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Proposed Open For Business Act

Archived Backgrounder

Proposed Open For Business Act

Ontario is introducing the proposed Open for Business Act that responds to the needs of the business community, while continuing to provide appropriate government oversight and protect the public interest.  The amendments included in the Open for Business Act will save businesses time and money by:

  • Enabling a modern, risk-based approach for approvals
  • Supporting a strong workforce
  • Delivering more efficient government services

Enabling a modern, risk-based approach for approvals

The Ministry of the Environment is proposing amendments to the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act to enable a modern, risk-based approach for approvals.  The proposed changes will reduce the administrative burden on business by establishing an online registry for low-risk activities and strengthening approvals for high-risk activities. 

Ontario is one of the last remaining North American jurisdictions without a modern, risk-based approach to environmental approvals. When fully implemented, the Ministry of Environment's Modernization of Approvals could save business as much as 25 per cent of the project's application costs.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is proposing amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act that would streamline the approval process, ensure greater consistency in permit decisions and ease compliance obligations for business.  These changes aim to address issues raised by the land development industry.


Supporting a strong workforce

The Ministry of the Attorney General is proposing amendments to The Professional Engineers Act that would improve self-governance mechanisms and remove unnecessary citizenship requirements for individuals who apply for a Professional Engineer Licence, making it easier for internationally trained engineers to work in Ontario. 

These amendments have been proposed by the Professional Engineers of Ontario Council, the governing body of the profession, to promote efficiencies in the administration of the engineering profession in Ontario.

The Ministry of the Attorney General is also proposing amendments to the Architects Act that will increase flexibility in ownership of minority shares of architecture firms to facilitate capital investment. Changes to the structure of architecture firms will mean better availability of funds which should save banking costs (e.g. cost of borrowing for financing) and allow architects to expand their practices.

More Efficient Government

The Ministry of Labour is proposing amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000,  that would:

  • Allow the Director of Employment Standards to require claimants to provide specific information and let their employer know about their Employment Standards complaint before the claim is assigned to an officer.
  • Authorize employment standards officers to attempt settlements of complaints.
  • Allow officers to make decisions on claims when parties fail to attend decision-making meetings or provide evidence on time.

These amendments support the Ministry of Labour's initiative to advance fairness in the workplace and modernize its Employment Standards program. These initiatives include:

  • Launching a task force in August 2010 to eliminate the backlog of 14,000 claims in two years.
  • The new online severance pay decision tool for employers and employees.
  • The future launch of a termination of employment/temporary layoff tool that determines when a layoff becomes a termination, the termination date and any termination pay owing.

The Ministry of Transportation is proposing several amendments to the Highway Traffic Act that will harmonize Ontario's requirements with the rest of the provinces in a range of areas, including:

  • Harmonizing vehicle width exemptions with other provinces,
  • Phasing out the need for special permits relating to the length of Recreational Vehicles, and
  • Ensuring Ontario's vehicle length regulations for full trailers meet national obligations.

These changes would reduce the regulatory burden on business, and meet standards endorsed by the Council of Ministers of Transportation in support of the Ontario-Quebec Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The amendments would also mean enhanced intra- and inter-provincial truck movements, and a benefit to the provincial economy.

The Ministry of the Attorney General has proposed amendments to the Construction Lien Act, which would, if passed:

  • Help ensure that courts are only involved in construction disputes when needed by broadening the definition of "improvement"
  • Clarify the lien process for condominiums and the right to cross examine those who have registered liens. 
  • Protect the rights of claimants with sheltered liens, regardless of whether the original lien has been dealt with or resolved.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is proposing amendments to the Drainage Act  to provide clarity, remove duplication and simplify processes that will result in time savings for stakeholders.  The proposed changes to the Drainage Act could result in approximately $1.1 million in savings to municipalities through reduced administrative costs.

The Ministry of Consumer Services has proposed amendments to the Business Names Act which would permit corporations to object to similar business names through an expeditious procedure in small claims court rather than though complex and costly legal proceedings in the Superior Court of Justice or the Federal court, resulting in both time and cost savings for businesses.

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