The Ontario government is introducing legislative and policy measures that would, if passed, accelerate construction of key infrastructure projects to “create jobs and lay the foundation for a strong economic recovery.”
The Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 would support construction of better-connected highways and public transit networks, transit-oriented communities, and affordable housing.
Details were provided last week by Premier Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation, Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, and Kinga Surma, associate minister of transportation.
“Today’s proposed legislation is another building block in our made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and long-term recovery,” Ford said.
“It’s absolutely critical to lay this groundwork to ensure infrastructure projects can take off without any further delays. These are projects that will create good jobs across the province, ensure communities are better connected by road and transit, and contribute to a strong economic recovery for every part of our province.”
The proposed legislation would reduce barriers in planning, design and construction of major infrastructure projects including highway and public transit networks, and also support the growth of transit-oriented communities.
“The current approach to building major infrastructure projects is plagued with red tape and costly delays,” said Mulroney. “Through these proposed measures, we’re getting shovels in the ground more quickly on transportation projects that will improve the lives of Ontarians right across the province.”
Measures would help to reduce risk and costs, mitigate unnecessary delays and could encourage competitive bidding associated with transit projects. In addition, the government would work to modernize policies and align processes for consistency to improve public services.
The government is also helping to address zoning, land availability and site plan approval concerns for priority long-term care home development by leveraging support from the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator and recognizing that the minister of municipal affairs and housing has existing authority to approve Minister’s Zoning Orders under the Planning Act.
“Modernizing long-term care in Ontario continues to be a key priority of our government,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care. “These initiatives will enable us to build homes faster, which will help us develop more capacity to address the waitlist, and provide our loved ones with better places to live and the care and support they need.”
Additional measures will support private sector investments to potentially fund and accelerate broadband expansion in communities across the province. Ford says the government is committed to collaborating with municipal partners, Indigenous communities and organizations, and the private sector to accelerate project delivery for the benefit of individuals, families and businesses at a lower cost to taxpayers.
The government has also expanded its transit-oriented communities approach beyond new subway stations, to other provincial transit projects, such as GO Heavy Rail and light rail transit – an effort to boost Ontario’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are building Ontario’s talent pipeline for in-demand trades like construction,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. “These initiatives will help apprentices find good jobs and employers find the skilled workers they need.”
Following introduction, the bill will be accessible for a 30-day comment period through a link to on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.