On November 23, 2022, the Ontario government introduced the Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, 2022 (the “Bill”). If passed, this legislation will be the 10th “Red Tape Reduction package” introduced by the Ontario government in the past four years. These packages have traditionally targeted the reduction of “red tape”, or excessive bureaucracy and formalities, to create more efficient interactions between the Ontario government and its citizens.
The Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, 2022 includes 28 initiatives targeting the food supply chain, farmers, food processors, and agri-businesses.
The proposed bill, which received its second reading on November 28, 2022, also contains wide-ranging measures designed to remove unnecessary, redundant, outdated regulations and regulatory barriers, including amendments designed to create efficiencies in Ontario court processes.
What Changes Have Come from Past Red Tape Reduction Bills?
Past red tape reduction bills have similarly focused on reducing barriers between individuals and the government and removing redundancy. For example, the most recent red tape reduction package, the Fewer Fees, Better Services Act, 2022, S.O. 2022, c. 2 – Bill 84 proposed amendments including:
- removing tolls from certain highways;
- refunding renewal fees for licence plates;
- creating a single portal for business services from the government; and
- developing the Centre of Realty Excellent for government-owned properties.
Red tape reduction packages cover a wide range of propositions and the newest red tape reduction bill is no different.
What Changes Does the New Red Tape Reduction Bill Propose for Ontario?
The Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, 2022 targets Ontario’s food supply chain with “initiatives that would help develop a strong, secure food supply chain from farm to fork, support Ontario’s farmers, food processors and agri-businesses, and attract and grow a strong labour force so Ontario can continue to be competitive in a global market.”
Among these initiatives are several legislative amendments addressing inefficiencies in Ontario’s court system. A summary of the proposed legislative amendments are as follows:
Temporary Response Orders for Human and Animal Health Risks
The bill introduces a new section to the Animal Health Act, 2009, SO 2009, c 31, which will enable the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to issue “temporary response orders” in circumstances where immediate measures are necessary to mitigate a substantial risk to animal or human health.
New Legislation for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The bill proposes a new Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Corporation Act, which will create regulations for the governance of the Ontario SPCA. If the bill passes, this Act will be deemed to have come into force retroactively on January 1, 2020.
Removing Stable Liens for Ontario Feeder Cattle Loan Guarantee Program Cattle
Proposed amendments for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act, RSO 1990, c M.16 would change current legislation which states that keepers of certain stables have a lien on horses or other animals boarded at the stable. Under the proposed amendment, this rule would no longer apply to cattle enrolled in Ontario’s Feeder Cattle Loan Guarantee Program.
Increasing Part-Time Availability of Retired Provincial Court Judges
Under the Courts of Justice Act, RSO 1990, c C.43, retired provincial judges may serve part-time. Currently, retired provincial judges may not serve part-time, equating to more than 50% of full-time service in a calendar year. Proposed amendments would raise the limit to 75% until April 1, 2024.
Mailing Jury Questionnaires Electronically
At present, jury duty questionnaires are mailed to prospective jurors. Proposed amendments to the Juries Act, RSO 1990, c J.3 would make electronic jury duty questionnaires the default standard. If a prospective juror requests a physical copy of the jury duty questionnaire, a copy will be mailed to them.
Striking Convictions on Application in Specified Circumstances
The proposed bill introduces amendments to the Provincial Offences Act, RSO 1990, c P.33, including a section authorizing court clerks to strike out convictions on application in specified circumstances.
Removing the Prohibition on Carbon Sequestration Injections
Under the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act, RSO 1990, c P.12, injecting carbon dioxide into certain areas for carbon sequestration is currently prohibited. However, the proposed bill seeks to remove this prohibition and allow individuals engaged in certain projects to obtain issuance of permits for this purpose.
Increasing Exemptions for Expropriation and Construction
Proposed amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, SO 1998, c 15, Sch B would allow for increased exemptions from obtaining leave from the Board to expropriate land for work and construct work on highways, utility lines, and ditches.
Amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997
Suggested changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, SO 1997, c 16, Sch A include:
- amendments to the definition of “health care practitioner”;
- additional rules regarding how the Workplace Safety Board determines average earnings for apprentices; and
- additional rules regarding board of directors’ meetings and interactions between the Board and the Minister of Workplace Safety and Insurance.
What These Changes Mean for Ontarians
Since the bill has not yet been passed into law, the proposed amendments above are not set in stone. However, the potential amendments will likely interest business owners – particularly those working in the agriculture industry. And, with court backlogs remaining top of mind in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, additional steps to streamline court processes and increase capacity appear welcomed. Further information regarding the bill can be viewed on the Ontario Legislative Assembly’s Bill 46, Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, 2022 webpage.
The Ontario government is inviting individuals and businesses to share their ideas for reducing red tape in Ontario through the Red Tape Reduction portal. If you are interested in participating, the portal can be found on Ontario’s Ministry of Red Tape Reduction website.
Oakville Business Litigation Lawyers for Commercial and Administrative Litigation
At Campbells LLP, our experienced team of commercial and administrative litigation lawyers continuously monitor legislative changes and how they may impact our clients. We offer a wife varierty of legal services and are here to meet your personal or commercial needs. To speak with one of our experienced commercial and administrative litigation lawyers, contact us online or at 905-828-2247.