Written Background Information to Accompany Request to Sign a Petition

Res #: 19-18M
Number: 19
Year: 2018
Midterm: Yes
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations

WHEREAS Section 140.1 (1) (petition for a financial or management audit) of The Municipalities Act is flawed in that it forces a municipal council, as a result of a petition, to expend ratepayers money without a democratic process in that not every voter is provided an equal opportunity to participate in the decision-making process;

WHEREAS it is also flawed in that there is no requirement for the petitioners to provide, to those being requested to sign the petition, a clear and concise written reason on what is being requested to be included in the audit(s) and the cost of the audit(s);

WHEREAS because of these flaws a municipality could be forced into a situation to to spend ratepayer dollars such that it puts a real financial burden on the ratepayers for nothing more than a fishing trip;

BE IT RESOLVED that the provincial government make changes to Section 140.1 (1) of The Municipalities Act such that a petition for a financial or management audit starts a series of events to ensure that all voters in the municipality are provided all the necessary information on the rationale and costs of conducting the audit(s).

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all voters are provided an equal opportunity to participate in a democratic process on whether the audits are necessary, similar to what is provided in section 132(1) (petition for a referendum) of The Municipalities Act.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations

December 21, 2018

  • Petitions are democratic tools that allow voters to demand the attention of council to a particular issue, and requires council to act on significant concerns that are shown to have widespread support. While balancing the need for procedural fairness, government does not want to make it more difficult for petitions to be used.
  • The petition under section 140.1 is to require the council to undertake a financial or management audit of the municipality, a council committee or body, or a controlled corporation. The provisions do not specify whether the petition must be in response to specific issues or to what may be perceived as general mismanagement.
  • A petition for a financial or management audit must meet the same requirements of a petition for a referendum as outlined in sections 133-135 and section 138. This process has been amended previously to respond to concerns over procedural fairness. Subsection 133(1) requires each page to include a statement of the purpose of the petition.
  • As part of its consideration of amendments to The Municipalities Act, government will consider whether there is a need to require a petition under section 140.1 to specifically outline the area(s) of concern to be the focus of the audit.

Keith Comstock – Assistant Deputy Minister, Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations