Regulation - Minister

Proposed Minimum Standards for School Board Trustee Codes of Conduct under the Education Act

Regulation Number(s):
Ontario Regulation 246/18: Members of School Bords – Code of Conduct
Instrument Type:
Regulation - Minister
Bill or Act:
Education Act
Summary of Proposal:
As education leaders, trustees are expected to act with integrity and adhere to high ethical standards. Codes of conduct set out guiding principles, rules of conduct and ethical behaviour that all trustees agree to uphold. If drafted and used effectively, codes can help ensure boards provide the oversight and accountability needed to foster student success and public confidence in the education system.

Currently, all school boards must have a trustee code of conduct with content determined locally by school boards. The use of local codes has, in some cases, resulted in different standards of professional and ethical conduct across the province.

The Ministry of Education is proposing to implement minimum standards for trustee codes of conduct to ensure consistent standards of behaviour for trustees across Ontario's school boards. The proposed regulatory amendments would establish baseline standards of conduct relating to the following:
• Integrity and dignity of office - a standard reflecting an expectation for trustees to fulfill their role in a way that inspires public confidence in publicly funded education.
• Civil and respectful behaviour - a standard requiring professional and respectful conduct in all interactions and forms of communication including social media.
• Uphold and respect human rights - a standard prohibiting discriminatory conduct against any person or group based on the protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
• Respect for the role of school board staff - a standard for trustees to respect the role of board staff to advise the whole board and to prohibit trustees from treating board staff disrespectfully.
• Responsible use of communication - a standard requiring trustees to adhere to their board's communications policies and procedures.
• Avoidance of personal advantage, improper use of influence and conflict of interest - a standard prohibiting improper use of the trustee office in situations that are not already covered by the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
• Fiscal accountability and transparency - a standard ensuring effective stewardship of the board's resources.
• Respect for confidentiality - a standard requiring trustees to keep information that they obtain through their role as trustees confidential (unless they are otherwise authorized).
• Upholding decisions - a standard requiring trustees to comply with board by-laws, policies, procedures etc., and uphold implementation of board decisions regardless of personal opinions.
• Use of board assets and services - a standard prohibiting the use of board assets or services for personal matters or for election purposes.

The Ministry of Education has launched an online survey to seek public input on the proposed changes and additional steps which could be taken to support high standards of ethical conduct among school board trustees. For further information and to have your say, please consider completing the survey at the following link:
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
As locally elected education leaders, trustees are expected to adhere to high professional and ethical standards and govern themselves in a manner that enhances public confidence in our education system.

Inappropriate or unethical conduct at the school board table can have serious, deleterious effects on students, families and communities and compromises the credibility and integrity of boards and the public education system.

The establishment of minimum standards for trustee codes of conduct is expected to strengthen accountability mechanisms aimed at promoting ethical behaviour and good governance among school board trustees.

To this end, the province is seeking input from stakeholders, partners and the public on consistent provincial standards for trustee codes of conduct and more effective measures for preventing and addressing breaches of the code, to strengthen trustee accountability and uphold public confidence. This is part of ongoing efforts to promote an education system that upholds and champions human rights and equity for all students, and to address broader governance issues such as financial accountability, conflict of interest and clear roles and responsibilities.

The proposed regulations are not expected to result in any financial impact on Ontario's school boards.
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
September 17, 2021
Comments Due Date:
November 1, 2021
Contact Address:
Leadership, Collaboration & Governance Branch, 315 Front Street West, 13th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 3A4