QUEEN’S PARK – As the Ontario Legislature winds up for the summer, Norm Miller is disappointed with the way the government pushed through legislation with as little discussion as possible.
Between September and May 29 the Wynne government introduced 24 pieces of legislation, 12 of which were time allocated. Time allocation cuts of debate, limits committee hearings and opportunities to amend legislation. The time allocated bills included the 2017 budget bill and the so-called Fair Hydro Plan.
This year’s budget bill was debated for only three days on second reading, had just one day of committee hearings for which presenters only had an hour’s notice, and had only 30 minutes of third reading debate. Only six members from either opposition party were given an opportunity to speak to his bill which amends 33 different pieces of legislation.
“The government keeps saying that we’re holding up important legislation. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if the initiatives in the budget were so important, why did they wait until April 27 to introduce it?” Miller asked the Legislature on Monday, May 29. “The end of the fiscal year—a lot of people may not be aware—is actually March 31.”
The government’s plan for hydro rates, Bill 132, received only one day of debate before it was time allocated. And as a result of time allocation, MPPs had only 30 minutes to debate the bill after the Financial Accountability Officer released his damning report on this plan and after the Auditor General revealed that the plan contravenes Canadian public-sector accounting standards.
“Bill 132 has massive implications for this government, for future governments and for Ontario taxpayers,” Miller told the Legislature. “The Financial Accountability Officer reported last week that this bill will cost Ontarians $45 billion over the next 20 years, and that is assuming the government can maintain a balanced budget and that interest rates don’t go up. There are much higher numbers that are also being predicted.”