Government says Conflicts of Interest Act would protect tax dollars

by Morinville News Staff

Proposed amendments to the Conflicts of Interest Act would further protect Albertans’ tax dollars and ensure public agencies are governed transparently, the government announced Wednesday.

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,” said Minister of Finance Joe Ceci. “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.”

The government says the new rules would apply to board members and employees in 136 public agencies 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, the acceptance of gifts, and concurrent employment or other offices.

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and their equivalents would be subject to restrictions on other employment, business undertakings and appointments that constitute a real or apparent conflict of interest. MLAs and senior public service officials are held to similar standards.

Additional requirements would be applied to CEOs of significant agencies, including the disclosure of financial information to the Ethics Commissioner, restrictions on holding stocks and other securities, and a 12-month cooling off period following employment with a public agency to prevent CEOs from benefiting from decisions they made.

The government says the requirements would bring public agencies in line with the obligations that already apply to elected officials, political staff and senior officials in the Alberta Public Service.

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