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What happened in the Legislature – Fall 2021

The Ontario legislature reconvened on February 22, 2022. 

The Fall sitting took place from October 4 until December 9, 2021. Rather than reconvening on September 13, 2021, the legislature was prorogued for a month due to the federal election that took place on September 20, 2021. As a result more than 110 unpassed bills were wiped clean from the order paper. 

Here’s what nonprofits need to know about the Fall 2021 sitting: 

Celebrating the Proclamation of the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)

The Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA), which passed in 2010, was proclaimed in force as of October 19, 2021. This legislation is the enabling corporate legal framework for most nonprofits incorporated under Ontario provincial law. ONCA replaces the Ontario Corporations Act, and nonprofits who are subject to ONCA have until October 18, 2024 to transition to the new rules. Find out what this means for nonprofits and access resources to support the transition

With the proclamation of ONCA, the province also launched a new Ontario Business Registry. The new registry allows nonprofits to complete over 90 transactions online, including registering, incorporating, and updating their information. 

We are thrilled to see the proclamation happen. It feels like a mountain moved and a testament to the collective power of our network in continuing to advocate in the long-term- and through obstacles! 

ONN’s next steps are to work with the legislation and continue our advocacy to improve it to meet the needs of Ontario’s diverse nonprofit sector. We will continue to advocate for clear communications and legal education for the sector about ONCA implementation, as well as adherence to the “open by default” principle for the Ontario Business Registry – so that it can become an essential data source for nonprofits and allow us to clearly identify the number and composition of nonprofits in Ontario.

Big Bills impacting Nonprofits

  1. Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 

Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021, was introduced by the Minister of Labour on October 25 and received royal assent on December 2, 2021. The bill was informed by the work of two task forces assembled by the province to which ONN wrote: Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy and Ontario’s Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. The workforce recovery advisory committee published The future of work in Ontario report highlighting its findings and recommendations.

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

  • Schedule 2 amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to require employers to have a written policy on “disconnecting from work” which is defined as not engaging in work-related communications including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work when not working.
    • Nonprofits with 25 or more employees are required to have a “disconnecting from work” policy. 
    • The policy must be developed six months from December 2, 2021 and shared with employees within 30 days of being developed. In the following years, the timeline to determine the number of employees and prepare a policy will be shortened to two months.
    • This Act applies to employees covered under the Employment Standards Act.
    • The Act does not dictate the content of employer policies. It will be up to nonprofits how they want to address on-call or non-standard shift workers, flexible work hours, and hybrid/remote work in their policy.
  1. Bill 43 (Budget Measures): Build Ontario Act 2021

The mini-budget implementation bill –  Bill 43, Build Ontario Act, 2021 was tabled on November 4 and received royal assent on December 9. It implements policies unveiled in the Fall Economic Statement

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

  • Schedule 5 amends the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act.
  • Schedule 7 amends the Election Finances Act with respect to third-party spending – it only removes the penalties for media companies that sell third-party advertising space to groups that are exceeding the allowable spending threshold. There are no changes that would benefit nonprofits that participate in election advocacy involving paid advertising.
  • Schedule 9 implements the increase to the minimum wage.
  • Schedule 10 amends the Far North Act with respect to the Ring of Fire resource extraction, establishing a joint body that would play an advisory role with respect to land use planning in the Far North and criteria for Indigenous participation. It also repeals the section of the Far North Act that regulated resource extraction in areas not subject to a community-based land use plan.
  • Schedule 13 creates a new Ministry of Francophone Affairs and amends the French Language Services Act. As a result of the amendments, government agencies, as set out under the Act, will be required to ensure French-language services are readily available according to the principle of active offer. Additionally, the amendments ensure that the Act will be updated regularly to meet the changing needs of the Franco-Ontarian community.
  • Various schedules contain tax changes that may affect nonprofits, such as property tax relief and Employer Health Tax (late payment fines) provisions.
  1. Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021

Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021 is an omnibus bill which was introduced on October 7, 2021 and received royal assent on December 2, 2021. ONN submitted to the Standing Committee on General Government to highlight the impact of Bill 13, Schedule 20 on the Ontario nonprofit sector, pertaining to police record check and the definition of “volunteer”.

 How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector? 

  • Schedule 20 amends the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 to add a definition of “volunteer” and to ensure that police record checks for volunteers (Levels 1 and 2) are free of charge. However, vulnerable sector checks (level 3) are excluded from this provision, which constitute eighty per cent of checks processed by municipal police forces and would be most relevant for organizations that work with vulnerable populations (such as children and vulnerable adults). ONN has been calling for a more robust definition of “volunteer” (performing unpaid work, motivated to carry out this work for civic, charitable or humanitarian reasons, and engaged by a not-for-profit or public organization) and the inclusion of free Level 3 (vulnerable sector) checks in the Act, which were not taken up. 
  • Schedule 22 & schedule 23 amend the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act and the Public Lands Act with respect to land title and rights in provincial parks and Crown land. The amendments allow for public lands to be made readily available for economic and resource-based development opportunities, particularly in the North. This includes the elimination of “squatters’ rights.

Other activities related to nonprofits

  • On October 4 the Ontario Legislature reconvened for a new session with a Speech from the Throne. The speech reiterated the Ontario government’s commitment to protect the province’s progress in the fight against COVID-19 and to lead an “economic and fiscal recovery that is fueled by economic growth, not painful tax hikes or spending cuts.” 
  • On November 29 the FAO office released the report “Expenditure Monitor 2021-22: Q2,” which found that the Ontario government spent $4.3 billion less than planned, with the underspending mostly seen in health, social services and education. 
  • Bill 9, Nonprofit Sector Appreciation Week Act, 2021 received royal assent on December 9, 2021, designating the third week in February each year as Non-Profit Sector Appreciation Week. 
  • Bill 37, Providing More Care, Protecting Seniors and Building More Beds Act, 2021 received royal assent on December 9. The Act repeals and replaces the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007. Key changes include establishing a legal commitment to provide residents with an average of four hours of daily direct care by the end of March 2025, increasing enforcement and doubling fines, and giving the minister the ability to review a director’s decision on licensing. There is also substantial change in commitments to who will be delivering care. The bill’s preamble emphasizes “promotion of the delivery of long-term care home services by not-for-profit and mission -driven organizations”, replacing the original preamble from the previous Act “promotion of the delivery of long-term care home services by not-for-profit organizations”.

What didn’t happen in the Legislature?

  • No permanent paid sick days
    • Bill 8, Stay Home if You Are Sick Act was reintroduced by opposition MPP Peggy Sattler on October 6, 2021, which would legislate ten permanent paid sick days annually. The bill was voted down at second reading in November.
  • No repeal of the wage restraint legislation Bill 124
    • On October 25, NDP leader Andrea Horwath put forth a motion calling on the PCs to “take immediate action on a provincewide health-care hiring and retention plan” that includes the repeal of Bill 124. The motion was defeated.
    • ONN’s blogpost on Bill 124 highlights the impact of the bill on nonprofits and the sector’s HR crisis. 
  • Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada that does not have a child-care deal
    • In November, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath put forward an opposition day motion calling on the province to sign a deal with Ottawa for $10-per-day child care, which she framed as a pertinent cost-of-living issue. The motion was defeated (Ayes 24; Nays 46).
    • ONN, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and YWCA’s joint letter urges the government to immediately sign the bilateral child care agreement.
  • No permanent pandemic pay for personal support workers
    • On November 15, NDP MPP Jamie West re-introduced his private members bill, An Act Respecting Minimum Pay for Support Workers, which aims to permanently increase PSW pay to include the pandemic-initiated raise.
    • The Ontario government has extended the temporary wage enhancement for personal support workers and direct support workers until Mar. 31, 2022.
    • Although the Premier has said that it is guaranteed that the pay increase would become permanent, there has yet to be any formal announcement or committment.
  • No strike down of Bill 307
    • In November, Ontario Superior Court Justice Ed Morgan heard arguments to strike down the PC’s third-party advertising rules contained in Bill 307, Protecting Elections and Defending Democracy Act, despite the government invoking the notwithstanding clause when it was passed during the last session.
    • The lawsuit was launched by the Working Families Coalition, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, among others.
    • In December, it was ruled that the third-party advertising rules contained in Bill 307 can stand and that Bill 307 does not infringe on the right to vote and rebuffed assertions that the purpose of the bill was partisan self-dealing.  
    • ONN’s new election advocacy toolkit provides guidance to the sector on pre-election advocacy rules.