On July 21st, 2020, the Ontario government made amendments to the Municipal Act, 2001 which allows municipalities the option of authorizing proxy voting for Members of Council. With Bill 197: The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, municipalities that wish to allow proxy voting must amend their procedure bylaw to allow members of council to appoint another member of the same council to act in their place when they are absent.
The Province has positioned proxy voting as a way to “ensure continuing representation of constituents’ interests on municipal councils when a member is unable to attend in person due to, for example, illness, a leave of absence, or the need to practice physical distancing.”
While this allows a member of council to continue to represent the interests of their constituents should they be waylaid by illness, such as contracting COVID-19, it could also be applied to a leave of absence, such as parental leave, a policy for which is now mandatory under s.270 of the Municipal Act (MA) as a result of amendments made through Bill 68: The Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017.
While there are a number of international legislative bodies at a provincial, state or federal level that have utilized proxy voting to conduct business, an initial scan of jurisdictions at the local level suggest that such a mechanism is unique in its application to members of a municipal council.
Updated as of January 28, 2021.

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