New Paper on the Evolving Role of the CAO/City Manager

A new paper, released this week by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, explores how the relationship between elected officials and the public service has changed over time, and how the role of the CAO is important for ensuring effective council-staff relations. The paper, authored by Michael Fenn and David Seigel argues:

The often hidden, but very important, relationship between the municipal council and the public service is a key determinant of the success of any municipality… We believe that the CAO model performs better than either the council-committee model on which it was superimposed, or the U.S.-style “strong mayor”/political executive format that some favour. But the CAO model in Ontario is still relatively new and continues to evolve.

The paper also offers some suggestions for positive ways that the CAO model can continue to evolve in the future and highlights risks for the model going forward.

Read the full paper here.


BAO Looking for Board Members

The Bereavement Authority of Ontario is recruiting for its Board of Directors. See below or click here for more information.

Call for BAO Board of Director Applicants

November 14, 2016

The Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) invites interested individuals to serve on its first permanent Board of Directors (the “Board”). We are currently seeking four (4) skills-based Directors.

Organizational Profile of the BAO

The BAO is responsible for licensing and enforcement related to cemeteries, crematoriums, funeral and transfer services. As part of its governance structure, the Board is supported by three Advisory Committees: Funeral and Transfer Service Advisory Committee; Cemetery, Crematorium and Municipal Advisory Committee; and Faith- Based Advisory Committee.

Board Mandate

The Board oversees the management of the BAO’s business and affairs and is expected to take on a leadership role in the development of the BAO’s strategic direction. The Board sets policy, oversees the expenditure of the BAO’s funds and represents the BAO in its dealings with government, regulatory agencies, and the public. The Board, through its Chair, is accountable to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Board Composition

The BAO Board will be comprised of 10 members:

  • Four (4) Elected Directors selected based on their skills and governance experience. These are the 4 positions we are seeking to fill at this time.
  • Three (3) Directors appointed by the Minister of Government and Consumer Services
  • Three (3) Advisory Committee Chairs

Terms of Office

The terms of office for the Board will be staggered. Of the four skills-based Directors, two will have a three-year term, one will have a two-year term and one will have a one-year term.

The Chair and the Vice-Chair positions will be selected from within the Board and will serve a one-year term.

Nomination Process

A Nominations Committee comprised of 3 members of the current Board will review applications from individuals to serve on the permanent Board.

Application Process

If you are interested in participating, please complete an application, and submit along with a resumé and two references by December 16, 2016. Phone interviews may be conducted throughout December. Applications can be submitted by mail or electronically:

By email:

By mail:

Bereavement Authority of Ontario Attn: Nominations Committee 100 Sheppard Ave East, Suite 505 Toronto, ON, M2N 6N5

Qualifications of Directors / Skills Matrix

The following core competencies and attributes required by a BAO Board member may be acquired through a combination of education, practical work experience, previous Board experience and Director training. Click here for a Director Qualification Guide that defines a ‘basic’, ‘good’ and ‘strong’ level of understanding in each of these areas.

  •   Board and Governance Experience
  •   Financial Literacy
  •   Risk Management
  •   Strategic Direction and Planning
  •   Government and Regulatory Environment Stakeholder Relations

Important: The four (4) skills-based Directors must not have a direct personal or business interest in the bereavement industry. This means that:

  • Directors may not be a bereavement sector licensee; or an employee of a licensee;
  • Directors may not have ownership or financial interest in any segment of the bereavement sector;
  • Directors may not be a supplier to the bereavement sector; and
  • Directors may not be a member nor associated with a funeral, burial, cremation or memorial society/association.

Expected Contribution

  •   Attendance at 4 – 8 Board meetings per year
  •   Participation on ad hoc committees as required
  • Adequate preparation time for meetings


The BAO pays a per diem and reimbursement for travel and out-of-pocket expenses associated with attendance at meetings or special functions in accordance with the BAO Remuneration Policy and Expense Policy.

Nomination Timeline

  •   Board Member application submission deadline: December 16, 2016
  • First meeting of Board: March 2017


For more details on the composition, roles and responsibilities and overall structure of the Board, click here to access BAO By-law No. 2. For the Nominations Committee Terms of Reference, click here. For all other questions, call Lisa Padgett, Manager of the Office of the Registrar and Board of Directors, at 647-483-2645 ext 202 or by email at


MPPs Call for Parental Leave for Municipal Politicians

Two MPPs are calling on the government to give municipal elected officials the right to parental leave. Last week Liberal MPP Daiene Vernile introduced a private members bill that would give municipal politicians parental leave, shortly before NDP MPP Catherine Fife wrote an open letter to Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro asking the same. The Municipal Act currently contains a provision requiring municipal councillors not to be absent for three months without the permission of council. Fife argues that this provision poses a barrier to women entering local politics.

Open Letter: MPP Catherine Fife calls on government to legislate parental leave for municipal councillors 

Bill 46, Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act (Councillor Pregnancy and Parental Leave ), 2016 

New Paper on Inter-Municipal Cooperation and Shared Service Delivery

A new paper, written by Zachary Spicer and Adam Found explores shared service delivery models in city-regions facing expanding demand. The paper argues that while amalgamations have produced little if any savings (some studies suggest costs actually increase)  and undermined local autonomy, inter-municipal cooperation arrangements offer municipalities an effective means to make services more efficient, while maintaining autonomy.

The antiquated solutions of forced amalgamation and provincial mandates on service sharing have produced few economies of scale and and have greatly undermined local autonomy. Provinces need to shift their focus from imposing centralized local government to creating frameworks that promote cooperative and flexible local governance.

Read the paper here.

Improving Good Governance at the Local Level

A new paper, published today by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), explores the meaning of good governance in Canadian municipalities. The paper argues that the typical approach of linking good governance with efficiency and service deliver may be too limited.

While cost-per-unit may be a valid indicator of administrative efficiency, it tells us little about the quality of civic engagement or whether government has had a positive impact on society, the economy, or the natural environment.

Read the full paper here.

Profile of Municipal Councillors in Rural Ontario

Last week the Rural Ontario Institute released its Municipal Councillor Profile, which documents demographic characteristics and shares the perspectives of municipal elected officials and staff in rural Ontario.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Ontario municipal councillors are on average older, more predominantly male, less racially diverse, with higher incomes and more education than a typical cross-section of rural community demographics
  • 75% of Ontario’s councillors and mayors are men, with men occupying 83% of the ‘heads of council’ positions
  • The median age for councillors and mayors is 60, relative to Ontario’s median age of 40, with roughly 70% of councillors falling between the ages of 50 and 70, and only 9% falling between 18 and 40
  • Barriers to candidacy in rural areas include lack of training, difficulties “learning the system,” work-life balance, and managing relationships and conflict on council

The research also proposes a number of priority action areas to improve the diversity of rural councils, including:

  • Greater pre-candidacy training
  • More rigorous and ongoing professional development
  • Formalized mentorship opportunities
  • Ensuring a positive council-staff relationship

“Attracting younger candidates, female candidates, better preparing candidates and encouraging an atmosphere of mutual respect in municipal politics are all thought to be beneficial to the overall health of the municipal political system.”

For more on healthy staff-council relations, you can read AMCTO’s Policy and Management Brief on the topic:

Michael Fenn, “Successful Staff/Council Relations: Old Lessons for New Challenges” 

Find the full Councillor Profile here.

IPC Rules Councillor’s Email An Official City Record

In a decision that may set a precedent for municipalities across the province, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) has ruled that the City of Oshawa must consider an email sent by a sitting councillor from her personal email address an official city record. As part of its ruling, the IPC stated that any records that emanate from a councillor’s official responsibilities as a member of council are subject to information access laws.

The city argues that it could not legally compel the councillor to provide the record. The parties did not refer me to any contracts, codes of conduct or policies that expressly or by implication give the city the legal right to possess or otherwise control the record, which was sent from the councillor’s personal iPad. The Supreme Court has stated, however, that de facto (as opposed to de jure) control is recognized as control. Although a councillor is not considered to be part of the city for the purposes of the Act, neither is a councillor a stranger to the city; both are governed by the Municipal Act.… I acknowledge that, as discussed above, many previous orders of this office have found that records created by city councillors are not in the control of the city. However, determining custody and control is a contextual exercise. None of the orders involved facts similar to those before me…

-Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario, ORDER MO-3281, The Corporation of the City of Oshawa, January 22 2016


Fore more:

Information and Privacy Commissioner Report 

Toronto Star: Email from Oshawa councillor’s private account ordered released 


14 Bills Passed During Fall Session

The Ontario legislature passed 14 bills during its fall sitting, which ended yesterday. They include:

Bill 9 – Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, 2015

Bill 37 – Invasive Species Act, 2015

Bill 52 – Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015

Bill 66 – Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015

Bill 73 – Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015

Bill 85 – Strengthening and Improving Government Act, 2015

Bill 106 – Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015

Bill 109 – Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015

Bill 112 – Strengthening Consumer Protection and Electricity System Oversight Act, 2015

Bill 113 – Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015

Bill 115 – Electoral Boundaries Act, 2015

Bill 122 – Mental Health Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015

Bill 144 – Budget Measures Act, 2015

Bill 153 – Métis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act, 2015

Bills Introduced but Not Passed:

Bill 119 – Health Information Protection Act, 2015

Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, 2015

Bill 135 – Energy Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015

Bill 151 – Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2015

Bill 155 – Mining Amendment Act, 2015

Bill 156 – Alternative Financial Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015

Fore more:

Government of Ontario Backgrounder: 14 Bills Passed and 6 Additional Bills Introduced During Fall Sitting 

What are the Next Big Things in Local Government?

The Alliance for Innovation has just published a new study that attempts to answer the question: what the next big things facing local government? The report, which is the culmination of over a year of research and consultation, contains 44 trends in four categories: resources, technology, demographics, and governance that will likely impact how local governments function in the future. You can learn more about this project here.