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What happened in the Legislature

Ontario government reconvened the Legislature on February 21, 2023 after conducting province-wide Budget 2023 consultations, kick-starting their winter/spring session. During the winter/spring sitting, numerous large scale changes were proposed to transform Ontario’s healthcare system, and combat our housing crisis. The Legislature rose on June 12, and is set to return on September 25.

Bills that impact nonprofits: 

1. Bill 60, Your Health Act

Bill 60, Your Health Act, was tabled by the Minister of Health on February 21, and received Royal Assent on May 18. Under Schedule 1 the bill allows for-profit surgical clinics to perform certain surgeries, such as cataract and hip replacement surgeries, outside of public hospitals as a means of alleviating long wait times at hospitals and subsequent surgery backlogs. The bill repeals the Independent Health Facilities Act, 1990 and the Oversight of Health Facilities and Devices Act, 2017, which both focus on requiring health facilities to participate in a quality assurance program to protect patient care, not charge facility fees, and to disclose payments made to health care professionals and organizations, as well as other recipients. 

While the bill was studied by the Standing Committee on Social Policy, numerous healthcare organizations, including the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council and SE Healthcare, submitted critical feedback outlining concerns the bill was privatizing Ontario’s health care system. 

How does this bill effect the nonprofit sector?

  • Many community and health organizations, like OFIFC, the Ontario Health Coalition and the Ontario Nurses Association, have expressed outrage because they view the bill as a blatant attempt to privatize Ontario’s health care system by undercutting the public healthcare system, allowing for the profitization of care, all the while not addressing root causes of waitlists and surgery backlogs, the health human resource crisis (HHR). 
  • According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) report, Ontario government has allocated $21.3 billion less than what will be needed to sustain current healthcare services and programs and for the province to deliver on its expansion commitments in hospitals, home care and long-term care over the next six years; this lack of investment would underfund and, in turn, undermine the current healthcare system.
  • Another criticism of the bill is the worry that public hospitals and surgery theaters will be cut out from competing for new funding. The provincial government is already using the bill to begin placing public dollars into the hands of for-profit clinics without giving public hospitals the chance to bid on the contracts. Recently, four for-profit eye clinics in Ottawa, Windsor, and Kitchener-Waterloo were chosen by the province to do 14,000 cataract surgeries, meaning public healthcare services are already being excluded when it comes to providing services. This provides private clinics with a new level of power not seen before.
  • Fears have also been expressed from both supporters and opponents of the bill that funding of private clinics will cause profit to be prioritized over care, now that for-profit clinics can receive both government funding and potentially upsell services:
    • Bill supporter, the Ontario Association of Clinic Endoscopists, which represents a group of mostly private and for-profit diagnostic clinics, said the province must make sure there is adequate regulation and oversight of the new clinics if they want to avoid profits being prioritized over people and retain resources, expand volumes and finally have a long-overdue, integrated health-care system.
    • The Ontario Health Coalition recently held a public referendum on Bill 60 which saw around 98 per cent of its 400,000 voters oppose Bill 60 and the privatization of public hospital services. Ontario government dismissed the referendum as irrelevant.  
  • The bill also ignores one of the key root causes of the extended wait times and surgery backlogs: an overall HHR crisis. Instead the government has continued to fight to uphold Bill 124 wage constraint legislation which significantly stagnates the wages of workers like nurses and personal support workers (PSWs), who are leaving the healthcare sector in droves, and in some cases catalyzing emergency department and hospital closures.
    • This also serves as a point of confusion for a lot of opponents and proponents of the bill: no part of the legislation serves to disincentivize public sector healthcare workers from moving over to the private sector, who can use profits to pay significantly higher wages, en masse. If the public sector cannot compete with the private sector for staff there is fear the government will use this as an excuse to continue to underfund and cut-out the public sector, and funnel money into the private sector system.

Communities are also wary of this glaring exception as it means tax dollars that are meant for the public system are now funding dollars for for-profit clinics staffing, while public ERs and hospitals struggle to keep their doors open due to staff drain. This means that, often rural and northern communities face not only the loss of vital healthcare services but also job loss in their communities.

2. Bill 85, Building a Strong Ontario Act (Budget Measures)

Bill 85 was tabled on March 23 by the Minister of Finance and was accompanied by a budget speech which detailed the government’s spending plans for 2023. On May 18 the bill received Royal Assent. The bill itself includes 10 Schedules that amend existing legislation and give new authority to government agencies.

  • Schedule 8 expands the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income Act (GAINS) program by doubling the maximum monthly payment from $83 to $166 for single seniors, while couples’ payments increase from $161 to $322 per month. These monthly payments will be automatically issued from January to December 2023. 

It also decreases the monthly clawback amount from one dollar to 50 cents for every $24 to $48 dollars earned.

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

  • This bill impacts the communities our sector serves, and how much of our services they need to access; when social supports are more readily available, nonprofits will feel less burden and will be relied on less by communities in need. Though this benefit increase is welcome, and will help alleviate some of the financial pressures faced by seniors, as cost of living soars and plateaus, these measures may still not be enough for seniors with little to no income. These changes and increases come at a time when food banks are seeing an unprecedented amount of Ontarians using their services, specifically seniors. According to Feed Ontario,  “seniors are nearly twice as likely to need the assistance of a food bank on a long-term basis compared to adults under 65 years of age.”  
  • ONN previously published a full budget analysis noting that the budget leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to financially supporting the nonprofit sector. The budget unfortunately deeply underestimates corporate tax revenues for the next three years and contains a large amount of contingency funds to the tune of $22 billion. According to the FAO Economic and Budget Outlook report published June 13, despite an estimated 7.7 per cent increase in program funding in 2022-23, the province is set to be sitting on an excess of $22.6 billion over the next four years. None of this money has been specifically allocated towards existing programs or towards developing new programs.

3. Bill 79, Working for Workers Act

Tabled March 20 by the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, the Working for Workers Act is the government’s third bill of this name during their four year tenure. The bill will attempt to protect and support workers throughout Ontario. 

  • Schedule 2 of the bill extends protections for severance pay to employees facing mass termination by amending the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
    • Section 50.2 is amended to note that “an employee who is in treatment, recovery or rehabilitation in respect of a physical or mental health illness, injury or medical emergency that results from participation in certain operations or activities is entitled to reservist leave under that section.”
    • The bill introduces a new section to define “remote workers”- that in certain circumstances, a location at which an employer carries on business includes an employee’s private residence.
  • Schedule 5 amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act by increasing the maximum fine for a corporation that has violated the act. This makes Ontario’s corporate fines under workplace health and safety legislation the highest in the country.

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

  • Municipal level advocacy strategies in Ottawa and Toronto will need to be re-evaluated as power of advocacy could significantly be diminished if city councillors’ votes don’t have as much strength as before.

4. Bill 91, Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act

Bill 91, entitled An Act to enact two Acts, amend various Acts and revoke various regulations, was tabled on April 3 by the Minister of Red Tape Reduction and received Royal Assent on June 8. The bill proposes 42 legislative changes in an attempt to reduce regulatory burdens for organizations and government.

The 37 schedules cover a bevy of areas including, but not limited to: redefining art gallery council terms, making building broadband access easier, amendments to the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, and amends wording around various Ontario museum’s trustee terms. 

  • Schedule 8, Co-Operative Corporations Act
    • Allows for co-ops to hold virtual and hybrid meetings of their members. These amendments also update requirements around what information is required in meeting notices (no need for location information, must include instructions for attending virtual meetings, etc.), who can now be counted as “present” when virtual, and regulations around taking votes through both hand votes and electronic polling. 
    • Updates how voting is conducted and counted within a cooperative. For instance, voting by mail, electronic means, or personally are now all permitted. The section specifies that non-profit cooperative housing will also be allowed to collect votes cast by these new methods.
    • There are also new rights for co-op auditors, including the right to receive notice of, to attend at the expense of the co-operative, and to be heard at meetings of the board of directors of the co-operative on matters relating to the auditor’s duties as auditor.
  • Schedule 22, Not-For-Profit Corporations Act, 2010 expands on nonprofits’ ability to hold meetings virtually or hybridly and also allows for voting, member application, and record inspections by directors to take place remotely. 
  • Schedule 33, Services And Supports To Promote The Social Inclusion Of Persons With Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 will re-enact provisions that are set to come into force at a timeline set by the government while also overhauling the developmental services funding system. The delay from the previous timeline to implement these new provisions “will allow the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services to conduct necessary research and consultations with sector partners before implementing a new funding approach and would also allow for a gradual approach to help minimize disruptions to service agencies, individuals and families,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Red Tape Reduction.

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

  • Schedule 8, 9, 10, 22 makes permanent the temporary allowance for co-ops and nonprofits to hold annual general meetings virtually. These new rules may have to be added to organizations’ by-laws and members informed of these changes. For more information about the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporation Act and whether or not your organization is in compliance for the October 2024 deadline, please visit ONN’s ONCA webpage.
  • Schedule 33 expands direct funding for residential and community programs. Currently Ontario has a mix between direct funding to people with developmental disabilities and their support networks, and a smaller portion through the Passport program which is a reimbursement program that provides money for caregiver services, but no housing support.
    • Expanding direct funding for residential and community programs is supported by organizations like Community Living Ontario who believe that this move will increase flexibility, control, and quality of life. It also tends to decrease per-person costs of government-funded supports.
    • Despite this, organizations serving people with intellectual disabilities still believe more work needs to be done to understand how these changes could affect overall service quality.
      • For example, in Saskatchewan direct funding pilots show that managing direct funding is difficult and uptake in the program can be low, but if consistent and clear resources made available the program has the ability to support many. 
      • Ontario Public Service Employee Union also argues that though the changes are welcome, direct funding is needed because, for decades, the government has failed to provide adequate services and “prolonged chronic underfunding and fragmentation of services triggered a decades-long crisis for individuals who need services and housing.” Further, they argue that without a proper regulatory framework, something the Passport program also lacks, further direct funding has the capacity to “destabilize the whole sector.” 
    • Nonetheless this an opportunity for nonprofits who deliver developmental services to advocate for better funding structures that cover the true cost of service delivery and meet the needs of the communities they serve.

ONN recently published a briefing note on what the Ministry can do to reduce red tape for the nonprofit sector.

5. Bill 97, Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act 

On April 6 the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing tabled, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to housing and development, or Bill 97. The bill seeks to make housing development easier and adds in some protections for tenants. The bill includes extensions of the minister’s authority to make regulations on behalf of municipalities and amendments to help protect renters in Ontario:  

  • Schedule 3 changes the definition of type of land that can be developed, allowing for more than just urban residential land to be developed. This would include farmland in the province. 
  • Schedule 5, amendment to  Municipal Act, 2001, gives the Minister power to make regulations on a variety of matters including governing the powers of local municipalities.
  • Schedule 7 (tenant rights), Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 is amended so:
    • Notice to vacate for renovations must be accompanied by a report prepared by a person who has the prescribed qualifications otherwise the notice is void.
    • When landlords must provide specified notices to the tenant respecting the unit’s readiness for occupancy when tenants request “right of refusal” during renovations.

The bill received Royal Assent on June 8, the last day of the legislative session before summer break.

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

  • Nonprofits have an important role to play in mitigating climate change impact therefore the potential promotion of “urban sprawl” in Schedule 3 has many nonprofits concerned, including farming and climate justice organizations.
    • Ontario Farmland Trust, Association of Municipalities Ontario, and Sustain Ontario both presented submissions calling out the negative impacts of replacing farmland with housing including increases to food prices, further burdening municipal and regional service providers, and inflating farmland prices for developers preventing future farming investments.
    • A partnership between farmers, the climate justice sector, and the nonprofit sector proved to be an example of how advocacy can be done with unusual suspects as the sector continues to fight against housing policies that harm the environment and communities. On May 30 the lobby group Ontario Federation of Agriculture released a statement stating they were pleased with the province backing down on their commitment to developing farmland. Despite the government’s assurances that this would no longer take place, the amendments still remain in the bill
  • Schedule 7 appears to be a great start to supporting renters especially as cities like Toronto face one of the worst rental crises in years.
    • After consistent advocacy from the sector and community around the Landlord Tenant Board and the growing backlog the tribunal has faced since the pandemic, the government has, at least partially, listened and added some protections for renters to help combat renovictions and illegal rent hikes around air conditioning units. 

Canadian Centre for Housing Rights published their “Feedback on Proposed Changes to Help Protect Tenants from Bad Faith Evictions” which requests full rent control on all buildings in the province, that municipalities should determine whether repairs or renovations require vacant possession, and independent or objective evidence should be required in own use evictions as well as renovations evictions and that tenancies should not end during renovations.

6. Bill 112, Hazel McCallion Act

Bill 112 was tabled by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on May 8. It puts into motion the dissolution of the upper-tier Regional Municipality of Peel by January 1, 2025. As a result, the City of Mississauga, the City of Brampton, and the Town of Caledon will restructure as single-tier municipalities. The Act lays the groundwork for dissolution which is to be led by a minister-appointed transition board who will make recommendations and oversee financial decisions for the four municipalities. The bill received Royal Assent on June 8.
Ontario government is positioning municipal restructuring, that is eliminating upper-tier municipalities, as a critical way to curb the province’s housing crisis because a two-tier municipal system, creates barriers, causes delays, and increases the cost of building (e.g complex land use policies, two layers of planning authority, lengthy planning approvals). More recently, the province also expanded Strong Mayor Powers to include Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga which allows mayors to pass bylaws with just one-third of support from council to speed up delivery of shared municipal-provincial priorities. Ontario government has signalled similar plans for other upper-tier municipalities. Regional facilitators will be assigned to assess whether Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Waterloo, and York should continue as upper-tier municipalities or not.

How does this bill affect the nonprofit sector?

Read our brief here to better understand the impact of municipal restructuring on nonprofits and the communities they serve, with the Regional Municipality of Peel as a case study. The dissolution is slated to have a significant impact on nonprofits and communities, yet their perspectives are missing in transformation conversations and plans.

What else should nonprofits know about legislative activities?

  • Bill 63, St. Thomas – Central Elgin Boundary Adjustment Act, as the government announced a new EV battery facility for St. Thomas, they also voted to change the town’s local boundaries, effectively cutting out Central Elgin residents from the tax benefits of the new facility.
    • The government recently invested $16 billion into the facility.
    • This new deal presents an opportunity for the St. Thomas-Elgin community to organize and negotiate for a Community Benefits Agreement for their community. ONN will continue to work to support these efforts in the region. 
  • Bill 98Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, was tabled on April 17 by the Minister of Education, receiving Royal Assent on June 8. The bill looks to give the province more control over school boards. It proposes creating a centralized provincial authority that will “set provincial education priorities on student achievement” and require school boards to create multi-year plans to meet those priorities.

A full list of bills passed in the Winter/Spring 2023 sitting is here.

What didn’t happen in the Legislature?

  • Despite the Ministry of Education’s child care workforce consultations, and signalling by the Minister of Education that a child care workforce strategy was on the way, no official strategy has been presented to combat low staffing numbers in the child care sector.
  • Ontario government continues to fight in the Supreme Court of Canada to not release their mandate letters. Despite this not being a required practice by law, it has been a practice by numerous recent governments in Ontario. Depending on the ruling this could mean an end to public access to public information on what government is doing during their tenure in office. 


  • Bill 46: Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act. After being tabled in November 2022, this bill passed on March 22 after receiving public consultations during the winter break. The bill seeks to improve competitiveness by removing legislative barriers in areas from animal health to workplace safety.  
  • Bill 124: In another blow to the government’s wage restraint legislation, “An arbiter has granted the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) a retroactive pay increase for the years hospital nurses had their raises capped at one per cent by Bill 124. The decision hikes nurse’s pay by 0.75 per cent for 2020, one per cent for 2021 and two per cent for 2022. Hospitals were calling for a 0.75 per cent increase for all three years, but the arbiter disagreed.” The case against Bill 124 went back to the Ontario Court of Appeal June 20-23. The Court’s decision is still pending.
  • The government will raise the minimum wage to $16.55 an hour beginning on October 1, 2023. This is a 6.8 per cent increase to the minimum wage.
  • The Ontario government lost in the Ontario Court of Appeal this time around their campaign finance rules that attempted to limit election spending by unions and other third parties. Now, for unions and umbrella organizations with the spending power, the spending limit goes back to pre-2022 rates.

What’s next? 

ONN will continue engaging in the public policy process, push forward its advocacy strategy with government relations work, and help build sector capacity to do the same.

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