ON Lobbying - a newsletter

Information & Resources for Lobbyist Registration in Ontario

Issue 18

August 2021

Review of the LRA

A required legislative review of the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 has begun, with Ontario’s Legislative Assembly referring the review to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly on June 1, 2021.

Having worked with the 2016 amendments to the Act for five years, the Integrity Commissioner, as Lobbyist Registrar, looks forward to providing the Standing Committee with his views on how the legislation can be clarified and strengthened.

Here are some of the changes the Commissioner would like to see made to the Act:

Significantly reducing the annual 50-hour threshold for in-house lobbyists

Companies and organizations that have employees who lobby Ontario public office holders need to register their lobbying activity only once their employees, paid officers and directors (for companies) and paid officers (for organizations) spend a total of 50 hours lobbying in a year. This threshold is high and results in less transparency on who is lobbying whom in government and about what.

Improving the conflict of interest provisions

The prohibition on lobbyists placing a public office holder in a real or potential conflict of interest is an important component of Ontario’s lobbying legislation. The Commissioner would like to see the definition of a conflict of interest clarified, and would also like to see significant loopholes closed on when the prohibition applies to individuals.

Reporting lobbying done by volunteers or unpaid directors

While the definition of lobbying in Ontario only captures individuals who are paid to lobby, some companies also ask their unpaid directors, and some organizations ask members of their professional or industry groups to lobby public office holders on a volunteer basis. The Commissioner believes that this lobbying activity should be disclosed in a company or organization’s registration.

Broadening the range of penalties for non-compliance

Currently, if the Commissioner finds non-compliance with the Act, he can impose either or both of the following two penalties: publicly naming the non-compliant individual, or prohibiting the individual from lobbying for a period of up to two years. Through compliance and investigation activity, the Registrar has noted a wide range of the types and severity of non-compliance with the Act. A broader range of penalties, which could include fines, would provide more options to ensure compliance.

The Commissioner will provide a full list of his views and recommendations to the Standing Committee. He encourages interested parties to follow the work of the committee and to participate in the review process.

Compliance Check

Cabinet shuffle and new ministry names

Have you checked your lobbying targets lately? Some Ontario ministries were changed on June 18, 2021, and new ministers were appointed. All lobbyists should check their registrations to be sure that all relevant ministries and ministers’ offices are appropriately identified. This would also be a great time to be sure that the description of your lobbying activity is up to date.

Helpful hint: if you are not sure if an amendment is required, your first step should be to review your registration on the public registry, or if you have logged in, go to “View my registration.”

Screengrab of menu page for lobbyist registration. A circle highlights the "View my registrations" option.

To update a registration, log in and select “Change an existing registration (not a renewal)”. If you have received an email indicating that your registration is due for renewal, select “Renew a registration” to make all necessary changes.

Annual Report

The Office of the Integrity Commissioner released its 2020-2021 annual report in late June, complete with statistics about the registry, outreach accomplishments and details about its compliance and investigation activity.

Pie chart of breakdown of compliance reviews. Of the 210 initiated reviews, 62 were closed at the initial stage, 129 were resolved through our informal process and 19 were referred for investigation assessment.

We initiated 210 compliance reviews in the last fiscal year. A review is initiated when our Office identifies potential non-compliance with the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998, such as being late to create or renew a registration.

This pie chart outlines how those reviews were handled. You can find out more about this process in the report.


The Office opened 10 investigations in the last fiscal year and concluded 18 investigations. You can read the summaries of those concluded investigations in the report, which may help ensure your lobbying activities are compliant with the Act.

Want more resources? Go to www.oico.on.ca/home/lobbyists-registration

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