Part 1: General

Authority

  • These rules are made by Order-in-Council under section 5 of the Cabinet Ministers’ and Opposition Leaders’ Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 (the Act), and are effective January 1, 2020.

Purpose

  • The purpose of these rules is:
    • To provide an accountability framework to govern the reimbursement of expenses of designated persons while carrying out their duties or functions in accordance with sections 2 and 3 of the Act.
    • To set out the standards and requirements for the reimbursement of reasonable and appropriate travel, hotels and similar accommodations, meal and hospitality expenses.

Application

  • These rules apply to:
    • Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants and persons employed in their respective offices (referred to as Cabinet ministers and other persons).
    • Opposition leaders and persons employed in their respective offices (referred to as Opposition leaders and other persons).

For the purpose of these rules, when the rules are intended to apply to all persons mentioned above, the phrase “designated persons” is used.

Scope

  • These rules govern the reimbursement of legitimate, reasonable and appropriate expenses for travel, hotels and similar accommodation, meals and hospitality, in accordance with sections 2 and 3 of the Act.
  • Caucus-related and constituency expenses of designated persons in their role as MPP are not reimbursable under these rules (see the rules established by the Board of Internal Economy under the authority of the Legislative Assembly Act).
  • Expenses that are not specifically addressed in these rules will be reviewed for their appropriateness using the governing principles of these rules.

Governing principles

  • Expenses are incurred while carrying out official duties or functions.
  • Designated persons are held accountable for their expenses.
  • Expenses are modest, reasonable and appropriate and strike a balance between economy and proportionality in the circumstances in which they are incurred.
  • Taxpayer dollars are used prudently, responsibly and are transparent to the public.

Part 2: Definitions

“Cabinet minister” means a member of the Executive Council, including ministers, associate ministers and ministers without portfolio.

“Opposition leader” means the leader of a recognized party, within the meaning of subsection 62 (5) of the Legislative Assembly Act, other than the Premier.

“Designated persons” means Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants and persons employed in their respective offices; and Opposition leaders and persons employed in their respective offices.

“Designated senior persons” means the Executive Assistants or Chiefs of Staff designated by Cabinet ministers and Opposition leaders in their respective offices. These individuals have specific responsibilities set out in these rules.

"Official duties or functions" means:

“Public servant” means:

"Hospitality" is the provision of food, beverages (including alcohol, in limited and appropriate circumstances), accommodation, transportation and similar amenities, at the public’s expense, to an external person.

“External persons” mean persons who are not:

  • For the purpose of these rules, the following definitions apply:
    • For Cabinet ministers, it includes those activities and responsibilities that are reasonably related to a minister’s portfolio assignment and/or as a member of the Executive Council.
    • For parliamentary assistants, it includes those activities and responsibilities that are reasonably related to the furtherance of a minister’s portfolio assignment or the role of a parliamentary assistant.
    • For Opposition leaders, it includes those activities and responsibilities that are reasonably related to the role of an Opposition leader (as distinct from that as a member of the Assembly).
    • For persons employed in the office of persons named in (i) to (iii), it includes those activities and responsibilities that flow from acting on direction from, or taking action on behalf of a minister, or Opposition leader.
    • Every person employed under s. 32 of the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006
    • The Secretary of the Cabinet
    • Every deputy minister
    • Every employee of a public body
    • Every person appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the Lieutenant Governor or a minister to a public body
    • Designated persons
    • Public servants
    • Appointees or employees of public entities prescribed under the Public Sector Expenses Review Act (PSERA)

Part 3: Rules governing expenses

General

  • Designated persons will be reimbursed for legitimate, reasonable and appropriate expenses for travel, hotels and similar accommodation, meals and hospitality, incurred while carrying out official duties or functions:
    • While working during or through normal meal periods.
    • While travelling both within and outside Ontario on official government business.
    • As a result of extending hospitality to an external person.
  • Designated persons must not require or allow public servants or appointees or employees of public entities prescribed under PSERA to pay for the expenses of designated persons.
  • Designated persons are not eligible for reimbursement for:
    • Meals eaten at home or included in the cost of transportation, accommodation, seminars or conferences.
    • Parking costs incurred in the office area as part of a regular commute to work.
    • Traffic and parking violations.
    • Expenses for personal items (e.g. toothbrush).
    • Concierge level, hotel suites, or executive floors when traveling.
    • Expenses for mini-bars, video rentals, in-room movies, or other personal use items/events not associated with official duties and functions.
    • Expenses for alcohol during working meals.
    • Expenses for alcohol at meetings or events where only alcohol is served.

Travel

  • Designated persons will be reimbursed for transportation expenses that are incurred while travelling on official duties or functions, within and outside Ontario, where the expenses reflect the most practical and economical form of travel (air, rail, or road) given the destination, timing of the trip or any other relevant factors.
  • Designated persons should, where possible and appropriate:
    • Use alternatives to travel (e.g. teleconferencing and videoconferencing facilities).
    • Use designated service providers, including travel and car rental agents, the accommodation directory, and fleet services.
    • Adjust travel itineraries to obtain the most economical rate from service providers.

Air travel

  • Designated persons may travel by air if it is the most practical and economical way to travel.
  • Designated persons must choose the lowest possible fare available.
  • Travel in business class must have prior approval by the designated senior persons with a documented explanation, and may be considered in the following circumstances, as set out in a written explanation:
    • on international flights; or
    • on flights within Canada and the United States of America, if related to either the provision of reasonable accommodation or to a legitimate business purpose, as set out in a documented explanation.

Rail Travel

  • Designated persons may travel by train if it is the most practical and economical way to travel.
  • Designated persons must choose the lowest possible fare available.
  • Business class may be permitted with prior approval from the designated senior person in limited circumstances when: a. There is a need to work in a team (e.g. three or more people). b. There is a health and safety requirement.
    • There is a need to work in a team (e.g. three or more people).
    • There is a health and safety requirement.

Road transportation

  • If road transportation is the most practical and economical way to travel, options are:
    • Government vehicle/Leader’s vehicle
    • Rental vehicle
    • Personal vehicle, if it is more economical than a rental vehicle

Government vehicle/leader’s vehicle

  • The use of either a government vehicle/Leader’s vehicle or a rental vehicle is to be considered when driving a significant distance each day.
  • When a government vehicle is not available, designated persons are to compare the cost of renting a vehicle with using a personal vehicle, and use the more economical option.

Rental vehicle

  • Designated persons must use the most appropriate vehicle taking into consideration the number of occupants, the business purpose, accommodation requirements, the location and safety (including weather). The lowest cost model is the standard. Any exceptions must be documented.
  • Cabinet ministers and other persons should identify themselves as government employees for discounted rates.
  • When renting a vehicle:
    • Designated persons who have a corporate travel card must use it to rent a vehicle and decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental agency, as this insurance is already covered by the corporate travel card.
    • Where a designated person does not have a corporate travel card, or rents a vehicle that is not eligible for coverage under the card, the designated person must purchase collision damage waiver coverage offered by the rental company.
    • Cabinet ministers and other persons are to name the renter as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, and add the name of the ministry to ensure that the government provides liability coverage when renting a vehicle in Ontario for government business.
  • Designated persons must take advantage of opportunities to save costs, where possible (e.g. refuelling the rental car before returning it).
  • Consider using car-sharing when driving for a short distance, if this service is available.

Personal vehicle

  • When using a personal vehicle:
    • Designated persons will be reimbursed at the kilometric reimbursement rates set out in Appendix A.
    • The Ministry or Legislative Assembly will not assume any financial responsibility for the vehicle.
    • The vehicle must be insured by law for liability at the vehicle owner’s expense.
    • The driver/owner is responsible to ensure that the vehicle insurance is rated appropriately for the intended use of the vehicle (e.g. includes coverage for business use of the vehicle).
    • The government/Legislative Assembly is not responsible for reimbursing deductible amounts related to insurance coverage and will not reimburse the costs of insurance coverage for business use, physical damage or liability.
    • In the event of an accident, designated persons cannot make a claim to the government/Legislative Assembly for any resulting damages.

Parking and tolls

  • When driving on official business, necessary and reasonable expenditures for parking, tolls for bridges, ferries and highways, will be reimbursed. Expenses for valet parking will not be reimbursed.

Public transportation/taxis/ride-hailing services

  • Local public transportation, including hotel/airport shuttles, should be used wherever possible and practical. If available, a transit pass or passes, where available and appropriate, may be purchased for use by individuals on work business.
  • Taxis and ride-hailing services are permitted when this type of travel is the most economical and/or practical. Taxis and ride-hailing services should not be used to commute to work or home except under exceptional circumstances, for instance:
    • When weather, health or safety conditions indicate it is the most appropriate option.
    • When transporting work-related baggage or parcels is required.
  • Ride-hailing services can only be used and reimbursed under the following conditions:
    • In municipalities where ride-hailing services have been regulated and appropriately insured; and
    • Where a standard (i.e. non-premium and single occupancy) service is been used.
  • Designated persons should use a corporate travel card, where issued, to pay for any ride-hailing expenses.
  • Gratuities for taxis and ride-hailing services must be reasonable.

Accommodations

  • In the normal conduct of business, designated persons will not be reimbursed for overnight accommodation within the office area.
  • Exceptions will be considered in emergency or highly unusual situations, for example, when it is necessary to remain close to the office for long periods, in excess of standard working hours.
  • Reimbursement will be for single accommodation in a standard room.
  • The federal online accommodation directory should be used as a guideline and a government rate requested, where possible.
  • Accommodation outside of downtown areas should be considered when it is more economical, and accessible by public transit and other cost-effective means of transportation.
  • Penalties incurred for non-cancellation of guaranteed hotel reservations may be reimbursed only in an exceptional circumstance.
  • Private stays, including any meals with friends or family, in lieu of commercial accommodation, is allowed and a cash payment or gift of up to $30 per night may be provided to the friends or family.
  • If claiming for a private stay, a documented explanation describing the purpose of the trip, the host, and the number of days stayed must be submitted, in lieu of a receipt.

Incidental Expenses Related to Travel

  • If traveling on business for five consecutive days or more, designated persons may be reimbursed for laundry and dry cleaning within reasonable limits.
  • If traveling on business outside of Canada designated persons may be reimbursed for:
    • Out-of-country medical insurance
    • The cost of a passport visa
    • The cost of immunizations and medications if necessary, for US/international travel
  • Itemized receipts are required.

Meals

  • Designated persons will be reimbursed for reasonable and appropriate meal expenses that are incurred in the course of travelling on official duties or functions, within and outside Ontario.
  • There are two types of allowable meal expenses – those incurred while traveling outside the office area (at least 24 km away), and those incurred while working through normal meal periods within the office area. These are meals purchased by the designated person.
  • In general, working meals within the office area should not be restaurant meals. These meals should be provided in-house (catered).
  • For meals outside the workplace, designated persons will be reimbursed at the established meal allowance rates set out in Appendix A, regardless of the actual meal costs (i.e. meal allowance). A meal allowance recognizes that sometimes a meal may be less than the allowance rate, and sometimes more; regardless, the allowance rate is reimbursed. Taxes and gratuities are included in the meal allowance rates. Receipts are not required to be submitted with meal claims or retained.
  • In very limited and exceptional circumstances (e.g. health considerations; limited available options), where a meal expense is higher than the established meal allowance rate, the actual cost of the meal may be reimbursed. In these situations, the claim for reimbursement is to be accompanied by an itemized receipt and a documented explanation for exceeding the rate.
  • Expenses for alcohol during working meals cannot be claimed or reimbursed.
  • Meals must be purchased to be able to submit a claim for reimbursement. Federal meal allowance rates are used for expenses for meals outside of Canada. The rates are set out in the appendices of the National Joint Council Travel or successor directives (Appendix C – USA; Appendix D – International, outside Canada and USA). Note that the incidental amounts in the appendices do not apply.

Extending hospitality to an external person

  • As representatives of the government or opposition, designated persons may be expected or required to extend hospitality to external persons as part of their official duties and functions.
  • Hospitality provided by Cabinet ministers and other persons is appropriate when:
    • Travelling on official duty.
    • Engaging representatives of other governments, the broader public sector, industry, public interest groups or unions in discussions on official matters.
    • Hosting persons from national or international organizations and charitable organizations to provide them with an understanding and appreciation of Ontario or the workings of its government.
    • Sponsoring formal conferences for representatives of other governments or for business or labour groups.
    • Honouring distinguished Ontarians in recognition of exceptional public service.
    • Conducting prestigious ceremonies that are attended by heads of state or government, distinguished persons from the private sector, or both.
  • Hospitality provided by Opposition leaders and other persons is appropriate when:
    • Travelling on official duty.
    • Engaging representatives of other governments, the broader public sector, industry, public interest groups or unions in discussions on official matters.
    • Providing persons from national or international organizations and charitable organizations with an understanding and appreciation of Ontario or the workings of its government.
  • Reasonable and appropriate expenses related to hospitality may be reimbursed.
  • Hospitality should be extended in an economical and consistent manner. Costs should be mitigated where possible taking into account the status of the guest, the number of guests and the intended business purpose.
  • When extending hospitality, alcohol may be offered in limited circumstances, where appropriate, or when customarily offered as a matter of protocol. The cost of alcohol must not exceed the cost of food. Where possible, preference should be given to wine, beer and spirits produced in Ontario.
  • Hospitality expenses of a spouse or companion may be reimbursed if the person is an officially invited guest or because protocol requires his/her attendance.
  • The number of designated persons and other attendees is to be kept to a minimum and limited to those necessary for the function, regardless of who sponsors the function.
  • Cabinet ministers and other persons should use government-owned facilities and resources that are appropriate to the function, before going to private sector alternatives.

Part 4: Procedural rules

  • Designated persons must submit all expense claims:
    • With detailed and accurate information on the nature of the expense and the circumstances in which it was incurred.
    • With itemized receipts, except for meal expenses where meal allowances are used; (a credit card receipt is not sufficient). Receipts can be paper, electronic or a scanned copy.
    • By the end of the quarter following the quarter in which the expense was incurred.
  • Designated persons should use a corporate card, where issued, for expenses incurred while carrying out official duties and functions wherever possible. The corporate card is for business expenses only, and must not be used for any personal expenses.
  • Expenses incurred and claimed on behalf of another designated person must be “attributed” to the designated person for the purpose of publicly posting expense information. This means that if an individual bought lunch for a colleague, the claim should include the name of the colleague and the meal allowance amount for the colleague’s lunch. The cost for each person’s lunch will be found under each of their names on the public disclosure site. The individual that incurred and claimed the expense will be reimbursed for the total of all meals at the meal allowance amount, if allowable (see Appendix 1). Group meal expenses may be reimbursed for the total of all meals, at the meal allowance rate for that meal. Receipts are not required to be submitted or retained with group meal claims.
  • Designated persons will:
    • Keep two copies of all expense claims submitted for reimbursement with supporting documentation along with the record of the items and amounts reimbursed.
    • Provide one copy of the expense claim to the Minister responsible for the Act, or the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, as required.
    • Retain one copy of the expense claim in their respective offices for auditing or other legitimate purposes as required.
  • Copies can be electronic or paper.

Part 5: Records retention

  • Expense claims and supporting documents must be retained in accordance with the applicable records retention schedule.
  • For more information on records retention, designated senior persons in Ministers’ or parliamentary assistants’ offices should consult the Chief Administrative Officer of the ministry, and designated senior persons in Opposition leaders’ offices should consult that person’s counterpart in the Legislative Offices.

Part 6: Roles and responsibilities

  • Cabinet ministers may delegate authority for the following responsibilities to a designated senior person, either their Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff:
    • Approving expense claims of all designated persons employed in the office.
    • Ensuring designated persons in the office are informed of, and comply with these rules.
  • Cabinet ministers are responsible for:
    • Approving the expense claims of the designated senior person, where responsibility has been delegated.
    • Approving the expense claims of designated persons employed in the office, where the responsibility has not been delegated.
    • Ensuring overall adherence to these rules.
  • Opposition leaders may delegate authority for the following responsibilities to a designated senior person in their office:
    • Approving expense claims of all designated persons employed in the office.
    • Ensuring designated persons in the office are informed of, and comply with these rules.
    • Ensuring that copies of expense claims and supporting documents are filed and copies retained in accordance with these rules and any procedures established to support these rules.
  • Opposition leaders are responsible for:
    • Approving the expense claims of the designated senior person, where responsibility has been delegated.
    • Approving the expense claims of designated persons employed in the office, where the responsibility has not been delegated.
    • Ensuring overall adherence to these rules.
  • Designated senior persons (where designated by a Cabinet minister or Opposition leader) are responsible for:
    • Approving expense claims of all designated persons employed in the office.
    • Ensuring designated persons in the office are informed of, and comply with these rules.
    • Ensuring that copies of expense claims and supporting documents are filed and copies retained in accordance with these rules and any procedures established to support these rules.

Appendix A

Meal allowance rates

Meal typeMeal allowance rate ($)
Breakfast$10.00
Lunch$12.50
Dinner$22.50

Kilometric reimbursement rates

Total distance driven per fiscal year (km)Southern Ontario ($ per km)Northern Ontario ($ per km)
0 – 4,000 km0.400.41
4,001 – 10,700 km0.350.36
10,701 – 24,000 km0.290.30
More than 24,000 km0.240.25