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Proposed 'red tape' reductions includes lifting home-based day care restrictions

Posted December 6, 2018

The provincial government unveiled today its Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act, 2018 containing more than 30 proposed "actions" across 11 Ministries.

The "package" was announced this afternoon by  Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. (Mr. Smith replaced Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson who was the Minister of this portfolio until he was forced out of Cabinet and the PC Party caucus last month).

"If passed, the Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act  will, along with regulatory changes, cut business costs, harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, end duplication and reduce barriers to investment."

Proposed changes include:

Ministry of Education
These proposed changes under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 would remove some restrictions on home-based child care providers, which would increase flexibility in the number and ages of children they can care for.

Lower the age of children that authorized recreation programs can serve from six to four
This change under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 would allow children who are four years old to take part for up to three hours in authorized recreation programs before and after school.

Ministry of Finance
The proposed change under the Pension Benefits Act would allow private-sector employers to more easily merge their single-employer pension plans with jointly sponsored pension plans.

The government will confirm with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) that industrial properties will be assessed based on current permitted uses, not speculative uses
MPAC administers property assessment and appeals of assessment. The proposed measure under the Assessment Act would provide greater certainty for Ontario's business community, and would confirm that the methodology MPAC uses to assess business properties is based on permitted land uses only, not on speculative uses. This would protect businesses on employment lands where land values have jumped because of new residential developments nearby from steep property tax increases.

Amend regulations so credit unions are no longer restricted from participating in bank-led loan syndications. In a loan syndication, each member of a group of lenders funds a varying portion of a loan to a single borrower. The proposed change to regulations under the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 would allow credit unions in Ontario to enter into syndicated loan agreements led by banks and federally regulated credit unions.

Ministry of Labour
Amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to explicitly deem public bodies, including municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, as "non-construction employers." Certain broader public-sector entities have become bound to collective agreements for the construction industry, even though they are not actually in the construction business. This proposal would explicitly deem municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and other public bodies to be "non-construction employers" under the Labour Relations Act, 1995.

Amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to no longer requiring them to obtain approval from the Director of Employment Standards for excess hours of work and overtime averaging. These proposed changes would eliminate the requirement for employers to apply for Ministry of Labour approval for excess weekly hours of work and overtime averaging. It would retain these requirements for employee-written agreements. These changes would set four weeks as the maximum time that an employer could average an employee's hours of work for the purposes of determining overtime pay.

Stop requiring employers to post the ESA poster in the workplace, but retain the requirement that they provide the poster to employees.

For regulations affecting assembly lines, add a new, targeted exemption from guardrail requirements for a conveyor and raised platform or a similar system
The Industrial Establishments regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act has recently been amended to add a new, targeted exemption from guardrail requirements for vehicle conveyors and similar systems, and associated raised platforms used with vehicle conveyors or similar systems. The amendment also specifies that other measures and procedures must be developed and implemented to protect workers from the hazard of falling where this new or other existing guardrail exemptions apply. This change reduces regulatory burden for vehicle and vehicle part manufacturers by more closely aligning with regulations in U.S. jurisdictions.

Amend Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to allow updated labels to be placed on existing chemical containers. Without this change, existing chemicals would need to be disposed of, and new chemicals would need to be purchased.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Introduce a new economic development tool and remove planning barriers to expedite major business investments and speed up approvals so they would be completed within one year. Municipalities would have the option to use the streamlined process so they could act quickly to attract major employers. The aim is to have all provincial approvals in place within one year so qualifying businesses can begin construction.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Currently, the Cabinet and Lieutenant Governor must approve any changes to loan guarantee programs. The proposed changes would provide the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs with the authority to establish or make changes to loan guarantee programs not affecting the amount or form of the guarantee through a Minister's Order. The Lieutenant Governor would retain the authority over the amount and form of the guarantee.

Eliminate prescriptive standards under the Milk Act.

Proposed changes under the Food Safety and Quality Act will reduce paperwork and fees for provincially licensed meat processors.

Amend the Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA) to cover ornamental horticultural workers. They would bring ornamental horticultural farmers and their employees under the AEPA, ensuring the same protection as agricultural workers in other sectors. Currently, most of this small subset of workers is part of an exemption clause under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 — leaving them without legal protection. The proposed amendment would clarify which workers the AEPA covers.

Streamline the regulation under the Nutrient Management Act to remove the requirement to update the strategy every five years, if nothing has changed; increase flexibility to deal with nutrients from farm-like animals that are kept on facilities other than farms, such as game farms

Proclaim into force the repeal of the Livestock Medicines Act and substitute minimalist regulations under the Animal Health Act. The Livestock Medicines Act was passed to repeal it in 2009. The government now proposes to bring the repeal into force, while maintaining key provisions around animal health in a new regulation under the Animal Health Act.

Enable amendments under the Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act.
Existing processes require a regulation to amend payment amounts. This creates delays and prohibits accredited farm organizations from responding to funding needs.

Ministry of Transportation
Expand the autonomous vehicle (AV) pilot through changes to the Highway Traffic Act would open the door to new CV/AV testing (connected vehicles/autonomous vehicles) and R&D opportunities in Ontario for local business interests and international sector investments.

Through changes to the Highway Traffic Act, electric motorcycles would be allowed on major highways, because of advancements in technology and in response to requests from the motorcycle industry.

Make requirements more flexible about when motors on e-bicycles must disengage.

Allow electronic documentation for International Registration Plans (IRPs)
These proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Act would allow commercial truck drivers the option of an electronic cab card, making it easier to confirm driver credentials and reduce paperwork. As well as reducing red tape, this change would allow truck drivers and IRP jurisdictions increased flexibility in issuing and presenting a cab card.

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Ontario proposes to expand the Environmental Activity and System Registry regulation for low-risk water takings - such as ones in which water is removed for a short time only and then returned to a nearby point, with no significant change to water quantity or quality. Moving these activities to a permit-by-rule system would allow businesses to begin operations faster.

Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
Repeal the authority of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to set rates for Unit Sub Metering Providers (USMPs). Some people live in an apartment or condo unit that has its own electricity meter, and pay a USMP based on their individual hydro usage. The OEB currently has the authority under the Ontario Energy Board Act to regulate the energy rates these USMPs charge their customers.

Repeal the Toxics Reduction Act by 2021, remove the toxics reduction plan in 2019 and rely on Federal Chemicals Management Plan, as other provinces do. Under Ontario's Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, regulated facilities need to report publicly on their use of certain toxic substances, and are required to identify options to reduce them through toxic reduction plans every five years. The federal government's Chemicals Management Plan also requires facilities to take action on toxic substances, which can include identifying options to reduce their use. By 2021, all substances regulated by Ontario will be covered by the federal program.

Ontario proposes to no longer require facilities to create or review their toxics reduction plans as the federal government finalizes its approach to these substances. The Ontario government also proposes to repeal the Toxics Reduction Act in 2021 and defer to the federal government's Chemicals Management Plan for action on toxic substances.

Revoke nine regulations related to the Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) and insert these requirements into Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs)
In Ontario, 113 facilities are currently subject to nine sector-specific industrial wastewater regulations, as well as site-specific ECAs. The government would transfer applicable requirements from the nine regulations into the ECAs for these facilities, and then revoke the nine regulations.

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Amendments to the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000. Simplified and updated rules for operating engineers who operate boiler and pressure vessel plants would become effective after further consultation with stakeholders.

Removing all Ontario-specific licensing and regulatory requirements for upholstered and stuffed articles. These items will continue to be subject to the federal government's health and safety, and labelling requirements - as is the case in other provinces.

Repeal the Wireless Services Agreements Act, 2013 and harmonize with the federal government's national wireless code.

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Modernize and streamline administrative requirements for the operators of long-term care (LTC) homes. These changes would affect the persons to whom LTC licensees would be required to give notice when they withhold approval of admission, as well as public consultations on licensing transactions, temporary emergency licences and short-term authorizations.

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Amend the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. These proposed changes would create registration requirements that align tuition fee collection with the federal government. They would also maintain important information for students, and introduce modern and easy-to-use online services.

Ministry of the Attorney General
Repeal the Pawnbrokers Act to make pawnbroker businesses subject to local bylaws, just like any other business.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri