Bill would increase public agency accountability
Proposed amendments to the Conflicts of Interest Act would further protect Albertans’ tax dollars and ensure public agencies are governed transparently.
If passed, the Conflicts of Interest Amendment Act 2017 would create a consistent set of rules for the province’s agencies, boards and commissions to ensure positions are not being used to further private interests.
“MLAs and senior public servants are held to high ethical standards, and extending this to public agencies just makes sense. This is one more way we are making life better for Albertans by ensuring agencies are governed appropriately, ethically and with a high regard for public tax dollars.”
“A large part of agency governance is setting a level playing field and clear expectations as to what practices are and are not acceptable. This legislation does just that by setting clear parameters and expectations for executives and board members of agencies.”
The new rules would apply to board members and employees in 136 public agencies that fall under the Alberta Public Agencies Governance Act (APAGA) as well as Covenant Health and three subsidiaries of Alberta Health Services: Calgary Laboratory Services, Capital Care Group and Carewest.
If passed, the amendments would
Require board members and employees to conduct themselves impartially, disclose real and apparent conflicts of interest and place restrictions or limitations on:
- acting in self-interest or furthering private interest
- acceptance of gifts
- concurrent employment or other offices
Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) or equivalents would be subject to restrictions on other employment, business undertakings and appointments that constitute a real or apparent conflict of interest. These are similar standards to which MLAs and senior public service officials are held.
Additional requirements would be applied to CEOs of significant agencies, including:
- disclosure of financial information to the Ethics Commissioner
- restrictions on holding stocks and other securities
- a 12-month cooling off period following employment with a public agency to prevent CEOs from benefiting from decisions they made
Agencies and positions subject to the additional requirements will be identified in early 2018 and designated through Order-in-Council.
These requirements would bring public agencies into line with the obligations that already apply to elected officials, political staff and senior officials in the Alberta Public Service.
The Alberta government has made significant improvements to public agencies over the past two years through:
- effective use of public dollars – including cutting salaries and eliminating bonuses for the highest paid top executives of agencies, boards, and commissions
- more accountability and transparency – with public agencies required to publicly post salaries and employment and severance contracts of senior executives and all board members
- increased diversity of appointed board members – by providing the opportunity for all Albertans to apply for vacancies on the boards.alberta.ca website