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As the Ontario Government Continues to Break its Promise to Effectively Enforce Its Disability Accessibility Law, its Minister Responsible for its Enforcement Introduces New Bill into the Legislature to Cut Regulations on Business – Will Accessibility Safeguards Be Kept off the Chopping Block?

April 1, 2014

SUMMARY

Ontarians with disabilities must remain ever-vigilant. We must stay on the look-out to ensure that hard-won gains on disability accessibility are never eroded, and to ensure that opportunities to promote accessibility for persons with disabilities are not missed.

On March 28, 2014, the AODA Alliance wrote the Ontario Government and both opposition parties. We raised serious concerns about the Government’s new Bill 176, the proposed Better Business Climate Act. Our letters, set out below, read together, explain our disability accessibility concerns. We also propose constructive amendments to solve our concerns, while leaving intact the goals underlying this proposed new legislation.

We asked all parties to support our proposed amendments. We ask the opposition Conservatives and NDP not to support the bill if our proposed amendments are not made.

The five-page Bill 176, set out below, creates two new laws: the Proposed Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014. The Government says this proposed legislation aims to improve the business climate in Ontario, by reducing red tape and by helping spawn business growth and development.

To reduce red tape, it directs the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister to annually report on business regulations and reporting requirements that the Government cuts. To spawn business growth, it lets the Minister create plans for promoting the growth of clusters of businesses in different parts of the province.

As a non-partisan disability accessibility coalition, we don’t take a position on the bill’s general goals. However, unless amended, this bill could undermine gains for which we have fought long and hard, for accessibility for persons with disabilities. As well, unless amended, the Government could again miss a great, new, no-cost opportunity to move Ontario forward on the road to full accessibility for persons with disabilities. The amendments we propose are necessary to help fulfill the Disabilities Act’s goals and specific Government election promises to which our letters point.

As for the proposed Government red-tape-cutting, we worry that this review of regulations and reporting obligations can result in a reduction of disability accessibility requirements and related reporting obligations. We propose five practical amendments to ensure that any disability accessibility regulations, requirements and reporting obligations are exempted from this review.

Where the bill lets the minister make plans for developing clusters of businesses in different communities, this new initiative, if properly harnessed, provides an excellent new way, at no added cost to the Government, to expand disability accessibility in Ontario. However, as now drafted, nothing in this bill requires the Government to take disability accessibility into account when implementing it or taking action under it. We propose six realistic amendments to ensure that the minister’s business cluster development plans will help ensure that the businesses involved take new, concrete action, to achieve accessible workplaces for employees with disabilities, and to achieve fully accessible customer service, goods, services and facilities for customers with disabilities in Ontario and around the world.

This bill comes at an especially troubling time for over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities. The Government continues to break its promise to effectively enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It continues its dithering for over two and a half years on which new accessibility standards it will next create and enact. Our March 28, 2014 letter to Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins states:

“This bill’s timing and context is also a serious concern. Your Ministry is spearheading this major effort at reducing regulations and reporting obligations at the same time as the very same Ministry has been palpably derelict in its duty to enforce regulations and reporting obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. As a result, we revealed to the public last fall that your Ministry’s own records showed that as of last November, you knew that fully 70% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees were in direct violation of AODA requirements to file an accessibility self-report with the Government. That documentation also revealed that your very same Ministry had been failing to effectively enforce the AODA. This abdication of its duties continued despite repeated promises to effectively enforce it, despite having unused budgeted funds on hand to enforce the AODA, and despite having had an unused plan for enforcement on hand for months and months. Moreover, this same Ministry had refused to answer our questions about AODA compliance levels and enforcement, forcing resort to the Freedom of Information Act last year. It is reasonable to fear that your Government’s failure to develop needed new accessibility standards and to effectively enforce existing ones is merely part and parcel of a broader overarching de-regulation policy, reflected in Bill 176.”

A troubling 134 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, &that there have been Rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The Government still has not made public its promised plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement. Forty days have passed since the Toronto Star reported that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan “in short order.”

To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11182013.asp

To read the Government’s February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in “short order” its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02202014.asp

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MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s March 28, 2014 Letter to Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance
www.aodaalliance.org

March 28, 2014

Via Email: eric.hoskins@ontario.ca

Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins
Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Hearst Block, 8th Floor
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2E1

Dear Minister Hoskins,

Re: Bill 176, the proposed Better Business Climate Act

We are writing to ask you to agree to make amendments to Bill 176, the proposed “Better Business Climate Act, 2014.” You introduced that bill into the Ontario Legislature for First Reading on March 19, 2014.

We are concerned that as drafted, this bill threatens to undermine gains for which we have fought long and hard, for accessibility for persons with disabilities in Ontario. As well, unless amended, the Government could well miss a great, new, no-cost opportunity to move Ontario forward on the road to full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025.

In this letter, we summarize the bill. We then set out our concerns. Finally, we identify amendments we seek. None of these amendments conflict with the Government’s stated goals. We hope you will view our proposals with favour.

1. Summary of Bill 172

This bill creates two new laws: the Proposed Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014. As the minister championing this bill for the Government, you have explained that this proposed legislation aims to improve the business climate in Ontario, by reducing red tape and by helping spawn business growth and development. Your Ministry’s March 19, 2014 news release states:

“The Better Business Climate Act, would, if passed, help reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens and practices that cost businesses time and money. The proposed legislation would require the government to report annually on burden reduction activities. The proposed legislation would also help create jobs and drive innovation and economic growth by supporting the creation of cluster development plans. If passed, the act would allow the government, in consultation with business, academia, labour and non-profits, to identify cluster opportunities that focus on regional competitive strengths. The legislation would also require the government to publicly release cluster development plans with a mandate to review every five years.”

That news release quotes you as saying the following:

Our government has a targeted, balanced and responsible plan to reduce burdens for business, saving them valuable time and money. If passed, this legislation puts us at the forefront of reducing the burdens businesses face in a responsible way. We are building strong partnerships with businesses to help create jobs and grow the economy. And with our cluster development plan, we are spurring long-term economic growth and innovation hand-in-hand with our partners in regions right across Ontario.

2. Our Concerns and Proposals Regarding The Proposed Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014

The first law that this bill would create, the proposed Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014, aims at reducing the regulatory burden on private businesses. From the bill and from media reports, we gather that the Government intends to go ministry-by-ministry to seek out and eliminate some regulations and reporting obligations imposed on the private sector.

Our community coalition takes no position on whether, outside the realm of accessibility requirements, the Government should be reducing any regulations on or reporting obligations required of private sector organizations. However, we are deeply concerned that any such review of regulations and reporting obligations can advertently or inadvertently result in a reduction of disability accessibility requirements and related reporting obligations. Because this review will be conducted behind closed doors, we won’t be in the room to detect and prevent this early in the process.

We have fought long and hard over many years to win disability accessibility requirements in Ontario law. Much more needs to be done, including the creation of new accessibility standards and the effective enforcement of existing accessibility standards. We don’t want to have to now fight rear-guard battles in one ministry after the next, just to sniff out possible back-sliding and protect the hard-fought gains we have made to date.

For the Government to cut back any accessibility gains, protections, or reporting requirements, as part of this new initiative, would undermine efforts at ensuring that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to become fully accessible 2025 and requires the Ontario Government to lead us there, by creating and effectively enforcing all the accessibility standards needed to ensure the achievement of that goal.

Now, Ontario is already behind schedule for full accessibility. We don’t need this situation to be made any worse.

During the 2012-2013 Ontario Liberal leadership race both you and Kathleen Wynne pledged, in writing, to keep all the Government’s earlier accessibility promises. To cut back on any gains, regulations or reporting obligations on disability accessibility would violate a solemn election pledge that the Government made to us in writing during the 2011 Ontario general election. In his August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out his Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised:

“We will ensure that we maintain and/or strengthen the current provisions and protections in the AODA or any regulations enacted under the legislation.”

Ours is not an imaginary or hypothetical concern. The Government’s search for regulations and reporting obligations to eliminate is expected to be carried out by a diverse range of public servants and political staff, often working in isolated silos, spread out across the huge Ontario Public Service. As we know from extensive experience, many if not most of them will likely know little about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, about disability accessibility, about our long struggle to make the limited progress we have achieved to date, or about the Government’s pledge not to cut back on gains we have made to date. We have found that far too little is still known by many within the Ontario Public Service.

To some or indeed many of those who will conduct this review, our accessibility requirements might be unfairly misunderstood and branded as “red tape” that needs to be cut. In so doing, this could also reduce the accessibility obligations on the Government itself. Such “red tape” strategies put all the attention, priority, momentum and focus on cutting regulations.

In troubling contrast, we have not seen similar momentum and focus on tearing down and preventing accessibility barriers. To the contrary, the 2010 final report of the Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA found that there was a pressing need for the Government to revitalize and breathe new life into its implementation of the AODA, and to show new leadership. We are still awaiting that effort.

There is no internal accountability for those who might cut accessibility regulations and requirements along the way. For example, it was only due to our vigilance and advocacy that led the Government in 2011 to reverse its ill-conceived plan to abolish its internal Employment Accommodation Fund – a successful 25 year old initiative that finances the cost of workplace accommodations for Ontario public servants with disabilities. For more on the Government’s unwise plan to cancel its own Employment Accommodation Fund for Ontario public servants with disabilities, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282011.asp

Making this worse, it is our experience, shown in Government documentation revealed as a result of a 2013 Freedom of Information application, that public servants have had occasion to misapply and overinflate to our detriment the Ontario Government’s existing “Open for Business” initiative. This has threatened to improperly weaken efforts at removing and preventing accessibility barriers against people with disabilities.

By this, proposals on accessibility, such as on strategies for enforcing the AODA, are wrongly said to involve a need to balance on the one hand, the rights of people with disabilities to accessibility, and on the other hand, the Government’s “Open for Business” strategy. This is wrong, unfair to persons with disabilities, and counterproductive.

It is based on a mistaken belief that accessibility for people with disabilities contradicts Ontario being open for business. The opposite is the case. When business provides accessibility, this means it is open for the spending power of great numbers of people with disabilities here and around the world.

In 2003, when the Government promised to enact a strong, effective, mandatory and effectively enforced AODA, it did not say that this was to be cut back or cut down by some offsetting “Open for Business” strategy. Moreover, the AODA seeks to implement accessibility requirements in the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. Those constitutional and quasi-constitutional accessibility rights are not cut back or reduced by the Government’s “Open for Business” strategy. The duty to accommodate people with disabilities in the Ontario Human Rights Code is only limited where it is impossible to accommodate without undue hardship. The Open for Business strategy falls far short of an undue hardship defence under the Human Rights Code. As well, the accessibility rights and requirements guaranteed in the Ontario Human Rights Code prevail over any other laws, including your proposed new legislation, unless that other law states that it trumps the Human Rights Code.

Further sending the wrong signal, this bill’s preamble does not mention disability accessibility as an important Government goal. It only refers to health, safety and the environment. The preamble states in part:

“Statutory, regulatory, procedural, administrative and other requirements are necessary to protect the public interest, including health, safety and the environment.”

This bill’s timing and context is also a serious concern. Your Ministry is spearheading this major effort at reducing regulations and reporting obligations at the same time as the very same Ministry has been palpably derelict in its duty to enforce regulations and reporting obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. As a result, we revealed to the public last fall that your Ministry’s own records showed that as of last November, you knew that fully 70% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees were in direct violation of AODA requirements to file an accessibility self-report with the Government. That documentation also revealed that your very same Ministry had been failing to effectively enforce the AODA. This abdication of its duties continued despite repeated promises to effectively enforce it, despite having unused budgeted funds on hand to enforce the AODA, and despite having had an unused plan for enforcement on hand for months and months. Moreover, this same Ministry had refused to answer our questions about AODA compliance levels and enforcement, forcing resort to the Freedom of Information Act last year. It is reasonable to fear that your Government’s failure to develop needed new accessibility standards and to effectively enforce existing ones is merely part and parcel of a broader overarching de-regulation policy, reflected in Bill 176.

We therefore need all disability accessibility requirements explicitly and completely exempted from this regulatory review. We therefore request that the Government agree to amend the proposed Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 to:

1. state in clear, strong and mandatory terms that no regulations, reporting obligations or other requirements that can in any way help promote the removal and/or prevention of accessibility barriers against people with disabilities, whether under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or any other law or policy, will be eliminated, reduced or cut back, under this legislation or under any initiatives taken in furtherance of it.

2. provide in clear, strong and unambiguous terms that the Ontario Government’s Open for Business strategy and any legislation, policy or efforts relating to it, does and should not reduce, cut back or qualify any legislation, policies, regulations or other efforts aimed at leading Ontario to becoming fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

3. specify in the preamble that the goal of accessibility for and full inclusion of people with disabilities is an important Ontario goal, along with health, safety and the environment, so that it will read

“Statutory, regulatory, procedural, administrative and other requirements are necessary to protect the public interest, including health, safety, accessibility for persons with disabilities and the environment.”

4. require that any public officials or political staff, undertaking any part of this “burden reduction” initiative will take disability accessibility training before taking part in any aspect of this burden reduction review, designed to ensure that they are alive to the importance of disability accessibility and the need not to in any way slow down accessibility efforts.

5. require the Minister, in his or her annual report on actions taken by the Government of Ontario to reduce burdens, under this law, to

(i) spell out in detail the specific actions that the Government has taken to ensure that no legislation, regulation, reporting requirement or other policy or initiative that would help promote accessibility for people with disabilities is to be curtailed or reduced by efforts described in the report;

(ii) specify the steps taken to ensure the accountability for those conducting the review for not undermining or weakening accessibility measures, and

(iii) certify that the minister has personally reviewed the measures referred to in the report to ensure that there has been no such reduction in accessibility protections.

3. Our Concerns and Recommendations Regarding the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014

This legislation also creates the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014. It empowers the minister to make plans for developing clusters of businesses in different communities. If done right, this new initiative, if properly harnessed, provides an excellent way, at no added cost to the Government, to expand accessibility in Ontario. However, as now drafted, nothing in this bill requires the Government to take disability accessibility into account when implementing it or taking action under it.

The Government should make disability accessibility an integral part of these business clusters, and the Government’s plans for them. The government should make it a condition of any such clusters or grants that these businesses ensure that they have barrier-free workplaces for employees and entrepreneurs with disabilities, and that they provide barrier-free and accessible goods, services and facilities to their customers or target markets. If they don’t have these now, they should be required to submit a specific deadline and plan on how and when they will achieve this.

In the 2011 election, the Government made an important election commitment that points to such a strategy. In his August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance, Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged: “We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians.”

Similarly, in your May 28, 2014 statement in the Legislature in honour of National Access Awareness Week, you said that you had directed the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment to include accessibility in to all they do: It means that the goal of greater accessibility must be integrated into all that we do as a ministry, and I have instructed my ministry to do just that.

It was because of your Ministry’s capacity to take such action that we applauded your Government last year for moving the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to your Ministry, from the community and Social Services Ministry. Regrettably, to date we have not seen any results of your May 28, 2013 statements, in your Ministry’s programs. Bill 176 would be a good place to start. Your Ministry’s omission of this from Bill 176 suggests that your Ministry has not yet fully taken up your instructions from ten months ago.

We therefore ask you to agree to amend the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014 Act to:

1. include in the bill’s preamble or contents a statement that a core objective of the bill is to help ensure that Ontario businesses work towards meeting the AODA’s goals, and to ensure that Ontario businesses achieve fully accessible workplaces for employees and job applicants with disabilities, and to provide customer service, goods, services and facilities that are accessible to customers with disabilities.

2. include a new provision that requires the Minister and Ministry, in the process of developing any cluster plan or related activity under this Act, to actively ensure that no public funds are used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers, and to ensure that preference is given for businesses which have accessible workplaces, goods, services and facilities, or that commit to specific plans and deadlines to accelerate the achievement of fully accessible workplaces, goods, services and facilities.

3. include in the mandatory contents of a plan by the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment for development of a cluster, the following:

a) a statement of objectives in the plan for the achievement of accessibility workplaces, goods, services, facilities and customer service;

b) a description of the measures that the Minister and Ministry have taken, and plan to take, to ensure that the businesses in the cluster provide a barrier-free and fully accessible workplace for present and future employees and job applicants with disabilities, and to ensure that their customer service, goods, services, and/or facilities are accessible for persons with disabilities, and where not now accessible, to ensure that they have in place comprehensive plans to accelerate the process of making them fully accessible, with time line commitments for achieving this;

c) performance measures to evaluate whether the accessibility objectives and intended outcomes of the plan are achieved;

d) a description of actions that could be taken by the Minister, or the businesses or other entities that form the cluster, to assist in the achievement of the accessibility objectives and intended outcomes of the plan.

4. require the minister to consult with persons with disabilities on the accessibility needs and requirements to be included in the plan, and where a plan is later reviewed, on the effectiveness of the accessibility requreiments and provisions.

5. require the Minister to report annually to the public on the accessibility progress made under the plan.

6. amending the public notice requirements in the Act to ensure that the Minister makes public in an accessible format any information that he or she must make public under the Act.

4. Concluding Thoughts

You have said several times that accessibility is a “top priority” for you and your Government. We ask you to agree to the amendments we seek, to help make that commitment a reality.

As a non-partisan community coalition, we will also ask the opposition Conservative Party and NDP to support the amendments we seek. We will ask them not to support this legislation if these amendments are not made.

We have notified your office that we strongly urge that this bill go for public hearings before a Standing Committee of the Legislature. We repeat our request to be able to appear and make a presentation at those public hearings. Because of the potential interest in this bill from the disability community, we ask that any public hearings be fully accessible, and that the public get ample accessible notice to sign up and take part.

We hope and trust that as the minister with lead responsibility for the AODA’s implementation and effective enforcement, you will support and indeed bring forward the amendments we seek. We ask you to let us know as quickly as possible about your position on our proposed amendments to your bill.

As is widely known, there is a real possibility of a spring election. We have sought election commitments on disability accessibility from the major parties, including yours. This includes a request for a commitment not to weaken or cut back on any accessibility gains we have made to date. Therefore, a prompt response is, to us, essential.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Kathleen Wynne, Email premier@ontario.ca
Tim Hudak, Leader – Official Opposition Email: tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org Andrea Horwath, Leader – Third Party Email: ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca
Wendy Tilford, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment Email: wendy.tilford@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario Email: ann.hoy@ontario.ca

Text of the AODA Alliance’s March 28, 2014 Letter to Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Visit: www.aodalliance.org

March 28, 2014

Mr. Tim Hudak, Leader – Official Opposition
Room 381, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A8
Email: tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org

Ms. Andrea Horwath, Leader – Third Party
Room 113, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A5
Email: ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca

Dear Leaders,

Re: Bill 176, the Proposed Better Business Climate Act

We are writing to ask your respective parties to propose and advocate for disability accessibility amendments to Bill 176, the proposed “Better Business Climate Act, 2014.” Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins introduced that bill into the Ontario Legislature for First Reading on March 19, 2014. Our proposed amendments are set out in our March 28, 2014 letter to Dr. Hoskins, on which you are copied.

We are concerned that as drafted, this bill threatens to undermine gains for which we have fought long and hard, for accessibility for persons with disabilities in Ontario. As well, unless amended, the Government could well miss a great, new, no-cost opportunity to move Ontario forward on the road to full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025.

Our letter to Dr. Hoskins gives you a full explanation of Bill 176, what is wrong with it from the disability accessibility perspective, and the amendments needed to fix it.

We are indebted to each of your parties for having unanimously voted for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, and for having proposed amendments at that time, to strengthen that legislation. In that spirit, we ask your respective parties to commit to endorse our proposed amendments to Bill 176, and to move that the Legislature adopt them. We also ask your respective parties to commit not to support this bill if those amendments are not made. We take no position on the policy underlying the bill, apart from the disability concerns raised in our letter to Dr. Hoskins.

We would be please to provide any further information that you may need to consider this. We look forward to hearing back from you on this. Because a spring election looms as a real possibility, we are eager to hear back from you as soon as possible.

As you know, earlier this month, we sought a number of disability accessibility election commitments from all the major Ontario political parties. Among other things, we have sought commitments to strengthen the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the companion Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation, in regulations enacted under them, in any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives, or any rights that persons with disabilities enjoy under the Ontario Human Rights Code or in rules or regulations made under it. Our March 3, 2014 letter to the major parties is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03042014.asp

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Kathleen Wynne, Email premier@ontario.ca
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, Email eric.hoskins@ontario.ca
Wendy Tilford, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment Email: wendy.tilford@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario Email: ann.hoy@ontario.ca

Text of Bill 176 at First Reading, the proposed Better Business Climate Act

2ND SESSION, 40TH LEGISLATURE, ONTARIO
63 ELIZABETH II, 2014
Bill 176
63 ELIZABETH II, 2014
An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014

The Hon. E. Hoskins Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment Government Bill

1st Reading March 19, 2014
2nd Reading
3rd Reading
Royal Assent

Printed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

EXPLANATORY NOTE

The Bill enacts the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014.

SCHEDULE 1 BURDEN REDUCTION REPORTING ACT, 2014

Schedule 1 enacts the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014, which requires the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment to publish an annual report with respect to actions taken by the Government of Ontario to reduce burdens.

SCHEDULE 2 PARTNERSHIPS FOR JOBS AND GROWTH ACT, 2014

Schedule 2 enacts the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014, which states that the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment may prepare plans with respect to the development of clusters. As part of the preparation of a plan, the Minister must consult, as he or she considers advisable, with persons or entities that have an interest in the development of the cluster. The plan must contain specified items, including the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan and performance measures. The Minister is required to review the plan and make public a report with respect to the results of the review. The Minister is given various regulation making powers with respect to the plans.

Bill 176 2014

An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

Contents of this Act
This Act consists of this section, sections 2 and 3 and the Schedules to this Act.

Commencement
(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), this Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Same
The Schedules to this Act come into force as provided in each Schedule.

Same
If a Schedule to this Act provides that any provisions are to come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, a proclamation may apply to one or more of those provisions, and proclamations may be issued at different times with respect to any of those provisions.

Short title
The short title of this Act is the Better Business Climate Act, 2014. Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014

SCHEDULE 1 BURDEN REDUCTION REPORTING ACT, 2014

Preamble
Ontario recognizes that the ongoing maintenance of a modern, efficient, accountable and transparent regulatory and administrative environment is necessary to foster economic growth, prosperity and a competitive business climate.

Statutory, regulatory, procedural, administrative and other requirements are necessary to protect the public interest, including health, safety and the environment. However, some requirements may also create burdens, such as burdens inadvertently created over time, that unnecessarily inhibit productivity, job creation and innovation.

Definitions
In this Act,

burden means a cost that may be measured in terms of money, time or resources and is considered by the Minister in consultation with other members of the Government of Ontario to be unnecessary to achieve the purpose of the statutory, regulatory, procedural, administrative or other requirement that creates the cost; (fardeau administratif)

Minister means the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment or any other member of the Executive Council to whom responsibility for the administration of this Act is assigned or transferred under the Executive Council Act. (ministre)

Annual report on burden reduction
(1) The Minister shall make available to the public an annual report with respect to actions taken by the Government of Ontario to reduce burdens.

Publication of report
The Minister shall ensure that the report is, published on a Government of Ontario website or in such other manner as the Minister considers advisable; and available to the public on or before June 30 in each year or, if the regulations prescribe another date, on or before the prescribed date in each year.

Regulations
The Minister may make regulations respecting the report, which may include regulations, specifying any actions to reduce burdens that must be referred to in the report; Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 prescribing the manner in which the Minister must evaluate, quantify or describe actions of the Government of Ontario in the report; prescribing a date for the purpose of clause 2 (2) (b).

Commencement
The Act set out in this Schedule comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.

Short title
The short title of the Act set out in this Schedule is the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014.

SCHEDULE 2 PARTNERSHIPS FOR JOBS AND GROWTH ACT, 2014

Preamble
Ontario is committed to maintaining its competitive edge in the increasingly competitive global economy.

Clusters, which are geographically concentrated groups of interconnected businesses and related entities, can perform an important function in regional economic development by increasing productivity, innovation and competitiveness.

Ontario can act as a catalyst to spur the development of clusters. By working with businesses and other entities to develop plans with respect to the development of clusters, Ontario can promote the growth of jobs and the economy.

Definitions

In this Act,
“cluster means a geographically concentrated group of interconnected businesses and related entities; (pôle de compétitivité, pôle)

Minister means the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment or any other member of the Executive Council to whom responsibility for the administration of this Act is assigned or transferred under the Executive Council Act. (ministre)

Plans
The Minister may prepare plans with respect to the development of clusters.

Contents of plan
A plan with respect to the development of a cluster shall include the following: A description of the cluster.
An assessment of challenges and opportunities with respect to the development of the cluster. The objectives and intended outcomes of the plan.
Performance measures to evaluate whether the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan are being achieved.
A description of actions that could be taken by the Minister, or the businesses or other entities that form the cluster, to assist in the achievement of the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan. Such additional items as may be prescribed by the regulations.

Preparation of plan
If the Minister prepares a plan with respect to the development of a cluster, the Minister shall, make public a draft plan and consult on that draft with persons or entities who have an interest in the development of the cluster, as the Minister considers advisable; and make public the final version of the plan.

Amendments to plan
(1) The Minister may at any time make amendments to a plan with respect to the development of a cluster by making public the amended plan along with an explanation of the purpose of the amendments.

Same
(2) For greater certainty, the making of an amendment to a plan does not have the effect of altering the time by which a review must be conducted under section 7.

Plan preparation ceased, plan revoked
The Minister may decide to cease the preparation of a plan with respect to the development of a cluster or revoke the plan at any time by making the decision public, and the Ministers obligations under this Act with respect to the plan cease immediately.

Review of plan
(1) The Minister shall, on or before the fifth anniversary of the day that the final version of a plan with respect to the development of a cluster is made public under clause 4 (b), conduct a review of the plan for the purpose of evaluating whether the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan have been achieved by, consulting with persons or entities who have an interest in the development of the cluster, as the Minister considers advisable; and making public a report with respect to the review, summarizing the results of the consultation and, stating whether the plan is being continued or revoked, and if the plan is being continued, stating whether the plan is being amended and explaining the purpose of any amendments to the plan.

Subsequent reviews of plan
(2) If a plan is continued, the Minister shall, on or before the fifth anniversary of the day that the report stating that the plan is being continued is made public, conduct a review of the plan for the purpose of evaluating whether the objectives and intended outcomes of the plan have been achieved by, consulting with persons or entities who have an interest in the development of the cluster, as the Minister considers advisable; and making public a report with respect to the review, summarizing the results of the consultation and, stating whether the plan is being continued or revoked, and if the plan is being continued, stating whether the plan is being amended and explaining the purpose of any amendments to the plan.

Ministers duty to make public
If this Act requires anything to be made public, the Minister shall make it public in writing in such manner as he or she considers advisable, subject to any regulations.

Regulations
The Minister may make regulations, prescribing requirements with respect to consultation; prescribing additional items to be included in a draft plan or a final version of a plan; prescribing requirements with respect to the review of a plan; prescribing requirements with respect to ceasing the preparation of a plan or amending, revoking or continuing a plan; prescribing requirements with respect to making anything public, including timing requirements.

Commencement
The Act set out in this Schedule comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.

Short title
The short title of the Act set out in this Schedule is the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014.