The government has introduced legislation that would amend the Mining Act and the Aggregate Resources Act. The legislation is designed to introduce stronger oversight, enhanced environmental accountability, better information and participation, and increased fees and royalties for the government. You can find a summary of this proposed legislation here. The government is accepting comments on this legislation until December 5, 2016.
Bill 39, Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2016
Today, Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell opened the 2nd Session of the 41st Parliament of Ontario with a speech from the throne.
The speech was dedicated to outlining the government’s priorities for growing Ontario’s economy. Specifically, the Lieutenant-Governor indicated that the government will focus on:
- Enhancing child card
- Continuing to invest in education and help students achieve their full potential
- Investing in skills training that aligns with the job market “of today and tomorrow”
- Strengthening the healthcare system
- Investing in roads, transit and modern infrastructure
- Continuing to build a competitive business environment
- Continuing to play a leadership role to improve retirement income security
- Delivering additional relief on electricity bills
The highlight of the speech was the government’s pledge to no longer charge ratepayers the 8-per-cent provincial portion of the HST (harmonized sales tax) on their hydro bills. It is estimated that this will save the average household $130/ per year (plus an extra $45 per month for rural ratepayers). Though this will cost the provincial treasury approximately $1 billion a year, the government insists that 2017/18 budget will be balanced. The rebate (which will be established through legislation) would enter into effect on January 1st, 2017, if passed by the legislature.
Other highlights from the speech, include a promise to create 100,000 new child-care spaces over the next five years, ban day care wait list fees, and expand the eligibility of the Industrial Conservation Initiative for large electricity users.
All government legislation on the order paper when the house was prorogued on last Thursday will be reintroduced starting Tuesday. The opposition parties will have to agree which private members bill will be reintroduced.
Read the full speech here.
The government announced today that it has raised an additional $3.2 billion from the sale of Hydro One shares, which will be used to fund infrastructure. The newly raised money will be placed in the Ontario Trillium Trust, alongside a previously announced $1.35 billion. In total the government estimates that it will raise approximately $9 billion in gross proceeds and “other revenue benefits” from its sale of Hydro One shares.
News Release: Ontario Allocates $3.2 Billion for Infrastructure Projects
The Trillium Trust and Moving Ontario Forward
Michael Fenn, “Recycling Ontario’s Assets: A New Framework for Managing Public Finances”
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is now accepting applications for the Places to Grow Implementation Fund, which is intended to fund projects that support the goals of the province’s growth plans. Specifically, the grants are designed for projects that:
- Increase knowledge and understanding of growth planning through research and data collection
- Foster public knowledge, and awareness about the benefits of growth planning
Grants range in value from $5,00 to $50,000. Applications are being accepted until September 22, 2016. Find out more here.
A recent paper, published by Calgary’s School of Public Policy, argues that a northern, mid-Canada infrastructure corridor–which would reach from the pacific coast all the way through Ontario’s James Bay, to Atlantic Canada–could potentially bring badly needed economic diversification and encourage private investment in Canada’s north. According to paper a Norther Corridor would establish a new “multi-modal (road, rail, pipeline, electrical transmission and communication) transportation right-of-way through Canada’s north and near north…preparing the way for privately funded and economically driven projects.”
You can read the full paper here.
TVO, “Does Ontario need a cohesive national plan for northern infrastructure?”
The Walrus, “If We Build It, They Will Stay”
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate and Change is conducting consultations on a new policy for excess soil. The new policy is designed to achieve the following two objectives:
- Protect human health and the environment from the inappropriate relocation of excess soil; and,
- Enhance opportunities for the beneficial re-use of excess soil.
As part of its consultations MOECC has created a proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework and is inviting stakeholders to comment. MOECC will be accepting feedback until March 26, 2016. The full details of this consultation are available here.
Proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework
Management of Excess Soil–A Guide for Best Management Practices
The Chief Water Inspector of Ontario has released her annual (2014-15) report, which confirms that Ontario maintains some of the best protected drinking water in the world. Additional findings include:
- 99.8 per cent of residential water tests (533,000 test results) met Ontario’s health standards for drinking water. These municipal residential drinking water systems serve more than 80 per cent of Ontario’s population.
- 99.4 per cent of municipal residential drinking water systems received an inspection rating greater than 80 per cent.
- 99.6 per cent of drinking water tests from systems serving designated facilities such as day cares, schools or health care centres met Ontario’s drinking water quality standards.
The province also released the Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s Annual Report on Drinking Water. The Minister’s report provides an overview of the government’s efforts to protect the province’s drinking water.
Chief Drinking Water Inspector Annual Report 2014-2015
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change: Minister’s Annual Report on Drinking Water 2015
Ontario has released an updated Mineral Development Strategy to guide its future investments and policy in the exploration and development sector. The new strategy, which lasts for a 10-year period, is centred around four priorities:
- Competition and innovation
- Safety and environmental responsibility
- Efficient and effective regulation
- Ensuring growth for future generations
You can find a full copy of the strategy here.
The government of Ontario has released new details today about its plan to fight climate change. The government’s strategy will support its cap and trade program and seek to:
…help Ontario meet its emissions reduction targets, reward innovative companies and ensure that households and businesses thrive as the province transitions to a low-carbon economy.
Highlights of the new strategy include:
- Legislation to enshrine cap and trade into law in Ontario
- Measures to integrate climate change mitigation into government decision-making and infrastructure planning
- Embeding carbon neutrality into government decisions about operations, procurement, employee training, and building retrofits
- Promoting zero emission and plug-in vehicles and looking for other mechanisms to reduce emissions from transportation.
Find out more about Ontario’s new strategy here.
Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released the mandate letters that he provided to each of his cabinet ministers following their swearing-in at the beginning of November. We’ve prepared a backgrounder highlighting a local government perspective on the new Prime Ministers priorities.
Learn more here:
Backgrounder – Local Gov’t Perspective on Federal Mandate Letters