Municipal Accountability

  • Overview
  • Who To Contact

Aird & Berlis is the leading provider of accountability services to municipalities and public sector bodies in Ontario. We are the Integrity Commissioner for more than 75 public sector entities in Ontario, Closed Meeting Investigator for more than 100 municipalities in Ontario and Municipal Ombudsman for a smaller number of local governments.  We routinely provide advice to other accountability officers such as Auditors General and Lobbyist Registrars.

Our wide-ranging experience includes appointments by regions, cities and towns of all sizes across the province, covering a wide range of rural, urban and suburban settings.

In addition, we advise and represent a number of Integrity Commissioners throughout Ontario who require guidance with precedent-setting, novel or contentious situations.

Our team approach enables us to provide our clients with accountability services in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than other law firms or practitioners. Our Municipal Accountability Group lawyers focus on municipal, workplace, election and administrative law. This bench strength ensures that there will always be someone to respond to requests for advice, and is necessary in an area of law where accurate information and strategic advice frequently need to be supplied on short notice. The depth of our team is unmatched by any other service provider in Ontario. 

Our collective experience is unparalleled. The diversity of our clients and the volume of advice we have provided means there are few situations that we have not encountered before. We have advised local boards, councils and municipalities regarding codes of conduct and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and the enforcement thereof, including investigations, penalties and remedial measures. We have advised, written, taught and presented extensively on the accountability and transparency provisions in Part V.1 of the Municipal Act, 2001. We have drafted, revised and updated dozens of codes of conduct, complaint protocols and council-staff relations policies and have provided opinions to councils and staff as to aspects of the municipal accountability regime.

We have conducted and participated in numerous inquiries, formal and informal, on a variety of matters under the Municipal Act, 2001, including ethical and other issues, both within and outside the specific legislative provisions under Parts V and V.1 of the statute. Our firm has considerable experience with investigations, as well as investigative procedures and principles, in the local government context. We also provide expert and timely advice to members as Integrity Commissioner and advise councils, local boards and administrative staff on municipal governance, municipal ethics, open and closed meetings, municipal freedom of information and a number of other related topics and areas.

We have vast experience teaching, lecturing, training and presenting on the topic of municipal law and accountability. Our lawyers provide comprehensive training and education to assist councils and local boards, their members, their staff  and the public to understand and abide by the municipal accountability and ethical framework. We have presented to organizations such as the Law Society of Ontario, the Ontario Bar Association, Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO), Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association (OMAA), Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO), Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM), Ontario Association of Committees of Adjustment & Consent Authorities (OACA), Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA), The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) and other well-known organizations. During every municipal election cycle we conduct new council orientation sessions for dozens of municipalities of all sizes  and types. We have also conducted training for dozens of compliance audit committees, their members and municipal staff.

The professional background and experience of our team, together with our commitment to information and education, makes us the leading provider of accountability and transparency services to municipalities and other public sector bodies in Ontario. We are widely recognized among clients and peers for our credibility, professional judgment and the way we handle challenging and often high-profile matters. Our municipal and public sector clients trust Aird & Berlis to serve as their accountability officers because we provide excellent value, which is vital in an area of law where hiring a leading practitioner is the most important thing a client can do to ensure a successful resolution.

Municipal Election Expertise

Our lawyers are experts on municipal election law in Ontario. We have advised on a number of high-profile election matters and prosecutions that have attracted significant media attention. Our work has included prosecuting candidates and contributors, advising compliance audit committees and advising on third-party advertising rules.

Our lawyers have experience in all matters affecting municipalities governed by provincial statute. We work collaboratively with municipal staff to ensure that enforcement and prosecution efforts are fair and effective. We have dealt with all types of municipal and by-law enforcement matters and provide authoritative opinions on the Municipal Elections Act, 1996; Municipal Act, 2001; Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; and Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. We work closely with our municipal clients to ensure they understand the implications of the amendments introduced by the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2016 to the municipal accountability framework, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and the Municipal Elections Act, 1996