Office of the Premier, December 30, 2014 – The following legislative and regulation changes will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, listed by responsible ministry:
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
A new regulation made under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 will allow the land application of greenhouse nutrient feedwater on agricultural land. The regulation provides eligible greenhouse growers with a new option to manage feedwater in a way that enhances the protection of the natural environment and supports the sector’s sustainability through a streamlined approval process.
A regulation under the Farm Products Marketing Act was amended to allow the Grain Farmers of Ontario to hold its first board meeting as soon as the annual district elections are completed. Prior to this amendment, the meeting could not take place before Mar. 2 of each year. This will allow for the newly elected board to fill any vacant seats.
Nine weeds will be added to the Schedule of Noxious Weeds made under the Weed Control Act. These include smooth bedstraw, wild chervil, common crupina and wild parsnip. These weeds will have to be destroyed in areas where they will negatively affect agricultural land, crops or livestock. In addition, nine weeds will also be removed from the Schedule, including wild carrot and scotch thistle as they are no longer considered significant threats and can be managed through modern management practices. Additionally, several of the removed weeds are food sources for pollinators, supporting their health.
The Ministry of the Attorney General
A new fee schedule is being introduced that will apply to registrations for Ontario’s gaming industry, including casinos, charitable gaming, OLG lotteries and internet gaming. While consolidation of some fees will result in fee increases, more than 90 per cent of registrants will see no change, or a slight decrease in their fees. Special attention was given to maintaining certain fee distinctions to recognize the limited ability of the charitable gaming sector in absorbing significant increases. Fees have not changed in 20 years.
An amendment to a regulation under the Provincial Offences Act will create and update short-form wording for offences under the Tobacco Tax Act to improve enforcement. Related set fines will also be established.
Requirements in the Courts of Justice Act for provincial court judges to meet annually and for other judges to report back to the Attorney General from these meetings will be repealed in order to streamline court processes.
A regulation under the Courts of Justice Act was amended to simplify court rules and forms under the Rules of Civil Procedure. These amendments relate to service by email, electronic document exchange and fax, dismissal of action for delay, pre-trial and case conferences, and motions for leave to appeal to Divisional Court. As a result, three regulated forms have been revised.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Amendments under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act will put in force technical changes to the Fire Code and clarify fire safety requirements for daycare centres and licensed child care programs that are based in schools.
A new regulation under the Police Services Act will provide for the implementation of the new billing model for non-contract municipalities that receive Ontario Provincial Police services. The previous regulation will be revoked.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services
People will now have faster and easier access to Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) employment supports. They will no longer need to demonstrate that they have exhausted or are not eligible for employment and training supports under other programs in order to be eligible for the ODSP employment supports program.
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
The name of the Collection Agencies Act will be changed to the Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act. In addition, other technical and administrative amendments will come into force, including amendments to definitions, application of the act, prohibited practices, using an unregistered collection agency, false advertising, offences, and limitations.
Under amendments to the regulation under the Collection Agencies Act (to be renamed Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act), a consumer will be able to send a letter to a creditor requesting them to deal only with a licensed paralegal or lawyer. Previously, only a lawyer could act for the debtor. In addition, not-for-profit charitable credit counselling agencies will be exempt from paying registration fees and from their employees being required to write registration exams.
The Technical Standards and Safety Authority will transition from annual to risk-based inspections so that higher-risk facilities are inspected more frequently than lower-risk facilities. TSSA will also permit facilities to select the most appropriate senior management person to complete the same mandatory safety training that is required of staff who directly handle propane for transfer.
The Ministry of Education
A regulation under the Day Nurseries Act will align the fire safety requirements with those now contained in the Fire Code. The changes will clear up confusion for licensed child care operators in schools by aligning their requirements for children four years and older with those already in place for schools.
The Ministry of Energy
Amendments to a number of acts, including the Electricity Act, 1998, will come into force as a result of the amalgamation of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) into a single entity continued as the IESO. Consequential and housekeeping regulatory amendments will be made to a number of related acts to ensure the new agency is operational in 2015. Amalgamating the agencies will help streamline the electricity sector by reducing overlap and is expected to save millions of dollars going forward. The merger supports the government’s commitment to improve agency efficiency, reduce costs and help mitigate future cost impacts to ratepayers.
An amendment to a regulation under the Green Energy Act, 2009, sets new or enhanced energy efficiency requirements and/or updated test methods for 22 products such as microwave ovens, commercial refrigeration equipment, water heaters, lighting products and televisions. The existing regulation also sets new or enhanced energy efficiency requirements and/or updated test methods for the following products manufactured starting Jan. 1, 2015: gas or electric residential clothes dryers, residential central air conditioners or heat pumps, general service fluorescent light bulbs, and general service halogen light bulbs.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
The Environmental Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Water Resources Act were amended to ensure provisions come into force that regulate the transfer of water between Great Lakes watersheds in Ontario. This will help Ontario meet its commitments under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resource Agreement.
The Environmental Bill of Rights has been amended to:
- Ensure proposals for new transfers of water between Great Lakes watersheds are posted on the Environmental Registry in a manner consistent with existing rules for posting water-taking proposals.
- Prescribe the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (MAA) to post MAA proposals for environmentally significant policies on the Environmental Registry for public consultation and to develop and follow a Statement of Environmental Values.
- Prescribe several instruments, such as approving land use plans and orders, permitting mine opening and oil and gas exploration, under the Far North Act.
- Update various ministry names.
The Ministry of Finance
A number of changes have been made to the Insurance Act and regulations made under the Act:
- The prejudgment interest rate for general damages, also called pain and suffering damages, for individuals injured in a motor vehicle collision is changing. The current rate is five per cent annually. As of Jan. 1, 2015, the rate will be the same as the Courts of Justice Act prejudgment interest rate for economic damages, which is currently 1.3 per cent annually and changes quarterly based on market conditions. Linking this rate to current market conditions will help reduce the cost of bodily injury claims in the auto insurance system while continuing to ensure fairness for claimants. Insurance companies that unreasonably delay claims can be subject to different sanctions, including punitive damages awarded by a court or administrative monetary penalties levied by the regulator.
- The interest rate on overdue amounts under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule is changing. Currently the interest that insurance companies pay on overdue disputed accident benefit claims is one per cent compounded monthly, which works out to 12.68 per cent annually. As of Jan. 1, 2015, the rate will be the same as the Court of Justice Act prejudgment interest rate of 1.3 per cent, which changes quarterly based on market conditions. This change will help reduce costs related to disputes, but will also maintain an incentive for insurance companies to pay undisputed claims promptly. In addition, the regulator can levy administrative monetary penalties against insurance companies that unreasonably delay claims.
- Amendments will modernize the current Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) insurance agent and adjuster disciplinary hearings process. These amendments support quicker regulatory action against agents and adjusters who engage in deceptive and often fraudulent actions. FSCO now will have the authority to immediately suspend the licences of agents and adjusters who act improperly and put the public at risk.
- The sections of the act referred to in the regulation governing agents have been renumbered in order to reflect the section number changes in the amendments modernizing the agent and adjuster disciplinary hearing process. In the same regulation, the transition provisions governing the 2003 introduction of an updated agent licensing qualification program are being eliminated now that the transition period is over. The amendments will not have any impact on how the regulation affects agents.
- Amendments to sections of the act referred to in the administrative penalties regulation have been renumbered to reflect section number changes in the amendments to the act modernizing the agent and adjuster disciplinary hearing process. There is no change in the impact of the regulation.
An amendment to a regulation under the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act will change the way the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario determines a credit union’s annual deposit insurance premium in order to simplify, update and improve the fairness of the methodology.
The list of motor vehicle dealership financing corporations that are exempt from licensing requirements under the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act will be updated.
Under the Tobacco Tax Act, the Ministry of Finance begins full raw leaf tobacco oversight. This will help effectively manage and monitor the movement of tobacco throughout the supply chain and impede the flow of contraband tobacco products. Anyone who deals with raw leaf tobacco in Ontario will be required to be registered and report activities to the Ministry.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, Estate Representatives who apply through the courts for an Estate Certificate will be required to submit Estate Information Returns to the Ministry of Finance, detailing information about an estate that was used in determining the tax under the Estate Administration Tax Act.
Further to recommendations made in the Report on the Special Purpose Business Property Assessment Review, two regulation changes were made under the Assessment Act prescribing:
- New property tax classifications for grain elevators
- Assessment increases for wind turbine towers
Office of Francophone Affairs
Through an amendment to a regulation under the French Language Services Act:
- The Maison d’hébergement pour femmes francophones will be designated as an agency that provides services in French. This organization asked to be designated as an agency that provides services in French.
- The existing designation of Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing is being expanded to reflect the full designation of the programs carried out by this agency on behalf of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
The Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 has been amended extending the maximum term of long-term care home licences from 25 to 30 years, and extending the term of certain existing licences by five years.
Amendments to regulations under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibit the sale of tobacco on post-secondary campuses and at schools, day nurseries and private-home daycares. The amendments also will prohibit smoking on all restaurant and bar patios, children’s playgrounds, and publicly owned sport surfaces such as soccer fields.
The Ministry of Labour
A regulation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act amends the Prescribed Temporary Indexing Factor regulation, prescribing an indexing factor of 0.5 per cent for injured workers on partial disability benefit.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
A regulatory amendment to the Endangered Species Act will outline habitat protection for five species at risk (eastern sand darter, Hine’s emerald, Hungerford’s crawling water beetle, Pitcher’s thistle and wavy-rayed lampmussel) and clarify that creating new or enhanced habitats for the bobolink or eastern meadowlark qualifies as safe harbour.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The Building Code is being amended to:
- Allow five- and six-storey buildings to be constructed of wood (mid-rise wood) to provide opportunities for safer, more affordable construction options. Ontario’s mid-rise wood frame construction requirements offer the highest degree of public and firefighter safety in Canada.
- Enhance barrier-free design requirements. These amendments make Ontario the leading Canadian jurisdiction for accessibility in buildings, and represent a step towards the commitment to an accessible Ontario by 2025.
- Promote greater energy efficiency in new homes through requirements for upgraded standards for heating system design and furnace motors. For example kitchens and laundry rooms should include connections for one of either gas or electrical appliances to give consumers more energy-efficient options and furnaces should be equipped with a brushless direct current motor.
Amendments to regulations under the Planning Act will exempt 14 northern municipalities from having to obtain a Minister’s approval to amend an official plan, and also give 12 of these northern municipalities the authority to approve subdivision and condominium applications. Two of these 12 northern municipalities will also receive the authority to approve consent applications for situations such as creating a new lot or adding land to a neighbouring lot. These changes will provide northern municipalities with more decision-making authority.
The Ministry of Transportation
A regulation has been amended to require farmers to provide proof that they have a farming business before receiving new farm plates for their vehicles.
A number of Highway Traffic Act regulations have been amended:
- To require farmers to provide proof that they have a farming business before receiving new farm plates for their vehicles.
- To allow MTO to refuse to issue or renew a vehicle permit for a commercial vehicle not operating under a valid Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) certificate.
- For commercial motor vehicle inspections to ensure harmonization with National Safety Code (NSC) standards for commercial vehicles.
NEW FEES AND FEE INCREASES
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Through a regulation made under the Farm Products Marketing Act, the licence fee charged by the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association on an acre (or part thereof) of ginseng will increase from $75/acre to $100/acre. The last fee increase was Jan. 1, 2011.
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
ON1Call is reducing fees and administrative burdens on its members by providing a $500 annual credit for all members, discontinuing the initial setup fee, and reducing standard locate notification costs from $1.60 to $1.40. ON1Call routes requests from homeowners, contractors and excavators to utilities for the purpose of locating underground gas, electrical and telecommunications lines, and water and sewer mains to avoid damages and promote safety.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
There will be an increase to the licence fees paid by operators of petroleum and salt-solution mining wells to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Trust.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The fee to file an appeal under the Line Fences Act will increase from $300 to $308. The act deals with the arbitration of fencing disputes in municipalities. The fee is linked to inflation and is adjusted every year on Jan. 1.
Ministry of Transportation
A new fee of $20 under the Highway Traffic Act for enrolling a driver trainee in the Ontario Driver Certification Program (DCP) will come into force. The fee will ensure government recovers the full cost of administering the DCP.
Under the Highway Traffic Act:
- The fee for non-graphic personalized licence plates is increasing from $251.65 to $310. The last fee increase was in 2005.
- The cost of a vehicle permit, number plate and validation for a trailer will increase from $46 to $53.
- The cost of a permit for a motor vehicle/trailer will increase from $10 to $14. The last fee increase was 1993.
- The cost of a commercial 10-day special permit will increase from $20-$175 to $23-$201. A commercial day special permit may be used for activities such as purchasing a commercial vehicle or combination vehicle-trailer in Ontario and driving it to another jurisdiction or to a mechanic for repairs.
- The cost of a passenger 10-day special permit will increase from $20 to $23. Similar to the commercial day special permit, this type of permit may be used to purchase a passenger vehicle in Ontario and drive it to another jurisdiction or to a mechanic for repairs.
- The cost of validating farm vehicles will increase from $107-$848 to $123-$975.
- Off-road vehicle permits fees will increase from $37 to $38.
- Motorized snow vehicle permits will increase from $32 to $33.
The Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport
The fee for a Class 3 sight-seeing vehicle licence at the Niagara Parks Commission will increase from $50 to $55 per day. A Class 3 sight-seeing vehicle is a charter bus or similar vehicle that gives tours no more than one day a week on NPC property. It does not include tour vehicles carrying passengers on a school trip.