Finance & Taxation

Ontario’s Cabinet and the Impact on Retail

June 24, 2022

Moments ago, Premier Ford announced his new cabinet, and issued mandate letters to his Ministers. For a complete list of cabinet appointments, click here. Below are the names of the new and retuning Ministers, their roles, potential impacts on the retail industry and what issues each is responsible for.

Parliamentary Assistants and Chiefs of Staff will start to have their roles confirmed in the days ahead. 

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
Minister Silvia Jones – Minister Jones will be playing a leadership role across all Cabinet, supporting the Primer as the Deputy Premier. The pandemic put in focus many issues with the fragmented local way health policies are governed in times of crisis. As we enter a more stable phase, internalizing the learnings from the pandemic and amending legislation to support more centralized decision-making remains a priority for retailers.

Minister of Finance
Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy – With a pre-election budget in hand, Minister Bethlenfalvy will be charged with passing it through the legislature. Inflation risk is on the mind of retailers and Canadians, with a planned gas tax holiday until the end of the year, some relief is coming. Retailers are keen to see what else Ontario has planned to combat inflation pressures. Further, grocery retailers and convenience will be focused on finance, as the Master Framework Agreement is facing some major upcoming deadlines. Ontario would need to give notice of termination by September 22, 2023.

Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks
Minister David Piccini – Stewardship and extended producer responsibility remains a high priority as Ontario seeks to transition the curbside blue box system from municipal to steward control in 2023. Primarily, retailers and RCC will be looking for Minister Piccini to lead a smooth transition. For blue box, there remains several items retailers are hoping for Ontario to amend, including an even stronger, single producer responsibility organization role for collection and post-collection, as well as recovering some lost deductions where they overlap with the industrial commercial and institutional (IC&I) recycling system. With transition well underway for other stewardship files, there’s a need to revisit regulations, aligning language, solve niche issues (e.g. how musical instruments and speakers are classified under the electronics regulation), as well as a revisitation of battery targets considering new audit data from recycling organizations. Finally, there was a strong indication that an IC&I regulation may be forthcoming – retailers will be keen to engage in that discussion.

Minister of Energy
Minister Todd Smith – Inflation in the energy space, while led by gasoline, has been higher than the already sky-high general inflation rate. Price pressures for Ontario’s grid are likely to increase, as the globe continues to focus on decarbonizing transportation and energy generation. Of particular interest to retailers is a new pilot focused on pricing energy for retail stores and other businesses in a manner that can reduce prices by supporting conservation when grid demand is at its highest. Further items of interest include a new consultation on voluntary clean energy credits, what role energy will play in supporting the electrification of transportation (including overnight charging rates, or other incentives), and minor policy changes that continue to support clean energy generation, like virtual net metering.

Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Minister Monte McNaughton – As the nature of work and where employees work continues to evolve post-pandemic, the Ministry of Labour is looking to support workers. Recently, this has included legislation giving greater clarity on employee’s right to disconnect, and how gig workers are treated. Further, there have been growing conversations around a portable benefits, with the appointment of an expert panel to explore the idea further. Finally, with many retailers still struggling to staff up, there’s been an increased focus on immigration, and the role the Ministry can play in supporting the recruitment of skilled labour from abroad.

Minister of Transport
Minister Caroline Mulroney – Ensuring our goods are more quickly getting to markets is a major priority in the 2022 budget, with tolls lifted from 412 and 418, and with the development of Highway 413. Minister Mulroney will continue to be a key part of that transportation focus. Further, zero-emission vehicles and autonomous vehicles continue to be major areas of interest to retailers.

Minister of Red Tape Reduction
Minister Parm Gill – Minister Gill will oversee the semi-annual omnibus burden reduction bill, a very useful vehicle for reducing red tape for our businesses. RCC has several items related to municipal-level red tape that we are keen to discuss with Minister Gill, to see if there’s some greater province-wide standardization that can be achieved.

Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Minister Lisa Thompson – Food prices and a grocery code of practice are topics on everyone’s mind. While OMAFRA is a lesser player here relative to the federal government, sharing RCC’s thoughts on a grocery code of practice will be important as a member of the federal, provincial and territorial table assessing the merits of a grocery code. Alcohol is also a file that OMAFRA keeps an eye on, to protect craft wine and craft beer producers.

For more information, please contact:

Sebastian Prins
Director, Government Relations (Ontario)
sprins@retailcouncil.org
416 467-3759

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