On December 6, 2018, the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade introduced Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. In 2018, the Ontario PC party ran a campaign on cutting red tape and “Making Ontario Open for Business”–even venturing as far as introducing a bill with the same slogan, Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act.
As part of the campaign pledges, Bill 66 seeks to amend several pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, the Employment Standards Act and the Toxics Reduction Act. With many aspects covered under the banner of a single bill, the bill received a mixed reception. Environmental groups around the province denounced the bill, citing concerns over the careless rollback of fundamental water and environmental protections. Even some municipalities, despite the regulatory freedom offered, announced that they would not support the bill.
While there are differing opinions on various components, it is expected that many Ontario businesses will be pleased with the sweeping changes to the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 and supporting regulations. Since its inception in 2009 the requirements imposed by the Toxics Reduction Act have been viewed by the regulated community as an unnecessary and expensive cost of doing business in Ontario.
The Toxics Reduction Act, as it stands today, requires that businesses that use or manufacture substances covered by the National Pollutant Release Program (NPRI) to track, quantify, report and develop Toxic Substance Reduction Plans (TSRPs) for such substances. The plans must be signed by a Licensed TSRP Planner and be reviewed every five years.
The regulatory changes introduced in Bill 66 would:
- Remove the requirements for the facilities with existing plans to conduct reviews of these plans
- Exempt certain facilities from all future planning and reporting requirements
Furthermore, the bill seeks to repeal the Toxics Reduction Act and all associated regulations by December 31, 2021.
Businesses that have current plans for substances in place will likely be required to continue reporting on such substances. However, if passed, review of the plans, which was slated to be due by December 31st, 2019, will no longer be required.
The proposal was open for review and public comment until January 20, 2019. During this time, businesses were encouraged to comment on the bill on Ontario’s Environmental Registry. As well, to avoid compliance issues, businesses should continue to observe the requirements of the TRA and supporting regulations until the proposal is finalized early in 2019.