Code of Conduct for Members of the Public on Advisory Committees
This is a code of conduct for members of the public serving on Niagara Region's Advisory Committees (hereinafter referred to as "members"). Members to which this code of conduct applies can be either residents-at-large appointed by Regional Council or appointed representatives of agencies.
Members of Regional Council who serve on Niagara Region Advisory Committees are bound by the Code of Conduct for Members of Council. This document is not intended to supersede that code.
An advisory committee's role is to:
- Provide non-binding recommendations, advice and information
- Facilitate public input to Regional Council and staff on those matters which relate to the mandate of the advisory body
- Facilitate public input on any matters which may be referred to the committee by Council or staff
Advisory bodies play an integral role in the Region's public engagement efforts by focussing on particular topics that have an impact on Niagara Region.
This code of conduct is provided as a general standard for all members of the public serving on advisory committees to ensure they are acting in a manner that is appropriate and establishes a common basis for acceptable conduct.
It is recognized that this code of conduct cannot anticipate all possible fact situations in which an advisory committee member may be called upon to exercise judgement as to an appropriate standard of conduct. Members are to ensure their decisions and conduct:
- Maintain and respect Niagara Region's values of truth, honesty and integrity
- Take into account the public character of their function as an advisory committee member
- Conduct themselves in a way that maintains and promotes the public's trust in Niagara Region
Members shall act with honesty and integrity including:
- Act in a manner that demonstrates professionalism, transparency, accountability and contributes to the public's confidence in the advisory committee or task force
- Not engage in conduct, that may, or may appear to, constitute an abuse of their position as a member or conflicts with the mandate of the advisory committee, including the use of social media
- Treat members of the public, one another and staff, respectfully and without abuse, bullying or intimidation
- Act in a manner that respects the individual rights, values, beliefs and personality traits of any other person, recognizing that all persons are entitled to be treated equally with dignity and respect for their personal status regarding gender, sexual orientation, race, creed, religion, ability and spirituality
- Accurately communicate activities of the committee to groups represented or those who may have an interest and offer information back to the committee
- Serving the committee to which they have been appointed in a diligent manner that conforms with all relevant legislation, by-laws, policies and procedures
- Be respectful of the fact that staff work for the entire Region and are charged with making recommendations that reflect their professional expertise and corporate perspective. Members shall not exert undue influence on staff and shall not engage in any harassment of staff.
Members shall review meeting materials before meetings and arrive prepared to provide meaningful input and constructive comments on the issues under consideration. Members shall demonstrate timeliness in completing any tasks or projects undertaken by the committee.
Members shall respect and cooperate with other members and staff; giving fair consideration to diverse and opposing viewpoints; and agree to describe, process and resolve issues in a professional and respectful manner.
Members shall respect due process and the authority of the chair, vice-chair or presiding officer.
Members who miss three consecutive meetings shall be deemed to have resigned from the committee and will be notified of this in writing by the committee chair and / or Regional Clerk.
Conflicts of interest
Members shall avoid situations of real or apparent conflict of interest or bias with respect to their service on any committee.
Members shall avoid participating in or influencing a proceeding when the member, or another person with whom the member has a close personal or professional relationship, has a financial or other private interest that may be affected by the proceeding or its outcome.
In the performance of his or her duties, a member shall not:
- Place themselves in a position where the member is under obligation to any person who might benefit from special consideration or favour or who might seek preferential treatment in any way
- Accord preferential treatment to relatives or to organizations in which the member, their child, parent or spouse, have an interest, financial or otherwise
- Deal with an application to the Region for a grant, award, contract, permit or other benefit involving the member or his or her immediate relative
- Place themselves in a position where the member could derive any direct benefit or interest from any matter about which they can influence decisions
- Benefit from the use of information acquired during the course of their official duties which is not generally available to the public
Where a member believes they have a conflict of interest in a particular matter, they shall:
- Before any consideration of the matter, disclose their interest and the general nature thereof
- Not take part in the discussion or the vote on any question or recommendation in respect of the matter
- Not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question or recommendation
- Ensure that the interest is recorded in the minutes of the meeting
Gifts, benefits and hospitality
Members shall not accept any fees, gifts, hospitality, entertainment or personal benefits that are connected directly or indirectly with their service on the committee. This does not apply to tokens, mementos, souvenirs, or such gifts or benefits that are received as an incident of protocol or social obligations undertaken through the committee.
Use of Regional resources
No member shall use Regional equipment or staff, or other Regional services or resources for their own private purposes.
A member may not identify as a member of a Niagara Region Advisory Committee while working on fundraising, endorsing or otherwise contributing to the election campaign of another person or third party.
If a member is seeking elected office personally, they may note their service on a Niagara Region Advisory Committee in their personal campaign materials as background information. However, these materials must not imply that Niagara Region or the advisory committee is contributing to or endorsing the member's campaign in any way.
Improper use of influence
No member shall use the influence of their position for any purpose other than the duties as a member of the Niagara Region Advisory Committee to which they are appointed.
Members shall not represent themselves publicly or in any form of media as agents of the Region.
If a member is contacted by the media about a matter involving their Niagara Region Advisory Committee, the member shall refer the media to Regional staff.
Failure to adhere to code of conduct
If any person believes that there has been a violation of this code of conduct by a member, they should provide their complaint in writing to the Regional Clerk. The Regional Clerk will review the complaint and determine, in consultation with the Integrity Commissioner, where appropriate, if an informal resolution is possible.
Informal resolutions may include, but are not limited to, an apology and a promise to discontinue the behaviour that resulted in the complaint.
Should an informal resolution not be possible or appropriate, the Regional Clerk may refer the matter to the Integrity Commissioner for further review and potential investigation in accordance with the Integrity Commissioner's established complaint procedures.
In the event that it is determined by the Integrity Commissioner that there has been a violation of the code of conduct, the Integrity Commissioner may recommend any of the following possible actions:
- Issuance of a formal warning to the member by the Regional Clerk
- Should subsequent breaches occur following the formal warning, or in the event of a serious violation, the matter may be brought to the attention of Regional Council with a recommendation to issue a formal reprimand
- In extreme circumstances, suspension and / or removal of the member from the advisory committee may be recommended to Regional Council