Consultant Lobbyists for hire are now subject to special rules if representing public sector bodies

As of January 1st, 2011, specified sections of the new Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 (the “BPSAA”) came into force in Ontario. Certain public sector organizations are now prohibited from using public funds to hire external or consultant lobbyists, including: classified agencies (such as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation); hydro entities; large entities such as hospitals, school boards and universities; and every other publicly funded organization that receives more than $10 million in government funding in the previous fiscal year. The new legislation attempts to ensure that taxpayer money is used to deliver public services and programs instead of being spent on external lobbyists.

Under the BPSAA, a lobbyist is an individual who is paid to lobby on behalf of a client. A lobbyist may be a government relations practitioner, lawyer or other professional who provides lobbying services to clients for a fee. It does not, however, include someone who works “in-house” and performs government relations tasks as part of his or her job.

The registration form for consultant lobbyists now reflects the new rules. All consultant lobbyists must determine whether any of their clients are one of the following:

  • a public body of the Government of Ontario;
  • a hospital or its subsidiary;
  • a school board or its subsidiary;
  • a university, college or post-secondary institution, the enrolments of which are counted for purposes of calculating annual operating grants, or its subsidiary;
  • a Children’s Aid Society or its subsidiary;
  • a Community Care Access Corporation or its subsidiary;
  • a publicly funded organization that received public funds of $10 million or more in the previous fiscal year;
  • Hydro One Inc. and each of its subsidiaries;
  • Ontario Power Generation Inc. and each of its subsidiaries;
  • Ontario Power Authority; or
  • an Independent Electricity System Operator.

All consultant lobbyists with active registrations in the Ontario Lobbyist Registry are required to confirm whether their client is one of the restricted public sector organizations.

If the consultant lobbyist does not have any clients from the list above, no further action is required of the lobbyist in order to comply with the BPSAA. If, however, a consultant is hired by one of these organizations, the lobbyist is required to submit to the Lobbyist Registrar an attestation signed by the head of the organization confirming that the lobbyist is not being paid with public funds. If the public sector organization has engaged the services of more than one lobbyist, each lobbyist must submit an attestation with their registration. The registration will not be accepted until the attestation is submitted. The attestation form is available on the Lobbyists Registration Office website at:$FILE/AttestationLRO.pdf

Consultant lobbyists who represent a public sector organization and are unable to confirm that their services are not being paid with public funds will be required to terminate their relationship with their client, as well as their active registration, within the 30-day transition period.