A Spring Session and Throne Speech Update
A lot has been going on in our provincial parliament! To keep you up to date, here’s a review of Ontario legislative highlights relevant to nonprofits (via ONN) from the 2016 spring session and the September 12 Speech from the Throne.
The first seven pages of Ontario Hansard contain the Sept. 12, 2016 Speech from the Throne: http://www.ontla.on.ca/house-proceedings/transcripts/files_pdf/12-SEP-2016_L001.pdf
Although the news media reported primarily the Hydro story, there were actually 8 themes in the throne speech:
The government’s TOP priority is job creation and economic growth.
This is combined with a commitment to eliminating the budgetary deficit (not debt) by 2017-2018.
The full list of key themes was:
- Enhancing childcare and community hubs
- Invest in education
- Invest in skills training
- Strengthen our healthcare system
- Invest in roads, transit and modern infrastructure
- Building a competitive business environment
- Play a leadership role in improving retirement income security
- Deliver additional relief on electricity bills
From a public library perspective, we would be wise to highlight our roles in:
- Childcare support
- Small, medium business and entrepreneur support
- Education and skills training (in particular online courses)
- Cultural infrastructure and community hubs presence
It will be a difficult funding environment, given the commitment to a balanced budget. We need to play well with others in our communities through partnerships and alliances.
Highlights for the nonprofit sector from the Throne Speech (Adapted from the ONN release)
The Throne Speech held little news for most Ontario nonprofits. Much of the speech was devoted to reiterating what the Ontario Government had already done or tabled in the last session of the Legislature.
The Speech confirmed that the Government intends to present a balanced budget in 2017.
The Ontario Government will rebate residential and small business hydro bills by 8% to offset the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), starting January 1, 2017, and expand the rural support program.
The Speech committed the government to creating 100,000 new licensed child care spaces over 5 years.
The government confirmed it will re-introduce Bill 210, the Patients First Act, and will continue funding growth in home and community-based care at about five per cent per year through 2017-18. It will also invest $222 million over the next three years in culturally-appropriate health care for Indigenous communities.
The Government will add an estimated 350,000 hours of nursing care and 1.3 million hours of personal support in the home care sector.
What was absent from the Throne Speech?
There was no mention of community benefits, social procurement, social enterprise, or the ongoing work of the Changing Workplaces Review panel.
While there was a brief reference to community hubs, there was no new commitment to action on the part of government.
There was no mention of the need to pass technical amendments to the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act to enable it to take effect.
The following new regulations came into effect on July 1, 2016
Changes to the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 include: increasing the Integrity Commissioner’s authority and investigation power, providing new rules for lobbyist and strengthening enforcement provisions, and there will be a lower threshold for the mandatory registration of lobbying activity, requiring organizations to register when lobbying activity by their staff totals 50 hours or more. To help you understand the impact of these changes, check out ONN’s guide, “Six Things You Need to Know about the Lobbyists Registration Act” (http://theonn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ONNBriefing-Note_6-thingsLobbyistRegistrationAct_16June2016.pdf) – and stay tuned for FOPL’s government relations agenda.
Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to improve workers’ safety related to noise and hazardous chemicals;
The appointment of Patient Ombudsman Christine Elliott
FOPL has consulted widely with the Ontario government on a number of library related issues. We look forward to the upcoming Culture Strategy recommended review of all public library funding in Ontario.
All government bills not yet passed will be reintroduced in the fall session.