The Office of the Integrity Commissioner was established on December 16, 2016 under the Integrity Commissioner Act as an independent legislative office to encourage and promote a culture of integrity, transparency, and accountability in the public sector and the health care sector.
At that time, the Integrity Commissioner took over responsibility for the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act, which sets out acceptable standards of conduct for all Members of the Legislative Assembly, including members of the Executive Council (Cabinet Ministers). All members of the Legislative assembly must file disclosure statements with the Commissioner to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest while fulfilling their obligations to the public as elected officials. The Commissioner may investigate allegations of conflict of interest from any person against members of the Legislative Assembly and has the authority to issue recommendations.
On April 1, 2017, the Commissioner became responsible for the oversight of the Lobbyists’ Registration Act, which calls for transparency and public awareness about who (individuals and organizations) is communicating with public office holders in an attempt to influence government policies and decisions. Lobbyists are required to register with the Commissioner’s Office, which maintains a public registry of lobbying activities.
On September 1, 2017, the Integrity Commissioner took over the oversight role for the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act.
Under the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, members of the public have a right to request information held by Provincial public bodies and file complaints with the Commissioner’s Office if they are not satisfied with how a public body handled their request. Public bodies also have obligations to handle people’s personal information in accordance with the law, and the public can ask the Commissioner to investigate if they think their information has been mishandled.
Under the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act, members of the public have a right to access their own personal health information held by health care providers in both the public and private sectors in New Brunswick. Health care providers also have obligations to handle personal health information in accordance with the law, and the public can ask the Commissioner to investigate if they think their information has been mishandled. Health care providers are also required by law to notify their patients/clients as well as the Commissioner if there is a privacy breach of their personal health information.
Under both of these laws, the Commissioner has the power of recommendation to address non-compliance issues. The Commissioner also has the authority to provide input and feedback to public bodies and health care sectors about the administration of these laws.
Finally, the Commissioner must inform the public about all of these mandates.