Yesterday, Ontario’s Minister of Red Tape Reduction, the Hon. Parm Gill, announced the Fall 2022 Red Tape Reduction Package and tabled the government’s latest red tape reduction legislation, Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, 2022.
Since first elected in June 2018, the Ford government has maintained a strong focus on cutting red tape to make Ontario a more competitive and desirable place to do business. In this second mandate, the focus on red tape reduction has been re-emphasized, with the role being elevated from an Associate Minister to a full ministerial portfolio. Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario is the tenth Red Tape Reduction package and the ninth Red Tape Reduction bill introduced by the Ford government since the June 2018 election. The package includes 28 new measures focused on increasing Ontario’s competitiveness, supporting stronger supply chains, and removing barriers that make it difficult to interact with government.
- Supporting the Agricultural industry and Launching the Grow Ontario Strategy: The Grow Ontario Strategy is focused on promoting Ontario grown foods, building consumer confidence in these foods, growing the agri-food talent pool, and strengthening the province’s local provincial food supply chain from farm to fork. Other areas impacting agriculture included in the package and bill include amending the Animal Health Act to give the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs authority to take temporary response action to protect the health and well-being of the public and animals when faced with a potential animal health crisis. In addition, the government is proposing an amendment to modernize the language of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario Act to allow for more research that accurately reflects the innovative and evolving nature of agri-food research in Ontario today.
- Amending the Ontario Energy Board Act: Previously, the government amended O. Reg. 161/99 of the Ontario Energy Board Act to exempt electricity transmission projects that are solely customer-funded from the leave to construct process. To ensure this exemption is effective, the new bill proposes updating the Ontario Energy Board Act to ensure proponents of these projects will continue to have the right to apply to the Ontario Energy Board to cross a highway, railway, or utility line in circumstances where an agreement cannot be obtained.
- Improving Highways and Optimizing Reduced Load Periods: The government is creating an integrated online platform to handle approvals and permits along provincial highways. Work is ongoing to allow applicants, including home builders and municipalities, to submit, track and receive all their Ministry of Transportation approvals online. In addition, in the effort to protect road infrastructure in the spring when roads become weaker and more susceptible to permanent damage caused by heavy loads, the Ministry of Transportation, in partnership with the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) is creating frost depth prediction models that would provide municipalities with better information so they can optimize the timing of Reduced Load Periods, including shortening this period when conditions permit.
- Improving the Province’s Court System: To reduce backlogs in the criminal court system, court clerks will be able to reopen certain convictions when satisfied that the defendant missed a notice or was unable to attend a meeting or hearing related to the ticket. Similarly, the government is also proposing to temporarily increase the number of days retired judges can work. Finally, jury questionnaires for prospective jurors will now be accessible online.
- Enabling Carbon Storage: The government is proposing to amend the Oil, Gas and Resources Act to address barriers to the underground geological storage of carbon. If passed, these changes will be a first step in creating a framework to regulate and enable the permanent storage of carbon as a new tool Ontario can use to help reduce greenhouse emissions.
- Extending Corporate Virtual Processes: Rules that allowed virtual corporate meetings are being extended to September 2023. In the meantime, the government is analyzing the results of its consultation and considering potential permanent changes.
- Reviewing the Use of Corporate Performance Ratings in Engineering Services Procurements: The Ministry of Transportation maintains a Corporate Performance Rating system and the government is exploring using this system in the evaluation of bids for engineering services. The government believes using these ratings will allow more attention to be paid to price and technical details when evaluating these bids.
- Working with Indigenous Partners: The government is looking to work with Indigenous businesses and communities to better understand and address barriers to accessing government business support programs and procurement opportunities.
In addition, the government has re-launched its portal for businesses and individuals to submit their ideas for red tape reduction.
In other legislative news, Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 went through clause-by-clause consideration on Monday. Several amendments to the legislation have been adopted, including the withdrawal of provisions banning all “third party” appeals of projects at the Ontario Land Tribunal. The government also put forward a revision allowing Toronto and other cities to continue to enforce “green building standards.” For more information related to Bill 23, click here.
Happy to help.
Please contact your Sussex consultant with any questions about this latest red tape reduction package, how to propose further red tape reduction opportunities, the amendments to Bill 23 or what it might mean for your organization.
Brian Zeiler-Kligman, Vice President, Ontario Government Relations
Amanda DeYoung, Associate, Ontario Government Relations