Intervenor: Vol 23. No 4 October - December 1998

Legislation Notes: Bills 25 and 82 are Law, Bill 101 Returns

Bill 25, Red Tape Reduction Act, 1998 received Royal Assent on December 18, 1998. This is the omnibus legislation that included many amendments requested by the MNR, as well as the "Statute and Regulation Revision Act, 1998" which CELA objected to at the Standing Committee, see related information below.

Bill 101, Red Tape Reduction Act, 1998 (No. 2) received First Reading on December 15, 1998. It died when the Legislature prorogued but indications are that the Ministry of Natural Resources still intends to proceed with the amendments that it was seeking by way of this legislation. The MNR re-posted the proposed legislation to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry and extended the comment period to February 22, 1999. The amendments proposed by the MNR in this legislation include further amendments to the Aggregates Resources Act; Fish Inspection Act; Forest Fires Prevention Act; Game and Fish Act; Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act; Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act, and the Public Lands Act. This legislation is to be distinguished from the amendments already passed by Bill 25. In addition to the amendments proposed by the MNR in Schedule "M" to the Bill, are extensive amendments, proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the Ministry of Solicitor General, and the Ministry of Transportation along with many other Ministries ranging from Finance to Health - a total of seventeen Ministries' collections of proposed amendments! The 290 page Bill proposes changes to roughly 98 different statutes!

Bill 25 and Bill 101 are examples of a recent, and disturbing trend in the legislative process. These Bills are "omnibus", in that they provide for extensive amendments, proposed by many different Ministries, to many different statutes. Although they are styled "Red Tape Reduction", much of the proposed legislation is of substantive import. The amendments are various, affecting many different sectors and areas of concern. There is no unifying theme. It is extremely difficult for the public, the legal profession, and the affected sectors to identify that proposed legislation affects them when it is buried in a Schedule to a Bill titled "Red Tape Reduction".

It is also very confusing to have multiple Bills by the same name, as people are very uncertain as to whether new amendments are contemplated, or whether a Bill by that name is a re-introduction of proposals not previously passed by the Legislature.

Furthermore, since the proposed legislation deals with so many different sectors, committee review on the Bill is disjointed and scattered (as was the case with Bill 25) when the Committee is forced to focus, for example on Energy sector changes in one moment, Estates changes in the next, and Resources issues after that. In addition, the fact that one schedule to the Bill may be ill advised or problematic may not be adequately addressed when there are pressures to pass the whole piece of legislation as an intact unit.

Bill 82 - Environmental Statute Law Amendment Act, 1998. Royal Assent on December 18, 1998. Most notable is the sheer speed with which these very extensive amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act, and the Pesticides Act were passed.

First Reading was November 23, 1998; Second Reading carried December 16; Third Reading carried December 16, and Royal Assent, as indicated, was granted on December 18, 1998. Notice of Proposal for Legislation was posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry on November 24, 1998 with a ten day comment period, expiring December 4, 1998.

It was impossible for CELA and many other interested members of the public to comment on this 103 page Bill within the designated EBR comment time frame. CELA requested an extension of the comment period, which was not granted.

Many of the changes made by Bill 82, which provides for increased inspection and enforcement powers, and increased penalties under the respective statutes may be beneficial. However, CELA's assessment of the import of the legislation can take place only after it is already passed by the Legislature, when any comments that CELA has would be too late to be considered by the legislators.

CELA will be monitoring the government's utilization of its new powers since the proposed legislation will only be as good as the capacity to enforce it. A future Issue of the Intervenor will provide a summary of the enacted changes. What did not pass in Bill 82 were the Administrative Monetary Penalties ("AMP's"). CELA will be participating in discussions with the Ministry of the Environment and others as to the implementation of AMP's.

Theresa McClenaghan is a lawyer at CELA

For a more detailed discussion of "AMP's": "Administrative Monetary Penalties: The Next Logical Step in Environmental Regulatory Law" by Jamie Flagal, in Legal Emissions, December 1998, Volume 10, Number 3, a publication of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General Legal Services Branch