TORONTO – The Ontario government has passed Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, in a measure it claims will cut red tape and reduce regulatory burden in 12 sectors, including the construction industry.
The bill received Royal Assent on April 3.
Through the act, the government is taking over 30 actions, along with regulatory changes, to cut business costs, harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, end duplication and reduce barriers to investment, indicates a government release.
As part of the legislation, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 will be amended to deem public bodies, including municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, as “non-construction employers.”
This means municipalities that are considered construction employers, and are restricted to accepting bids for infrastructure projects from certain unions they are affiliated with, will be able to open up the tendering process, allowing all qualified contractors to bid.
“Certain broader public-sector entities had become subject to the specialized construction labour relations model in the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and bound to collective agreements for the construction industry, even though they are not actually in the construction business,” explains the release.
The issue has had industry stakeholders on both sides strongly voicing their opinions on the matter.
Also included in the bill is the expansion of the Environmental Activity and Sector Registries (EASRs) for permits to take water 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. Moving these activities to a permit-by-rule system allows businesses to begin operations faster.
“We’re not against regulation — just overregulation,” said Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Todd Smith, in a statement. “We’re eliminating regulations that are outdated, inflexible or ineffective, or that duplicate federal or municipal regulations. And we’re maintaining regulations that make sure that Ontario workers and families have clean air and water, safe products and safe working conditions. This is about cutting through the red tape holding businesses back, while maintaining the regulations that protect consumers, workers and the environment.”
The Daily Commercial News will have more on this story in an upcoming article.