Municipal Law Newsletter: Winter 2019 

Municipal Government Act Code of Conduct and Expense Reporting Requirements?

As of January 15, 2019, Nova Scotia municipalities are subject to new requirements to have a code of conduct and report expenses. Amendments were made to the Municipal Government Act (the “MGA”) in Fall 2017 when Bill 10 was passed. However, the effective date for amendments related to codes of conduct and expense reporting was not until January 15, 2019.

With these amendments now in effect, every municipality must adopt a code of conduct and expense and hospitality policies. Codes of conduct must require compliance with the policies. Mayors, wardens, and councillors are subject to compliance with the code. Generally, the purpose of a code of conduct is to increase financial controls and accountability for expenses. Municipalities are now required to have an audit committee that meets at least twice every fiscal year, with at least one committee member being a person who is not a municipal councillor or employee.

Municipalities must prepare an expense report for each reportable individual within 90 days of the end of each fiscal quarter. The MGA defines “reportable individual” to include an individual who holds one of the following positions: mayor or warden; councillor; chief administrative officer (including an employee of the municipality delegated any of the responsibilities or powers of the CAO), or any position prescribed by the regulations. Expense reports must be posted on a publicly-available website for the municipality.

Hospitality expenses must be reported separately and show all hospitality expenses, including alcohol, incurred during the fiscal quarter. Hospitality expense reports must also be prepared within 90 days of the end of each fiscal quarter, and posted on a publicly available website. Expense and hospitality policies are required to include a prohibition from reimbursing expense claims for alcohol purchases by an individual.

Annual summary reports must be filed with the Minister of Municipal Affairs by September 30 each year.

The Minister has enhanced authority to prescribe positions for which the holder is considered a reportable individual and subject to a code of conduct, as well as categories of reportable expenses. Regarding policies and codes of conduct, the Minister can establish requirements regarding:

·       Scope;

·       Submission;

·       Application;

·       Publication; and

·       Content;

·       Frequency of posting or reporting.

·       Record keeping;


The Department of Municipal Affairs’ Financial Reporting and Accounting Manual (FRAM) provides details on what to include in expense and hospitality policies and reports. FRAM is more than just guidance on best practices – it is a Regulation prescribed by the MGA making compliance with FRAM mandatory.

Wickwire Holm produces this newsletter to inform our clients and friends of new and emerging legal issues. It is for general information purposes only, and does not provide legal or other professional advice. Readers should always consult their legal advisors before taking any action based on the information provided here. If you have questions about the information presented here, or wish to speak with a lawyer at Wickwire Holm, please contact us at or (902)429-4111.