November 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

Cap and Trade Cancelation Act: The Ontario government passed Bill 4, The Cap and Trade Cancelation Act, 2018. The act repeals the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 and sets out the legal framework for the wind-down of the cap and trade program including the compensation framework. It also establishes a requirement for the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to prepare a climate change plan (see “Environmental Plan” below).

Environmental Plan: The Ontario government indicated that it will be introducing an integrated environmental plan that will fight climate change and address air, land, and water pollution. To inform the plan, the government has invited the public to comment on key areas of focus for the plan. The consultation focuses on resiliency efforts, pollution reduction, and how government can better partner with the private sector on sustainable solutions. When speaking to the Empire Club of Canada, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Rod Phillips, singled out three policy tools that are currently being explored: a carbon emissions fund, reverse carbon auctions, and green banks. See here for the Minister’s full presentation. Submit your ideas here for the consultation until November 16, 2018.

Carbon Pricing: The Ontario government filed a statement with the Court of Appeal summarizing the arguments it will make challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. For a summary of the arguments, see here.

Green Energy: The Ontario government has proposed legislation that would repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009 and reintroduce conservation and energy efficiency initiatives in the Electricity Act, 1998; change the Planning Act, 1990 to restore municipal authority overseeing renewable energy projects; and put authority in the Environmental Protection Act, 1990 to prohibit issuance of Renewable Energy Approvals including where demand for electricity is not demonstrated. See the EBR posting here.

Budget Report: The government released the 2017-18 Public Account along with the full report of Ontario’s Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry. According to the report, Ontario ran a $3.7-billion deficit in 2017-18. Adjustments to the Budget Plan for 2018-19 revise the baseline to a $15-billion deficit. For the report and a summary of key recommendations, see here.

Environmental Commissioner: The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dr. Dianne Saxe, released her 2018 Greenhouse Gas Progress Report, Climate Action in Ontario: What’s Next?, to the Ontario Legislature. The report calls on the provincial government to create a climate change law that drives down emissions while funding sensible solutions.

Cabinet Shuffle: Premier Doug Ford announced changes to cabinet. The Honourable Todd Smith has assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Other changes relevant to the water sector include the appointment of John Yakabuski as Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. For a full account of new appointments, see here.

U.S. Trade Representative: Ontario appointed Ian Todd as its Trade Representative in Washington. Todd will also serve as Special Advisor to the Premier. The Ontario Office in Washington, D.C. promotes Ontario’s interests in the United States as well as cross border trade and investment.

Open for Business: The government introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018. The bill repeals elements of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, by maintaining Ontario’s current minimum wage at $14 per hour until 2020, to be followed by increases tied to inflation. Read more about the changes here.

Interprovincial Trade: Premier Doug Ford and Saskatchewan Premier, Scott Moe, met in October and announced a Memorandum of Understanding to begin discussions on lowering interprovincial trade barriers.

Moratorium on Water Bottling Permits: The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is proposing to extend the current moratorium on new or increasing permits to take groundwater to produce bottled water. This would extend the moratorium for up to one year, to January 1, 2020. See the EBR posting here – comments are due on November 29, 2018.

Federal

NAFTA/USMCA: Canada, the United States, and Mexico reached an agreement on a new, modernized trade agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has gone to the United States Congress, which launched a 60-day review period. See the text of the new agreement here, including chapters on the environment (clean technologies are mentioned) and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Price on Pollution: In October, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced that there will be a formal federal carbon pollution pricing system in place in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in 2019. The federal carbon pollution pricing system consists of a fuel charge and an output-based pricing system for emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries. Any proceeds collected under the new federal system will go directly back to individuals in these provinces through a Climate Action Incentive, and funds will be given to cities, schools, hospitals, businesses, and Indigenous communities to help them reduce emissions. Other provinces and territories will manage their own equivalent systems. For more details, see here.

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy: The Canadian government announced that it is launching a $2-billion Women in Entrepreneurship Strategy with the aim of doubling the number of women-owned and women-led businesses in Canada by 2025. Key action areas will include helping women-led businesses grow, increasing access to capital, improving access to federal business innovation programming, and enhancing data and knowledge. For details on the strategy, see here.

Climate Information Resources: The federal government has launched the Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS). The CCCS is a dedicated multi-disciplinary team with expertise across a broad range of climate-related disciplines. The CCCS webpage features links to a library of climate resources, climate information basics, and climate data. It also hosts a climate services support desk where users can request help from experts to find, understand, and use climate information.

Drinking Water Advisories: The Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, provided an update on long-term drinking water advisories. Since November 2015, 67 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted from public water systems on reserve, 73 long-term drinking water advisories remain in effect, and 35 have been added. The government’s goal is to lift all long-term drinking water advisories by 2021.

Digital Standards: The government released its new digital standards, which form the foundation of the government’s shift to becoming more agile, open, and user-focused. They will guide teams in designing digital services in a way that best serves Canadians. For the full list of standards, see here.

Economic Strategy Tables: The government released its Economic Strategy Table reports. The industry-led work of these Tables has resulted in sector-specific plans for economic growth and six signature initiatives endorsed by all Tables. See the full report, including the chapter on Clean Technologies, here.

Drinking Water Guidelines: Health Canada has published two updated final guidelines for drinking water quality. The first is for bromate, establishing a final maximum acceptable concertation (MAC) of 0.01 mg/L, based on a locational running annual average of a minimum of quarterly samples. The second is for total chromium, with a MAC of 0.05 mg/L.

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