With 2022 coming to an end, Ontario residents are looking ahead to a brand new year with new opportunities, new possibilities, and… new rules to follow.
The provincial government just published a handy list outlining all of the new legislation and regulation changes it will be putting into effect on January 1, 2023 — just a few days from now.
Some of the forthcoming changes will benefit specific segments of the population; vulnerable seniors, for instance, will see higher guaranteed annual income system payments for at least 12 months starting in January.
Others will benefit everyone in the province, directly or indirectly, by forcing captains of industry to do better for the environment, protecting the rights of workers, supporting community organizations, and providing enhanced resources for vital public services.
Tow truck operators will be held to higher standards. Condo developers will be held accountable for the financial losses incurred by buyers when projects are cancelled. Qualified nurses from foreign countries will be able to start practicing sooner.
Regulations and Statutes in Force as of January 1, 2023 https://t.co/VRoyFX6Ess
— Brian Saunderson (@BrianSaunderson) December 30, 2022
The full list of legislation and regulation changes for January 1, 2023, released by the Premier’s Office on Friday, is kind of dense, but it contains some important information that has great potential to impact everybody.
Here are some of the highlights.
Patios made permanent
“The Ontario government is amending a regulation under the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 to generate revenue and opportunity for growth in the hospitality industry on a permanent basis,” reads the document released by the province on Friday.
“Bars, restaurants, and other licensed establishments are now able to create or extend temporary patios, as long as their municipality or band council has the approved extension, on a permanent basis. Temporary patios may only operate for a maximum of eight months per calendar year. ”
More support for small-town beauty
“The Ontario government is amending the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act to better support the province’s 483 agricultural and horticultural societies. These groups educate citizens about agriculture, beautify downtowns, and host fall fairs and exhibitions,” explains the province.
“Amid some societies reporting a drop in membership levels partly due to the pandemic, the proposed amendment would lower the minimum member thresholds for the societies to qualify for annual provincial grants needed to operate and ensure financial sustainability. The new threshold for agricultural societies would be reduced from 60 to 40 members.”
Better race-based data collection
“The Ontario government in accordance with a regulation under the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and the Anti-Racism Data Standards is requiring all Ontario school boards to collect race-based data as it relates to academic performance, special education received and suspensions, expulsions or a decision of a principal to refuse to admit students to a school or classroom.”
Flexibility with hydro
Changes have been established for who pays how much for electricity. Consumers now have more choices in deciding how much they want to spend on hydro based on their own time of use and quantity patterns.
“The Ontario government is establishing a voluntary Ultra-Low Overnight (ULO) Price Plan for consumers who pay Regulated Price Plan (RPP) electricity rates. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) will be required to direct local distribution companies (LDCs) to allow RPP customers – which includes residences, small businesses, and farms – the ability to switch to the new plan,” writes the province.
Hazardous waste reporting enhancements
A new hazardous waste reporting registry will take Ontario into the modern age, forcing producers to report their waste electronically as opposed to keeping paper reports.
“Regulatory amendments will require the use of a new hazardous waste reporting registry with streamlined reporting processes for more than 40,000 businesses and institutions regulated by the Hazardous Waste program, while modernizing by shifting from paper to electronic reports,” reads the document.
“Information will be submitted through a digital reporting service delivered by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority. The reporting service opened on November 15, 2022, and the regulated community will be required to use it starting January 1, 2023.”
Additional help for vulnerable seniors
The Ontario government passed legislation this year to help vulnerable seniors by doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for a period of 12 months, beginning in January of 2023.
Per the Ministry of Finance: “This measure will increase the maximum payment to $166 per month for single seniors and to $332 per month for couples – a maximum increase of almost $1,000 per person in 2023. About 200,000 of the province’s lowest income seniors will receive additional support in 2023.”
Access to healthcare
As reported earlier this week, pharmacists in Ontario will soon be able to take on some of the responsibilities of doctors, potentially reducing ER wait times and helping more people get access to care faster.
“The Ontario government is making it easier for people to connect to care closer to home by bringing into force a new regulation under the Pharmacy Act, 1991 that enables a pharmacist, an intern, or registered pharmacy student to prescribe treatment options for 13 of the most common minor medical conditions,” reads the presser issued today.
“The Ontario government will bring into force a new regulation for health care professionals under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 that will reduce barriers to registration and help nurses start practicing sooner, such as requiring timely decisions and responses from the College of Nurses, language proficiency testing requirements and exemption from Canadian experience requirements.”
Protection for condo purchasers
“The Ontario government is amending regulations under the Condominium Act, 1998 to set out a new interest rate calculation – based on the Bank of Canada rate – that condominium (condo) developers must use to pay purchasers interest on their money (deposits or other payments) when terminating purchase agreements, including for condo cancellations,” writes the government.
“The new rate applies to terminations related to condo projects that start selling on or after January 1, 2023. This new interest rate calculation would generally give purchasers more interest under these circumstances.”
Effective January 1, 2023, enforcement officers and police will be able to prohibit truck and bus drivers who violate “hours of service” rules from operating a commercial vehicle for a period of time.
“Hours of service rules require commercial drivers to take a break after driving for a certain number of hours,” notes the Ministry of Transportation. “Hours of service requirements help reduce driving fatigue and make roads safer for all drivers.”
Also effective in just a few days, “most existing exemptions to Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration (CVOR) requirements are removed and new equipment requirements are added under the Highway Traffic Act to improve safety and ensure tow truck operators are held to the same standards as other commercial vehicle operators.”