Legislative and Policy Update - December 3-7, 2018

  • December 11, 2018

Last Week at Queen’s Park

On Monday, the government increased the number of seats required to obtain party status in the legislature from 8 to “10%” of the seats in the legislature rounded to the closest whole number (currently 12).  Obtaining official party status in the legislature results in an increased budget and an ability to ask more questions of the government in Question Period.  The government said the party threshold was increased to reflect the recent increase in the number of MPPs in the legislature.  Critics of the plan argue the increased threshold is merely to make it more difficult for the Ontario Liberal Party, which currently holds 7 seats in the legislature, to hold the government to account in Question Period.

On Tuesday, the criticism of the appointment of Ron Taverner, a family friend of the Premier, to the position of OPP Commissioner continued.  The official opposition called on the Integrity Commissioner to investigate the appointment.  It was alleged by iPolitics on Tuesday morning that the government modified the original Commissioner job posting, two days after it was first posted, so that Taverner, whose rank was too low to apply for Commissioner, could submit an application.  The government responded to criticism by saying the requirements were reduced to ensure more applicants could apply and the selection of Mr. Taverner was independent.

The Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, released her annual report on Wednesday.  The Report included 15 ‘value-for-money’ audits.  The Toronto Star reported that the Auditor General found that in almost all of the 15 audits, spending of public money did not consistently result in cost-effective program benefits.  Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy said that the government will create a new culture of fiscal rigor and transparency in the provinces finances.

On the same day the Auditor General released her report, the Toronto Star reported that the government’s chief internal accountant, Cindy Veinot, quit earlier this fall after refusing to sign off on what she argued was an inflated $15 billion deficit accepted by Finance Minister Victor Fedeli.  Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy indicated he would not comment on Veinot’s departure.

The National Post reported that the U.S. regulators rejected Hydro One’s proposed $6.7 billion takeover of Avista Corp., an American company, citing political interference by the Premier.  The Premier noted that he was not to blame for the failed takeover, which is expected to cost tens of millions in cancellation fees and reduced share value.  Ford was noted as saying in the Toronto Sun that the proposed takeover would have done nothing to lower hydro rates for Ontario residents.

On Thursday, the Ontario legislature rose for winter break, a week ahead of schedule, and is expected to resume February 19, 2019.  Before rising, the government passed three major bills, including its bill to implement its fall economic statement: Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018. The government also introduced a major bill that it pointed to as part of its mandate: Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018.

Law Society of Ontario

The next meeting of Convocation is December 10th, at which time it will address business deferred from the November 30th Convocation, and address the future of the lawyer licensing process in Ontario.

A reminder that the nomination period for the 2019 Law Society of Ontario Bencher Election is now open. Further information on the elections can be found on the LSO web page.

Finally, the LSO is inviting input from the legal community and the public on a draft regulatory framework permitting lawyers and paralegals to provide services through charities and not-for-profit corporations, as a means to facilitate access to justice.  The comment period is open until January 18, 2019. Please see the Alternative Business Structures Working Group’s October Report for more information, and contact advocacy@oba.org to express your views.

The Upcoming Week in Legislative Committees

There is only one committee scheduled the week of December 10th:

Legislation

NOTABLE GOVERNMENT BILLS (UPDATES FOR THIS WEEK)

Bill Number & Name

Status

Bill 32, Access to Natural Gas Act, 2018

McNaughton, Hon. Monte, Minister of Infrastructure

December 4th & 5th – Third Reading Debate, Carried on Division

December 6, 2018 – Royal Assent Received

Bill 34, Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018

Richford, Hon. Greg, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines

December 4, 2018 – Third Reading Debate, Carried on Division

December 6, 2018 – Royal Assent Received

Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018

Fedeli, Hon. Victor

Minister of Finance

December 3-5, 2018 -  Committee

December 6, 2018 – Third Reading Debate, Carried on Division

December 6, 2018 – Royal Assent Received

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018

Smith, Hon. Todd, Minister of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade

December 6, 2018 – First Reading

NOTABLE PRIVATE MEMBERS BILLS (NO UPDATES FOR THIS WEEK)

REGULATIONS

Planning and reporting changes under the toxics reduction program and Ontario Regulation 455/09  

The government is proposing to no longer require facilities with existing toxic reduction plans to review those plans, and exempt certain facilities from all future planning and reporting obligations. This will remove unnecessary duplication with the federal program and reduce burden for industry.

Comments Due Date:  January 20, 2019

New Regulation under the Planning Act for open-for-business planning tool

The government is proposing to make changes to the Planning Act, to create a new economic development tool, the open-for-business planning by-law.  The tool would be available to all local municipalities, if certain prescribed criteria are met, to ensure they can act quickly to attract businesses seeking development sites

Comments Due Date:  January 20, 2019

Repeal the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 and all associated regulations by December 31, 2021

The government is proposing to repeal the Toxics Reduction Act, on December 31, 2021 to remove unnecessary duplication with the federal program and reduce burden for industry by not having to comply with duplicative programs

Comments Due Date:  January 20, 2019

Amendments to the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation (Ontario Regulation 359/09)

Proposal to amend the above, to change who is eligible for a renewable energy approval.  The amendment would require a project developer to show there is demand for the electricity they will generate to get a renewable energy approval.

Comments Due Date:  January 18, 2019

New regulation under the Planning Act to prescribe transitional provisions for the proposed Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018 (Bill 34)    

The government is proposing a regulation to address transition rules related to the restoration of municipal planning authority resulting from the Planning Act amendments under the proposed Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018.

Comments Due Date:  January 18, 2019

Proposed amendments to O. Reg. 274/18, Siting Restrictions for Renewable Energy Generation Facilities

The Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines is proposing to amend O. Reg. 274/18 ("Siting Regulation"), which imposes siting restrictions on renewable energy generation facilities ("Projects"), as part of the transition to municipal planning authority resulting from the Planning Act amendments under the Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018.

Comments Due Date:  January 18, 2019

Amending the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation to help restore municipal authority  

We are proposing regulation amendments to ensure that renewable energy approvals are only issued if confirmation of zoning approval is received from local municipal authorities. This will help restore municipal planning authority over the siting of renewable energy projects.

Comments Due Date:  January 18, 2019

Consultation on the 2018 Legislative Review of the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006

Mr. Doug Downey, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, was appointed to conduct a legislative review of the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006, to find efficiencies and reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.

Comments Due Date:  January 11, 2019

Intent to Remove 24 Trades that are Prescribed for the Purposes of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.

The Ministry is notifying the public of its intent to remove 24 trades prescribed under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.

Comments Due Date:  January 10, 2019

Proposed Amendments to the Meat Regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001

The Ministry is proposing regulatory changes that would reduce administrative burden, clarify requirements to provide more business opportunities and move to more outcome-based requirements.

Comments Due Date:  January 10, 2019

Proposed amendments to certain regulations under the Employment Standards Act, 2000

The government is proposing to make consequential and related amendments to certain ESA regulations as a result of Bill 47 recently passing.

Comments Due Date:  December 16, 2018

PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE

There are over 300 government appointments available through the Public Appointments Secretariat run by the Provincial Government.  Appointments that may be of particular interest to OBA members include, but are not limited to;

Legal Aid Ontario is looking for members of its Board of Directors;

Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation is looking for three part time members;

Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union Pension Plan Board of Trustees;

Ontario French-Language Educational Communications Authority;

Labour-Management Advisory Committee;

Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario;

Condominium Authority of Ontario; and

Office of the Worker Advisor.

Numerous Planning Boards have vacancies including the Planning Board – Sault Ste. Marie North

Numerous Police Services Boards also have vacancies, including northern, eastern and western municipalities

Pay Equity Commission of Ontario