Here is yet another bill to fight red tape

By MPP Toby Barrett  

Ontarians want to get going and not waste time completing unnecessary and outdated compliance measures. It is hard to manage a business, advance your work or simply get through the day when spending hours filling out forms and wading through redundant requirements.  

That is why we have introduced yet another anti-red tape bill – the Supporting People and Businesses Act.  

A key benefit of this legislation would permanently allow licensed restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses to extend their licensed outdoor patio spaces. We implemented this as a temporary change to help businesses adapt. Since then, restaurant and bar owners have talked about the positive impact this has had. Making this permanent is a step in the right direction for hard-hit businesses.  

Another proposal in this legislation would help streamline the planning system by cutting approval times. This adjustment would give municipal councils greater authority to determine which decisions could be made by committees of council, or by staff. It would also provide councils the flexibility to focus on issues such as the housing shortage. 

The legislation also emphasizes electrical safety. It would introduce legislative amendments enabling the Electrical Safety Authority to issue administrative monetary penalties. These changes would equip the authority with a more efficient and effective compliance framework, allowing the redirection of resources to public safety and education efforts. In addition, it would help address the underground economy of unlicensed contractors and boost the competitiveness of licensed contractors.  

 Another item will assist in modernizing courtroom proceedings. We propose to repeal a section of the Barristers Act to remove an outdated and inconsistently applied courtroom procedure that prioritizes the cases of lawyers and does not recognize licensed paralegals.  

As the Attorney General stated when we debated this legislation in second reading, this section of the act inadvertently discriminates against our youngest lawyers, since many of them would not have the seniority to go first. 

Another proposal would benefit Ontarians by helping keep public lands for public use. Amendments to both the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act and the Public Lands Act would prevent people from claiming ownership of public lands by unlawfully occupying a space in a provincial park or conservation reserve. This would help ensure that lands remain available for public use and outdoor recreation. It would support our ongoing work to safeguard the environment and provide Ontarians with more opportunity to enjoy our provincial parks, get outside and boost their well-being.  

Our final item would save people money, reduce administrative burdens and promote richer, stronger communities across Ontario. We are proposing to reduce barriers to police record checks for volunteers to boost a valuable source of talent for our communities and to save money for people looking to volunteer. This change means that volunteers requesting certain types of police record checks will no longer have to pay for them, reducing administrative time for police services and costs for prospective volunteers.  

These are just some of the proposals in the Supporting People and Businesses Act. Through the 25 schedules, the act, if passed, will modernize significant statutes to remove unnecessary, outdated and duplicative regulations that get in the way of people and businesses in their everyday lives. 

Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk