What Is a Material Change?

April 2011

Following their initial disclosure under the Conflict of Interest Act, reporting public office holders (RPOHs) are required to disclose any material change to any matter that they were required to disclose. Under subsection 22(5) of the Act, they have 30 days in which to file a report with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner describing the change. Failure to do so may result in an administrative monetary penalty of up to $500.
Because the Act does not define “material change”, this notice seeks to provide RPOHs with some guidance as to when a change is considered to be a material change.
Clearly, a change that would require a public declaration on the public registry maintained by the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner or a change to an existing public declaration would always be considered to be a material change. Beyond this, whether a change to information provided in your confidential report is material will often depend on specific circumstances as well as your official duties and responsibilities.
You should pay particular attention to new assets and new outside activities, since these changes could constitute material changes.

The following situations are examples of material changes:
  • becoming a partner or acquiring equity interest in a company;
  • renting out a cottage that had previously been used for recreation;
  • opening a new investment account; and
  • volunteering to serve on the board of directors of a community organization.
Given their role in government decision-making, ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries must be particularly vigilant about reporting material changes. In addition to the above examples, for these individuals a material change would also include:
  • acquiring a new liability of $10,000 or more, for example purchasing a home with a mortgage; and
  • a change of marital status or common-law relationship.
A material change could affect your obligations under the Act and make it necessary to modify your compliance arrangements with the Office.
Whenever possible, we encourage you to communicate with the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner before making changes to your situation. Material changes that become evident during an annual review but were not reported could result in the imposition of an administrative monetary penalty.
For additional information or for confidential advice with respect to your individual situation, please call 613-995-0721 or e-mail ciec-ccie@parl.gc.ca.

This document replaces the information notice on material change that was prepared by the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in October 2010.