Today, Mayoral candidate Christian Provenzano demonstrated his commitment to greater municipal accountability by announcing his support for the Ontario Government’s Bill 8. If passed into law, the bill would empower the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate municipal governments and school boards.
Provenzano says, “Local government affects our lives in countless ways every day. However, until now, citizens have had few options to bring forward complaints or concerns about councils and school boards. By bringing these groups under the oversight of the Ontario Ombudsman, Bill 8 is going to fill a badly needed gap.”
The full title of Bill 8 is The Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act. Amongst other provisions, Bill 8 proposes to extend the Ontario Ombudsman’s investigative authority to cover municipalities, universities, school boards, and hospitals. The provincial government re-introduced the act on July 9, 2014. It has now passed its first reading in the legislature.
Provenzano remarks, “Right now, there is just not enough recourse available to members of the public who have concerns about their municipal government. It’s simply not good enough to say, ‘wait until the next election.’ Citizens need an independent and impartial authority to appeal to if they have complaints or issues. The Ombudsman’s office can play that role.”
Provenzano feels that the proposed legislation will encourage local governments to become more transparent and will curb abuses of power and processes.
“This act is going to put municipalities across Ontario on notice. The possibility of being investigated or ending up on the wrong end of a scathing report will make officials think twice before engaging in any sort of misconduct—and that’s an unquestionably good thing,” says Provenzano.
Increasing the accountability of Sault Ste. Marie’s municipal government is one of the pillars of Provenzano’s campaign for Mayor. If elected, Provenzano has pledged to slash the amount of decision-making that occurs during closed council sessions.
”I think the residents of Sault Ste. Marie are eager to see a municipal government that is accountable, transparent and answerable for its decisions,” says Provenzano. “Bill 8 will encourage this if it becomes law, but I feel our local elected officials and City staff should be willing to go even further. As Mayor, I’m not going to hide from public scrutiny—I’m going to welcome it.”