Ontario Water News

March 2018: Stay Informed – Recent Development in Policy, Regulations, and Programs

At WaterTAP, we’re closely watching policy, regulatory, and program developments related to Ontario’s water sector. Here are some recent updates that may be relevant to your organization:

Provincial

Cabinet Shuffle: Premier Kathleen Wynne announced changes to her cabinet. The changes place eight women, including three new ministers, in key roles across government. The new Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry is Nathalie Des Rosiers (MPP for Ottawa-Vanier) and the new Minister of Economic Development and Growth is Steven Del Duca (MPP for Vaughan). For more details on the changes, see here.

Cleantech Strategy: Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, launched Ontario’s new Cleantech Strategy. The strategy will help cleantech companies grow and meet global demand through: venture and scale readiness support, access to capital regulatory modernization, and adoption and procurement. As part of the strategy, the Minister announced renewed funding for cleantech accelerators, including WaterTAP, and support for the Global Market Acceleration Fund and Green Focus on Innovation and technology (GreenFIT). See this WaterTAP article for more details.

Municipal Emissions: The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change recently sought feedback on a draft guideline that will help municipalities complete greenhouse gas inventories and develop community emissions reduction plans. See the Environmental Registry posting for more information.

Cap and Trade: Ontario has announced the results of the first joint Ontario, Quebec, California auction of greenhouse gas emissions allowances, held February 21, 2018. The auction generated an estimated $471 million in proceeds, which will be invested in programs that will reduce greenhouse gas pollution and help families and businesses reduce their own footprints through the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan. For more information, see here.

Resource Recovery: Ontario has developed a Proposed Food and Organic Waste Framework. One of the policies listed in the framework is to support resource recovery infrastructure, including wastewater infrastructure optimization, upgrades, or technology adoption that can allow these systems to accept separated food waste to create high-value end-products. See the Environmental Registry posting for more information.

Energy: Ontario released its Long-Term Energy Plan. Water’s connection to energy is accounted for in the plan, especially in Chapter 5 which discusses water efficiency in homes, offices, factories, and energy efficiency in water and wastewater treatment plants. The government will also be working with water utilities on a Green Button standard for water data.

Ontario and U.S. Trade: Ontario has passed the Fairness in Procurement Act, 2018. The Act allows for responsive action to address unfair government procurement practices that are being implemented in New York State and Texas, and considered in other states. Under this legislation, Ontario could create regulations designed to be in proportion to restrictions made by public sector purchasers in the opposing United States (U.S.) jurisdiction. For example, Ontario has posted proposed regulations to respond proportionally to the restrictions set out in the New York State and Texas “Buy American” legislation.

More on U.S. Trade: In early February, Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Washington, D.C. and New York City to meet with U.S. leaders from multiple states and other key U.S. decision-makers. She was accompanied by Minister of International Trade, Michael Chan, and Minister of Economic Development and Growth, Steven Del Duca. Premier Wynne, along with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, returned to Washington in late February forging connections with U.S. partners and advocating for Ontario workers and businesses at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting. Following the meeting, President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, but since then the White House has announced that Ontario and Canada will be exempt from the new tariffs. See Premier Wynne’s most recent statement on the tariffs here.

Women and the Economy: The Ontario government has announced Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment. This includes the introduction of legislation to increase pay transparency by requiring certain employers to track and publish information about compensation in their organizations.

Building Code: The Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA) submitted a Request for Review to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario in collaboration with the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association. The submission requests that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs review a section of the Building Code dealing with Operation and Maintenance of onsite septic systems due to current concerns about management requirements and oversight. Read the submission here.

Third Quarter Finances: Ontario released the 2017-18 Third Quarter Finances. The update contains information about Ontario’s fiscal outlook for the current fiscal year, including the major components of revenue and expense as set out in the 2017 Budget. Ontario will release Budget 2018 on March 28.

Ontario PC Party: Doug Ford has been elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. He will lead the party through this year’s Ontario election.

Great Lakes

Water Quality Progress: The International Joint Commission released the First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality. The document reports that progress has been made towards meeting the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement’s objectives, but significant challenges include the increase in harmful Lake Erie algal blooms, the slow pace in addressing chemicals of mutual concern, the spread of invasive species, and the need for governments to invest in infrastructure that reduces untreated waste discharges into the Great Lakes.

Lake Erie: The Governments of Canada and Ontario released the final Lake Erie Action Plan. The plan identifies more than 120 federal, provincial, and partner actions, using mandatory and voluntary approaches, including technology research, demonstration, and implementation, to help achieve the goal of reducing phosphorous entering Lake Erie by 40 percent.

Agriculture and Phosphorous: The International Joint Commission released a report that concludes that commercial fertilizers and manure applications are the largest sources of excess phosphorous within the western basin of Lake Erie. These are contributing to harmful algal blooms.

IJC Reports: The International Joint Commission (IJC) invited public comments on two reports from its Great Lakes Water Quality Board that deal with watershed management: Evaluating Watershed Management Plans – Nutrient Management Approaches in the Lake Erie Basin and Key Locations Outside the Lake Erie Basin and Watershed Management of Nutrients in Lake Erie. Read the reports and here.

Federal

Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced new funding programs under the $3-billion federal-provincial-territorial Canadian Agricultural Partnership agreement. The Partnership focuses on growing trade and expanding markets in the agriculture and agri-food sector, innovative and sustainable growth in the sector, and supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector. If you are looking to fund a collaborative water project with an entity in the agriculture and agri-food sector, you may be interested in these Partnership-related funding opportunities: Agri-Science Program (Projects), AgriInnovate Program.

Procurement: Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) released a Request for Information that seeks feedback from the industry on the introduction of qualification based selection (QBS) and social procurement. PSPC plans to pilot the QBS methodology for selected Architectural and Engineering Services design procurements.

Superclusters: The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, announced the winners of the $950-million Innovation Superclusters Initiative. The winners include: AI-powered supply chain supercluster, advanced manufacturing supercluster, digital technology supercluster, ocean supercluster, and protein innovations supercluster.

Budget 2018: The federal government released Budget 2018. The central theme of the budget is equality and growth with the equality of women playing a critical role. There are five major realms of spending: growth, progress, reconciliation, advancement, and equality. See the full budget for details on planned support for water, technology, and small business.

Fisheries Act: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans introduced amendments to increase protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act. See here for details and a nifty “Before and After” interactive graphic.

NAFTA: Round Seven of Negotiations on the Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began on March 5 in Mexico City. You can read the address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, here.