On August 23, 2016, Saskatchewan proclaimed into force the Lobbyists Act (Act) and the Lobbyists Regulations (Regulations). Saskatchewan has also launched a searchable online lobbyist registry. Current lobbyists in Saskatchewan have 30 days to submit their registrations from the date the Act came into force.
Saskatchewan is the last province in Western Canada to put in place legislation to regulate lobbyists. The federal government and the provincial governments of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia also have lobbying regimes. Prince Edward Island has not enacted any lobbying legislation and New Brunswick’s has been enacted but not yet proclaimed into force.
The Act shares many similarities with British Columbia’s lobbying legislation. Most notably, unlike the federal, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia lobbying regimes, in Saskatchewan (as in British Columbia) it is considered to be “lobbying” for an in-house lobbyist to communicate with a public office holder in attempt to influence the awarding of a contract. In contrast, federal law, and lobbying regimes in most provinces (including Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Ontario) provide that communications with a public office holder regarding the awarding of a contract only constitute “lobbying” when carried out by a consultant (and not an in-house) lobbyist.
The Act also goes a step further than most provinces’ lobbying legislation by stipulating that it is lobbying for an in-house lobbyist to arrange a meeting between a public office holder and any other individual for the purpose of attempting to influence the public office holder on any lobbying subject-matter. In other Canadian jurisdictions except for Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, arranging a meeting only constitutes lobbying when done by an external consultant lobbyist.
As is the case federally and in all other provinces, registration of an in-house lobbyist is only required if a certain threshold is met (whereas any lobbying by a consultant lobbyist requires registration). Under the Act, the most senior paid officer at the organization is responsible for filing an in-house lobbyist return if the organization employs one or more individuals whose lobbying activities or duty to lobby on behalf of the organization or its affiliates, either alone or collectively, amounts to at least 100 hours annually. Preparation and travel time count toward this 100-hour threshold.
The Act contains detailed post-employment lobbying restrictions for former public office holders. Former ministers of the Crown will be prohibited from lobbying for one year after ceasing to be a minister, and former members of the legislative assembly will be prohibited from lobbying for six months after ceasing to be a member. Additionally, the Act imposes certain lobbying restrictions on individuals for six months after they cease to hold office. Such individuals include former:
- Public office holders formerly employed in the office of a minister of the Crown
- Public office holders formerly employed in the premier’s office
- Assistant deputy ministers
- Associate deputy ministers
The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists Saskatchewan may grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis to post-employment lobbying restrictions and must publicly provide reasons for doing so.
Unlike the federal government and some other provinces, Saskatchewan has not prohibited the payment of contingency fees (also known as success fees) to lobbyists, nor is there any requirement to disclose the payment of such fees.
Non-compliance with the Act may result in an administrative penalty of up to C$25,000 and a prohibition on lobbying for up to two years.