On November 14, 2017 the Reducing Regulatory Costs for Business Act, 2017 received royal assent. While the Act is not yet in force, the new statute implements a number of initiatives designed to ensure that interactions with the provincial government are efficient and straightforward and to reduce the regulatory costs of doing business in Ontario.
The Act provides for:
- Control of administrative costs – where a new regulation is proposed that imposes requirements on businesses, an analysis of the potential regulatory impacts must be published and, where the effect of the new regulation would be to create or increase the administrative costs imposed, a prescribed offset to existing costs must be made (ss. 2-3).
- Small business compliance – where a new regulation is proposed that imposes requirements on businesses, where appropriate, less onerous requirements for small businesses must be included (s. 4).
- International and national standards – where appropriate, recognized national and international standards should be adopted when a new regulation is proposed that imposes requirements on businesses (s. 5)
- Electronic transmission of documents – where a business is required by regulation to submit documents to any Ontario Government Ministry it may do so electronically (s. 6).
- Recognition of excellent compliance – every Ontario Government Ministry that administers regulatory programs must develop a plan to recognize businesses that demonstrate excellent compliance with regulatory requirements (s. 7).
The Ministry of Economic Development and Growth has also provided the details of a proposed regulation under the Act. Among other things, the proposed regulation would require the government to reduce existing costs for businesses by $1.25 for every $1 of new administrative costs imposed by a regulation. The government would have 24 months from the date the new cost comes into effect to implement the offset.
The Act is quite short (only 10 sections) and one of those sections (s. 8) provides the Crown with immunity with respect to anything done or omitted to be done under the Act. It remains to be seen whether the Act actually achieves the laudable goal of promoting greater efficiency and reducing regulatory costs for Ontario businesses.
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