Smith says gov­ern­ment work­ing to cut red tape

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - FRONT PAGE - BRUCE BELL THE INTELLIGENCER

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Minister of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Job Cre­ation and Trade, said a new piece of pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion is go­ing to give the On­tario job mar­ket a huge boost.

Smith said the Restor­ing On­tario’s Com­pet­i­tive­ness Act was in­tro­duced in the On­tario Leg­is­la­ture on Thurs­day and, if passed, will re­move many of the sti­fling reg­u­la­tions faced by On­tario em­ploy­ers.

“We’ve got a real prob­lem in On­tario with the high cost of do­ing busi­ness here and a big part of this prob­lem is red tape ( be­cause) the Lib­er­als never saw a piece of red tape or reg­u­la­tion they didn’t like and we’re see­ing the con­se­quences of that to­day smoth­er­ing busi­nesses,” he said. “We hear it ev­ery day — it’s too hard to cre­ate jobs in On­tario and it’s far too hard for peo­ple to find those jobs. The to­tal num­ber of reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments in On­tario has grown past an in­cred­i­ble 380,000 — that’s more than twice as many as Bri­tish Columbia and no one thinks BC is that bad of a place to live or work.”

Smith said the Act will in­clude more than 30 sep­a­rate ac­tions which will help re­duce the bur­den on job cre­ators, cut busi­ness costs, har­mo­nize reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments with fed­eral and mu­nic­i­pal ju­ris­dic­tions, end du­pli­ca­tion and re­duce bar­ri­ers to in­vest­ment.

While the Act in­cludes sev­eral com­po­nents to re­duce red tape for em­ploy­ers, one of the key com­po­nents will be to ex­pe­dite the plan­ning process to speed up con­struc­tion projects.

Smith pointed down the high­way to Brockville and said un­der cur­rent reg­u­la­tions, north­ern states are able to at­tract more busi­ness de­vel­op­ment that border cities in On­tario.

“When busi­ness want to re­lo­cate in On­tario, new in­dus­try wants to lo­cate, we have the tools to help them lo­cate quicker ( and) what’s hap­pen­ing in other ju­ris­dic­tions, es­pe­cially south of the border — if a new com­pany wants to move into north­ern New York, they can have the per­mits, all of the other pa­pers they need, in about six months and, right now, we’re about two years to get that done,” he said. “What we do want to do by bring­ing in this leg­is­la­tion is en­sure we can be quicker, so there are a num­ber of ex­am­ples that I can’t tell you about right now be­cause we are ne­go­ti­at­ing with com­pa­nies — where this tool will al­low us to be com­pet­i­tive with other ju­ris­dic­tions that we’re in com­pe­ti­tion with for that busi­ness, that growth and those jobs.”

When ques­tioned if the Act would com­pro­mise the Green­belt in south­ern On­tario, Smith said its bound­aries would be main­tained and said in­dus­trial land would be tar­geted for de­vel­op­ment.

“We’re talk­ing about in­dus­trial prop­er­ties here that are hope­fully go­ing to bring hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs and cre­ate that em­ploy­ment we need, par­tic­u­larly in parts of On­tario that haven’t seen a lot of growth un­der the Lib­er­als over the last 15 years,” he said. “What this does is gives us the tool to en­sure we can get the build­ing per­mits they need quicker.”

Belleville Mayor Mitch Pan­ciuk was on hand for Smith’s an­nounce­ment and said the leg­is­la­tion will make it eas­ier for ex­ist­ing city busi­nesses to ex­pand while also mak­ing it eas­ier to at­tract new com­pa­nies.

“We have sig­nif­i­cant em­ploy­ers and in­dus­trial base who are finding it hard to com­pete around the world, so re­duc­ing their reg­ula- tory bur­den, which re­ally is a dif­fer­ence be­tween other ju­ris­dic­tions in North Amer­ica and On­tario, is a big step,” he said. “Our job cre­ators some­times have to bat­tle pro­vin­cial pol­icy in or­der to go out there and at­tract these busi­nesses and from what I’m hear­ing here to­day is the prov­ince is say­ing they know they are a bar­rier and are try­ing to re­move those things that stop us.”

Pan­ciuk said it is crit­i­cal to be able to ac­com­mo­date any busi­ness want­ing to lo­cate in Belleville in a timely man­ner.

“When peo­ple de­cide they want to open up an in­dus­trial plant – they’ve al­ready made their de­ci­sion,” he said. “To have it take two full years just to go through the reg­u­la­tory and ap­pli­ca­tion process means they can sud­denly say ‘ We can go some­where else to­mor­row and get that pro­ject in the ground in six months and have it opened by the time we even get the per­mis­sion in On­tario’ — that’s what this about for me.”

BRUCE BELL/ THE INTELLIGENCER

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Minister of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Job Cre­ation and Trade in­tro­duced the Restor­ing On­tario’s Com­pet­i­tive­ness Act at Belleville Pub­lic Li­brary Fri­day morn­ing. He was joined by ( from left) Quinte West Coun. Jim Alyea, Vicki Bris­tow Fer­gu­son from Quinte Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion, Hast­ings— Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton MPP Daryl Kramp, Jill Ray­croft, pres­i­dent of Belleville Cham­ber of Com­merce, MPP Michael Parsa, Par­lia­men­tary As­sis­tant to Minister Smith, and Belleville Mayor Mitch Pan­ciuk.

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