Bill 66 will reward big business and put drinking water and the environment at risk

greenbelt

Doug Ford's proposed sweeping legislative changes in Bill 66 stands to reward big business at the expense of people and the environment.

The Council of Canadians is calling on people across Ontario to speak out and say no to this dangerous Bill before January 20 when the public comment period concludes.

After repealing legislation aimed at improving working conditions for everyone across the province, on the very last day that the Ontario legislature sat before the holidays, the Ford government introduced Bill 66, the “Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act.”

This sweeping omnibus bill weakens – and even cuts – dozens of regulations that have been protecting our environment, drinking water, workers’ rights and more for decades.

The most dangerous aspect of Bill 66 is that it will allow municipalities to bypass critical environmental regulations as long as at least 50 new jobs are created. This will effectively gut the most important environmental protections in the province including:

  • The Greenbelt Act
  • The Clean Water Act
  • The Great Lakes Protection Act
  • The Lake Simcoe Act
  • The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act 

Lives will also be at risk if Bill 66 passes. The Clean Water Act was created in answer to the Walkerton tragedy, which was a result of the last PC government cutting “red tape.” The contamination of drinking water sickened more than 2,000 people and resulted in six deaths.

Bill 66 is payback for the big developers that contributed financially to get Ford elected. Developers already have tremendous influence over municipal governments – much more than they have at the provincial and federal levels. Under Bill 66, they will be able to meet secretly with municipalities in order to develop lands that are currently considered critical for water protection or agricultural production. Giving them this loophole will make it impossible for communities to even know what is happening before it is a “done deal.”

According to the CBC, city staff in Hamilton, Ontario, are “concerned ‘open for business’ planning exemptions contained in a controversial new bill from the provincial government could incentivize development in the Greenbelt.”

The article goes on to note that “the suggested planning changes in omnibus Bill 66 offer exemptions that could permit development that doesn't conform to protective provincial legislation including the Greenbelt Act, Clean Water Act and Great Lakes Protection Act.”

Opposition to Bill 66 is growing. Many municipalities are already speaking out against the sweeping legislative changes, acknowledging how dangerous they are.

Bill 66 will also hurt workers – even more than the Ford government already has with its repeal of improvements for Ontario workers that were in Bill 148.

Bill 66 will also result in:

  • Employees working significant amounts of overtime without overtime pay.
  • Lower wages for unionized construction workers in many sectors of the economy.
  • Daycares with more children and fewer staff to look after them.
  • Less qualified caregivers in public school and daycare after hours care.
  • Less protection from dishonest business practices by wireless companies.
  • Long term care facilities being operated by corporations without experience and with even less oversight.

Bill 66 is not about creating good jobs. It is about rewarding Ford’s big business cronies.

So far, close to 4,000 people across Ontario have joined with the Council of Canadians to voice their opposition to Bill 66. If you have done so already, please send in your comments before the deadline date on January 20.