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            September 12, 2016                                                                                                      


A Spring Session and Throne Speech Update

A lot has been going on in our provincial parliament! To keep you up to date, here’s a handy review of Ontario legislative highlights relevant to nonprofits from the 2016 spring session and the September 12 Speech from the Throne.




Highlights for the nonprofit sector from the Throne Speech


  • The Throne Speech held little news for most Ontario nonprofits. Much of the speech was devoted to reiterating what the Ontario Government had already done or tabled in the last session of the Legislature.

  • The Speech confirmed that the Government intends to present a balanced budget in 2017.

  • The Ontario Government will rebate residential and small business hydro bills by 8% to offset the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), starting January 1, 2017, and expand the rural support program.

  • The Speech committed the government to creating 100,000 new licensed child care spaces over 5 years.

  • The government confirmed it will re-introduce Bill 210, the Patients First Act, and will continue funding growth in home and community-based care at about five per cent per year through 2017-18. It will also invest $222 million over the next three years in culturally-appropriate health care for Indigenous communities.

  • The Government will add an estimated 350,000 hours of nursing care and 1.3 million hours of personal support in the home care sector.


What was absent from the Throne Speech?

  • There was no mention of the need to pass technical amendments to the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act to enable it to take effect.

  • There was no mention of community benefits, social procurement, social enterprise, or the ongoing work of the Changing Workplaces Review panel.

  • While there was a brief reference to community hubs, there was no new commitment to action on the part of government.




The following new regulations came into effect on July 1, 2016


  • Changes to the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 include: increasing the Integrity Commissioner’s authority and investigation power, providing new rules for lobbyist and strengthening enforcement provisions, and there will be a lower threshold for the mandatory registration of lobbying activity, requiring organizations to register when lobbying activity by their staff totals 50 hours or more. To help you understand the impact of these changes, check out ONN’s guide, “Six Things You Need to Know about the Lobbyists Registration Act” - and stay tuned for our forthcoming issues paper on the subject;

  • Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to improve workers' safety related to noise and hazardous chemicals;

  • The appointment of Patient Ombudsman Christine Elliott




ONN has taken action and intervened on a number of bills passed/still under consideration by the Ontario Legislature. 

All government bills not yet passed will be reintroduced in the fall session.


Passed:

Under consideration by the legislature (and to be reintroduced again starting with First Reading in the new session):

The proposed bill is similar to the first reading version of the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016  in that it would restrict nonprofit participation in public policy debate during election campaigns. The Standing Committee on General Government received many submissions on this bill during public hearings and we expect significant amendments when it is reintroduced. ONN has asked for an amendment that would ensure that nonprofits can continue to participate in the democratic process. From media reports, it appears that this change will be introduced.

This bill has some elements of concern that blur the line between the broader public sector and the community-governed nonprofit sector. For example, it includes a clause enabling the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to appoint a supervisor of a health service provider that “has the exclusive right to exercise all of the powers of the governing body of the provider and its officers,” with no appeal process. This is an unacceptable infringement on the governing power of independent nonprofit boards, especially given that LHIN funding in some cases makes up a minority of an organization’s budget. ONN will intervene to object to this potential precedent and we will support our network allies on related issues that could affect the sector at large.




Other bills relevant to the nonprofit sector


Democracy & Advocacy-related bills that were passed:

Environment-related bills that were passed:

  • Bill 151, Waste-Free Ontario Act
    Works towards encouraging producers to turn more of their waste into new products, and will fight climate change by reducing greenhouses gas pollution caused by landfilling products that could be recycled.

  • Bill 172, Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act
    Ensures that money raised from Ontario's cap and trade program will be deposited into a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account, and requires enhanced accountability and public reporting on the province's Climate Change Action Plan and investment of cap and trade proceeds. The Ontario Government has also released its Climate Change Action Plan. Impacts of the plan on the nonprofit sector have yet to be determined, but there may be opportunities for nonprofits in the areas of sustainable energy, building retrofits, workforce training, and sustainable transportation. In terms of costs to the sector, the Government has declared that the net impact of cap-and-trade would not result in an overall increase in electricity costs for the “commercial sector.” We will be monitoring announcements for subsidy/retrofit programs to ensure that nonprofits are not overlooked. In the short term, nonprofits may see small increases in their fuel and building energy expenses; we encourage you to talk to your funders about building these costs into your funding agreements as part of the cost of doing business.

  • Bill 135, Energy Statute Law Amendment Act

Finance related bills that were passed:

  • Bill 186, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) Act (Strengthening Retirement Security for Ontarians);

With Bill 56 and 186, the Ontario Legislature and the nonprofit sector spent significant time debating and planning for the introduction of the ORPP. While it is good news that we will instead have a Canada Pension Plan enhancement, applying to all workplaces across the country, the enhancement is modest (adding 8% of a worker’s pre-retirement income to their retirement benefit as compared to the 15% that the ORPP would have provided) and leaves much to be desired in terms of workers’ retirement income security. Stay tuned as ONN’s pensions task force continues its work on a nonprofit sector pension plan. In the meantime, expect a third ORPP bill in 2017-2018--repealing the first two!

Health-related bills that were passed:

Labour-related bills that were passed:

Social services bills that were not passed and will be re-introduced:

Development and Housing bills that were not passed and will be re-introduced:

  • Bill 204, Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016
    The proposed bill aims to help increase the supply of affordable housing in Ontario and modernize existing social housing stock.

  • Bill 209, Seniors Active Living Centres Act, 2016
    The proposed bill would replace the Elderly Persons Centres Act, 1990. The legislation aims to keep seniors healthy and engaged. Elderly Person Centre locations will help respond to senior needs locally through community hubs, and encourage sector innovations to develop future partnerships.

Private Members bills that were passed:




Additional information




With thanks to Allison Smith and Queen’s Park Today for the list of provincial bills passed/introduced last session.





Stay tuned via our e-bulletin for ongoing coverage of legislative developments that matter to our sector!



Share your work! 

Is your nonprofit watching or advocating for/about legislation that affects our sector? Tell us about it! Tweet at us @o_n_n or email tara@theonn.ca. 



Did you find this legislative review helpful for your work?

Policy analysis and advocacy is an integral part of ONN’s work for the sector! Support your independent nonprofit network across Ontario. 






         

Ontario Nonprofit Network | @Foundation House | 2 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 300 | Toronto, ON, M4T 2T5 | (416) 642-5786

info@theonn.ca


Ontario Nonprofit Network | 2 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 300 | Toronto, ON M4T 2T5 | (416) 642-5786 | info@theonn.ca
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