The Role of Citizens
The Saskatchewan Lobbyist Registry is an online registration system which allows individuals and organizations to register their lobbying activities by filing a return and updating the information in accordance with the requirements of The Lobbyists Act. As part of the Province’s commitment to accountable and transparent government, the registry allows the public to search and view all of the information in the returns.
In order for someone to be lobbying, four components must be present:
- There must be payment to the lobbyist;
- There must be a form of communication;
- Communications must be with a public office holder; AND
- There must be an attempt to influence one or more outcomes.
All four variables must be present before a person is considered to be lobbying.
There are two distinct types of lobbyists – consultant lobbyist and in-house lobbyists.
It is every citizen’s right to know who is lobbying which Provincial Government public officials in an attempt to influence the decisions that are ultimately made by the government.
Architects, lawyers, public relations professionals, contractors, pharmaceutical representatives, geologists and farmers are some professions likely to engage in lobbying activities as part of their field of work.
- This Act does not apply with respect to a submission made in any manner … … to a member of the Legislative Assembly by a constituent of the member, unless the submission concerns the introduction, passage or amendment in the Legislative Assembly of a private Bill for the special benefit of that constituent.
Every constituent has a right and should be able to speak directly to their MLA about topics of interest. This section recognizes that right and specifically exempts constituents who speak with their MLA from having to register that communication as a lobbying activity, unless the topic of communication is for a special benefit of that constituent.
Bill 195 An Act to Amend The Lobbyists Act received Royal Assent on July 3, 2020 and will be enacted September 14, 2020. It includes the following changes:
- Reduces the number of hours from 100 to 30 as the threshold upon which an “in-house” lobbyist is required to register and report their activities
- Requires charitable non-profit organizations with 5 or more employees to register upon meeting the 30 hour threshold
- Prohibits lobbyists from providing gifts to public office holders except as a matter of protocol or social obligation.
The purpose of The Lobbyists Act is not to impede anyone’s right to communicate with their MLA, a Minister or any public office holder. The purpose is to ensure that those who are paid to attempt to influence a decision are open about their activities so everyone has the opportunity to know who is attempting to influence whom and for what intended outcome.
Some examples of lobbying could include:
- A coalition of businesses hires someone to present their suggestion that an amendment of The Saskatchewan Employment Act should be made to allow for a variation of the definition of "week" with regards to payment of overtime.
- A government relations person buys coffee for a Deputy Minister and talks about regulation changes his company would like.
- A paid advocate for an animal rights group calls for changes to the Wildlife Act and asks the public to get involved and talk to their respective MLA about the topic.
- A seed fertilizer company requests a meeting to inform elected officials and staff about the benefits to consumers, farmers and the environment deriving from plant sciences innovation.
- A representative of a union discusses specific union issues with a public office holder at a social function.
Not all meetings and communications are considered lobbying, nor is everyone who speaks to a public office holder about a specific topic considered a lobbyist. Volunteers, members of certain charitable non-profit boards and government officials speaking to each other in their official capacity are not considered lobbyists.
Examples of what is NOT considered lobbying:
- A presentation is made within the framework of a judicial or adjudicative proceeding such as an employment tribunal.
- Representation is made within the framework of a parliamentary commission or public forum where the proceedings are a matter of public record, such as during a town hall meeting or public consultation session.
- You have been asked by a public office holder to speak on a specific topic.
- You are talking to your MLA about something that impacts the constituency, not you directly.
Governance requires constant communication within government, between governments in all their various forms, and with businesses, other organizations and citizens. There are many, many of these conversations every day.
The purpose of the Saskatchewan lobbyist registry is to capture and report on only those conversations where someone is being paid to communicate with the provincial government in an attempt to influence that government in such a way as to benefit the party paying that person.
Not all meetings and communications are considered lobbying, nor is everyone who speaks to a public office holder about a specific topic considered a lobbyist. Some organizations are required by their own legislation to make their discussions with government transparent to the public and are therefore not required to disclose anything under The Lobbyists Act. Some of these organizations include:
- The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM)
- Saskatchewan School Boards Association;
Some individuals are also exempt, such as volunteers who are not receiving payment and employees of federal and provincial/territorial governments when acting in their official capacities.
clause 4(1)(c) of the Act provides that the Act does not apply to officers, directors or employees of local authorities. Universities are within the definition of local authority in 2(1) (j) so they are not required to register their in-house lobbying activities.
clause 4(1)(d) provides that the Act does not apply to officers, directors or employees of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities or the Saskatchewan School Boards Association
clause 4(1)(i) provides that the Act does not apply to officers, directors, or employees of a charitable non-profit with fewer than 5 employees and who do not meet the 30 hour threshold.
clause 4(1)(k) a person acting as a volunteer who does not receive a payment
There are a number of additional exemptions. ** For a full list of those individuals or organizations who are exempt please refer to s.4 in The Lobbyists Act.
If you have a question of whether communications or intended communications are registerable please contact the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists.
These FAQ's are for advisory purposes only and cannot, and should not, be relied upon as legal advice. These FAQ's do not restrict the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists in interpreting or applying The Lobbyists Act. In all cases, the Act must be considered in its entirety and is always the definitive and binding document.
Q: What is a consultant lobbyist?
Generally speaking, consultant lobbyists are people who, for payment, agree to lobby on behalf of a client. A lobbyist must register their activities on the Saskatchewan lobbyist registry within 10 days of undertaking to lobby.
Q: What is an in-house lobbyist?
In-house lobbyists communicate with public office holders on behalf of the corporation or organization which employs them. Registration by in-house lobbyists is required once they have lobbied for 30 hours annually.
Q: What contacts with government representatives are not considered lobbying?
The Lobbyists Act does not apply to some submissions, such as:
- In proceedings that are a matter of public record to a committee of the Legislative Assembly or to any body or person having jurisdiction or powers conferred by or pursuant to this Act;
- To a public office holder by an individual on behalf of an person or organization concerning;
- The enforcement, interpretation or application of any Act or regulation by the public office holder with respect to the person or organization; or
- The implementation or administration of any program, policy, directive or guideline by the public office holder with respect to the person or organization;
- To a public office holder by an individual on behalf of a person or organization in response to a request initiated by a public office holder for advice or comment on any matter;
- To a member of the Legislative Assembly in his or her capacity as a member of the Legislative Assembly by a constituent of the member, unless the submission concerns the introduction, passage or amendment in the Legislative Assembly of a private Bill for the special benefit of that constituent.
Q: Am I lobbying as a private citizen if I have a conversation with my MLA about an issue of interest to me, or from which I will personally benefit?
Clause 4(2)(d) of The Lobbyists Act allows a constituent to speak with their MLA about issues that concern them or their constituency without being required to register as a lobbyist.
Q: What is the Saskatchewan lobbyist registry?
The Saskatchewan lobbyist registry is an online registration system which allows individuals and organizations to register their lobbying activities by filing a return and updating the information in accordance with the requirements of The Lobbyists Act. As part of the Province’s commitment to accountable and transparent government, the registry allows the public to search and view all of the information in the returns.
Q: Do lobbyists from outside Saskatchewan have to disclose activities in the Registry?
Any person or organization who lobbies Saskatchewan Provincial public officials must register their activities on the lobbyist registry.
Q: Can Public Office Holders accept tokens of appreciation?
All lobbyists are prohibited from providing gifts or personal benefits to Public Office Holders who they are lobbying or intend to lobby. The Public Office Holder cannot accept a gift or personal benefit if it would place the Public Office Holder in a conflict of interest. The one minor exception would be if the gift or personal benefit is given as an incident of protocol or social obligation and is valued at less than $200.
Q: What can a citizen do if he/she knows a person has been lobbying but is not registered in the lobbyist registry?
If you suspect or know that someone has been lobbying and does not appear to be registered on the lobbyist registry please call the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists at 1-306-787-0800.