Agencies, boards, commissions to have codes of conduct, ethics rules under new bill

The Alberta government wants to subject 140 agencies, boards and commissions to codes of conduct and conflict-of-interest guidelines for board chairs and chief executives.

Proposed bill to apply to Alberta Health Services, Workers Compensation Board and nearly 140 other agencies

Finance Minister Joe Ceci introduced amendments to the Conflicts of Interest Act that would make agencies, boards and commissions have codes of conduct. The amendments would also put additional restrictions on CEOs and board chairs. (CBC)

The Alberta government wants to subject 140 agencies, boards and commissions to codes of conduct and conflict-of-interest guidelines for board chairs and chief executives.

The changes are proposed in amendments to the Conflicts of Interest Act introduced in the legislature Wednesday by Finance Minister Joe Ceci.

If approved, the rules would apply to 140 agencies including the Workers Compensation Board, Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health and all post-secondary institutions.

Ceci said there wasn't a specific case that prompted the government to take action. It was simply about improving transparency and consistency, he said,

"I think any time there is uncertainty or different sets of rules operating across different organizations, that is a problem," he said.

Codes of conduct would have to be in place by March 31, 2019.

Applying to all employees, the rules would place restrictions on people acting in self-interest, the gifts they can receive, and put limitations on second jobs or offices. They would also have disclose real and apparent conflicts of interest.

Board chairs, CEOs and university and college presidents would face additional restrictions on personal interest and using insider information.

CEOs and university and college presidents would also have to disclose financial interests to the ethics commissioner.

They would be subject to a 12-month cooling-off period after leaving a position, to prevent them from benefiting from decisions they made while in a position of influence.

CEOs and the presidents of post-secondary institutions would also face restrictions on the type of stocks and financial securities they can hold.

The government said the new rules would bring Alberta in line with Ontario, Manitoba and the federal government that have comprehensive codes of conduct and rules governing agencies, boards and commissions.