CFFO: Omnibus Bill 132, good for farmers?
By Josh Kraemer
The Government of Ontario has recently introduced Bill 132, which it calls the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019. The Bill is another initiative by the province to reduce red tape.
According to the press release, the bill will “simplify and modernize regulations that we need, while eliminating requirements that are outdated or duplicative, making regulatory processes more efficient for business and better for people.” The focus of the bill is to make it easier to comply with regulations and interact with government. In other words, the Ford government is trying to “make life easier for people and for businesses” by getting the government out of their way.
Omnibus bills, like Bill 132, introduce a large number of regulatory changes to many Acts at the same time. Once voted into law, the changes may impact Ontario’s farmers in several different ways. Because of the breadth and complexity of the proposed changes to the Acts, input from farming organizations and their members is that much more important.
This bill includes over 80 proposed action items, affecting 14 different Ontario Ministries. Some proposed changes impacting agricultural operations aim to:
1) Align Ontario’s pesticide classifications with the federal government’s, terminate the Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee, and change the application process for pesticides.
2) Streamline approvals in the aggregate industry by eliminating overlapping regulations and, in some circumstances, allow provincial regulations to override municipal laws.
3) End the Livestock Medicines Advisory Committee, and use other routes for stakeholder engagement regarding livestock medicine, possibly through the Ministry of Health.
4) Streamline coverage for agricultural production insurance and expand appeal rights so that farmers can adequately file an appeal.
5) Change the Beef Cattle Marketing Act to improve government response times regarding regulatory amendments requested by the industry.
Unlike last year’s Bill 66, which proposed to open up farmland in the Greenbelt to development, Bill 132 does not propose such dramatic or obvious changes. CFFO staff members are in the process of analyzing the proposals for their effects on farmers.
As discussed at the CFFO Provincial Council meeting in October, there is concern that the changes to the Aggregate Resources Act may increase potential risks to water quality, water quantity and farmland preservation if changes are implemented. Regarding pesticides, there will be efficiencies in aligning with Canadian classifications. There is a real risk, however, that the proposed self-regulating and self-monitoring of use may lead to unnecessary overuse by some. Compliant and responsible farmers would not want to be painted with the same broad brush as those who do not take their stewardship responsibilities seriously.
This month, CFFO will continue to analyze the details and build a response to these proposals. We are hoping to hear member perspectives, as well. If you have comments or concerns about the way that Bill 132 may affect your farming operation, please contact the CFFO. You may also consider lodging your own comments through the Environmental Registry of Ontario website, as well.
For more information, a backgrounder on Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, can be found here.
Josh Kraemer is Research & Policy Assistant for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham. It is also archived on the CFFO website, www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,000 family farmers across Ontario.