Ontario ministries, agencies banned from purchasing tickets for political events

Ontario ministries, agencies banned from purchasing tickets for political events

Ontario ministries and agencies are no longer allowed to buy tickets to or sponsor events where politicians are the main speakers.

In changes to the Financial Administration Act that came into force July 1, the Ford government has ended the practice of allowing tickets or tickets to be expensed as “part of the government’s commitment to strengthen accountability for how public money is spent in Ontario.”

The rules also include Ontario Power Generation and the Independent Electricity System Operator.

Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy said Progressive Conservatives pledged the move during the election.

“We want to respect taxpayers’ money, and we didn’t think this was a good use of taxpayers’ money,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “We are always looking to manage taxpayers’ money in a responsible way, and this is one of those initiatives.”

He said “we were surprised that it wasn’t (already) the case, so we just now made it the case — and very transparent to everybody.”

While there’s no estimate of savings, Bethlenfalvy said “the pennies do matter, but it’s more the mindset, and the principle of fairness and respect.”

Speakers encompassed by the ban include elected officials at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Employees can still attend events if they purchase the tickets themselves, are an “invited guest” or the event is free, the government said.

During last year’s election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives pledged to “(restore) responsibility, accountability and trust … efficiencies exist all across the government, whether it is how different agencies and ministries purchase goods or how they deliver services.”

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

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