Government Unveils Proposed Municipal Conduct Legislation for Municipalities
The Honourable Krista Lynn Howell, Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, today introduced the proposed new Municipal Conduct Act for second reading in the House of Assembly. If passed, the Bill will govern conflict of interest, ethical behaviour and professional conduct for all municipalities and towns across the province.
The proposed Municipal Conduct Act would:
- Increase clarity and harmonize procedures for conflict of interest;
- Define conflict of interest and introduce a common set of rules for all municipalities regarding conflict of interest;
- Require municipalities to establish a code of conduct for all municipal officials, including council members, employees, fire department personnel and anyone acting on behalf of a municipality in an official capacity;
- Set out penalties and require council to administer these penalties where a council member or senior staff member act in a conflict of interest or in violation of the code of conduct; and,
- Introduce mandatory training for councilors and senior staff.
Other highlights of the new Municipal Conduct Act would include:
- The requirement for a code of conduct to address, at the minimum, such topics as use of influence, harassment, and confidentiality;
- The requirement for municipalities to establish complaints procedures;
- The establishment of procedures for councillor disclosure of interest and exclusion of a councillor from participation in matters where a conflict exists; and,
- The establishment of appropriate penalties for elected officials found in violation of conduct rules, including the removal of a councillor from a seat.
The development of the new legislation follows considerable public consultations and ongoing discussions with municipal partners, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, the Professional Municipal Administrators and cities and towns.
“The proposed new Municipal Conduct Act provides clear guidelines for councils, enabling them to establish their own codes of conduct. It is essential that councils have the legislative authority, training and tools to effectively address issues of conflict of interest, use of influence, harassment and professional conduct. This will result in improved respectfulness, professionalism and workplace safety and wellness, ensuring that councils are more inclusive and addressing barriers that may prohibit people from participating in local government.”Honourable Krista Lynn Howell
Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs
“Our Government is committed to improving diversity and representation in politics. Working to reduce gender-based harassment and barriers to professional advancement are critical steps towards that commitment. Codes of conduct, like this one, are essential in setting standards and expectations that help create safe spaces for all employees. This proposed legislation will help promote equity and security in council chambers and municipal workplaces, thereby improving opportunities for women and members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. It assists us in ensuring ours is a society where diverse voices are not only heard, but respected and valued.”Honourable Pam Parsons
Minister Responsible for the Office of Women and Gender Equality
“We are pleased to know that this new legislation is coming forward. Ensuring that municipal councils have all the tools they need to support good governance is important now more than ever. We look forward to working with the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and our members to support code of conduct development and implementation across the sector.”Amy Coady
President, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador
“PMA has been a staunch advocate for a code of conduct framework for local government that includes mandatory training and the establishment of codes of conduct for municipalities. The proposed Municipal Conduct Act can help ensure respectful and productive working relationships among council officials as well as between council, professional municipal administrators and other staff. PMA looks forward to seeing the implementation of the Municipal Conduct Act and working with members to assist in the development of community codes of conduct that will allow local governance to thrive and reach its fullest potential.”Brian Hudson
President, Professional Municipal Administrators
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Municipal and Provincial Affairs
Office of Women and Gender Equality
Advocacy and Communications, MNL
Professional Municipal Administrators