language of the Code prevails.
Code of Conduct for Members of Council
Election-Related Resources Policy
Election-Related Blackout Period Procedures
Legislative and administrative authorities
Section 223.3 of the Municipal Act, 2001 authorizes City Council to assign functions to the Integrity Commissioner in respect of:
- The application of any procedures, rules and policies of the municipality and local boards governing the ethical behaviour of members of council and of local boards.
As per the Records Management Policy, Official Business Records generated as a result of the execution of this policy must be declared as such in the appropriate SharePoint site, RMS (Records Management System) or approved business system.
Benevolent activity: An event or cause in which funds are raised for charity and not for profit.
Donation: A voluntary gift (i.e. financial contribution) for which the donor receives no direct benefit of any kind.
In-kind donation: A voluntary gift of goods or services for which the donor receives no direct benefit of any kind.
Sponsorship: A financial contribution to an event, recognized by the Member in publications and/or in the course of the event.
Office of the Integrity Commissioner
City of Ottawa
Telephone: 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401)
Council Expense Policy
Approved By: City Council
Category: City Clerk
Approval Date: May 8, 2013
Effective Date: July 1, 2013
Revision Date: February 1, 2021 (Housekeeping revisions); December 7, 2022
The City of Ottawa is committed to exercising fair, transparent and responsible financial practices with respect to the finances and expenditures that support elected officials in fulfilling their statutory duties.
The Council Expense Policy provides guidance to Members of Council on expenditures that support the Member in fulfilling their statutory duties as an elected official.
A Constituency Services Budget is intended to provide Members of Council (Members) with the resources to:
- Administer their offices at City Hall and in their wards to support their role;
- To conduct meetings and communicate with their constituents and other stakeholders;
- Support and promote activities or community groups within their ward and in the community at large; and
- Represent the City at functions, events or conferences.
The policy is intended to:
- Provide Members of Council with the flexibility to allocate resources in the most efficient way to meet their own particular requirements;
- Clarify the processes that Members and their staff use to administer their budgets by simplifying and outlining the rules; and
- Recognize Members’ accountability for managing City resources allocated to them.
This policy applies to all Members of Council and officers and employees of the corporation.
The following principles should be applied when interpreting this policy:
- Autonomy of Council
- City Council, as the decision-making body of the City, is separate and distinct from the City administration; and
- The autonomy of Council is provided for in the Municipal Act, 2001.
- Integrity of Council
- The integrity of City Council as a whole and the offices of the Members must be protected; and
- The interest of City Council as a whole takes precedence over the personal interest of individual Members of Council.
- Members are the stewards of City resources and are ultimately accountable to the public and their constituents for the type and level of expenses they incur;
- Since Members use public funds when they perform their duties, the public expects public funds to be used solely for fulfillment of their public duties;
- Members’ expenses should be reasonable and reflect what the public expects of an elected official; and
- Members’ business expenses and personal expenses must be kept separate.
- The public has a right to know how public funds allocated to Members are spent; and
- The public’s right to Members’ expense information must be balanced against the need to protect privacy and personal information, and allow time for proper accounting and reconciliation of expenses.
- Flexibility and Limits
- Members require flexibility to perform their roles, operate their offices and pursue their public interests;
- Members engage their communities differently;
- Expenditures must not conflict with rules set out in other related legislation and polices (e.g. Election-Related Resources Policy); and
- All accounting, audit and Income Tax Act principles and rules must be followed.
Exemptions to this Policy may be granted in writing by the City Clerk, in consultation with the Integrity Commissioner as necessary.
The guiding legislation for the Council Expense Policy is the Municipal Act, 2001. Section 224 of the Act describes the role of City Council:
- To represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality;
- To develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality;
- To determine which services the municipality provides;
- To ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council;
- To ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality;
- To maintain the financial integrity of the municipality; and
- To carry out the duties of council under this or any other Act.
Section 225 further describes the role of the Mayor as Head of Council:
- To act as Chief Executive Officer of the municipality;
- To preside over council meetings so that its business can be carried out efficiently and effectively;
- To provide leadership to the council;
- To provide information and recommendations to the council with respect to the role of council to ensure administrative, accountability and transparency policies are in place;
- To represent the municipality at official functions; and
- To carry out the duties of the head of council under this or any other Act.
Section 1 - Budget allocation and administration
Constituency Services Budget for Members of Council
Members of Council are provided with a Constituency Services Budget with which to run their offices. Expenses include items such as: community events, contributions, donations and sponsorship, office supplies and staffing. Members of Council cannot exceed their annual Constituency Services Budget. Any over-expenditure is the personal responsibility of the Member and to be paid personally by the Member. There is no carry-over of deficits or surpluses from one year to the next. This is particularly important in an election year since sufficient funds must remain for the newly elected representatives to operate their offices.
Where it appears that a Member’s Constituency Services Budget may be overspent, the City Clerk or designate will advise the Member in writing as soon as a risk is identified and, in conjunction with the Program Manager, Council Support Services or the Program Manager, Mayor Support Services, as appropriate, work towards resolving the matter with the Member.
Council Administration Budget
The budget for the Elected Officials is overseen by the City Clerk. Under the supervision of the Manager, Council and Committee Services, the Council Administration Budget is used to finance a range of items commonly used in the operation of each Office, as well as cover certain other expenses supporting the Council or required by the Municipal Act, 2001.
The salary, benefits and transportation allowance of all Members of Council will be drawn from the Council Administration Budget. The Council Administration Budget may also fund travel by Members of Council to conferences, Board or committee meetings of municipal organization or similar events in accordance with relevant, approved policies and procedures.
Spending guidelines and budget administration
Members’ claims for expenses must follow basic accounting and audit principles and the following guidelines:
- Expenses must relate to the business of the City of Ottawa; Members and their staff cannot claim expenses of a personal nature;
- Additional restrictions on expenses are set out in Section 4 of this Policy - Restrictions on Expenses;
- Expenses and associated documentation must be consistent with what is permitted in the Councillors' Office Manual;
- Members or their staff must incur the expenses. Expenses incurred by third parties may not be reimbursed in the same manner;
- Members and their staff must provide proper documentation for all expenses in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Councillors’ Office Manual. This includes providing detailed receipts and a breakdown of taxes, for all expense claims. Credit card receipts or statements alone are not sufficient and will not be accepted. In the case of any on-line purchases, a copy of the confirmation must be attached to the claim. Members or their authorized staff must sign off on all receipts or invoices with original signatures or by electronic means;
- Delegation of signing authority to staff must be documented on the appropriate form and remitted to the Program Manager, Council Support Services or the Program Manager, Mayor Support Services with samples of signatures prior to the transaction;
- Invoices must include a description of the goods purchased or services rendered, the cost, applicable taxes, and GST Registration Number. In the event a GST Registration Number is not provided, Members’ Assistants are required to contact the vendor to obtain the information;
- The City of Ottawa is exempted from GST. GST paid to vendors will not be included in the amount charged to the Member’s Constituency Services Budget;
- Any material and intellectual assets purchased through the use of the Constituency Services Budget are the property of the City of Ottawa, not the Member. Original receipts and, where applicable, a photograph of the purchase are required for inventory purposes;
- All donations to charities funded by the Constituency Services budget shall be accomplished by means of a City of Ottawa cheque, direct deposit or purchasing card payment and any charitable receipt shall be made out to the City of Ottawa. Charitable receipts shall be given to the Program Manager, Council Support Services or the Program Manager, Mayor Support Services. Neither Members nor their staff will be reimbursed for charitable donations provided in cash unless accompanied by the charitable receipt;
- Expenses must be charged to the year in which they occurred. Expenses cannot be carried forward to different years;
- Members who charge for goods against the current year must have received the goods and/or services from the vendor before December 31 of that year. It is recognized that certain annual subscriptions (including but not limited to software), may not align with the budget year and Members may choose the most economical option;
- Original receipts must be submitted within 90 days of purchase and no later than the final date for processing payments within a budget year as determined by the Finance Services Department;
- At the end of the year, when expenses have been incurred but invoices are not yet received, Members must inform the Program Manager, Council Support Services or the Program Manager, Mayor Support Services, as appropriate, so that a proper liability can be set up. Invoices from previous years that have not been set up as liabilities will not be paid or reimbursed from the previous year’s budget. Payment may be made against the current year’s budget;
- To ensure financial integrity, Members of Council must sign off on disbursements/reimbursements directly payable to their staff. Further, the City Clerk or designate must sign off on disbursements/reimbursements directly payable to Members of Council;
- Where a Member of Council or their staff is requesting reimbursement for an expense, proof of payment must also be submitted; and
- Members of Council can obtain a Corporate Card or a Purchasing Card, which provides more flexibility with respect to purchasing goods and services, including travel expenses. Both cards are accompanied with specific reporting and accountability requirements.
Requirements for Contractors
When a Member of Council procures the services of a contracted vendor, the vendor shall disclose the following matters:
- Prior and/or ongoing lobbying activity with the City of Ottawa;
- Any other current employment relationships; and
- Any real or potential conflicts of interest, including family members or close associates working for the City of Ottawa.
Section 2 - Public disclosure
Expense reports are prepared on a monthly basis for each Member of Council. The reports are broken down into a series of categories for ease of reference. An itemized report is provided for expenses related to donations and sponsorships, hospitality, special events and travel. Members of Council must take note of the specific documentation requirements of certain allowable expenses and ensure that the appropriate details are provided. An annual release of each Member of Council’s final budget figures will also be disclosed.
Further, and in accordance with the legislated requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001, a Statement of Remuneration, Benefits and Expenses Paid to Council Members and Council Appointees, and Police Services Board members, will be reported to Council each year.
In the spirit of accountability and transparency, the individual office expenses for Members of City Council are publicly disclosed on the City’s website.
Section 3 - Conditions and requirements for public disclosure
Specific documentation and requirements apply to the expense categories below.
Contributions and sponsorship
- Contributions in the form of donations or sponsorships must be accompanied by a request from the organization with details about the mandate of the group and the purpose of the contribution.
Hospitality offered by Members
- Identify business purpose and date for the meeting expense;
- Original itemized receipt indicating items consumed and total cost;
- The name and location of establishment; and
- Full name of all participants attending meeting must be provided, as well as their affiliation if they are representing an organization or business. The names of individuals receiving hospitality are not confidential.
- Members are not required to list the names of attendees for community events of a social, protocol or ceremonial nature or events involving large groups (over 10 people), school events or similar events where no City business is transacted or the names of any minors receiving hospitality.
- Members may purchase supplies to provide refreshments to staff and guests in their City Hall or Ward Office on an as-required basis (such as coffee or tea) and are not required to list the names of individuals consuming said refreshments.
Special events attended by Members
- Exact name of event must be provided;
- Date and location of the event;
- Name of host organization, where applicable;
- The name of any individual who attended with the Member;
- Detailed receipts and invoices of any expenses incurred; and
- A copy of tickets purchased.
- Identify all City-funded travel, including travel funded by the City’s Boards and Agencies, as well as Members’ travel funded by external bodies such as boards, conservation authorities and municipal associations;
- Identify where the meeting was held, the duration, and the purpose;
- Travel reimbursement must include any itinerary confirming travel dates and airline booking, an original hotel invoice itemizing room costs and other incidentals, conference brochure confirming the cost and conference date and taxi / parking receipts;
- Members must report to the Integrity Commissioner, before the first date of travel, all travel costs funded by an eligible body under the Code of Conduct; and
- Members who undertake City-funded travel must submit a report detailing their experiences, what they learned at the conference and how the City’s position or interests were advanced. The report shall be accomplished in writing, either as an information report or as an Information Previously Distributed report, listed on the agenda for the appropriate Standing Committee.
Section 4 - Restrictions on expenses
- Unless otherwise approved by motion of Council, contributions are limited to 3.5% of the Members annual Constituency Services Budget;
- Contributions shall be made via City of Ottawa cheques, direct deposit or purchasing card payment to a community group or organization, not by a Member of Council or staff personal cheques;
- Unless otherwise approved by motion of Council, contributions to individuals, businesses or City funded services and departments are prohibited; and
- The purchase of material assets as contributions is prohibited.
- No expense shall create a conflict of interest, or the appearance of such a conflict, that may arise through the purchase of goods or services from a family member;
- Alcohol is not a permitted expense;
- Personal expenses (i.e. clothing, etc.) are not eligible expenses;
- Gifts for Members’ staff or other employees of the City, its agencies, boards, commissions and special purpose bodies are not eligible expenses;
- Members’ budgets shall not be used to provide a personal benefit to specific individual citizens or businesses (i.e. payment of tax penalties, parking tickets, sponsorship of personal travel, etc.);
- Members should keep in mind the general integrity principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and may consult with the Integrity Commissioner as required on other matters that may create a real or perceived conflict of interest under the Code; and
- Direct mail and direct marketing expenses for a geographic area outside of a Member’s ward will not be permitted without prior approval from the City Clerk, in consultation with the Integrity Commissioner. Notwithstanding, and subject to the Election Related Resources Policy, it is recognized that advertising in mass media and broader circulation publications and some unaddressed postal walks will cross ward boundaries and these are exempt where outside the control of the Member seeking to direct mail/direct market to his/her ward residents.
Section 5 - Interpretation and exemptions
The City Clerk and Members of Council may consult with the Integrity Commissioner for guidance with respect to individual Member expenses or any interpretation on the application of this policy.
Where the City Clerk and the Integrity Commissioner have been consulted and a determination has been made that expense is appropriate, an exemption may be granted in writing.
Section 6 - Election year budget restrictions
In a municipal election year, and in relation to a municipal by-election, certain restrictions are placed on Member’s Office Budgets and the allowable expenses that can be incurred. These restrictions are set out in the Election-Related Resources Policy and its supporting Election-Related Blackout Period Procedures.
Members of Council and their staff are required to adhere to this policy and its governing provisions.
The City Clerk, or designate, and the Integrity Commissioner, will provide guidance when requested and notifications as required and as set out in the policy.
Monitoring / Contraventions
The City Clerk shall be responsible for receiving complaints and/or concerns related to this policy. Upon receipt of a complaint and/or concern, the City Clerk shall respond to the complaint and/or concern accordingly.
Code of Conduct for Members of Council
Community Fundraising and Special Event Policy
Election Related Resources Policy
Councillors’ Office Manual
As per the Records Management Policy, Official Business Records generated as a result of the execution of this policy must be declared as such in the appropriate SharePoint site, RMS (Records Management System) or approved business system.
Advertising – Paid promotion or communications in print, digital or social media including but not limited to Councillors’ columns in local newspapers, social media advertising and advertising at community-based events.
Community Event – An event hosted or co-hosted by a Members of Council.
Contribution – Includes donations to or sponsorships of charities and community groups paid from the Member’s Constituency Services Budget.
Donation – A form of contribution. Includes monetary donations to charities or community groups, as well as in kind donations such as gift cards, raffle prizes and small-value consumable or material goods.
Hospitality – The provision of meals or refreshments, including to Members’ staff and members of the public.
Intellectual Asset - Any results or products of research and development activities of any nature (including, but not limited to studies, reports, publications and other information products, databases, software) that are paid for out of the Member’s Constituency Services Budget.
Material Asset – Physical items or structures purchased from a Member’s Constituency Services Budget. These include property, equipment (such as IT equipment), furniture, appliances.
Professional Services – As defined in the City of Ottawa’s Procurement By-law (200-50), Professional Services means services requiring the skills of professionals for a defined service requirement or for a specific project related deliverable including but not limited to the areas of engineering, architecture, design, planning, information technology, financial auditing and fairness commissioners.
Non-professional Services – All other services paid for by the Constituency Services Budget including but not limited to office assistance and event support.
Personal Expense – An expense that is primarily of personal benefit to the Member of Council or their staff and/or is not related to the business of the City of Ottawa.
Special Event – an event in which the Member of Council has participated through the purchase of tickets from their constituency services budget.
Sponsorship – A form of contribution. Money that is given from the Constituency Services Budget to support a particular organization or initiative. Advertising undertaken primarily as a sponsorship for the benefit of the receiving organization is considered a contribution under this Policy.
For more information on this policy, contact the City Clerk, Manager of Council and Committee Services or the Program Manager of Council Support Services.