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Ontario Hansard - 05-December2019

BETTER FOR PEOPLE, SMARTER FOR BUSINESS ACT, 2019 / LOI DE 2019 POUR MIEUX SERVIR LA POPULATION ET FACILITER LES AFFAIRES

Mr. Sarkaria moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 132, An Act to reduce burdens on people and businesses by enacting, amending and repealing various Acts and revoking various Regulations / Projet de loi 132, Loi visant à alléger le fardeau administratif qui pèse sur la population et les entreprises en édictant, modifiant ou abrogeant diverses lois et en abrogeant divers règlements.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): I return to the associate minister.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I’m very happy to rise today to speak to third reading of the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act. I’m going to be sharing my time with my two parliamentary assistants, the member for Flamborough–Glanbrook and the member for Mississauga–Streetsville. I want to take a special opportunity to thank the member for Flamborough–Glanbrook for all of her hard work through committee and for meeting with many individuals throughout the process since we tabled this piece of legislation. She has been absolutely great, and I want to commend her for all of her hard work on this piece of legislation.

Madam Speaker, this piece of legislation is focused on making Ontario more competitive. We know that a more competitive Ontario will produce a more productive Ontario. Higher levels of productivity will lead to higher levels of income and a better standard of living for everyone across this province.

Report after report has called on governments, and especially in Canada, to reform their regulatory framework. When we look at the World Economic Forum’s report on global competitiveness, Canada yet again fell two spots. When it comes to regulatory compliance, we are ranked 38th in the world. That is unacceptable, because we are robbing future generations in this province of opportunities that, under the previous government, we saw flee the province, in terms of over 300,000 manufacturing jobs.

I had the honour of introducing this piece of legislation when the House resumed on October 28. Since then, ministers from across the government have led a series of announcements highlighting specific actions in the package, many of which I’ve had the pleasure of participating in. We’ve held events at a church-housed food bank, a university preparing our students for the jobs of the future, a waterfront park displaying the beauty that is Ontario, and a mining industry event hosted by the hard-working people in our natural resources sector.

We’ve also held them at small businesses, those who are providing services and jobs to our communities. In my hometown of Brampton, the Minister of Finance made an amazing announcement to reduce the small business tax rate to 8%; a brewery in Uxbridge, with the member from Pickering–Uxbridge; a dirt-bike dealership in Bradford from the Minister of Transportation. It has been great to visit so many of these individuals, these businesses across our province that truly signify what small businesses are, what businesses are and how they are contributing to the economic landscape and prosperity of this province.

Madam Speaker, this wide-ranging list of announcements displays something that is essential about red tape: how widespread it is and how pervasive it truly is. Unnecessary regulations aren’t a problem for just a handful of business sectors. They don’t affect just a few groups of individuals. Under previous governments, the regulatory burden has grown over the years and decades to become a persistent problem across our province.

Red tape causes frustrations, delays and complications for individual Ontarians in a wide variety of circumstances. It gets in the way of people making choices that suit them. Red tape also adds massively to the cost of doing business in Ontario. It holds back investment. It holds back job creation across sectors. In a global economy that is more competitive than ever, it makes it harder for Ontario companies to compete with products and services beyond our borders.

The impact of red tape goes beyond individuals and businesses. It also affects municipalities, colleges, universities, hospitals and school boards. It forces them to allocate too much of their budgets to administrative overhead at the expense of the services we rely on for them. That is why we introduced the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act. This legislation is the next big step in our plan to make Ontario work better for people and smarter for business.

Mr. Speaker, our plan empowers people and will help make life easier for everyday Ontarians, and it makes life easier for businesses by getting out of the way of job creators so they can continue to create opportunities for the hard-working families across this province. We’re working to deliver smarter government for the people of our province through a modern and outcomes-focused approach to service, and we’re working to unleash the full potential of workers and businesses to grow Ontario’s economy by creating an environment where companies can flourish, invest and create good jobs. Reducing regulatory burdens is a key part of our government’s plan, because getting that right matters to families, businesses and Ontario’s bottom line.

The problem we have in Ontario with red tape wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight. Untying the regulatory knot will take time and persistence. That is why the government created the office of small business and red tape reduction. Our team is working with ministries across the government to bring regulatory relief to everyday people and the businesses that they rely on to get ahead.

I’m going to talk now about something that is fundamental to getting Ontario’s regulatory framework right. Regulations are fundamental to the quality of life we enjoy in our province. Ontario families expect clean air and clean water. They expect and deserve safe products and safe working conditions, and regulations are there to ensure these things. They are essential to protecting public health and safety, and the environment. That is why in every action we are taking to address unnecessary regulations, we are maintaining standards to keep workers and families safe and healthy and protect the environment.

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Mr. Speaker, in my introduction of the package, I outlined five guiding principles. The top among them was protecting public health, safety and the environment. No government can accomplish both simultaneously and pass measures to help Ontario while sacrificing these critically important priorities. That is why, for the first time in this piece of legislation, we are enhancing environmental protections so those individuals who are polluting are actually punished. Currently, there are only 140 facilities that can be fined. After this piece of legislation, if passed, that will ensure that over 150,000 facilities can then be fined. This will ensure that those who are polluting will be fined—punishing polluters, not families for heating their homes; punishing polluters and not taxing families driving to and from work.

Mr. Speaker, all too often, companies are required to spend time and money complying with rules that go well beyond what’s needed to achieve the goals of regulations. We are taking a different approach. We are making regulations effective, targeted and focused. Most managers and owners of companies want to be in compliance with regulations, but they also have a business to run. They would rather spend their time filling out their order books than filling out government forms. That’s why we’re working to make it faster, easier and cheaper for companies to comply with regulations so that businesses will comply with them without sacrificing the jobs, growth and opportunities Ontarians rely on to get ahead.

Now I would like to focus on how the provisions in this bill will make life easier for everyday Ontarians. Our government recognizes that red tape isn’t a problem just for businesses. Unnecessary regulations also make things harder than they should be for individuals. Ontario has far too many ineffective regulations that don’t achieve the outcomes they were intended to but that impose a cost on people in time and money. We are rewriting regulations that were created with one situation in mind but have instead led to unintended consequences. We are modernizing regulations that no longer reflect the world we live in. We’re fixing regulations that create barriers to people making the choices that suit them.

Here’s an example of how we’re expanding choice: When they go out for a meal, some pet owners would like to have the choice of having their dog next to them on a restaurant patio, but currently, they aren’t allowed to do that, except in the case of service animals. It’s not only pet owners who miss out. Restaurant owners also miss out on potential customers. That’s also true of tasting bars at breweries, where only beverages and low-risk, prepackaged foods are served, and at places where wine, cider and spirits are made. Dog owners know how frustrating this can be, especially since dining rules are more relaxed in other provinces, such as British Columbia and New Brunswick, and in other parts of the world, such as Paris, Tokyo, London and New York. That’s why we’re moving to ease these restrictions. We’re making it easier and more enjoyable for dog owners to have a meal out by giving them a choice of patios and tasting bars that do and don’t welcome dogs.

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, I visited a brewery in Uxbridge in connection to this bill. The President of the Treasury Board, who has been a champion on this issue, and the member for Durham were presented with a situation where the individual business, which, at that point, had never been told to comply with this piece of legislation, was all of a sudden facing many instances of lost revenue from customers. The ownership was keen on serving a segment of the population that they were actually prevented from serving. Customers were also keen on having a place that would welcome the four-legged members of their family. Our regulatory changes will leave it to them to make their own decisions, not the government.

Here is what Rob Garrard, co-founder and owner of Second Wedge Brewing Co. in Uxbridge, had to say about our proposed changes: “The Ontario government is creating the right environment for local businesses to succeed by removing ineffective regulations. They are championing companies like ours by allowing us to make smart, responsible and popular decisions that communities are asking for—like allowing people to bring their dogs with them on patios, and indoors where food isn’t being prepared.”

Mr. Speaker, I’d like to share another example of how we’re addressing unnecessary regulations that make things harder than they should be in Ontario. Much of our work on red tape focuses on the regulations themselves and on how we’re eliminating ones that are unnecessary and modernizing ones that we do need.

But that’s not the entire story. We are also tackling a big problem that our government inherited, and that’s the issue of outdated regulatory processes. These processes impose significant costs in time and money that go well beyond what is needed to achieve the goals of regulations.

Here’s an example of an action we’re taking to speed up our regulatory processes, helping to protect seniors and their families. Ontario is home to some of the biggest prescription drug makers in the world, but regulatory processes make it difficult for patients to gain access to the medications that they need. Ontario has a process for adding a new drug to the formulary, which lists the drugs the province pays for under the Ontario Drug Benefit. We’re streamlining this process to eliminate steps that duplicate ones already done at Health Canada. We are no longer requiring drug makers to submit forms that no other provinces require. This will benefit patients by speeding up their access to innovative and lower-cost generic drugs.

I’d like to share with you a quote supporting this action from Jim Keon, president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association: “Streamlining Ontarians’ access to cost-saving generic prescription medicines after they have been reviewed and authorized for sale by Health Canada is a smart way to reduce unnecessary red tape and save money that can be better invested in patient care.” Jim Keon understands the need and value of our regulatory change in this area.

I’m proud of the fact that this bill stands up for patients and will help expand Ontarians’ access to prescription drugs.

The next example I’d like to talk about reinforces how wide-ranging our government’s work is to improve Ontario’s regulations. It concerns chronic wasting disease, or CWD, which kills deer, elk, moose and caribou. This is a case where speed is of the essence, because CWD is a fatal brain disease that spreads fast, and a disease that, once established, is almost impossible to eradicate. Fortunately, Ontario is thought to be free of this dreadful disease. However, it was recently detected in a part of Quebec near the Ontario border, as well as in six neighbouring states. We are moving to give the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry the power to move fast to establish a wildlife disease zone, so that if there is an outbreak, the ministry can eradicate the disease in that zone before it spreads. Eliminating red tape that would slow the government’s response to an outbreak of this disease will benefit hunters and is important for wildlife. It would also protect Ontario’s biodiversity.

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Listen is to what Keith Munro, a wildlife biologist at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, has to say on this very important matter: “We are pleased to see the government laying the groundwork for a rapid and aggressive response if CWD is never detected in the province.

“While prevention is of paramount importance, the ability to act quickly in the event of a positive case is a critical component of a comprehensive response plan.

“We are committed to working with the government to identify and address pathways through which CWD could enter the province.”

Madam Speaker, there are many areas that this piece of legislation touches. One of the areas that I am most proud of in this piece of legislation is community-feeding organizations. Under previous regulations, we heard loud and clear that many community-feeding organizations, those who are helping those in need, were forced to comply with regulations to the same extent as any fast-food restaurant. This would include industrial dish washers; special requirements on the number of sinks, even if they were only serving once a week, if they were only serving 100 people; and special requirements on flooring. Some of these community centres received bills in excess of $100,000 to comply. Regulation never took into consideration the uniqueness of what they were doing and was forcing them to comply with something that a Boston Pizza or a fast-food restaurant like McDonald’s or Burger King would have to do.

Our government is taking action by ensuring that we work with community-feeding organizations, that we work with our stakeholders, to ensure that we can modernize our regulations to take into consideration the great work that that these organizations are doing, without compromising public health, safety or, in other circumstances, the environment.

We are making tremendous strides in the mining industry in this piece of legislation by introducing service guarantees on planned closure amendments.

We are making sure we that we are supporting our forestry industry by including many provisions in this piece of legislation to make forestry more competitive, after seeing thousands of jobs leave the province under the previous government.

We are ensuring higher safety and more environmental compliance through our transport truck industry. Hard-working transport truck drivers and those operating those businesses, employing thousands of people across this province, will now have a streamlined way of testing their vehicles, with more, enhanced ways for us to protect the environment.

We are implementing administrative monetary penalties to ensure that those who are polluting are punished for polluting. Those who are contravening legislation and who are making an economic benefit from contravening environmental legislation are then also charged a fine for that environmental benefit and then also referred for further prosecution.

We are taking measures to improve the competitiveness of our farmers, our agriculture industry.

We are taking measures to help many of those museums, specifically in relation to cultural objects that are coming from across the world.

And, Madam Speaker, we are revolutionizing the way we conduct some of our environmental assessments in relation to manufacturing plants, OEMs, starting with a pilot project at Ingersoll with GM.

Everything that we have outlined in this piece of legislation is an attempt to make Ontario more competitive, an attempt to restore Ontario as the competitive place that we know it can be, to ensure that Ontario once again becomes the economic engine of this country.

So far, the work that we are doing is working. Since being elected, we have seen over a quarter million new jobs being created right here in the province due to the reduction of red tape, investing $5.4 billion back into the economy—whether it’s making sure that we have frozen the minimum wage, while at the same time giving the most progressive tax cut to anyone earning $14 and making sure they pay no income tax at the provincial level; whether it’s making sure we reduce the cost of WSIB premiums; whether it’s ensuring we reduce the small business tax by 8%, as we announced in our fall economic statement.

Many steps are being taken by this government to ensure that Ontario is more competitive, that future generations of this province continue to have access to good, high-paying jobs, that we remove barriers for economic success and that we continue on the path of economic prosperity.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Ms. Catherine Fife: I would like to put on the record that the minister who just spoke to Bill 132, in my view and in the view of the people who came to committee in London, in Peterborough and in Toronto, is clearly talking about a very different piece of legislation than the concerns we heard at committee. I want to get those voices on the record, because I think it’s important for the people of this province to understand that when a government moves forward with a piece of legislation like Bill 132 without doing their due diligence, without following even the very processes that are outlined on ministry websites around consultation, then you get a flawed piece of legislation.

In fact, one fellow in Peterborough told us that you should put some yellow tape around this red tape bill, that it requires some caution.

Another delegate told us, when he thinks of the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, that he thinks of an oxymoron: a group of words that don’t go together. I would concur with that one.

I want to get on the record one delegation that was not able to come to London. Her name is Kathy Lee. She apologized for not being able to make it there. In fact, a lot of people couldn’t make it there. A lot of people, for some reason, couldn’t get on to the lists, although this was a bill that was travelled. I think it was a good idea to travel the bill; I just think it would have been better to travel the bill beforehand versus after the fact.

Kathy Lee says, “To start with, the name of the bill is an insult to the people of Ontario. Passage of such a bill will result in the degradation of our water resources and line the pockets of heavy industry. A $200,000 fine for contravening the Environmental Protection Act is a drop in the bucket for an industry which sees pouring chemicals and waste products into our rivers and lakes as a cheap way of disposing of toxic substances.”

One person referenced in a comment afterwards—after hearing a whole day’s worth, essentially, of environmental groups who had not been consulted on the bill—that they should put a new sign on one of our licence plates. You remember, Madam Speaker, that the Premier was considering putting Open for Business instead of Yours to Discover. This individual said, “Yours to pollute in,” because there’s a clear sentiment: that by loosening the environmental regulations through legislation—


Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Increasing.

Ms. Catherine Fife: No, no. You’re not.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): The associate minister will come to order.

Ms. Catherine Fife: We are clearly talking about two very different pieces of legislation. For some reason, I just wasn’t buying what the minister was selling. The good news, though, is that neither is the rest of the province.

We took our evidence, we took our research, we took our documents and we tried to make the bill a palatable bill. Because who doesn’t like dogs on brewery patios? Except for the people who are allergic to dogs; they do have an issue with it. And of course, the 24-hour-a-day drinking in airports: We set that aside, for the most part, because it’s really not a priority for the people.

But you know what is a priority for the people of this province? Clean drinking water. Because when townships and municipalities find themselves in a position where their source water is not protected, that’s bad for business. It’s bad for the economy. It’s bad for the environment. It’s bad for progressive planning principles.

Before I move ahead, I want to say that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario came here to Queen’s Park. They brought a briefing paper, which I’m going to get on the record. Their president, whose name is—he’s a very nice guy—Jamie McGarvey, gave a very strong deputation around the Aggregates Resources Act because the schedule that’s affiliated with the ARA, schedule 16, is probably one of the most problematic pieces of Bill 132.

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He says, “However, in the area of aggregates reform, we believe the bill needs critical amendments in key areas.

“First, as written, municipal council members can be held personally liable for decisions made not by them but by the province.” Once again, you have a government that is overriding democratically elected councils.

He goes on to say, “We recognize that requiring an application”—this is when an aggregate comes into a municipality—they say, “rather than just an amendment—to extract aggregate below the water table raises the bar; it is a higher standard of requirement.

“However, there is no companion amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act which would indemnify municipal councillors if municipal drinking water is contaminated because of extraction below the water table.

“Municipal council members must not be held responsible for provincial decisions that result in drinking water source contamination. That simply isn’t fair....”

Quite honestly, I’ve never, in all my years, seen the Association of Municipalities of Ontario come to Queen’s Park and asked to be relieved of their legal responsibility around source water protection. They are on the front lines. They offered two solutions to the government. They said, “Either don’t allow extraction below the water table”—we would support that; we would—“or indemnify municipal councillors from decisions they do not make.

“As you know, municipal governments have to demonstrate due diligence to protect drinking water sources in order to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

So you have municipal councillors in the province of Ontario trying to uphold their legal duties. The province can override those duties, and then the local municipal council would be held responsible.

He goes on to say, “To demonstrate due diligence without indemnification, councils would have to appeal all below-water-table applications to the LPAT, given the potential of such activity to contaminate drinking water sources. This would have the unintended effect of increasing the administrative burden for LPAT and municipal governments.”

I want to be really clear. AMO came to Queen’s Park. They asked you to change this piece of legislation. They asked you to amend it, and ironically they’ve said to you that it will create more red tape. You have municipal councils appealing decisions made by the provincial government. It makes no sense—not even the Common Sense Revolution kind of sense of a former Premier here in the province of Ontario.

“Second,” it says, “the proposed amendments would remove the ability of the minister or the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to consider road degradation that may result from proposed truck traffic to and from the site.

“This would create significant hardship for municipal governments, which are responsible for maintaining safe roads.

“There is no other viable tool for municipal governments that would make sure aggregate operators contribute their own fair share.” This is another download, Madam Speaker.

Municipal councillors “are the first responders to residents’ concerns.” It’s their “job to work with the province and business to mitigate concerns for all,” but the bill “proposes that changes to site plans would require minister’s approval. Yet it’s the municipal government that has to deal with the negative outcomes....”

I thought the presentation from AMO would have been something that the government listened to. Instead, it fell on deaf ears.

We have a pit that’s proposed in Wilmot township. Waterloo region gets their water from—what’s it called? It’s a source water protection—it’s an aquifer. Seven per cent of the water in Waterloo region could be contaminated if an aggregate company goes below the water table in the Hallman pit. The municipal council isn’t going to have a say in that. Even the ministry is allowing, through an amendment to Bill 132, the aggregate companies to revise the site plans without ministry overview. It’s like a free-for-all. So this causes concern obviously for us, because when Gravel Watch came to the committee—it begs the question: Who is this government listening to? Who has the ear of whoever is in the backrooms running the show for the PC government?

Gravel Watch came in—and this is from their deputation—and they said, “After the current government was elected in June ... we did what we traditionally do and reached out to the newly appointed MNRF minister to congratulate them and ask for an opportunity to engage with them. We did this by written letter, emails and phone calls. We never received any response.” There was a change in the minister—you remember that little shuffle very soon after the budget was dropped—and Gravel Watch, an environmental group that has extensive history with the Aggregate Resources Act, which has been a partner with governments of all stripes, historically, in the province of Ontario, never got a call back. What they did learn, though, was that on February 20 of last year—the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association had their annual meeting and they had their March summit: “The March summit event came and went, and we became aware that our exclusion from the event was far from unique. Environmental groups, other citizen groups, top aggregate-producing municipalities from across Ontario: All these organizations were excluded from the summit. The attendees were almost exclusively members of the aggregate industry.”

This is hugely concerning, because if citizens can’t get into those backrooms, they won’t be heard. So even when they come to committee, as they did here at Queen’s Park—they raise serious concerns.

This is Gravel Watch again: “While Bill 132 explicitly removes the ability of municipalities to zone for above or below groundwater table extraction”—first of all, given the history of the PC Party in Ontario and the history of Walkerton, I can’t believe that this government is moving forward by removing the responsibility and oversight of municipalities—“it does not provide any information on the proposed ‘more robust application process.’” It leaves it all to regulations.

This is what the Liberals used to do. Remember? They’d give it a nice, fancy name like “smarter people, smarter air,” or something like that. I don’t even know who was writing those titles. You’ve continued this, and you’ve left it all to regulation.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a real lack of trust with your government and the environment, and given yesterday’s Auditor General’s report, the people of this province have very good reason to not trust the direction that this government is going in.

AMO put an amendment. They said, “Please make sure that you remove the part of schedule 16 which takes away our responsibility.” They asked to be relieved, indemnified, of their legal responsibility. This is not a good bill when the 444 municipalities in Ontario are asking to be alleviated of their responsibility.

Another voice that really was ignored—and I have to say, one of the saddest but also angriest moments for me in this entire process was when the Matawa First Nations came to committee and they expressed their concern, as did the Chiefs of Ontario, because they were not duly consulted. They reminded the government of the fact that they should be regarded as partners in any new legislation that addresses mining or the north. The member from Peterborough–Kawartha, in his section where he was talking to Chief Yesno said, “But we’re strengthening the consultation. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?” The chief was furious. They felt insulted to be spoken to in a patronizing manner whereby—they clearly weren’t at the table because their concerns are not reflected in the legislation.

They made two very strong points, and I want to get these on the record. They said, “It is in the best interest, it’s in the economic interest, it’s in the environmental interest for First Nations, for Indigenous communities to be part of any revision or any amendment that has to do with the Mining Act.” That will instill confidence in the entire process. This is what the Liberals messed up time and time again. This is why the Ring of Fire is essentially the ring of smoke. They spent most of their time sidelining First Nations communities and ended up in court. So that’s what the Matawa Chiefs Council and the Chiefs of Ontario have said to this government. They said, “Listen, we are partners. It’s not just a duty to consult. We don’t want to be over here in the side room, being viewed as some people you just have to talk to for a short amount of time.” They deserve to be at the table. It’s in the best economic interest of the province. It’s in the best environmental interest of the province.

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It defies and runs counter to the entire goal of the legislation that you’re talking about—you are actually going to be creating more red tape. You’re going to be slowing down the whole mining application process because you’re forcing Chiefs of Ontario, and in this case the Matawa First Nations, to go to court just to be regarded as a partner, which they have a treaty right to. They have a legal right to be at the table. They shouldn’t have to come all the way down here to Queen’s Park and say, “What about us?” There shouldn’t be a “What about us?” clause for Indigenous communities in 2019.

This is what they said: “Bill 132, schedule 8, related to the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines’s proposed amendments to the Mining Act legislation policy and regulation [should] be removed from Bill 132.” You didn’t do that.

“Bill 132, [schedule] 16, related to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and proposed amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act and Crown Forest Sustainability Act legislation policy and regulations be removed.” You didn’t do that.

“[C]onduct an Ontario crown obligation assessment for First Nations’ information purposes that any and all proposals contained within Bill 132, the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act ... be reassessed for Ontario’s crown obligations to First Nations.” You didn’t do that.

Finally, “[T]he government of Ontario proceed in an innovative approach to including Matawa First Nations not only as partners but as the investors of certainty required for economic and social prosperity.” You didn’t do that.

It defies all common sense that you knowingly craft a piece of legislation that will end up in court. It’s like you have something personal against the north, like you don’t want to see the great northern Ontario sector ever be successful, because the Ring of Fire and any future mining and resource extraction in a sustainable way—forget the fact that we should be consulting with Indigenous communities because we want sustainable resource extraction in Ontario. Forget that. Why do you continue to go down a road where you end up in court? It really, truly does not make any sense.

So on behalf of the legislator—and our MPP Sol Mamakwa came out and spoke to the chiefs at that time. They understood what was happening, that they were being talked down to. They see this place as still in full-throttle colonialism. They have a court case against the Minister of Energy right now. They brought us the court case. This government seems to be very content, almost at peace, with the fact that more lawyers are getting more jobs in the province of Ontario. It’s not in the best interests of citizens of this great province.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association really summed up—they came to Peterborough. It was quite ironic: At one point, one of the committee members was trying to explain the law to them. The Canadian Environmental Law Association has a focus on equity, justice and health. They have been fighting successive governments to strengthen environmental laws. Schedule 9 of Bill 132 moves exactly in the wrong direction. Moving away from administrative monetary penalties, otherwise known as AMPs, as an alternative to prosecutions in appropriate cases—AMPs are a way to hold the sector accountable around pollution. “AMPs have existed in the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act for ... years. They have proven to be a useful compliance mechanism for holding polluters accountable without ... going to court.

“Schedule 9 of Bill 132 proposes to amend and expand the AMP regime to three other environmental laws.”

At the end of the day, what is going to happen is that the availability of AMPs under the three other laws depends on regulations that have not yet been made. Once again, you moved a good portion of the penalties, which you say are going to be stronger, to a regulatory schedule, but don’t expose them. Even if the regulations are quickly developed, even if we knew what the regulations were, schedule 9 proposes to change AMPs from a per-diem penalty to a per-contravention penalty. This is a rollback from current AMP provisions, which state that AMPs can be imposed for every day that the offence continues. In our view, the current per diem approach should be retained since it can result in higher penalties for multi-day offences, which will have a greater deterrent effect on polluters.”

When people come to us after these committee sessions and they say that it is going to be easier to pollute in the province of Ontario, they are not wrong. They are right, because the government will say, “Well, we’re raising this fee to $200,000, but just for one time.” If a polluter, if a company, has a spill, they are very motived to clean up that spill when it’s $100,000, $100,000, and $100,000, every single day. This just makes common sense.

“Finally, in cases where an AMP is issued, schedule 9 will make it easier for polluters to appeal the penalty by removing the reverse onus that exists in the current AMP regime. This onus correctly puts the burden on polluters to prove on appeal that the alleged facts did not occur; however, schedule 9 proposes to remove this onus. In our view, this is a major step backwards....”

So not only are they going to make it easier for some companies to pollute, but they’re not going to hold the company accountable even to expose the process.

“For these and other reasons, CELA cannot support the proposed AMP reforms....” In fact, nobody came to this committee across the province—we didn’t get one positive message from environmental, or business groups, for that matter, that said, “You know what? This is a good idea.” Because you know what? It’s not. It’s not a good idea.

They have made changes to the Pesticides Act. This a government that just fired the Ontario pesticides advisory council. This was a council that provided non-partisan expert advice to the environment minister since the 1970s, so to New Democrats, to Conservatives, to Liberals.

If there was ever an environment minister who needed some advice and guidance, it would be this minister, in this environment. Honestly, yesterday, when he was responding to the Auditor General’s report, he essentially said, “Well, the auditor didn’t say our plan is the worst plan.” Is that really where we are in 2019, saying, “We’re not the worst”?

Interjection.


Ms. Catherine Fife: The worst is Alabama, and we know what we’re getting from Alabama in the education sector.

There was no good reason to fire the Ontario pesticides advisory council. This is a government that needs all the help they can get.

The changes to the Aggregate Resources Act are key because they really tie in the entire narrative of where this government is going and who you’re working for and who you are listening to.

CELA goes on to say that they’ve “been involved in countless pit and quarry cases over the years. In our experience, aggregate extraction can cause a number of serious environmental and nuisance impacts in the short- and the long-term, especially if the sites are not properly rehabilitated.” They are rarely rehabilitated in Ontario. There’s really no onus to actually rehabilitate a quarry pit.

“Unfortunately, schedule 16 of Bill 132 contains amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act that weaken or remove some important safeguards that currently exist in law. For example, schedule 16 proposes to make municipal by-laws ‘inoperative’ if they restrict the depth of” the aggregate. So we already know the risk to source water protection in this manner.

It goes on to say, “extraction in order to protect groundwater. Schedule 16 also proposes to expand the ability of aggregate companies to self-file their own changes to site plans without ministerial approval.” So imagine: giving an aggregate company the right to self-determine their site plan without municipal oversight, without ministry oversight. What could possibly go wrong here? What could possibly go wrong?

We tried to pull schedule 9. We tried to pull schedule 16. We tried to address the concerns of First Nations and Indigenous communities in schedule 8. But there was another—this is the topper—and I’m running out of time. Schedule 2 was around the Line Fences Act, and so the government addressed that. They voted against their own schedule 2 in its entirety, which, for us, demonstrates that they didn’t do their own due diligence around that piece.

They are also undermining the local planning appeals centres. Now, these LPATs were brought in by the Liberal government to address the power imbalance with the Ontario Municipal Board. I have to say, they didn’t give it a chance, really, to even be successful.

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But citizens—I’m thinking in particular of this one lovely lady from a rural community just south of Peterborough. She and her community have been fighting the site plan for a quarry for nine years. She said, “You know what? We’ve been baking cookies for a long time.”

She actually asked the committee something very interesting. She wanted one cent from all aggregate profits to go back into a coffer so that the citizens’ groups could fight the aggregate industry. That’s where we are right now in Ontario: We’ve got the bake sales going. We’re trying to skim off a little bit of profit to make sure that citizens have the recourse to fight poor planning decisions. When you think of rural and northern communities and the potential for below-water-table extraction in aggregates, and the fact that a lot of those communities are on wells—you can undermine the whole economy of a community by not ensuring that source water has some protection.

The groups that came to see us—I just want to let them know that they were listened to. They were from all over the province. They were from Citizens for Safe Ground Water. The Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations came to see us, and the Grand River Environmental Network, thank goodness; Gravel Watch Ontario; and the London Environmental Network, who made the connection between the economy and environmental protection.

The Thames River Anglers Association came to see us, and their concerns were around aggregate development. They made the point that the changes and the amendments around Bill 132, specifically around schedule 9 and schedule 16, have the ability to hurt eco-tourism. Eco-tourism is a growing industry. I’ve never actually had anybody come from the anglers’ association to fight a piece of legislation. I was really happy that they were there, for sure.

The other piece that came into the committee session was around the overall health and well-being of citizens in this province. I want to thank the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario for coming to talk about toxins and to talk about air quality.

What I learned through this process is that there is no safe amount of particulate around quarries. This came from the Oxford Environmental Action Committee. They gave us some very good research. I don’t know if it was listened to or read by anybody, because no changes were made to the act. Why go around and listen to people if you’re not actually going to make any changes? It defies logic. This is from Dr. Nosal, who is the Halton medical officer of health: “It is commonly understood that there is no level of exposure to coarse (PM10) or fine ... particulate matter that is without negative health impacts.”

A couple had written to us and said, “We have been living with a quarry for years.” The noise, the way that the whole aggregate industry has negatively impacted the tourism of that community, and the dust that’s in their house, in their car, and obviously the dust that’s in their lungs has given them some serious cause for concern over the years. They’re an elderly couple. They can’t pick up and move their house, and so what they asked the government for were stronger regulations around aggregate development. They’re not looking to remove their voices at local municipal councils.

In fact, local municipal councils want the LPAT to actually exist, to have financial resources for communities to fight now-provincial decisions. We’ve really gone full circle on that.

Environmental Defence came as well. They made a very strong point around the administrative monetary penalties: It makes sense to hold polluters to account; it does not make sense to let polluters get away with polluting, not to the economy and not to the environment.

Their concerns around aggregate go back to the whole public consultation process. This bill dropped in this Legislature while consultation was apparently still going on. So the bill was already drafted. That doesn’t build a lot of confidence.

I heard the minister say very clearly that this is going to be really good for business. Businesses didn’t tell us that. They didn’t. They said these are a discombobulation of various schedules in Bill 132. Ultimately—and this will be realized at one point in this province—when you loosen the rules around environmental protection, that actually is not good for business. In fact, it comes back on the taxpayer at all times. And as AMO pointed out, this bill ironically creates more red tape.

I’ll leave you with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, who came to the committee. They said what they really need help with is calling on the government to “focus on creating more manufacturing jobs by implementing significant measures to lower electricity costs, introduce new tax incentives to help companies scale up, adopt new technologies, improve company training and environmental performance, and announce more measures to ensure more fairness” and progress.

If you came to us with these kinds of measures and you introduced regulatory schedules that would strengthen the manufacturing sector and actually make it a clean-tech or a green economy, we could probably work with you. What we can’t work with you on is introducing schedules which undermine our local democracies, our democratically elected municipalities, which undermine the ability to hold polluters to account—-which is schedule 9—and finally, which will ultimately undermine the value that we have around source water protection with the changes to the Aggregate Resources Act.

We’re not against aggregates. We need aggregates. But we’re for clean drinking water, and this was made clear by multiple people who came to this committee. I want to thank those citizens for showing up. I want them to know that they were listened to, that their voices were respected on this side of the House, and that as soon as we get a chance to, we are going to reverse the changes, particularly in schedule 9 and schedule 16.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Ms. Donna Skelly: A big thank you to the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction for introducing the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act as part of our government’s plan to fix Ontario’s broken regulatory framework.

The regulatory knot that was stifling economic growth in Ontario wasn’t made overnight, so untying it carefully and effectively is going to take time and perseverance. We are clearly making progress toward reducing the regulatory burdens on job creators right across this province. The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, along with regulatory changes and policy announcements, contains over 80 actions to reduce regulatory burdens and lower the cost of doing business in Ontario.

Madam Speaker, this is a huge package, and I’m going to list just a few of the sectors that will benefit from these actions. This act will spur investment, growth and job creation across sectors that include manufacturing, forestry, mining, agri-food, transportation, life science, energy and waste recovery, and main street sectors such as restaurants, barbershops and dry cleaners. The benefits of these actions will go well beyond these sectors.

Getting out of the way of businesses will allow them to do what they do best: create jobs and opportunity for hard-working families. Madam Speaker, this work is critical because we have a real problem in Ontario with red tape impeding business. Our government inherited a regulatory burden that over the years has grown into the heaviest in the country. As of June 2018, businesses in Ontario, on average, had to deal with 100 legislative and regulatory requirements while Quebec had 77, Alberta 43, and BC just 20.

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Businesses told us that far too many of Ontario’s regulations were outdated, onerous, resulted in duplication or simply didn’t fit the purpose. This regulatory burden has reduced the business investments that drive job creation.

The province has seen report after report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the University of Toronto’s Ontario 360 and, most recently, Deloitte. All of them state that our regulatory burden is out of step with other provinces and with US states that we compete with for good jobs and growing wages. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019, Canada was seen to have dropped two spots to 14th place.

We know that economic competitiveness is a major driver of a rising standard of living in Ontario, but it all comes down to productivity. The more productive our labour force is, the higher the wages. This results in higher incomes for hard-working families and a rising standard of living. If regulations aren’t serving the public interest, if they impose excessive burdens on businesses, if they duplicate federal or municipal rules or if they cause excessive costs to the economy, that harms our competitiveness.

Madam Speaker, we have already made a strong start to fixing that problem. Over the past 16 months, the government has taken more than 100 actions to modernize and streamline regulations, simplify complex regulatory processes and eliminate overlap with federal and municipal rules that are already on the books.

The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act is the fourth red tape package that we have brought forward. In November 2018, the Legislature passed the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which repealed onerous regulatory burdens introduced by the previous government. This included pausing an increase in the minimum wage to give small business a chance to reassess their resources and their labour costs.

Last April, the Legislature passed the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, which is taking 31 actions to cut red tape in 12 sectors of the economy.

In June, the government announced the spring regulatory modernization package. It’s eliminating regulatory irritants in the auto sector and other manufacturing sectors.

We announced over 30 actions to make it easier for businesses to create jobs and for people to find them, and we’re also reducing red tape as part of broader legislative packages that don’t have the words “red tape” on their label. For instance, the Ontario budget included the Putting Drivers First auto plan, which is allowing auto insurance companies to offer more innovative products, such as pay-as-you-go insurance.

In May, the Legislature passed the Simpler, Faster, Better Services Act. This includes actions to reduce red tape, such as allowing the government to send notices by email instead of paper. There are dozens of provincial laws governing multiple ministries that require hard-copy signatures on documents and rely on inefficient processing methods, such as fax machines or traditional mail. The government is making changes to processes and access to meet people’s expectations for service delivery.

“Digital first” does not mean “digital only.” We are expanding access to meet people’s expectations for service delivery, whether it’s between 9 to 5 at a ServiceOntario centre or at 10 p.m. from the comfort of your own home.

In June, the Legislature passed the More Homes, More Choice Act. The changes are intended to eliminate unnecessary steps, duplication and barriers to constructing the housing Ontarians need. This legislation is speeding up the approvals process for companies before they can build and begin construction. While cutting red tape, the government is holding firm to our commitment to maintain protections for health and safety and, of course, our environment. This legislation will lay the groundwork needed to tackle Ontario’s housing crisis and help build more homes that meet the needs of people in every corner of our province.

One of the changes would help increase housing options by making the upfront costs of building housing a little bit more predictable. Allowing development charges for rental and not-for-profit housing to be paid over a five-year period instead of upfront would encourage the development of new apartments and affordable housing. So one of our most significant steps toward reducing red tape has been through a housing bill.

In November, the government announced more than 20 actions on red tape as part of the Ontario economic outlook and fiscal review. This new package will take over 80 additional actions to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses and individuals. That will bring the total, since the government took office, to over 200.

Madam Speaker, we are committed by 2020 to saving Ontario businesses at least $400 million in the cost of complying with regulations, and we’re off to a great start. Early estimates suggest that by June 2019, we had achieved $126 million in savings through actions completed by then. This total will increase substantially once these changes are fully enacted. By June of this year, we had reduced fees, charges and levies on businesses by an additional $160 million, and now we’re adding to these savings. The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, along with regulatory changes, is expected to further reduce costs by $52 million. This will bring the total savings to business to $338 million. And our efforts are being recognized.

In January, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business gave Ontario an A- in its 2019 red tape report card. The CFIB was pleased with our government’s goal to cut 25% of all regulations by 2022 by conducting an annual review of what laws and rules are on the books. The CFIB recognized our government’s commitment to broad structural red-tape reduction as a pillar of our open for business vision for Ontario. This was Ontario’s highest grade ever and a significant jump from the C+ the previous government received in 2018. The CFIB gave Ontario an A- because our government is tackling red tape right across the board. It also said that improving from a C+ to an A- after just six months in office was a particularly impressive accomplishment. As a result of our actions, Ontario companies will be more competitive and able to attract new investments, growing jobs and growing the economy.

Madam Speaker, we’re not opposed to regulation; we are opposed to over-regulation. A research paper from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy shows that Ontario has the highest cost of complying with regulations of any province—that’s $33,000 per year per business. This is well above the average of $26,000 in most other provinces. The action that our government is taking is about cutting the red tape that is holding businesses back, while maintaining the regulations that protect consumers, workers and the environment. These changes are not just about reducing regulatory burdens on businesses; they are also about improving the lives of everyday Ontarians, because making it easier to do business also improves people’s lives and it broadens opportunities by getting government out of the way of job creators.

Let’s talk about the trucking industry, an industry that employs more than 100,000 people in Ontario. Currently, professional truck drivers are required to take their vehicles off the road twice a year for government-mandated inspections. The Ministry of Transportation first requires an annual safety inspection, which can take up to three hours. Following the safety inspection, transport trucks are then subject to emissions testing to ensure they are meeting Ontario’s high environmental standards. Both tests are important, but doing them separately doesn’t make any sense. We are going to take a common-sense approach by combining these tests into one single inspection. The result will be one place, one test, one result for truckers to complete their three-hour annual safety inspection and their 30-minute emissions testing. Completing both tests at the same time will save truckers time and money so they can keep goods moving, while maintaining the necessary protections of our environment and road safety.

Now I’d like to read a quote in support of this action from David Carruth, who is chair of the Ontario Trucking Association: “OTA would like to applaud” Minister Yurek and Minister Mulroney for their “leadership on ... cleaning Ontario’s air and focusing enforcement on the minority of trucking firms that require attention. Everyone who is looking for effective and common-sense leadership from governments in making significant environmental impact on transportation emissions should be applauding this” action.

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The next action I’ll highlight is about the waterpower section, which generates jobs and economic activity as well as electricity. We are moving toward a one-window system to reduce regulatory duplication and overlap by streamlining approvals for the industry. This will reduce delays on new hydropower dam projects that are important to communities and businesses while ensuring that strong, environmental protections remain.

Here’s a quote from Paul Norris, who is the president of the Ontario Waterpower Association: “I strongly commend this government’s leadership in removing the unnecessary costs and burden of being regulated by duplicative pieces of legislation.... This elimination of overlap will both boost investor confidence and ensure that investment is made in projects rather than in process.”

Here’s another example of how reducing regulatory burdens will benefit individual Ontarians. Our package includes a number of proposals to modernize the administration of pension plans. Currently, it is unnecessarily costly and complex for employers to set up and run pension plans. Ontario has a much lower threshold for requiring pension plan audits than, for example, BC and Alberta. The threshold here is simply lower than it needs to be. We are proposing to raise the threshold from $3 million to $10 million in assets. This step alone would reduce costs for small business employers by $10 million a year. In total, the actions that we are proposing on pension plans would save businesses over $35 million a year, and that would benefit workers by making it easier for employers to provide good pensions.

Let’s take a look for a moment at the agri-food sector. This area is enormously important to rural communities across the province, including the farmers in my riding of Flamborough–Glanbrook. This bill includes a number of actions that will help ensure that we will continue to put food, locally grown in Ontario, on our tables. Our government would reduce paperwork for the 14,000 farm businesses enrolled in the AgriInsurance Program. We are making the Farm Business Registration Program more farmer-friendly. The government is committed to cutting red tape and reducing the regulatory burden for accredited farm organizations. Changing the length of time an AFO is accredited would save them money and time on preparing paperwork and it would allow them to dedicate more resources to supporting farm businesses right across Ontario.

Crop insurance is a crucial support to farmers. It lets them sleep better at night by allowing them to manage events beyond their control, such as pests, disease and, of course, weather. We are simplifying the forms that they need to fill out for crop insurance claims. We are reducing the length of these forms by 65 pages. We’re saving farmers an average of 140 hours of their valuable time. This will allow more time to do what they do best: produce some of the highest-quality food in the world.

Madam Speaker, the next action highlights how regulations written with one issue in mind led to some unintended consequences. Our government is fixing regulations that have created an unnecessary burden on Main Street businesses. These businesses—barbershops and hair salons—employ thousands of people right across Ontario. In the spring of 2018, health regulations were put in place for businesses in a category known as “personal service settings.” They include tattoo parlours, nail salons, barbershops and hair salons. The regulations were designed to protect the public from the risk of disease transmission from procedures that can cause exposure to blood or bodily fluids. These businesses had to obtain the name and contact info of every single client. This would allow a business to quickly contact clients if there had been a failure in following practices that reduce disease transmission, like keeping equipment clean and sterile. The problem is, Madam Speaker, that these requirements also applied to barbershops and hair salons where services don’t routinely or intentionally involve cutting or puncturing skin. In rare instances where this does happen, there are requirements in place to sterilize and clean their equipment. The amended rules will no longer require these businesses to collect information that simply isn’t necessary. There will be no requirement for people to share their personal contact information for something as routine as a haircut.

The next proposal is an example of how main street businesses are held back by being subject to both federal and provincial regulations in the same area. Our government has consulted and listened to business owners as part of a thorough review of Ontario’s regulatory system. We’ve learned that it is surprisingly common for two levels of government to regulate the same thing or the same practice. There are few things more frustrating for business operators than spending the time needed to comply with federal regulatory requirements, only to be asked to do the same thing—just slightly different—to satisfy provincial requirements.

That’s the case for dry cleaners, a small business that operates in every corner of the province. Dry cleaners are required to have someone on staff who has completed provincial training in the environmental management of waste and contaminants from the cleaning of equipment. But stringent federal regulation of dry cleaners rendered the provincial training unnecessary. Evidence shows that the federal rules have been effective at reducing the environmental impact of dry cleaning, so our government has proposed to do away with a layer of provincial regulation that has become redundant in protecting workers’ health and the environment.

Madam Speaker, as I’ve said, the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, along with regulatory changes in the policy announcement, contains over 80 actions to reduce regulatory burdens and to simply lower the cost of doing business in Ontario. We know this act will spur investment, growth and job creation in numerous sectors: in transportation, in life science, in energy, in waste reduction and, as I’ve just mentioned, in main street sectors such as restaurants, barbershops and dry cleaners. The benefits of these actions will go well beyond these sectors. As I’ve stated, getting out of the way of businesses will allow them to do what they do best, and that is to create jobs and to create opportunity for hard-working families.

We know this work is critical because, as I’ve said and as my fellow colleagues have said, we inherited a real problem in Ontario with mounds of red tape. Businesses told us that far too many of Ontario’s regulations were outdated, onerous, and resulted in duplication. They just didn’t work any longer. This regulatory burden has reduced business investments that drive job creation.

Reducing the regulatory burden is, as I’ve said, a key part of our government’s ongoing plan, because getting this right matters to families, matters to businesses and matters to Ontario’s economy. Building on our successes over the past year, the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act is the latest in a series of red tape reduction measures that will continue to deliver significant and meaningful results for Ontario. By lifting unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses and opening more doors to new opportunities for hard-working Ontarians, we will set the economy up for success in the months and the years ahead.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

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Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on third reading of Bill 132, the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act. I want to begin with an observation of how interesting it has been, watching this government respond to the chastening that it got in the last federal election since we returned to this Legislature on October 28. Certainly, I think the message was received that there was a need for this government to appear to be more open, more collaborative, more transparent, to provide more opportunities for the public to participate in the decisions that are made in this place. So we saw this bill go on the road—first time.

We had a lot of examples, since this government was elected, of bills that not only did not go on the road; they didn’t go to committee at all. We saw several bills go straight from second reading to third reading with zero opportunity for public input, zero opportunity for citizens, experts, stakeholders to come even to Queen’s Park, even for an hour, to offer some input on the bill. To its credit, this government decided they were going to travel this bill. But there’s a lot more to being open and consultative than travelling a bill if you’re not going to listen to a word you hear when you are on the road.

My colleague the member for Waterloo shared some of the input that was received as she sat on the Standing Committee on General Government as it received deputations on this bill. Today, as the member for London West, I’m going to focus on the input that was received from the people in London, who actually had an opportunity to speak to the members who were on this committee when the committee travelled to London earlier this month.

The first thing I want to do is just quote some of the things that were said to the committee, because I think that it’s instructive when we contrast the kind of input that people provided to the remarks that we heard from the minister and the parliamentary assistant about how great this bill was going to be for the economy, how it was going to really relieve the red tape burden for citizens, and everything was going to be great.

The first quote I want to share is from Robert Case, who is from Wellington Water Watchers. He appeared before the committee when it was in London. He said, “How pollution penalties can be treated as red tape that needs to be eliminated in the pursuit of growth and prosperity, let alone to make things better for people, is really beyond me. Current penalties are important as an economic deterrent from polluting in the first place so that they also create an economic incentive for dealing with the problem immediately and thoroughly. I don’t think that this particular part of Bill 132 will be seen as progress towards prosperity but rather as a sellout to the most polluting industries interested in Ontario.” That’s one example of some of the input that was received when the committee went on the road.

Another interesting quote was from Richard Lindgren, who’s from the Canadian Environmental Law Association. He noted, “I tend to be a bit bemused by the titles of legislation these days. This one is supposed to be ‘better for the people.’ It may be better for aggregate producers. It’s not necessarily better for the people that I represent....” That was a comment from the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

The third comment was an interesting one. This was from the Urban League of London, which is a unique organization in the province. It has been established for more than 50 years and represents the voices of citizens and neighbourhood associations. Shawna Lewkowitz from the Urban League of London pointed out, “We understand that part of the intent of Bill 132 is to reduce red tape and make it easier for decisions and planning to move ahead. Removing this centre”—and here she’s referring to the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre—“does not accomplish this. What it does do is deter certain groups from participating in the process and make it harder for them once they do. This can lead to a longer appeals process and more animosity between municipalities, developers and residents, overall slowing things down and creating greater potential for future conflicts and more appeals.”

Clearly, this bill is failing to achieve what the government claims it is intended to do. In fact, it is actually moving us backwards. It’s taking us from bad to worse, actually, Speaker, in terms of the ability of citizens in this province to challenge development decisions that are made, and also in terms of the ability of developers to override municipal decisions in the case of the Aggregate Resources Act, and polluting businesses to shirk their responsibility under the Environmental Bill of Rights and other environmental protection legislation and look at fines that they might have to pay for polluting, look at it as the cost of doing business. It lets them off the hook, so to speak.

The other points that were made—and I think this government has to really reflect on this. Some serious concerns were raised about process. This is an omnibus bill—17 schedules, 80 acts, and citizens were given virtually no time. We, as legislators, as MPPs, were given very, very limited time to analyze the changes that are set out in this bill and to really thoroughly understand what the impact of those changes will be.

When the Canadian Environmental Law Association appeared before the committee they started out right upfront and said, “In particular, Bill 132 proposes to change 14 different environmental laws. However, only a 30-day public comment period has been provided under the Environment Bill of Rights for all of these significant legislative changes. CELA submits that this fast-track approach is both unacceptable and unwarranted, and that it is inappropriate to bury the proposed changes in a 100-page omnibus bill containing 17 different schedules.”

It’s an insult to the people of this province when this government, all of a sudden, says, “Oh, we want to hear from Ontarians.” They go on the road, hear from Ontarians and ignore everything they hear. But also, they take a bill that is almost impossible for people to provide meaningful input on because it is so packed with such a myriad of changes that affect so many different parts of our economy and the way we live in this province.

A similar process concern was raised by Nature London when they appeared before the committee. Gordon Neish from Nature London began his presentation by saying, “We request that the government of Ontario allocate additional time for public hearings and the acceptance of written submissions—we would suggest at least an additional month—so that stakeholders can analyze this proposed legislation. This could result in the avoidance of unintended consequences resulting from a possible inadequate understanding of how the various aspects of Bill 132 will interact with one another. It will also permit a more in-depth analysis of whether the proposed repeals and revocations are, in fact, eliminating unnecessary red tape, or are instead undermining and weakening protections for our air, land, water, and habitat and species diversity.”

I think that is an excellent point, Speaker. Let’s just think about what happened when the Standing Committee on General Government went through clause-by-clause on this bill. Do you know—and my colleague the member for Waterloo pointed this out—that one of the amendments that the government brought forward—the government—was to repeal schedule 2 of this bill? What kind of analysis did the government do when they were developing schedule 2 of this bill? During the clause-by-clause process, they realized, “Oops, we need to repeal an entire schedule of this bill” that they had worked on in the first place. That’s a perfect example of how packaging legislation like this, bringing together 80 different acts into a single piece of legislation, can cause problems.

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We saw that recently in another omnibus bill, in the fall economic statement, this government had to bring in an amendment to Bill 108, which was legislation that it had hastily rushed in earlier, because they hadn’t thought things through. And then they realized with the fall economic statement bill, “Oops. We have to bring in an amendment because we goofed when we brought in the legislation in the first place.”

These are very legitimate process concerns, and I hope this government learns from that. I hope they think twice about bringing forward these very, very thick omnibus bills that really undermine the ability of MPPs, as the voices of the people we represent, to participate in the debate and to bring forward concerns and raise issues. It undermines our ability, but it also undermines the ability of citizens, and surely that is what this place is all about. It’s about making good decisions that enable all the people of this province to live their best lives. If we have processes that are counterproductive to that, then that is not helpful to democracy. It doesn’t serve any of us well when our processes are not enabling a real responsiveness to the needs of the people that we represent.

I want to share, verbatim, several of the comments that were made when the legislative committee appeared in London, because it’s only by me sharing them here in this place that anybody will have any idea of the kind of input that was provided. As I said, this government basically ignored everything that was said to the committee when the committee was in London, and I suspect it was the same in Peterborough. I didn’t have an opportunity to review the input that was received in Peterborough, but I listened to my colleague the member for Waterloo, and I heard her refer to some of the other input that was received from very substantive organizations, organizations that have extensive reach and represent the voices of hundreds and thousands of people in this province—organizations like the Association of Municipalities Ontario, which submitted input and did not, in any way, shape or form, see their input reflected in the amendments that were brought forward to the bill, and the version of the bill that we are debating here today during third reading.

I want to quote some more from Shawna Lewkowitz, who was representing the Urban League of London during the committee hearings. The Urban League of London really focused their comments on two schedules of the bill, schedule 3 and schedule 9. Schedule 3, as I mentioned, is the schedule that eliminates the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre.

Shawna began by talking about the unrealized potential, really, of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre: “The centre has been in operation for a very short time, having been implemented in 2017,” under the former Liberal government, but she says that from the perspective of the neighbourhood groups who were involved in it—the Urban League of London, the grassroots, citizen-led organizations—the “purpose and potential” of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre “has only just begun to be realized.”

Then she goes on to say that the ability of residents and neighbourhood groups to participate “in the planning decisions of their communities is vitally important.” She says, “Planning decisions can be contentious, particularly given the complex and sometimes competing needs of developers, municipalities, residents, community groups and business owners. A process to equitably appeal these decisions is important to ensure that the needs of everyone are met and that we get the best planning decision outcomes.”

She goes on to say that planning decisions and planning processes are complex and navigating appeals of those planning decisions can be “challenging and often out of reach for many residents or community groups.”

The Local Planning Appeal Support Centre was set up to address this gap, this imbalance between the developers who have access to lawyers and staff who understand complex planning processes and the small community organizations. It’s the David and Goliath imbalance that we see so often. The Local Planning Appeal Support Centre was designed to help provide the public with support on a wide range of types of applications and appeals under the Planning Act.

She says that with the elimination of the support centre, “many groups will be forced to hire expensive lawyers”—if they can afford them—“which will prevent some from participating, given they lack the necessary funds. It will deter others from participating in the process in the first place, knowing that if a decision goes to an appeal, they lack the expertise and knowledge to navigate the process on their own.”

She also notes that taking away the centre “sends a message to residents that the government is more supportive of developers and those who have the means and the money to be able to pay to navigate what is, we all know, an extremely complex process.” That echoes that comment that I shared earlier that was made by the representative of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, that this is a bill that is not better for people; it’s better for aggregate producers—


Ms. Catherine Fife: For some people.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes, it’s better for some people, if you’re an aggregate producer or if you are a developer.

The other issues that the Urban League of London focused some attention on was schedule 9. Schedule 9, of course, is the schedule of the bill that makes significant amendments to a number of pieces of environmental legislation, and in particular, it amends the fines that polluters will face if they violate certain environmental provisions and it broadens the system of administrative monetary penalties and it puts a cap on the maximum monetary penalty that a polluter can face.

One of the members of the Urban League of London is called Antler River Rally. This is a very small community-based organization that has been working to improve water quality in Deshkan Ziibi, which is the Indigenous name for our local Thames River. Antler River Rally has pulled hundreds of tonnes of garbage out of the Antler River, worked with hundreds of citizens and community partners to improve river habitats and water quality.

Antler River Rally is completely opposed to schedule 9 of this bill because they recognize that letting polluters off the hook is putting our waterways at risk. They are advocating for legislation that will “restore our natural heritage, not aid in its destruction.” As the seven grandfather teachings tell us, Antler River Rally “believes that Ontario rivers, streams, habitats and environmentally important areas are not ours to plunder but ours to protect for future generations.” So Antler River Valley is opposed to Bill 132. They “encourage the government to go back to the drawing board and create legislation that is environmentally responsible and just.”

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Another organization that appeared before the committee in London is Nature London. I already mentioned some of Dr. Gordon Neish’s testimony, but one of the other issues that was raised by Nature London is around the changes to the Pesticides Act and the concern that the proposed changes will provide the opportunity to open the door to undoing the cosmetic-use-of-pesticides ban that was implemented in 2009.

Speaker, as a school board trustee way back around 2004 or 2005, we had an issue with the cosmetic use of pesticides on our schoolyards. I was very proud as a school board trustee to bring in a motion to the school board to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides on school board properties. I was really pleased when shortly after, the city of London also implemented a municipal bylaw on the cosmetic use of pesticides. But it shouldn’t be up to a municipality here and a municipality there. It was clear that this was not the way to protect children, to protect families, to protect citizens from potential health risks associated with pesticides. We needed a standard provincial approach, and so it was a very important step forward in 2009 when the cosmetic-use-of-pesticides ban was brought in.

And now, with this bill, with Bill 132, we see the potential for that change to be reversed. This bill, Bill 132, eliminates the Ontario Pesticides Advisory Committee, and that is a huge concern to environmental activists, to families who are concerned about health and access to nature. It has the potential to turn back the clock. We don’t need to be turning back the clock in the province of Ontario.

One of the other issues that Nature London raised was around schedule 16 and the changes to the Aggregate Resources Act. They made a very interesting point. They pointed out that “many of the changes in Bill 132 to the Aggregate Resources Act were included in a September 20 notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. However, even before that consultation closed on November 4, the government put changes into proposed legislation on October 28, meaning that the government put the changes on the table before the public commentary was completed. This is highly problematic and a little bit underhanded.... Further, the changes to the ARA represent a move to take municipalities out of the aggregate decision-making and weaken the safeguards in place to protect local groundwater and communities.”

Are we surprised? Are we surprised that the government ignored its obligation under the Environmental Protection Act, under the Environmental Bill of Rights, that they put something out for public consultation and then wrote legislation before the consultation period had even closed? Sadly, Speaker, we’re not surprised, because we saw the Auditor General yesterday slam this government for its complete lack of accountability to its obligations under the Environmental Bill of Rights. Not even the Ministry of the Environment is complying with the Environmental Bill of Rights, so why should other ministries comply? I guess that’s the view over there. Nobody seems to be in charge. Nobody seems to care about whether they’re complying with their environmental obligations. Certainly that was identified by the Auditor General, that across the board—across the board—all the ministries in this government uniformly display a lack of respect for legally mandated requirements under the Environmental Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, I guess it wasn’t a surprise that the government would do this, but it is a huge concern.

My colleague the member for Waterloo talked about the fact that the changes that are proposed can override decisions that had been made by municipalities. That is a very dangerous precedent that we are setting, when municipalities are charged with source water protection and the province can just swoop in and override municipal decisions—decisions that are being made in the best interests of the local people who reside within that municipality.

I just want to conclude with a couple of observations that were made by presenters to the committee about the negative economic impact of these changes that are being made in Bill 132, which is purportedly to reduce red tape and make things better for certain people in the province. Skylar Franke from the London Environmental Network talked about the impact on local businesses that rely on ecotourism or rely on access to our waterways, our rivers and other natural areas in the city. She said, “The economy relies on having healthy resources and people. By making it easier and cheaper to pollute, the bill allows for more destruction of ecosystems and resources that our economy relies upon, like clean drinking water, the tourism industry, the commercial fishing industry and many other local industries that rely on the government to enforce environmental violations to protect their businesses.”

She gives the example of a local business called LondonSUP, which is a stand-up paddle board shop. She says LondonSUP is “probably going to be closing their shop because not enough people are buying the recreational devices to go on the water, because they’re not allowed to go on the water because there are algae blooms.” The changes that are being made in this bill will make it even more likely that we’re going to see more algae blooms as polluters can just write off spewing toxins into our waterways as the cost of doing business.

I am a little out of time, but I wanted to make one more very important point: We talked a lot about the fact that the per-day penalties are being replaced with a per-contravention penalty with a cap of $200,000, and how this is going to minimize the deterrent potential of that cap. The representative from the Canadian Environmental Law Association said, “In my experience, it’s very rare for a maximum AMP to be imposed. Usually the AMPs are on the lower end of the scale, so I don’t think we should pretend or delude ourselves into thinking that the Ministry of the Environment ... will be ready to issue $100,000 or $200,000 AMPs each and every time. I fully expect that even if they’re imposed”—because the AMPs are now voluntary—“the AMPs will tend to be on the low end of the spectrum.”

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Speaker, this bill is not good for people. This bill is bad for people, and it is also bad for our economy in the province of Ontario.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I rise to contribute to the debate on Bill 132. I just want to say that I had the privilege of being on the committee that travelled around southern Ontario to listen to what people had to say about this bill, and I can tell you, Speaker, that we heard an earful. We heard from a number of people and organizations who don’t consider laws and regulations that protect the people and places we love in this province as red tape.

I wish the government had worked with us to fix some of the real, serious problems in this bill at committee, but unfortunately they did not. In many respects, it’s unfortunate that they didn’t fix some of the serious flaws in this bill, because there are actually some things in this bill that make sense, like making it easier for food banks and soup kitchens that operate safely to serve people. Extending the hours for alcohol sales at airports isn’t even necessarily a bad thing, or allowing dogs on patios, or speeding up the approvals for colleges to have their programs approved. Nobody came to committee to oppose removing real red tape.

But buried in this omnibus bill with 17 schedules are serious threats to public health and environmental protections. That is where we heard an earful of both written and oral submissions, with people saying that protecting our drinking water and the places we love is not red tape. I’d really encourage the members opposite to actually start listening to the people.

We heard from farmers, municipalities, environmental groups, lawyers, citizen groups and First Nations who said that this massive omnibus bill, especially schedules 9 and 16, is wrong-headed. After listening to them, it’s clear to me that the snappy title the government has given this bill, the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act—it should be renamed the “better for polluters, worse for environment act,” especially schedules 9 and 16.

I’m going to focus most of my comments on schedules 9 and 16, but before doing that, I want to start by asking the government what they want their environmental legacy to be. It’s really a simple question: Do you want to be remembered for safeguarding our air and water, for conserving our farmland and our natural resources? I ask because conserving nature used to be part of the Progressive Conservative government’s legacy. As a matter of fact, it was Premier Bill Davis who brought in the first Ministry of the Environment. I ask because it feels like, over the last year and a half, this government has chipped away at almost everything that the Ministry of the Environment stands for, and unfortunately, schedules 9 and 16 contribute to this legacy.

Speaker, the climate crisis rightly gets a lot of attention when we talk about environmental issues—and yesterday’s Auditor General’s report removed any doubt that the government has any semblance of a plan to address the climate crisis.

Let’s set climate change aside for a second and talk about other issues that this government claims to care about: clean air, water, lakes, rivers, green space—classic environmental conservation that directly affects our public health and our quality of life. It’s so important to place Bill 132 in the context of the government’s legacy on these issues over the last year and a half. They’ve cut funding for conservation authorities that do this important work on the ground. They’ve taken an axe to the tree-planting program. They’ve eliminated the Toxics Reduction Act. They’ve cut funding for flood management. They’ve opened the door to the loss of forests, farmlands and wetlands to urban sprawl with changes to the growth act. They’ve gutted the Endangered Species Act which protects habitat and species at risk. And who can forget the Premier’s repeated attempts to open up development in the greenbelt?

Schedule 9 and schedule 16 of Bill 132 build on this legacy. I will say it again—and I will repeat it over and over in this House—that holding polluters accountable is not red tape. Protecting water and farmland is not red tape. Protecting our communities and people’s public health is not red tape. And keeping dangerous chemicals out of our air and food is not red tape. That’s exactly what people told us at committee.

I challenge the government to listen to them. The first thing they told us was that one of the overarching problems with Bill 132 is that people were not given sufficient time to comment on the bill. You simply cannot produce legislation of this magnitude, which affects 14 environmental laws, and decide to post it on the Environmental Registry for the minimum amount required. It actually suggests that you might have something to hide, that you’re maybe not too proud of what you’re trying to accomplish, and it confirms what the Auditor General said yesterday about the way in which the government is undermining people’s rights established under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights. These rights were established because environmental protections directly affect people’s health and quality of life.

Most notably, the Chiefs of Ontario said that the massive changes to environmental protections in schedules 9 and 16 require much more than the minimum 30 days of consultation. The Chiefs of Ontario, as well as the Matawa First Nations, not only expressed concerns about the lack of consultation, they also expressed concerns that schedule 8 actually undermines the government’s duty to consult, which ultimately undermines our commitment to truth and reconciliation.

British Columbia just passed a bill implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and now the Ford government is pushing forward with a bill that First Nations chiefs worry is undermining the duty to consult in the North. I don’t think this is acceptable. It’s going to undermine the government’s efforts for economic development in the North, because it’s likely going to put that development in the courts. We have seen how the inability to properly consult with First Nations has delayed a number of resource development projects in Ontario and around the country.

Citizens groups also raised concerns with the lack of consultation and how it affects them. I want to quote the Concerned Residents Coalition, a group of citizens in rural Wellington county who I think summed up what many organizations said: “We were shocked that some of the proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act that we commented on last week were the subject of Bill 132 before the comment period had even ended.” Speaker, I ask the government, did they actually consult and listen to people?

I would like to turn my attention now to some of the content of schedule 16 of Bill 132. We had a number of groups argue that schedule 16 is a direct attack on municipalities’ ability to protect local water resources. The very people who are responsible for protecting our drinking water will no longer be able to produce bylaws to protect that water, because schedule 16 will make those bylaws inoperable around any limits on the depth of aggregate extraction below the water table.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association had this to say about it: “In CELA’s view, the proposed ARA changes in Bill 132 are short-sighted, counter-productive, and clearly intended to favour the interests of aggregate producers over those of local residents and municipalities that will be burdened with the environmental and socio-economic impacts of increased aggregate extraction.”

Does this government not understand the risks to our drinking water if we give free rein to below-the-water-table aggregate extraction? These municipalities are rightfully concerned about the liability they face, because they’ll be on the hook if the water is contaminated. To quote the city of Brampton, “Staff is concerned with the removal of any provisions that allow municipalities to place restrictions on the depth of extraction in specified circumstances in zoning bylaws.”

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The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is so concerned about schedule 16 in Bill 132 that they actually asked for indemnity from their legal responsibility to protect water. Think about that for a second. Can you imagine AMO coming and saying, “You know what? You guys have taken our ability to protect water away from us. We want our legal responsibility to do that—we want to be indemnified from it.” It’s shocking, actually.

I’ll quote AMO on this, because it also, I believe, undermines the government’s ability to actually reduce red tape in this bill. To quote AMO, “This will greatly increase red tape and administrative burden for the LPAT and municipal governments—not to mention delay decisions for aggregate businesses which would risk new investment in the industry.”

Speaker, if this government’s objective is to reduce red tape, I believe schedule 16 is counterproductive.

Speaking of the LPAT, schedule 3 of the bill removes the citizen support centre for LPAT appeals, which Sue Munro of the Citizens Against Melrose Quarry raised as a serious issue, because they’re having to have bake sales to raise the money to be able to come up with these appeals. As a matter of fact, she suggested that maybe aggregate companies should be charged a one-cent fee in order to help citizens cover the costs of such appeals.

I would also like to raise concerns about the section of schedule 16 that allows companies to self-file changes to their aggregate application, which is essentially like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario raised some serious concerns about this, and I want to quote them: “The risks of mining on community air quality in Ontario are great, and regulations must be both cautious and proactive.” According to the RNAO, they are worried that the changes around self-regulation will threaten air quality because companies will no longer have to refile applications when they expand operations.

I also want to mention the concerns municipalities raised around road degradation being taken out of LPAT considerations with aggregate resources. I want to quote the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce: “Road degradation is a very real and very costly concern for local municipalities and taxpayers. It is unfair to expect taxpayers to repair roads that have been damaged due to the actions of a private business”—this, coming from the very farmers who fought the Melancthon mega-quarry battle about eight or nine years ago.

They would argue, and I would agree, that instead of weakening Ontario’s already weak regulations around the Aggregate Resources Act, we should be strengthening them. One of the reasons a Boston hedge fund actually looked at creating the largest aggregate mine in North America in Ontario, in Melancthon township, was because Ontario had some of the weakest aggregate resource laws in North America. And now the government actually wants to weaken them more.

I want to sum up by just speaking on a few issues related to schedule 9. So many people came to committee with concerns around schedule 9, because it will make it cheaper and easier to pollute, and I don’t see how this can be better for people or for business. I especially want to take issue with the removal of the reverse-onus clause that shifts the burden of proof off of polluters, and therefore will make it harder for government to hold them accountable. I know the government talks about expanding the administrative monetary penalties to a larger group of industries, but if you actually expand them but then weaken the ability of the government to hold them accountable, it actually undermines the expansion effort in the first place.

I’m also opposed to the removal of per-day fines and capping those to per incident, the reason being that per-day fines provide the incentive for industry to stop polluting, when there’s a toxic spill, as fast as possible.

I would remind the government that this regime was brought in place in response to the Imperial Oil spill in 2005 that dumped 250,000 litres of volatile chemicals into the St. Clair River, a contamination so bad that a number of local municipalities had to shut down their water intake systems.

So imagine if we move to a penalty system that actually reduces the incentives for companies to not have these kinds of spills in the first place, and to clean them up as quickly as possible.

I also worry that schedule 9 will undermine Ontario’s world-class pesticide regime. In particular, we should not be dismantling the Ontario Pesticides Advisory Committee, a non-partisan committee of experts who, since the 1970s, have advised governments on pesticide use.

I also want to raise concerns that changes in the schedule will hurt Ontario’s ability to protect pollinators. I want to quote the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence that these changes will “kick the teeth out of a central pillar of Ontario’s pollinator health strategy and will deprive the government of basic information for making good decisions.”

This is a big step backwards for pollinator health in Ontario. I want to remind the government that beekeepers are farmers. Beekeepers contribute over $900 million to Ontario’s economy, and in addition to that, the crops they pollinate contribute over $500 million to Ontario’s economy. So I want to ask the government why they would have this in schedule 9 of their bill, threatening such an important contributor to Ontario’s economy.

In conclusion, I want to say that it’s unfortunate that the government didn’t give us an opportunity to work with them on the things that are good about this bill, and that they buried such negative schedules into the bill that threaten Indigenous consultation, that threaten public health and that threaten environmental regulations.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Mrs. Nina Tangri: Good afternoon, Speaker. I stand here very proud to support the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act.

I’m going to focus on what the government is doing to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses across a broad array of sectors. The amazing diversity of these sectors shows how wide-ranging the problem of red tape actually is, and why the government is taking action in so many different areas.

The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, along with regulatory changes and policy announcements, contains over 80 actions to reduce regulatory burdens and lower the cost of doing business in Ontario. I’m going to list just a few of the sectors that will benefit from these actions.

The act will spur investment, growth and job creation across sectors including manufacturing, forestry, mining, agri-food, transportation, life science, energy and waste recovery, and main-street sectors such as restaurants, barbershops and dry cleaners. The benefits of these actions will go beyond these sectors. Getting out of the way of businesses will let them do what they do best: create jobs and opportunity for hard-working families.

The actions in this package build on the extensive work by the government over the past 18 months. The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act is the fourth red tape package we have brought forward. In April, the Legislature passed the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, which cut regulatory burdens across a dozen sectors. In June, the government announced the Spring Regulatory Modernization Package, which is eliminating regulatory irritants holding back businesses in the auto sector as well as right across manufacturing. Many members opposite have large auto sectors in their ridings, so this package speaks to their constituents directly.

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Much of our work to reduce red tape has been part of broader packages that didn’t include the words “red tape.” For example, the budget included provisions in the Putting Drivers First auto plan to allow auto insurance companies to offer more innovative products, such as pay-as-you-go insurance. That’s just one example. The Simpler, Faster, Better Services Act, which passed in May, included actions to reduce regulatory burdens, such as allowing the government to send notices by email instead of on paper—a huge savings in time and taxpayers’ dollars. In November, the government announced more than 20 actions on red tape as part of the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. This package will take over 80 additional actions to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses and individuals. As I’ve stated, this new package will also take over 200 actions to help us deliver on our commitment to save businesses at least $400 million in the cost of complying with these regulations by 2020.

We’re off to a great start. By June 2019, according to preliminary estimates, we had achieved $126 million in savings through these actions completed. This figure will rise substantially once these changes are fully in place. Now we’re adding to all of these savings. The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, along with regulatory changes, is expected to reduce costs to businesses by an additional $52 million. This will bring the total savings to about $338 million.

I’m going to talk about a number of examples of how we’re addressing regulatory burdens across a broad array of sectors. Speaker, no one set out deliberately to tie regulatory knots that make it harder to do business in Ontario, but over the years, many practices were introduced that just don’t make sense. We’re taking a careful and common-sense approach to untying those regulatory knots.

We heard from my colleagues about how professional truck drivers are currently required to take their vehicles off the road twice a year for government-mandated inspections—once for an emissions test and then again for a vehicle safety inspection. So we’ve created a one-stop approach: one place, one test, one result.

I’d also like to talk about an example of how we’re eliminating regulation overlap that subjects businesses to both federal and provincial regulations in the same area. Employers are currently required to notify both levels of government when they bring new chemicals into their workplace. This means businesses must go through the same costly and time-consuming regulatory process twice. We’re ending this unnecessary duplication while maintaining strong protection for the environment. This will save companies time, money and effort while continuing to ensure these hazardous products are treated safely—and I emphasize: safely.

I’m going to read a quote in support of this action. The first is from Robert Roth, technical/regulatory affairs manager at Arkema Canada, a chemical manufacturer and distributor: “Notifications under section 34 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provide no value, are an unnecessary administrative burden and offer no additional protection to workers. We are not aware of any follow-up request from provincial officials to any concerns arising from a section 34 notification. It is unique to Ontario. No other provinces require notification of new substances.”

The second quote is from the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada: “The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada supports the action to repeal section 34. Federal regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, known as CEPA, place the onus on industry to prove that new substances are safe for their intended use and do not introduce unacceptable risk to workers, consumers and the environment. Moreover, decisions on approving new substances and any conditions placed on the use of such substances are published regularly in the Canada Gazette and the CEPA Registry. These long-standing and effective regulations remain in place and are deemed sufficient by all other provinces, and in our experience, section 34 notices have provided no additional protection to workers. Following many years of reporting, there is no evidence that such reports have ever been reviewed, nor follow-up actions initiated. They are simply an administrative burden that can and should be eliminated.”

In the interest of time, I’d just like to say to the members of this House that by supporting businesses with this bill, if passed, savings can be passed on to consumers. They can use these savings to reinvest in their businesses and, best of all, they can hire more people.

I’m going to give an example of what’s really important to all of us: the health of our constituents—for example, if we have a family or a loved one who needs a specific drug. As drugs are evolving, sometimes there’s a minor change to ingredients. In the past, Ontario required that they submit over 200 pages by hard copy to notify the province of this change. No other province was requiring that; for most of them, it was just one page, online. This is something that we took swift action to change.

We met with numerous stakeholders across this province prior to drafting this bill, and we heard time and time again how duplication was slowing down businesses, slowing down our economy and making it difficult to do business here in Ontario. Our responsibility, as a government, is to create the environment for businesses to succeed, keeping safety as a top priority, and then getting out of the way. Our plan is working. Confidence in doing business has allowed our companies to grow, to succeed and to hire to the tune of over 256,000 more people. I urge all in this House to support this bill and to grow this confidence, to attract investment, to grow business, but most of all, while keeping Ontario safe.

I want to talk a little bit about water power and how this bill really supports this sector. Where water power is such an important part is where it creates jobs and economic activity. We’re moving towards a one-window system to reduce regulatory duplication and overlap by streamlining approvals for the industry. This will reduce delays on new hydro-power dam projects that are important to communities and businesses, especially in the rural sector—all of this while we must, and continue to, ensure strong environmental protections.

Here’s a quote from Paul Norris, president of the Ontario Waterpower Association: “I strongly commend this government’s leadership in removing the unnecessary costs and burden of being regulated by duplicative pieces of legislation. This elimination of overlap will both boost investor confidence and ensure that investment is made in projects rather than in process.”

In conclusion, I’d just like to talk a little bit about the next example, which is an illustration of the law of unintended consequences. The Healthy Menu Choices Act, passed in 2015, introduced menu labelling requirements to help people make informed decisions when they order food in a restaurant or buy it in a grocery store. It’s not a bad act, by all means, but it left an ambiguity when it comes to fresh produce like bananas. Does a banana sold at a food counter in a grocery store require a label showing the number of calories and a nutrition facts table? Can the same banana be sold in the produce department without a label? We’re clarifying the rules to get rid of this discrepancy—


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): I’m sorry to interrupt the member.

Third reading debate deemed adjourned.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Seeing the time on the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10:30 on Monday, December 9, 2019.

The House adjourned at 1759.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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