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Strengthening and Improving Government Act

Archived Backgrounder

Strengthening and Improving Government Act

Ministry of the Attorney General

The improvements proposed under the Strengthening and Improving Government Act would be mainly housekeeping changes to 15 pieces of legislation across several ministries:


Courts of Justice Act

Changes to the Courts of Justice Act would reflect the new non-resident divorce permitted under the federal Civil Marriage Act. This legislation applies to same-sex couples and any other couples who were married in Ontario but whose own jurisdiction does not legally recognize their union, making divorce impossible where they now live.

The proposed amendments would also allow new forms and procedural rules to be created in relation to the federal government's Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, which provides spouses living on First Nations reserves with similar protections and rights in relation to a family home as other Canadians when going through a relationship breakdown.

The proposed changes would also establish the duties of Senior Advisory Family Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, a position created in January 2012. This judge advises the Chief Justice on family matters. 

This amendment was originally introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as part of the 2013 Strengthening and Improving Government Act.

Other proposed amendments to the Courts of Justice Act would clarify timelines for decisions made by deputy judges in regards to issuing decisions after retirement, as these rules were only in place for judges. They would also remove approval requirements for re-appointments of certain judicial officials (case management masters) in the Superior Court of Justice, as it was ruled unconstitutional.

Family Law Act

Ontario's Child Support Guidelines currently requires every person whose income is used as part of a child support order to provide the other parent with updated financial information on an annual basis. 

This amendment would clarify that parents who use Ontario's new online Administrative Child Support Calculation Service (once it becomes operational) have the same ongoing financial disclosure obligations as parents who obtain a child support order from a family court.

Receiving updated financial disclosure helps a parent who receives child support decide whether they should apply to update their child support amount based on the other parent earning a higher income. 

Provincial Offences Act

The Provincial Offences Act contains authority for certain records to exist electronically.  This amendment would create a legal authority for Provincial Offences Courts to maintain an end-to-end electronic court record, from the filing of the charge to disposition of the case. This would create a framework that would allow municipalities that are equipped to implement new technologies, to do so.

In participating municipal courts, this modernization will help make things easier for court users, who are able to choose a format to receive documents that is easier for them. It will also potentially reduce courthouse postage costs if court users choose to receive documents by email.



Vital Statistics Act

Amendments to the Vital Statistics Act would allow the stock that is used for certificates and certified copies of registrations, such as long-form birth certificates, on which the signature of the Registrar General and/or Deputy Registrar General is reproduced, to continue to be used even if those individuals leave office.

Currently, certificates bear the signatures of both the Registrar General and Deputy Registrar General, and certified copies of registration bear the signatures of the Deputy Registrar General. When these individuals vacate their positions or no longer hold office, certificate stock and stock for certified copies of registrations on which their signatures are reproduced can no longer be used to print certificates. The Vital Statistics Act amendments would reduce waste and save costs.

This amendment would align Ontario's practices with those of most jurisdictions in Canada.


Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act

The Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act would be amended to align with the 2012 Physician Services Agreement, between the province and the Ontario Medical Association. It would provide immunity for representatives of the Ontario Medical Association, including directors and staff, but not the association itself.

This would prevent legal action against representatives for acts done in good faith during negotiations with the government related to physician agreements or payments, such as agreements that contain fee changes for certain physician groups.

This amendment was originally introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as part of the 2013 Strengthening and Improving Government Act.


Employment Standards Act

The changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) would make it clear that demands for money made to third parties, like banks, are valid for 365 days from the day they are served. This applies to situations where a third party owes money to or is holding money for a person who is liable to make a payment under the ESA (e.g., an employer).

The proposal would assist the Ministry of Labour in collecting money for employees and reduce the administrative burden by clarifying that one prospective demand could be issued, rather than having to issue a demand on each day that money may potentially be held by the third party.

Occupational Health and Safety Act

These amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act are part of a broader national initiative to adopt international standards for classifying hazardous workplace chemicals and providing information on labels and safety data sheets. To adopt the new standards requires changes to federal and provincial/territorial legislation/regulations.  

Amendments to federal hazardous products legislation and regulations came into force on February 11, 2015.  All provincial and territorial governments are now in the process of amending their occupational health and safety legislation/regulations to reflect the federal changes.

These new standards are expected to improve worker health and safety, as employers and workers will have access to a broader range of information about hazardous workplace chemicals, presented in a standardized format considered to be easier to understand than current labels and safety data sheets.

Registered Human Resources Professionals Act

This proposed amendment enables the government to add and amend designations for registered human resources professionals through regulation, rather than legislation.

Currently, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act does not contain a regulation-making authority to list human resources designations by regulation, the designations are listed in the Act itself. Making changes through regulation provides flexibility in adding and removing designations under the Act in the future.


City of Brantford Act

This change would repeal the City of Brantford Act,1986, a private act that provided the city with certain authority for business licensing. Broad licensing authority is provided by the Municipal Act, 2001, making the city-specific act redundant. This amendment was requested by the City of Brantford.

City of Hamilton Act (Licensing Committee)

This change would repeal the City of Hamilton Act (Licensing Committee), 1997, a private act that provided the city with certain authority for a licensing committee. Broad licensing authority is provided by the Municipal Act, making the city-specific act redundant. This amendment was requested by the City of Hamilton.

City of Toronto Act

The City of Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and Regional Municipality of York have reached an agreement to ensure the seamless operation of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) between the two municipalities. Where there is an agreement regarding transit services between the TTC and a nearby municipality, the City of Toronto Act states that municipality will pay any operating deficit to the TTC.  The TTC also must credit any surplus to the municipality where there is an agreement regarding transit services .

This amendment would remove these provisions of the Act to enable the TTC to operate the TYSSE in compliance with the agreement in place between the municipalities and the Act, as amended. This amendment to the City of Toronto Act was requested by the City of Toronto, and is supported by York Region.

Once this project is up and running, it will help commuters in the area get to work, school and home on time. Eliminating these clauses will also provide flexibility to the TTC to enter into similar agreements with neighbouring municipalities for future projects. This will facilitate greater integration in the delivery of regional transit across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area.

Municipal Act

Similar to the proposed changes to the City of Toronto Act, amendments to the Municipal Act would make the Minister of Finance the recipient of notices to enter into agreements for municipal facilities across the province, instead of the Minister of Education.

The Region of Waterloo has asked that the Municipal Act be amended to provide the Region of Waterloo the power to pass by-laws with respect to the acquisition, development and disposal of sites for industrial, commercial and institutional uses. This would facilitate Waterloo's participation in the economic development strategy developed with the region's municipalities. All of the lower-tier municipalities in the region will continue to have this authority and have passed resolutions in support of the amendment. 



City of Toronto Act

Other changes to the City of Toronto Act would help to increase government efficiency by re-directing notices with respect to municipal facilities to the Minister of Finance instead of the Minister of Education.

When the legislation was passed in 1993, the Minister of Education was given the right to be notified of these by-laws, in order to monitor the impact of these tax exemptions on the tax base available for school purposes. At the time, school boards set their own tax rates and if there was less taxable property available and they did not raise their tax rates, funding for education would decrease unless the Ministry of Education increased grants.  However, in 1998, the power to set tax rates was transferred from the school boards to the Minister of Finance as part of the change to the modern funding model for education. As a result, it is the Minister of Finance who needs notice of these by-laws, not the Minister of Education.



Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act

The Act gives the College Registrar the authority to appoint an investigator to investigate the conduct of a member and provides that for the purposes of such an investigation, the investigator has all the powers of a commission under Part II of the Public Inquiries Act. This latter Act was repealed and replaced by the Public Inquiries Act, 2009.

The proposed amendment would replace the reference to the Public Inquiries Act with a reference to the Public Inquiries Act, 2009. The amendment is required to ensure that statutory cross-references in the Act are accurate. 

Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act

In June 2006, an amendment to the Act provided that each college, rather than its board of governors, was a corporation without share capital. The amendment would provide certainty with respect to the continuity of the ownership of college assets and obligations acquired or incurred before and after June 2006. 


Highway Traffic Act 

The amendments to the Highway Traffic Act would regulate private sector non-emergency stretcher transportation vehicles and their drivers, allowing passengers travelling on stretchers, including those transported between healthcare facilities, to be moved safely. The new standards would require operators and drivers to meet specific requirements with respect to vehicle inspection and maintenance, prescribed qualifications for staff on board, equipment and recordkeeping.

The new standards would address concerns put forward by Ontario's Ombudsman on the issue. This amendment was originally introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as part of the 2013 Strengthening and Improving Government Act.

Other proposed changes also look to make paperwork easier for drivers. They would allow the Ministry of Transportation to serve a notice of intention to cancel a vehicle permit or driver's licence in a way other than mail, such as at a ServiceOntario counter. This amendment would ensure that drivers are more likely to be notified, and can respond to requirements, before any licence cancellation takes place. This change will facilitate increased options for drivers and vehicle owners to receive notifications about their licence.

It would also permit electronic correspondence relating to Commercial Vehicle Operators' Registration. This will include accepting applications, renewals and client updates as well as the ministry issuing notices, commercial vehicle operators' certificates and account updates.

This bill also reintroduces two minor items from Bill 31, the Making Ontario Roads Safer Act, 2015 which would allow for short-term suspensions for drug impaired driving to be calculated in the same way as those for drinking and driving.  It would also remove the requirement that a municipal by-law needs to be in place in order to facilitate installation of pedestrian crossovers on provincial highways, where appropriate.

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