Public Values

Ontario red-tape cuts raise fears

Critics say Liberals are putting lives at risk by scrapping up to 35 percent of provincial regulations.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty

February 3, 2009 — A secret plan by Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government to cut provincial regulations by 25 to 35 percent is raising concerns Ontario could face another food safety or financial crisis without adequate safeguards.

The program — briefly mentioned in last spring's budget as a way to "reduce red tape for hard-working Ontario business people" — has quietly grown to involve every government ministry, a document obtained by the Toronto Star shows.

Part of the program, being led by Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant, involves scrapping two regulations for every new one that is introduced.

Called "Open for Business: Reduce the Burden," a 45-page internal government paper says the effort to reduce the province's 500,000 regulations seeks "to create a modern and competitive system that delivers results for Ontario businesses."

It goes on to state in bold type that "reducing the burden does not mean reducing the safeguards that protect the Ontario public," instead taking aim at obsolete or duplicative regulations that cost businesses time and money.

But the Ontario Federation of Labour warns the exercise is fraught with peril, pointing to the global economic meltdown ignited by a lack of regulations on Wall St.; fire-related deaths linked to a lack of sprinkler systems in seniors' homes in Ontario; and the Walkerton tainted water crisis.

"If there are regulations that make no sense and are preventing us from creating jobs, that's fine, but to arbitrarily say we've got to get rid of at least a quarter of the regulations, it puts people's lives at risk," said federation president Wayne Samuelson.

"It makes Mike Harris's old commission to reduce red tape look unambitious."

Samuelson said some of the biggest dangers lie in labour and environmental regulations on workplace safety and pollution. . .

To read further. . .

Privatization vs. Public Values Frame
  Red tape restricts business / Regulations protect public interest, save lives

Links and sources
  Red-tape cuts raise fears , Tanya Talaga and Rob Ferguson, Toronto Star, February 3 2009

Posted: February 03, 2009

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