By MPP Toby Barrett

Before Christmas, Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, announced over 30 actions to cut red tape in Ontario. This included regulatory changes to cut costs for businesses, decreasing barriers across municipal and provincial jurisdictions, and increasing business access to government investment.

As well, Minister Smith announced another part of the Ontario Open for Business Action Plan—the Restoring Ontario’s Competiveness Act. If passed, this act will further eliminate red tape and burdensome regulation. The goal is to give businesses more flexibility, reduce costs and to produce an environment where more jobs can be created right here at home.

Over the years, government has created many rules making it tough for businesses to compete. The Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act, for example, is a bill that I fought tooth and nail during my time as environment critic. It requires businesses to report publicly on the use of certain toxic substances and chemicals and present a reduction plan every five years.

However, the federal government also has a Chemicals Management Plan that requires facilities to undergo the same task of reporting their chemical use and reductions. Both governments require the same information.

Why the unnecessary duplication? For this particular example and more, we plan to end overlap and unnecessary paperwork—paperwork where businesses have to report the same information to multiple jurisdictions of government. Thus, as of 2021, the federal government will solely cover all toxic substances, regulated by the Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act.

By eliminating such duplication, companies will save both time and money. Placing the regulation under one government will enable companies to save on administrative costs and operate more efficiently. Facilities will financially benefit from not having to pay to prepare redundant reviews and reports.

Other changes outlined in the Open for Business Action Plan include changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The plan will eliminate the requirements for employers to seek ministry approval for excess hours of work and overtime averaging. This has proven to be a time consuming requirement and an administrative constraint, which offers little to no benefit for employers and employees alike. Without it, employers would have much more flexibility in scheduling and planning operations.

Most of the regulatory burden and unnecessary duplication that companies face inhibit the efficiency and efficacy of their administration. Ontario’s Toxic Reduction Act and the Employment Standards Act just to name a few, almost seem by design to nuisance businesses with unwanted administration and forms to fill out.

Under the current government, we plan to eliminate the burdens that negatively affect businesses and their administrative function as a way to improve their efficiency and to cut overhead costs. We plan to give Ontario businesses a competitive advantage, which will keep Ontarians working at home, not abroad.

Our government wants to get out of the way of those who create jobs in our province and The Restoring Ontario’s Competiveness Act will go a long way in accomplishing this. We strive to tell the world Ontario is open for business. We are going to lower business costs and make Ontario a strong profitable province where everyone who wants to work can have the chance and the opportunity to do just that.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk