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.


Bill 68 Amended and Ordered for Third Reading

The Standing Committee on Social Policy completed its review of Bill 68 this week, and ordered it for third reading with a number of amendments. Notably the committee removed the provision in Bill 68 that would allow integrity commissioners to conduct investigations on their own initiative. This change was recommended by AMCTO in our submission on Bill 68 and strongly supported by our members:

IC Recommendation.jpg

Some of the other amendments made by the committee include:

  • Requiring municipalities to indemnify their integrity commissioners (ICs)
  • Not allowing councillors or members of local boards to participate electronically in meetings if they are closed to the public
  • Requiring that an integrity commissioner investigation not completed by election day be terminated, and not allowing new investigations to be launched during this period
  • Changing the provision that would allow for “any person” to be able to request an inquiry under the MCIA, to any “elector, as defined in section 1 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, or person demonstrably acting in the public good.”
  • Requiring that applications for integrity commissioner investigations of alleged breaches of the MCIA may only be made within six weeks of the applicant becoming aware of the alleged contravention
  • Imposing several limitations to the replacement of a member of upper-tier council, including
    • Not appointing more than one alternate member during the term of council (however, if the seat of the member who has been appointed as an alternate becomes vacant, the council can appoint a different member to serve as the alternate)
    • Not appointing an alternate member to act in place of an alternate member appointed under subsection 267
    • Not appointing an alternate head of council of the upper-tier municipality
  • Extending the new requirement for municipalities to adopt and maintain a policy for pregnancy and parental leaves to school boards and their members

For more:

Bill 68, as Amended by Committee 

Government Releases Changes to Municipal Legislation 

Annotated Versions of MA and MCIA, as Amended by Bill 68 (before committee review) 

AMCTO Releases Submission on Bill 68

Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner Oppose Bill 68 Closed Meeting Exceptions

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsman both spoke out this week in opposition to additional closed meeting exemptions proposed in Bill 68. Bill 68, as it is currently written, adds a number of new exemptions for when council meetings could go into closed session. Section 239 (2) of the Municipal Act allows a municipality to hold a meeting or part of a meeting behind closed doors if it conforms to one of a series of proscribed situations. Bill 68 would add four new exemptions to the seven that are currently contained in the Municipal Act, including:

(h) information explicitly supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board by Canada, a province or territory or Crown agency of any of them;

(i) a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board, which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization;

(j) a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial or financial information that belongs to the municipality or local board and has monetary value or potential monetary value; or

(k) a position, plan, procedure, criteria or instruction to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of the municipality or local board.

The Ombudsman and Commissioner’s opposition to these provisions runs as follows:

Information Access and Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish:

The IPC is concerned that the proposed amendments in Bill 68 would broaden the circumstances in which councils and local boards may exclude the public from important decision-making, including by limiting access to information…. The proposed amendments will frustrate open and accountable government, inhibit open procurement practices, and limit the public’s existing right of access to records….Moreover, we have not been provided with sufficient information to suggest that the amendments are necessary to the effective operation of municipal councils and local bodies.

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé:

The Information and Privacy Commissioner is the expert in access to information issues in Ontario’s municipal sector, and I fully support his submission relating to these proposed exceptions…. The public’s right to witness local government conduct business and make decisions should not be removed unless there are strong and compelling reasons to do so.

While AMCTO welcomes the flexibility that the additional closed meeting exemptions provide, we do have some concerns, especially with exemption “K.” In our submission on Bill 68 we recommended the government remove exemption “K” for the following reasons:

The problem with exemption “K” is that it is simply too broad. It is worded so loosely that it is prone to misuse and abuse. Over the past ten years municipalities have adapted to the open meeting regime in Ontario, and now conduct the vast majority of their business in public. If the government moves forward with exemption “K” it risks losing that momentum. As an organization that is committed to promoting ethics and accountability, we believe that closed meeting exemption “K” must be removed from Bill 68. It is too broad, too prone to abuse, and too likely to reduce the level of transparency that currently exists in municipalities.

Read our full submission here.


AMCTO Releases Submission on Bill 68

Today AMCTO submitted its comments on Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. AMCTO believes that a number of the changes proposed in Bill 68 are positive for municipalities—including many that we advocated for in our submission on the Municipal Act in 2015. However, while there is much in this bill that is good for the municipal sector and AMCTO members, there are also several areas of concern, and sections of the legislation where we think that changes need to be made.
Our submission includes five recommendations as well as the Associations’ concerns about what we think is the legislation’s overemphasis on accountability and transparency and failure to address the fiscal sustainability of Ontario’s municipalities. Our specific recommendations are for the government to amend the legislation to:

  1. Include principles for how integrity commissioners conduct their duties (and investigations) either in the legislation or in a separate regulation
  2. Remove the provision from Bill 68 that would allow an integrity commissioner to launch an investigation on their “own initiative”
  3. Remove closed meeting exception “K” from the list of added circumstances in section 239 where councils can move into closed session
  4. Keep the current date for starting a new session of council as December 1st
  5. Establish a lengthen transition period before Bill 68 is proclaimed

Read the full submission here.

Bill 68 Sent to Committee

Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, passed second reading and was sent to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. Please see below for details on the hearings. AMCTO plans to present the Associations’ views on the bill during the committee’s review of the legislation and present the government with a formal submission.

Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017

The Standing Committee on Social Policy will meet to consider Bill 68, An Act to amend various Acts in relation to municipalities.

The Committee intends to hold public hearings in Toronto on Tuesday, April 4, Monday, April 10, and Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation on Bill 68 on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 should provide their contact name, mailing address, phone number, and email address to the Clerk of the Committee by 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation on Bill 68 on Monday, April 10 or Tuesday, April 11, 2017 should provide their contact name, mailing address, phone number, and email address to the Clerk of the Committee by 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Those who do not wish to make an oral presentation but wish to comment on the Bill may send a written submission to the Clerk of the Committee at the address below by 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

An electronic version of the Bill is available on the Legislative Assembly website at:

Peter Tabuns, MPP, Chair
Katch Koch, Clerk

Room 1405, Whitney Block
Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A2

Telephone:                                                                                                           (416) 325-3526
Facsimile:                                                                                                             (416) 325-3505
TTY:                                                                                                                       (416) 325-3538


 (Collect calls will be accepted.)

Ces renseignements sont disponibles en français sur demande.

For more: 

Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act 

Government Releases Changes to Municipal Legislation 

Annotated Versions of MA and MCIA, as Amended by Bill 68 

AMCTO Municipal Act Submission 

Annotated Versions of MA and MCIA, As Amended by Bill 68

As Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, moves through the legislative process we’re happy to share annotated versions of the Municipal Act and Municipal Conflict of Interest Act with the proposed amendments in track changes:

Municipal Act–as amended by Bill 68

Municipal Conflict of Interest Act–as amended by Bill 68

Our thanks to John Daly for his hard work on this.

As these are working documents, we will continue to update them as the legislation changes or more information becomes available.

Government Releases Changes to Municipal Legislation

Yesterday the government tabled Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, which will introduce a series of reforms to the Municipal Act, and Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. While it’s too early to assess the overall impact of these changes, we were pleased to see many of AMCTO’s recommendations incorporated in the announced changes, including a clear definition of a meeting, new rules around open meetings, a requirement for municipalities to adopt codes of conduct, and a shorter lame duck period amongst others.

Some of the key highlights can be found below. You can also find the full text of the legislation can be found here.

Codes of Conduct

  • Codes of Conduct will now be mandatory for all municipalities. As demonstrated in a survey that we conducted in early 2016, most municipalities already have codes of conduct for both council and staff, but we believe that this is nevertheless a positive development

code of conduct.jpg

Closed, Open & Electronic Meetings

  • There is going to be a clearer definition of a “Meeting,” under the Municipal Act’s open meeting provisions:
    • The new definition requires there to be (1) a quorum of council members; and (2) that those present discuss issues in a way that “materially advances” the business or decision-making of council, for it to be formally considered a “meeting” that should be open to the public
    • This is similar to the definition that was favoured by AMO and several other municipal stakeholders
  • There will also be an expanded number of discretionary exemptions where councils can meet in closed session. The new exemptions will include:
    • When information is supplied in confidence by the federal government, provincial government’s or a crown agency/corporation
    • Certain third party information supplied in confidence
    • Trade, financial or commercial information that belongs to the municipality and has potential monetary value
    • Information related to negotiations being conducted by or with the municipality
  • Under the broader changes to open meetings, there will also be a new requirement for municipalities to report back on how they intend to address a closed-meeting investigation
  • Councillors will also now be able to participate in meetings electronically, as long as there is an in-person quorum of councillors

Integrity Commissioners

  • All municipalities will also now need to provide their citizens access to an Integrity Commissioner (IC)—either by appointing their own, keeping one on retainer, or working with another municipality through a shared serviced arrangement. We know from the same survey data that while most municipalities have a code of conduct, not as many have Integrity Commissioners


  • The role of the Integrity Commissioner will also be changed and expanded in a number of ways, including by:
    • Expanding their authority to also include the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA)
    • Giving ICs the power to provide advice to councils and local boards about their codes of conduct and MCIA obligations
    • Giving ICs the power to refer investigations to the courts
    • Giving ICs the power to initiate investigations into potential MCIA violations or code of conduct breaches
    • Giving ICs broader responsibility for public education


  • The range of penalties for Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) violations will be expanded (likely new penalties will include suspensions or fines), giving judges more latitude when dealing with these types of violations
  • Municipalities will also be required to create a registry that tracks all registered conflicts of interest

Fiscal sustainability

  • Notably the government will not be giving municipalities access to any new revenue tools. At the AMO conference in August the Premier indicated that the government is still open to this conversation but is looking for the municipal sector to make a specific request
  • The government’s current prudent investor standards will be expanded to give municipalities more investment options
  • The MA will also be changed to allow tax sales to start faster, and be easier to complete
  • There will be a number of technical changes to property taxation, and we will share more specific information about this as it becomes available

Staff-Council Relations

  • All municipalities will have to have a formal policy on staff-council relations, addressing the formal roles and responsibilities of public servants and members of council


  • Municipalities will be given the authority to use AMPs (administrative monetary penalties) for a broader range of offences, beyond simply parking

Parental Leave

  • Councillors will be guaranteed a minimum period of parental leave
  • This issue was the subject of a private members bill a few weeks ago

Regional Council Composition

  • There are a number of changes to regional council composition, including:
    • A new requirement for regional governments to review their council composition following every second municipal election (starting after the 2018 election)
    • Removing the requirement for a minister’s regulation when changing the composition of council
    • In situations where a regional government is unable to reach consensus on a new council composition, the Minister will retain responsibility for imposing a solution
  • A lower tier council will also be able to temporarily appoint an alternate in situations where the permanent member cannot attend an upper-tier council meeting
  • In the government’s omnibus budget bill, which was also released this week, it was announced that regional chairs will also now be directly elected

Municipal Elections

  • There are a number of changes to the MA that will have an impact on municipal elections, including:
    • The lame duck period will be shortened, and the start of a new council term will now be November 15th
    • A change of the individual contribution limit from $750 to $1,200 (this will place it in-line with the provincial limit)
    • Imposing new formula-based limits on self-finance campaigns, with a maximum limit of $25,000

Climate Change

  • The municipal act will now give municipalities explicit authority to deal with climate change. While several municipalities are already doing so, this change will clear up any confusion about their authority in this area

Community Hubs

  • The Minister will also gain the express authority to impose regulations on community hubs. We are told that this provision will not likely be used in the immediate term, but is designed to give the ministry greater flexibility in the future.


  • Municipalities will now be required to meet prescribed conditions before establishing small business programs
  • Municipalities will be given the ability to regulate all signs in their jurisdiction (this will remove any signs that have been grandfathered in)

For more:

AMCTO Municipal Act Submission 


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 

Court of Appeal Reaffirms Canada Post Super-Mailbox Authority

In a ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal this week, Canada Post’s authority to locate community mailboxes, including the new Super Mailboxes, on roadsides has been maintained. The case was the result of an appeal filed by the City of Hamilton who argued that it has control over its own right of ways. However, while the court agreed that municipalities have the right to pass by-laws, it ruled that constitutional paramountcy (the principle that the constitution takes precedent over municipal by-laws) is the ultimate authority in this dispute.

For more:

Decision: Canada Post Corporation v. Hamilton (City), 2016

CBC: Court rules in favour of Canada Post 

Does the Land Transfer Tax Impact Housing Sales?

New research, from the Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), examines the impact of the City of Toronto’s decision in 2008 to introduce a Land Transfer Tax (LTT). It argues that the decline in housing sales in 2008 was more of a function of the global recession that began that year, than the city’s decision to apply a LTT to real estate transactions.

Previous research has shown that housing sales declined in Toronto once the City imposed the land transfer tax. This study, however, concludes that the negative impact of the tax on housing sales was statistically insignificant…

Read the full paper here.