Protocols for BIA In Camera Meetings
Legal and Policy Framework
The holding of closed meetings is set out in the City of Toronto Act, 2006.
- All meetings of BIA Boards and committees must be open to the public.
- A meeting may be closed to consider information that falls under a statutory exception.
- Before holding a closed session, the decision body must state by resolution that it is going to close the meeting and the general nature of the matter to be discussed.
- No voting may take place during a closed session, except for:
- Procedural votes
- Giving confidential instructions to staff or agents of the City or local board
- Minutes of the closed sessions must be taken.
Reasons a Meeting May be Closed:
- Security of a BIA’s property.
- Personal matters about an identifiable individual, including City or BIA employees.
- Labour relations or employee negotiations.
- Litigation or potential litigation affecting the BIA.
- Receiving advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.
- Meetings always begin and end in public.
- Motions to go into closed sessions will contain the following information:
- That the meeting is a closed meeting;
- The general nature of the matter the BIA Board is considering at the closed meeting; and
- The reasons the matter requires a closed meeting.
Under the Act, Members who have declared a conflict of interest on an item must leave during a closed session on that item.
Managing Confidential Information for Closed Meetings
City Council has approved a confidential reporting protocol that includes the following provisions:
- Reports are public. Confidential information is provided in a confidential attachment.
- Reports with confidential information must include:
- the reason the information is confidential under the City of Toronto Act, 2006
- a recommendation stating the date and circumstances when some or all of the confidential information will be made public or the reason why the information must remain confidential.
- Only the confidential information may be discussed in closed session, not the public report.
Best Practices – Running Closed Sessions of Meetings
Before any meeting
- Give notice of all meetings, including those to be substantially closed to the public.
- Hold meetings in public session, unless permitted or required by law to close the meeting.
- Hold all meetings in publicly accessible locations.
- Confidential information should be added as an attachment to a public report.
- Ensure confidential attachments do not contain information that must be made public.
- Adopt a recommendation on the public release of confidential information when considering it.
- Ensure timely release of the confidential information as promised.
- Manage the circulation and destruction of confidential documents to prevent improper disclosure.
Before holding a closed session
- Start and end all meetings in public, even if a substantial portion of the meeting is to be closed.
- The Committee or Board must adopt a motion to go into closed session.
- Give as much information as possible about the item in the motion.
- List the agenda item number and title.
- State the statutory reason for closing the meeting and how it relates to the item.
- Be as descriptive as possible without disclosing confidential information.
General format for motions
"I move that the committee recess its public session to meet in closed session to consider [Item #] titled [Title on Agenda], the reason being to [statutory exception permitting the closed session]."
During a closed session
- The debate should be limited to the confidential information.
- The Chair should intervene if the discussion drifts into public or unrelated business.
- Restrict debate to the matter described in the motion requesting the closed session.
- Do not accept motions other than (a) procedural motions or (b) motions authorizing confidential instructions to staff (no staff should be present - any instructions to be issued after the closed meeting).
- Do not take straw votes on public motions.
- Do not let members introduce motions which will be moved in public.
- Record Minutes.
After a closed session
- Staff may return as well as any members who had been excluded under conflict.
- The meeting chair should publicly report on the progress made during the closed meeting, including the following:
- Whether the body finished its closed session consideration of the matter(s).
- Whether some matters originally listed were not debated.
- Which motions giving confidential instructions to staff were passed.
- Maintain confidentiality about the confidential information until the public release of information is authorized.
- Prepare confidential Minutes of the closed session and store them in a secure location.
- Ensure timely release of the confidential information as promised
(Source: City Clerks Secretariat wiki, March 2011)