This Week at Queen’s Park
This week in the Legislature, plans to address COVID-19 continued to be the focus of government with announcements including, expansion of booster shots to those 50 and over, and investments in the hospital sector. In other news, and of interest to criminal lawyers and prosecutors, the Solicitor General announced expansion of the use of eIntake to Toronto courthouses and the Auditor General released her Annual Report. On the legislative front, no new government legislation was introduced this week. Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 and Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021 received Royal Assent on December 2.
On Monday, with the 788 new COVID-19 cases in the province, the government announced an enhanced strategy to fight COVID-19's Omicron variant. Also on Monday, the Financial Accountability Office released its Expenditure Monitor Report for 2021-22 citing government spending was $4.3 billion under budget through the first half of 2021-2022. Opposition parties criticized the government for underspending in a time of need for families across the province.
On Tuesday, with 687 new COVID-19 cases including four confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, the province announced the grim statistic of the pandemic death toll reaching 10,000. In non-COVID-19 related news on Tuesday, the government passed the Working for Workers Act, which requires, among other things, “that employers with 25 or more employees create a written policy about the right to disconnect from email contact and calls outside of regular work hours”.
On Wednesday, with 780 new COVID-19 cases, the government announced an investment to build a new hospital in Mississauga and expand the Queensway Health Centre in Etobicoke. The Auditor General released her Annual Report which included a Value-for-Money Audit on the COVID-19 Economic Response and Supports for Business Report. The Value-for-Money Audit criticized the government for sending $1 billion to thousands of businesses, which were not eligible for funds. When questioned on the expenditure by the opposition parties, the Premier said the Auditor General’s Report ‘was not 100% accurate’.
On Thursday, with 959 new COVID-19 cases, the government announced the acceleration of vaccine booster shots to those aged 50 and over starting on Monday, December 13. Also on Thursday, the Solicitor General announced expansion of the use of eIntake to Toronto courthouses following its implementation in the Northeast, Northwest and Central East regions. EIntake is a digital platform that allows police officers to file criminal charges electronically
Law Society of Ontario
The Law Society’s Convocation was held on November 26, 2021. Convocation approved three measures to enhance experiential training component of the lawyer licensing process;
- The LSO will develop an orientation program for articling principals, work placement supervisors and licensing candidates to facilitate effective and fair experiential training
- The LSO will develop free training modules designed for candidates and new lawyers focused on filling identified gaps in articling placements; and
- The LSO will apply a risk-based approach to monitoring of experiential training by initiating outreach to both candidate and the principal where placements end prematurely.
Nominations for the 2022 Law Society Awards are open until December 17.
The Law Society’s next Convocation will be held on Thursday, February 24, 2022.
Bill Number & Name
Bill 43, Build Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2021
Bethlenfalvy, Hon. Peter, Minister of Finance
Public hearings held before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, November 29
Bill 37, Providing More Care, Protecting Seniors, and Building More Beds Act, 2021
Phillips, Hon. Rod Minister of Long-Term Care
Third Reading Debate, December 2
Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021
McNaughton, Hon. Monte Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Royal Assent, December 2
Third Reading, Carried, November 30
Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021
Tangri, Hon. Nina, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction
Royal Assent, December 2
Third Reading, Carried, December 2
Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021
On October 25, 2021, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, tabled Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, 2021. The Bill proposes amendments to a number of pieces of legislation, through six schedules, key ones of which are summarized below. The Bill received Royal Assent on December 2.
- Schedule 2 proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 include; the requirement on employers that employ 25 or more employees to have a written policy with respect to disconnecting from work, the prohibition of employers from entering into employment contracts or other agreements with an employee that are, or that include, a non-compete agreement (certain exceptions are provided for), and the requirement for temporary help agencies and recruiters be licensed.
- Schedule 6 proposes changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 that include the permission or requirement of the Board to distribute amounts in the insurance fund in excess of prescribed amounts among certain Scheduled employers and that such decisions cannot be reconsidered by, or appealed to, the Board or the Tribunal.
Bill 43, Build Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2021
On November 4, 2021, the government presented the FES for 2021-2022. Bill 43 was subsequently introduced as the legislative vehicle for the proposed changes in FES. The Bill is comprised of 21 schedules, key ones which are summarized below. The Bill is currently before Committee.
- Schedule 2 amends the Business Corporations Act to require certain corporations to prepare and maintain a register of individuals with significant control over the corporation. How that individual is determined, and information required in the register on such individuals, is outlined in the Schedule,
- Schedule 4 amends the Corporations Tax Act to stipulate that the section providing that if the tax liability of a corporation under the Income Tax Act is determined with reference to a tax treaty, convention or agreement with another country, the corporation does not have permanent establishment in Ontario under the Act if it does not have such an establishment for the purposes of a tax treaty, convention or agreement, does not apply to the tax imposed under section 74 (Insurance Corporations)
- Schedule 10 proposed a number of amendments to the Far North Act including, but not limited to;
- Removing the objectives of land-use planning in the Act that 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North be designated as an interconnected network of protected areas in community-based land use plans
- Adding that any contributions of traditional knowledge and perspectives of protection, conservation and sustainable development that are made by First Nations are to be considered during land use planning
- Significant amendments with respect to the establishment of a joint body under Section 7 of the Act. Currently, discussions with the Minister relating to the establishment of a joint body that would play an advisory role with respect to land use planning in the Far North may be initiated by any First Nation meeting. The amendments will require that the discussions be initiated by at least seven First Nations. Please refer to the Schedule for further details on proposed changes to the joint body.
- Schedule 12 amends the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario Act, 2016 to enhance protections for whistle-blowers who make good faith disclosures to Chief Executive Officers. These amendments prohibit direct and indirect reprisals against whistle-blowers and penalties are established for persons convicted of contravening the reprisals prohibition. Complementary amendments are also made to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006. Schedule 12 will come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
- Schedule 13 amends the French Language Services Act. These amendments will require designated government agencies and institutions to promote the availability of access to services in French. Schedule 13 also replaces the Office of Francophone Affairs with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs, which will be responsible for the implementation of the French Language Services Act. This Ministry will also have reporting and accountability duties for the provision of French language services in Ontario. Schedule 13 will come into force on the day that the Build Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2021 receives Royal Assent, subject to a few sections that will come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
- Schedule 14 proposes amendments to the Insurance Act providing the Authority with rule-making authority with respect to variable insurance contracts and a corresponding regulation making authority is repealed. The Statutory Conditions set out in ss. 148 and 300 of the Act are amended to provide when certain five-day notice periods begin.
- Schedule 21 amends the Taxation Act setting out new rules for the eligibility and calculation of tax credits for unused tuition and education tax credits, bankruptcy, Ontario tax reduction and low-income individuals and families tax credit, seniors’ home safety tax credit, Ontario job training tax credit, Ontario staycation tax credit, and Ontario child benefit
Work of the Legislative Committees
Committee hearings scheduled to be held during the week of December 6, include:
A full listing of Ontario regulations posted for consultation can be found on the government’s Regulatory Registry website. Some of the current postings that may be of interest to OBA section members include the notices below. The OBA regularly works with our sections to review these postings. If you have any comments or questions, please let us know right away at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Consultation on New Regulations to support the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 2020
The government is proposing three regulations to support the new Act including; the Cost of Borrowing and Disclosure to Borrowers regulation, an updated General Regulation and a Sale of Insurance regulation.
Deadline for Comments: December 24, 2021
Condominium Insurance Consultation
The Ministry of Government Consumer Services, in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing are engaging in a consultation on condominium insurance to understand the issues facing the sector including seeking feedback on the definition of ‘standard unit’, obtaining had maintaining reasonable insurance coverage, insurance rate affordability and related business code issues.
Deadline for Comments: January 7, 2021
Proposed Process Improvements to Survey Plan Corrections and Distribution
The proposed amendments to the Minister's Regulations support the move towards a more fully digital land registration services by affording the province the option to provide an electronic copy of these survey plans to municipalities who prefer digital delivery over continuing to receive couriered paper plans. The amendment will also allow ServiceOntario, to provide an electronic copy of all deposited and registered plans to the AOLS to support their land surveyor review and oversight mandate under the Surveyors Act.
Deadline for Comments: January 14, 2022
Capital Markets Act – Consultation Draft
The Ministry of Finance is consulting on a new draft Capital Markets Act (CMA) to modernize Ontario's capital markets regulatory framework. If developed into a bill at a future date, the CMA would replace the existing Securities Act and the Commodity Futures Act. At this stage, the CMA is to be considered for consultation purposes only.
Deadline for Comments: January 21, 2022
Moving to a Project List Approach under the Environmental Assessment Act
The province is proposing regulations and related actions to move toward a project-list approach for projects that will require a comprehensive environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act.
Deadline for Comments: January 25, 2021
APPOINTMENTS & OPPORTUNITIES
Public Appointments Available
There are more than 130 vacant government appointments available through the Public Appointments Secretariat. Appointments that may be of particular interest to OBA members include, but are not limited to: