Open letter from NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson: Immediately stop winter hydro disconnections with standalone legislation

Ontario NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson issued the following open letter to Government House Leader Hon. Yasir Naqvi calling for standalone legislation to immediately stop winter hydro disconnections.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi, MPP

Government House Leader

Minister Naqvi:

RE: Immediate Severing of Bill 27 to Eliminate Winter Hydro Disconnections

As you know, the NDP has expressed our belief that eliminating hydro disconnections during winter months must be a priority, ending the practice of taking away heat and light from Ontario families, and ending the fear and worry for those struggling under a threat of disconnection.

Unfortunately, the only proposal we have received from your government to date is a plan to pass Bill 27, a 158-page omnibus bill that New Democrats and City of Toronto councillors have expressed serious concerns about. Bill 27 would amend 17 schedules affecting different ministries and pieces of legislation, including allowing for the privatization of the public space at Ontario Place through a rewrite of the Ontario Place Corporation Act. It is simply unacceptable to allow the passage of a clause so critical to people’s lives and well-being to totally unrelated matters, and matters that deserve the scrutiny and full due diligence of Ontario’s MPPs.

As all parties have expressed some degree of support for changes that give the minister the power to end winter hydro disconnections, New Democrats now propose that Schedule 10 of Bill 27 be severed from your omnibus bill and introduced as a separate bill immediately on return of the house on Tuesday, February 21. Please find the text of a draft UC motion attached for your review.

Under our proposal, a unanimous consent motion would be moved on Tuesday February 21, and the standalone bill could be tabled that very afternoon. The necessary language already exists as part of Bill 27 – the hydro section must simply be reformatted to allow its introduction as a standalone piece of legislation.

Because of the urgent nature of this situation for those families under threat of disconnection, our proposal also allows for the bill to pass all three stages and become law on the same day that it is introduced, ending winter disconnections far sooner than the omnibus Bill 27 could possibly achieve.

There are instances where severing a clause from its bill has occurred in both the NDP and PC administrations prior to 2003. The timeline to introduce the new bill is also not unprecedented – in fact, in 2013 the motion that began the process to establish the Financial Accountability Office also provided instructions and a deadline date for the Minister of Finance to table the enabling legislation. 

By separating the hydro disconnection issue, we can move quickly to help those in need, without compromising the thoughtful consideration and meaningful debate that the rest of Bill 27 demands. I look forward to discussing this with you further and hope we can put a solution in place in time for the start of the House on February 21.

Respectfully,

GILLES BISSON, MPP
Timmins – James Bay
NDP House Leader
Att.
cc: Jim Wilson, MPP, Official Opposition House Leader

 

DRAFT MOTION

SEVERING OF SECTION 10 FROM BILL 27, BURDEN REDUCTION ACT, 2016

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or Special Order of the House, Schedule 10 of Bill 27, An Act to reduce the regulatory burden on business, to enact various new Acts and to make other amendments and repeals, be removed from the Bill; and

That the passage of this motion shall constitute an order to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services to introduce, no later than the sessional day following passage of this motion, a new bill consisting only of the verbatim contents of Schedule 10; and That the Order for Second Reading of the Bill shall be called as the first order of business during Orders of the Day on the same day that the bill is introduced, and that the question on the motion for Second

Reading of the Bill shall be put immediately without debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for Third Reading; and That the Order for Third Reading the bill shall then immediately be called, and the question on the motion for Third Reading of the bill shall be put immediately without debate or amendment; and

That no deferral of the Second or Third Reading votes pursuant to Standing Order 28(h) shall be permitted; and

That in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill the division bell shall be limited to five (5) minutes.