A message from the Premier

When we took office in 2018, our government made a commitment to the people of Ontario.

We said we would get rid of outdated, redundant or ineffective regulations that held back investment and job creation.

We said we’d cut the red tape that had built up to help make it easier and cheaper for businesses to comply with the important regulations we do need to protect consumers.

We set an ambitious target to save Ontario businesses at least $400 million per year in the estimated cost of complying with regulations.

We did this because we want to make Ontario the most competitive business jurisdiction in the world.

And I’m proud to say we didn’t just achieve that target — we beat it by a big margin, with total cost savings by March 31, 2022, of $576 million.

We made a promise, and we are getting it done.

And we’re just getting started because reducing regulatory burdens is more important than ever. That’s why, for the first time in Ontario’s history, we’ve created a dedicated Ministry of Red Tape Reduction to deliver on this crucial work.

We’re expanding our focus on reducing burdens on everyday Ontarians to save them time and money, including by making it easier to complete government transactions and access services online, removing road tolls from Highways 412 and 418, and eliminating licence plate stickers and fees.

We’re stepping up our efforts to get people, businesses and organizations across the province to share their best ideas for reducing red tape.

We are going to create the conditions for businesses to thrive and people to prosper.

And we won’t stop until the job is done and Ontario is the #1 place in the world to start and grow a business.

Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario

A message from the Minister

When we first formed government, we inherited a regulatory system that was the most inefficient and burdensome in the country. As a former small business owner, I know how excessive regulation drives up the cost of doing business in this province.

That’s why, under the leadership of Premier Ford, we immediately got to work on removing unnecessary, redundant and outdated regulations that were holding our economy back, while maintaining and strengthening those regulations that keep people safe and healthy and protect the environment.

Since 2018, we’ve reduced Ontario’s total regulatory burden by 6.5 per cent and saved businesses $576 million in annual regulatory compliance costs through common-sense changes that save time and money.

Changes like making it easier for restaurants and bars to expand their patios and include alcohol with delivery and takeout orders, eliminating licence plate renewal fees for passenger and light commercial vehicles, and updating other regulations across government to make it easier and cheaper to comply with the rules.

In the past year, we’ve made substantial progress in four key areas:

  • reducing the annual cost of complying with regulations
  • working across government to achieve sustained reductions in regulatory burdens
  • passing two red tape reduction bills
  • improving people’s everyday lives by making it simpler to interact with the government

We’re proud of this progress. But we have a lot more work to do. Going forward, we’re committed to making it faster and easier for people to access government programs and services. As part of this, we will soon begin tracking burden reductions for individuals and report publicly on our progress by no later than September 30th, 2023.

When it comes to reducing red tape, our government is getting it done. We will continue building a smart and effective regulatory system that will keep Ontarians safe and our economy strong.

Parm Gill
Minister of Red Tape Reduction

Tracking our progress

Ontario continues to take action to reduce burdens on people and businesses. We’re striving to make life easier through several significant burden reduction and regulatory modernization initiatives.

As always, our work to transform Ontario into a modern and efficient regulator is informed by these seven principles in the Modernizing Ontario for People and Businesses Act:

  • recognized national and international standards should be adopted
  • less onerous compliance requirements should apply to small businesses than to larger businesses
  • digital services that are accessible to regulated entities should be provided
  • regulated entities that demonstrate excellent compliance should be recognized
  • unnecessary reporting should be reduced, and steps should be taken to avoid requiring regulated entities to provide the same information to government repeatedly
  • an instrument should focus on the user by communicating clearly, providing for reasonable response timelines and creating a single point of contact
  • an instrument should specify the desired result that regulated entities must meet, rather than the means by which the result must be achieved

As part of our commitment to accountability, we are for the third time providing a ministry-by-ministry breakdown of progress on regulatory reduction. Our starting point is a baseline count of regulatory requirements as of June 29, 2018. We then compare this with the number of requirements four years later, as of June 30, 2022.

As the table shows, over the past four years Ontario has reduced its total number of regulatory compliance requirements (RCRs) by 6.5 per cent. This equates to an average annual reduction of 1.65 per cent since June 29, 2018. The overall percentage reduction is the same as it was over the three years ending June 30, 2021. This result reflects the introduction of new regulations over the past year to address acute issues in sectors such as long-term care homes, the tow-truck industry and temporary employment programs to better protect the health and safety of Ontarians. The impacts of these new regulations have been offset by reductions in RCRs in other regulated areas.

This demonstrates our continuing commitment to reducing unnecessary regulatory burden to ensure that Ontario is Open for Business while maintaining or strengthening regulations where necessary.

Here’s what some of Ontario’s key regulatory ministries have accomplished.

Ministry of the Attorney General

The Ministry of the Attorney General is continuing to reduce red tape and modernize regulations to support local businesses and retailers in the alcohol and cannabis sectors.

Together with the Ministry of Finance, it introduced the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, a new legal framework that streamlines processes and increases flexibility for the sale, service and delivery of beverage alcohol. Other regulatory amendments have also been introduced to permanently allow bars, restaurants and other licensed establishments to create or extend their patios. Additionally, licensed liquor manufacturers that hold a By-the-Glass Endorsement can now apply for a Caterer’s Endorsement, increasing flexibility and creating opportunities for more manufacturers to sell and serve their products at locations away from their production site.

The Ministry of the Attorney General supported the cannabis sector by enabling retailers to offer delivery and curbside pick-up services on a permanent basis. These services also provide consumers with better access to legal recreational cannabis by bringing the sector in line with other retail industries.

Ministry of Energy

The Ministry of Energy has enabled more homeowners, farmers and businesses to install renewable generation systems, like rooftop solar, and to participate in net metering to help lower their electricity bills by removing unnecessary red tape that restricted third-party ownership models. A new community net metering model was also introduced on a demonstration basis that will inform future policy. The ministry is looking ahead to a future of providing communities with more options to integrate local renewable generation systems.

The ministry has also made efforts to provide transparency, predictability and access to energy consumption data. Ontario’s new Green Button requirement rollout throughout 2022-23 is giving homeowners more control over their energy consumption. And by setting real-time Ontario electricity demand as the basis for determining the peak hours under the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI), the ministry is improving cost predictability for ICI participants.

The ministry also proposed the establishment of a two-year limitation period on regulated charges for electricity market participants. This will provide greater clarity and transparency, resulting in reduced administrative time and costs for both market participants and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Finally, the government appointed additional Commissioners to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to execute its adjudicative function, which includes assessing utilities to find efficiencies and streamline costs. On December 16, 2021, the OEB issued revised filing requirements for electricity distributors with less than 30,000 customers. These changes are aimed at providing distributors with the flexibility to scale their evidence for rate filings. The OEB will consider their applicability to all utilities as it reviews requirements for the remaining electricity distributors.

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is working to ensure a green and clean future for all Ontarians, while supporting businesses and working for Ontario’s workers. The ministry is getting shovels in the ground faster by improving and modernizing environmental regulations and approval processes, while protecting Ontario’s world-renowned parks, waterways and environment.

This has included the recently modernized environmental compliance approvals (ECAs) for priority, low-risk sewage work projects by adopting a Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach (CLI). These changes help get infrastructure projects started faster, with the first CLI ECAs being issued in June 2022, while maintaining environmental protections. The ministry has also changed environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling sites to encourage innovation in waste recovery. In addition, the ministry updated the environmental assessment requirements, which will help bring critical waterpower and electricity transmission projects online faster.

These initiatives and others have helped the ministry remain focused on making continuous improvements that reduce duplication and inefficiencies, wherever possible, while maintaining environmental protections.

Ministry of Finance

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Attorney General continue to make significant progress to reduce red tape and modernize regulations.

For instance, in November 2021 the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Attorney General implemented a new legal framework for the sale, service and delivery of beverage alcohol. This measure reduced the number of regulatory compliance requirements for the alcohol sector.

The new legal framework simplifies rules and reduces the burden for the alcohol sector by streamlining licensing and renewals for businesses with a new single primary licence, with applicable endorsements, that allows for additional activities, such as on-site retail stores or brew pubs. The changes also reduce red tape for manufacturers by simplifying reporting requirements and increasing flexibility for businesses by enabling curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider from licensed grocery stores.

Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health continues to accelerate its efforts to better connect and coordinate the province’s health care system and build up its health care workforce to ensure patients can access the health care they need when they need it.

As part of A Plan to Stay Open, the government made it easier and quicker for internationally educated health care providers to begin practising in Ontario by removing undue barriers for individuals seeking to be registered with health regulatory colleges.

To enhance access to COVID-19 vaccines, the government expanded the scope of practice regulations to enable additional health professionals to administer the influenza vaccine. 

As part of its Plan to Build a Better, More Connected Health Care System, the government included home and community care as part of an integrated health care system through Ontario Health Teams (OHTs), enabling home care to be delivered across a coordinated network of providers. 

Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development has taken an array of actions to remove barriers to attracting talent to Ontario, protect workers, and deliver services more quickly to workers and employers.

The ministry cut red tape for 30 in-demand professions so that workers such as architects, plumbers and engineers coming to Ontario from elsewhere in Canada can receive registration decisions within 30 days. It also prohibited requiring internationally trained professionals in non-health regulated professions and trades to need Canadian work experience to get licensed, unless such experience is required for public safety.

Ontario has also banned “non-compete agreements” that limit opportunities for employees and career growth.

The Working for Workers Act, 2021 introduced licensing of temporary help agencies and recruiters to help protect vulnerable workers and make businesses feel safe hiring staff through these services.

Following amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) distributed $1.5 billion in surplus rebates to more than 300,000 employers. Other amendments allow the WSIB to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to collect WSIB premium remittances, streamlining the process for employers.

The ministry’s agencies have met or exceeded more than 85 per cent of their targets related to legislated timelines or faster case processing. This means that mediators are now assigned to cases faster, workers and employers are seeing faster case processing, a higher percentage of cases are being resolved through negotiated settlements rather than going to full hearings, appeals are being heard faster, and first hearing dates are being offered sooner.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has made progress to reduce administrative burden.

Reductions include developing a flexible community housing framework that improves access and efficiency, is more targeted to meet local needs, and allows service managers and housing providers to adopt more business-like approaches that ensure the long-term sustainability of the community housing sector.

Elsewhere, the ministry has made additional legislative changes to streamline planning approvals. These include creating the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator tool to help municipalities speed up their own planning approvals for priority housing and community infrastructure projects; allowing more municipal planning decisions to be made by committees of council or staff (instead of council); and incenting timely decisions by requiring municipalities to gradually refund zoning and site plan application fees if decisions are not made within legislated timelines.

The ministry is also changing the municipal borrowing and debt financing framework so Ontario municipalities can use special financing provided by the Canada Infrastructure Bank for priority infrastructure projects, including the purchase of zero-emission buses.

Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry

The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry continues to reduce unnecessary duplication and streamline processes to support economic development across Ontario, while responsibly managing natural resources.

The Far North Act was amended to encourage collaboration between Ontario and First Nations on land use planning, enhance economic development opportunities for First Nations and foster economic growth in the Far North, while maintaining critical cultural and environmental protections, and respecting Aboriginal and treaty rights. Additional actions include a legislative amendment to the Northern Services Boards Act to support a simplified approach by only requiring Local Services Boards to post notices of meetings and minutes in one physical location and electronically (if available).

The Mining Act was also amended to support critical mineral development, including an approach for recovery of minerals at operating, closed or abandoned mine sites in Ontario.

To improve service delivery and save people time when harvesting wood from Crown lands for personal use (e.g., small building projects, landscaping and home heating), the ministry made changes under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994.

Ministry of Transportation

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is committed to reducing the burden on Ontarians, modernizing its programs and supporting businesses in the transportation sector.

MTO has cut costs for millions of Ontario vehicle owners and provided relief for drivers by refunding licence plate sticker renewal fees paid since March 1, 2020, cancelling fees for future licence plate renewals, removing tolls on Highways 412 and 418, and cancelling scheduled fee increases for a variety of driver and vehicle products.

MTO launched DriveON, a new digital emission and safety inspection program for heavy diesel commercial vehicles. This will move away from a paper-based process, reduce fraud, and protect people and the environment from smog-causing pollutants. MTO also introduced a pilot project for non-electric and electric-assist large cycles that gives municipalities the opportunity to encourage tourism and boost economic growth while maintaining road safety.

Key numbers at a glance

Ontario’s total reduction of 6.5 per cent over four years demonstrates substantial progress. Moving forward, Ontario remains committed to reducing burdens in a way that makes life easier for businesses and people — while upholding the protections we collectively value.

-6.5 per cent change in the total number of regulatory compliance requirements affecting businesses from June 29, 2018, to June 30, 2022

$576 million net annual savings to businesses, not-for-profits, municipalities, universities and colleges, school boards and hospitals in regulatory compliance costs since June 29, 2018

Regulatory compliance requirements by ministry

Table excludes ministries that do not have any regulatory requirements

MinistryRegulatory compliance requirements as of June 29, 2018Regulatory compliance requirements as of June 30, 2022% change
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs15,83915,8630.2%
Attorney General17,67816,781-5.1%
Children, Community and Social Services6,2176,2991.3%
Citizenship and Multiculturalism footnote 126260.0%
Colleges and Universities3,1693,158-0.3%
Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade117 102-12.8%
Energy footnote 222,27719,706-11.5%
Environment, Conservation and Parks39,36934,255-13.0%
Government and Consumer Services13,47312,997-3.5%
Long-Term Care6,5985,977-9.4%
Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries6,7596,527-3.4%
Labour, Training and Skills Development10,1919,245-9.3%
Municipal Affairs and Housing10,0319,619-4.1%
Northern Development, Mines and Natural Resources and Forestry footnote 311,71710,345-11.7%
Seniors and Accessibility6706710.1%
Solicitor General footnote 48,5637,981-6.8%
Treasury Board Secretariat505918.0%

Reducing regulatory compliance costs by $576 million

Over the past four years, our government has been working to reduce the cost of doing business in Ontario. We set a target to reduce the estimated net annual cost of complying with regulations by $400 million by March 31, 2022.

By that date, we had far surpassed this target. This means businesses, not-for-profits, municipalities, universities and colleges, school boards and hospitals are saving $576 million every year on compliance costs.

Recent actions Ontario has taken to achieve this include:

Modernizing the regulatory framework for Defined Contribution (DC) pension plans

Reducing plan administrators’ costs for DC plans by removing two requirements that aren’t necessary for effective regulatory oversight. One is for the administrators of member-directed DC plans to prepare and file a statement of the plan’s investment policies and procedures. The other is for DC plan administrators to file an annual auditor’s report on the plan’s financial statements. Instead, the CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario has been enabled to require audited statements in certain circumstances.

Giving commuters a break from highway tolls

Eliminating tolls from Highways 412 and 418, an action that responds particularly to requests from residents and municipal leaders in Durham Region. This action is part of the province’s plan to help alleviate gridlock and provide drivers with travel savings and more predictable travel times.

Transitioning to the Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) program

Encouraging the industrial sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a made-in-Ontario approach in place of the federal Output-Based Pricing System. Through EPS, Ontario has tailored its approach to the specific regulated industry. It has done so in order to achieve reductions from big polluters and achieve Ontario’s share of Canada’s 2030 target for emissions reductions without driving away businesses and job creators.

Working across government to reduce regulatory burdens

No one sets out to make it harder than necessary to comply with regulations. But experience around the world has shown that there’s a strong tendency for regulations to become more complex and costly to adhere to over time — unless action is taken across government to counter this tendency.

That’s why every ministry that plays a regulatory role is responsible for contributing to a whole-of-government effort to make Ontario a modern, effective, and streamlined regulator. The goal is to ensure that regulations achieve the purposes they were meant to, while being easier and less costly to comply with.

Examples of this work include:

Creating a one-stop shop for businesses to submit WSIB payroll deductions

Enabling the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to streamline the remittance system. Giving businesses an efficient way to submit their payroll deductions will reduce burdens on them and lower their administrative costs.

Making it easier for home builders to navigate the approvals process

Investing more than $45 million into the Streamline Development Approval Fund to help Ontario’s 39 largest municipalities modernize and accelerate processes for housing applications. This will make it easier for applicants to navigate the development approval process, manage applications and get timely status updates. The fund will help avoid unnecessary delays in building new homes so more families can become homeowners.

Replacing mailed renewal notices with digital reminders

Making it more convenient for people to keep their government-issued identifications and permits up to date. People can now sign up to receive digital reminders 60 and 30 days before it’s time to renew — and through their choice of email, text or phone call. The renewal process has been streamlined by including direct links in the reminders so customers can renew online. This has removed barriers that might make people put off and forget their renewals. Digital reminders also save the government money on paper, printing and postage that can be reinvested in service delivery.

Providing on-demand access to court services

Launching the Courts Digital Transformation initiative is a significant step forward in the digital evolution of justice. It replaces outdated paper-based procedures with an online platform to access court records, pay fees, and manage cases, documents and schedules. Members of the public, lawyers, court staff, judicial officials and litigants representing themselves will be able to use the new digital system for legal matters at the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice. The online platform will make it easier and faster for people to resolve their legal matters.

Passing two red tape reduction bills

Since 2018, our government has brought forward twice-annual burden reduction packages. Through these packages, we’ve taken hundreds of actions to make it easier and less costly to comply with rules needed to protect public health, safety and the environment.

Our actions over the past year have included the following:

Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021

The legislature passed the act in December 2021 to promote economic stability and encourage investment while keeping families, workers and the environment safe and healthy. The act was the centrepiece of the Fall 2021 Red Tape Reduction Package of legislative and regulatory actions. The package included:

Giving local governments more tools to streamline planning approvals

Allowing municipalities more authority to delegate more planning decisions to staff or committees of council. This will help expedite timelines for some land use planning approvals, saving applicants time and money.

Reducing barriers to bar and restaurant patios

Making it easier for liquor sales licensees such as bars and restaurants that meet certain criteria to add or extend a licensed patio without having to apply or pay a fee to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The government introduced this as a temporary measure in June 2020 to allow bars and restaurants to quickly and seamlessly pivot their business model in response to COVID-19 public health measures. Now it’s making the measure permanent. As of January 1, 2023, municipalities and interested First Nations will have approval authority — removing red tape on over 17,000 licensees across Ontario.

Simplifying environmental approvals for low-risk operational changes

Expanding the use of more flexible approvals, as well as expanding exemptions and self-registration for activities such as microbreweries and low-risk sewage works, including foundation drainage from buildings. Eliminating duplication and unnecessary technical reporting saves businesses time and money. It also allows the government to focus its resources for environmental permissions on higher-risk activities.

Making it easier for veterinary practices to serve a wider range of clients

Modernizing the accreditation model for veterinary facilities. This is making it easier for new and existing facilities that are seeking to expand the types of services they provide to become accredited in Ontario. These changes are reducing burden for many smaller, mixed veterinary practices in rural and remote locations.

Fewer Fees, Better Services Act, 2022

The legislature passed the act in March 2022 to increase affordability and simplicity for people and businesses. The act was the centrepiece of the Spring 2022 Red Tape Reduction Package of legislative and regulatory actions. The package included:

Creating greater business opportunities through government procurement

Requiring public-sector entities to give Ontario businesses preference when conducting procurement processes for goods and services up to a specified threshold, to be approved by the Cabinet. The government has set a target to spend at least $3 billion per year in contracts awarded to Ontario businesses by 2026, helping to drive growth and job creation in the province.

Creating a Centre of Realty Excellence to manage government properties

Identifying underused government property and putting it back into productive use. The centre will work to align these surplus properties with provincial priorities such as building more affordable housing and long-term care homes.

Making Ontario a North American leader in how easily and quickly a business can be started

Providing new business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs a starting point to hit the ground running with a single website at ontario.ca/business to access authoritative government information, create jobs and grow their business. Making Ontario a better place to create and expand a business will help to foster growth, job creation and long-term prosperity.

Making life easier for Ontarians

Interacting with government can be more complex and time-consuming than it needs to be. That’s why over the past year we’ve continued our work to make these interactions simpler to help improve people’s day-to-day lives.

Allowing auto dealerships to issue permits and licence plates directly to purchasers

Launching the Digital Dealership Registration (DDR) process through ServiceOntario to allow authorized new car dealerships to register vehicles in minutes. Participating dealers no longer need to complete paperwork, send it by a runner to a ServiceOntario location, wait for plates and registration to be issued, and then return to ServiceOntario up to multiple times if corrections are required. Dealers performing registrations online can see and correct any errors early on. Although DDR is invisible to the vehicle purchaser, it can cut the time they must wait to pick up and drive their new vehicle off the lot from up to four days, to just a few minutes.

Making it easier for people to become volunteers

Providing the most common types of police record checks — Criminal Record Checks and Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Checks — free for people who want to become volunteers, who enrich our communities, help build a strong and cohesive society, and make significant contributions to the economy.

Requiring utilities to implement a new standard to enable savings on consumer energy bills

Requiring utilities to implement the Green Button standard so consumers can identify opportunities to save money by using electricity and natural gas more efficiently. This will allow consumers to see detailed data on their energy usage and automatically share it with apps of their choice. These apps will analyze energy usage over time.

Improving intercommunity bus service by permitting new entrants to the market

Deregulated the sector on July 1, 2021, to make it easier for carriers to offer more and improved services, and to create opportunities to fill service gaps by allowing multiple carriers to serve any route. Under the previous regime, often only one carrier was licensed to provide service on a route. The new open market has led to new carriers offering services and improving transportation options. For instance, Ontario now has operators that use smaller buses to serve routes with less demand or that offer extras such as free Wi-Fi and power outlets at each seat.

What people are saying about the impact of our work to reduce regulatory burdens

On top of continuing to reduce red tape, the Ontario government has steadily improved its system of regulatory accountability. By measuring red tape reduction efforts across government and publicly reporting on them every year, we can get a better picture of the status of the province’s regulatory health.

— Julie Kwiecinski
Director of Provincial Affairs (Ontario), Canadian Federation of Independent Business

We welcome the provincial government’s ongoing commitment to reducing costs associated with regulatory compliance. As record-high inflation puts pressure on margins, the need for this work is more important than ever. Old regulations must be constantly reassessed for relevance, with a specific priority on streamlining processes that impact manufacturers’ decisions to invest and grow in Ontario.

— Dennis Darby
President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Regulatory changes making it easier to extend restaurant patios have been very welcomed by the foodservice industry and by many Ontarians. By extending their patios, many restaurants have been able to keep their doors open during the pandemic, and they continue to see a significant contribution from this in their road to recovery and beyond. The ORHMA applauds the Ontario government for making the regulatory changes on patio extensions permanent.

— Tony A. Elenis
President & CEO, Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA)

The creation of the Digital Dealer Registration (DDR) program is the most important policy decision supporting Ontario’s automobile retail sector in a generation. Digitizing the vehicle registration process cuts red tape while saving consumers and auto dealers time and money. And by eliminating licence plate fees and stickers, auto dealers can reinvest money back into their business and focus on serving customers instead of wasting time placing stickers on licence plates every year.

— Frank Notte
Director of Government Relations, Trillium Automobile Dealers Association